I’ve been thoroughly preoccupied with a return to programming. The only language I’ve ever been proficient in is BASIC. That proficiency is a very minor virtue when making the transition to VB .net – thankfully Visual Studio does a spectacular job of pointing out errors and making suggestions as to how to rectify them. The greatest difficulty is in remembering the multitude of classes, their associated methods and so on. Fact is that once you find the built-in way of doing things there isn’t a lot of “BASIC” code required.
As my interest is in writing AVS related applications I’ve had to decide how to handle audio. The bare bones VB .net has very limited audio capabilities and I don’t really want to get into DirectX. This opens up the world of third-party libraries. BASS, ALVAS, NAudio and irrKlang all have their charms but they all require payment of substantial license fees if you wish to use them in commercial products (they are all available for free download for personal use). Fortunately I have found libZPlay which is free, fulfils all the functions I require and it’s easier to use than most. Some file types, notably MP3, require separate licensing but if you’re happy with WAV, OGG and suchlike then you’re good to go. For the part-time programmer libZPlay’s greatest virtue is an excellent help file – it puts the commercial products to shame!
You can find libZPlay at libZPlay.sourceforge.net.
Aside from any potentially useful applications that may emerge, programming is an extraordinary way to cultivate focus, attention and short/medium term memory – and as I’ve often said, the best way to make your brain work is to give it the type of task you want to cultivate. When I program myself into an uncomfortable corner I find lying back and using a session that starts in alpha and ends in beta great for taking a step back and then rethinking the problem. That said, going for a walk is also good. Sometimes you’ve just got to stop throwing yourself at a problem!
Oh, yes… Visual Studio 2010 or 2011 beta are available free from Microsoft.