Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The Twitter Font - Free!

My post for the Free Facebook font was such a success I thought I'd give a heads up on another popular social sites font-face, Twitter.

Unlike the FB font, the font used for the Twitter logo is actually free to begin with. The free Twitter font can be downloaded here.

You can see there were modifications made to get the Twitter logo to look as it does above, namely the letters having their width elongated and the bar of the lower case "e" being added in completely.

Go download and play, there's two versions included, too.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Creating an Ultrastar Deluxe Song - Part II

Part II: Basic Text File Edits

If you are completely new to this, you should refer to Creating an Ultrastar Deluxe Song - Part I: Generating a Text File first, as this will walk you through getting a text file made to edit. I also recommend reading my write up about the text file, UltraStar Deluxe - Understanding the Text File.

If you already have a text file ready to edit (these text files can be downloaded, and are usually, but not always, ready to be used with minor edits), read on.

You will not need to have UltraStar open yet. This first part is all done outside.

In your UltraStar Deluxe directory, there is a sub-directory called "songs". This is the directory your songs are stored in.

Make a new folder for the track you are going to create. If you'll remember, mine is Genesis - The Carpet Crawlers '99.

Into your newly created folder you're going to want to add our recently generated text file along with an mp3 of the song.

*As a side note, and this threw me a few times as a noob... this mp3 has to be a CBR, or constant bit rate. A VBR (variable bit rate) will not work.

This will be enough to get you going for now. Yes, I renamed my .txt file. You can do the same.

 Open your .txt file. And you know, now would be a really good time to replace your crappy Windows notepad with an awesome one. If you want, download Notepad++  here.

See the little header in the file? Go ahead and enter your information in the first 3 lines, like so, ignoring BPM and GAP for now:
Did you enter the mp3 name perfectly correct? If you make even one mistake, add a space anywhere, your song WILL not load.

While we are here, and before we can run USDX and see our song in it's infancy, you must add a break somewhere. Look for a large break in the first column of numbers and add a break like this: 

See the - 35? Add a break like that one, in sequence, about that early. This number will be the first note switch screen. These numbers are what tells UltraStar to end one screen and go to another.

Once these edits are made, save your file. You can now go into UltraStar Deluxe and your song should be there, where it is listed will depend on how you sort your library.

Coming soon: Part III: Advanced Text File Edits

Friday, January 6, 2012

Creating an Ultrastar Deluxe Song - Part I

Part I: Generating a Text File

This is my attempt at a walk through, in English, for the purpose of creating an UltraStar Deluxe track from scratch.

I'm assuming you already know that UltraStar Deluxe is a SingStar style karaoke game that is played on the PC (Mac, Linux and Windows supported). I'm assuming you know you need that software and a microphone compatible with the game (such as the SingStar microphones you can buy pretty much anywhere, including the Internet.)

You can get the latest stable release of Ultrastar Deluxe here. It's free and open source and AWESOME.

There are a lot of stellar resources out there that already have loads of songs done. I can't always find what I want. That's where knowing how to make your own comes in handy.

Anyway, I'm creating this tutorial because I've never really found one, in English (a lot of support for UltraStar is in German and other languages), that explains step by step what to do. I will NOT be creating the notes for the song by hand. I'm not quite that good.

In this tutorial I will be showing you how to:
  • Get the file you need for your chosen song
  • Open the file to create a basic USDX file
  • Edit that file*
  • Give your track an album cover*
  • Give your track a video*

And in a nutshell, that's all you have to do.

Now that you have UltraStar downloaded and installed to your machine, and you are familiar with how the program works, choose whatever song you want to create.

If you get confused along the way, you may want to reference UltraStar Deluxe - Understanding the Text File.

For this tutorial, we will be creating a track for Genesis (with Phil Collins AND Peter Gabriel) "The Carpet Crawlers 1999".

The very first thing you'll need, and your whole track depends on this, is a midi file with a lyric track. For you young-in's a midi track is like an old school ring tone... like... I don't know... your parents had? I can't think too much about 12-year-olds on the internet looking confused over midi files for too long or I'll kill myself.

So anyway, Google it. I Googled "Carpet Crawlers midi" and came up with a link to download it. Go ahead and find the link to the midi file itself from that page.

You are most likely going to need to right click on the link and "save target as" or "save file as" (otherwise, it will just play the midi in your browser, sure, your friends will think you're retro-hip, but it won't help you make your UltraStar track at all). Save it some place you can find it. Like your desktop.

You have to make sure it has the lyric track. This is going to be the track we're using to make our notes. If it doesn't have it, you gotta keep looking. How will you know? Listen to it! If there's an instrument doing what the vocalist normally does, you should be golden.

Not all songs will have a midi track available. If you can't find one, you can also google for karaoke files, which have a .kar extension. They are interchangeable with .mid files as far as UltraStar is concerned. If you still have no luck, well...

My midi track does have a vocal track, so I can go on to the next part. Open up your Ultrastar Deluxe directory. In windows this will be C:\Program Files\UltraStar Deluxe, most likely. If running 64-bit Windows, look in C:\Program Files (x86)\UltraStar Deluxe.

Drop your newly downloaded midi right into the root of the Ultrastar Deluxe folder. After moving, don't close your directory window. Leave it open, k?

Mine is called "carpet99.mid". Remember your file name, and open UltraStar Deluxe. Press your right arrow on your keyboard until you get to "create your own song". Hit enter. Choose "Import" and hit enter. "Open" will already be the pink highlighted box, so hit enter again.

Now it wants a file name. Remember the file we moved? Give it that name, replacing ONLY file.mid with whatever your file is called. Mine was carpet99.mid. Arrow over twice, select OK and hit enter.

Now you're brought to a screen that breaks down your midi (or kar file), it should have several tracks listed, see mine as an example below. If it only has a single track, it's probably not useable. Some are nicely labeled with the parts, others you have to figure out by sight and sound. In short, you need to find the track that is the lyrics or words the singer is singing, isolate it, and save it.

This one happens to be labeled. Not only that, but when I select Play with my keyboard (and press enter) I can see that's where the "words" are being "sung". That's what I need! Arrow down to the track (if you have doubts, you can isolate and play JUST this track), hit your space bar to select it, then either "Play Selected" to make sure you have the correct track, or just go ahead and hit "Save". It'll pop up telling you it's been saved successfully.

Close UltraStar for now. Go back into your UltraStar Deluxe directory (that you still have open from before) and right underneath your midi file is your new text file! It'll have the same name as your midi.

That's all you need to know for generating a text file for your new track. You can dispose of the original midi now, as you won't be using it after you've generated the proper lyric track.

Ready to move on? Go on to read Part II: Basic Text File Edits.

You should also read UltraStar Deluxe - Understanding the Text File. This is a breakdown of the parts of the text file and explains why it's so important.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

UltraStar Deluxe - Understanding the Text File

Welcome to my tutorial on understanding the UltraStar Deluxe text file. The text file is the backbone of the track for play in UltraStar Deluxe and knowing what's what and how to troubleshoot will help you immensely.

My text editor is what is adding the gray column with the numbers.... this is NOT PART OF THE ULTRASTAR DELUXE TRACK!

The text file has 2 parts. The very top, which contains some basic information about files and basic time stuff and the bottom, which contains all the information about the notation and rhythm of the song along with the lyrics.

For starters, here's a look at a functional text file. You can see the beginning to the end.

The Top
 The tags at the beginning of the text file will always begin with a #.

The only necessary tags are:

Other tags, and their uses, are:
#BACKGROUND you specify a background. Must be in same folder as txt.
#COVER album art, in jpg. If you drop a file into the folder, USDX will add this tag itself.
#CREATOR not necessary, but some people like to credit themselves.
#EDITION used if you want to sort by edition. Can be anything.
#GENRE again, used for sorting. Can be anything.
#LANGUAGE language of the track.
#VIDEO have a video? It goes here.
#VIDEOGAP is a way to help line up your song with your video.

But we're getting a bit ahead of ourselves. This is about the text file, but you need to know that everything that pertains to a single track needs to be in the same folder, together.

 Open the text file and fill in the first few fields:

#TITLE is the title of your song. What you type is what will show up in game.
#ARTIST is the artist. What you type is what will show up in game.
#MP3 is the mp3 file to be played. Must be in same folder as this txt file.
#BPM this probably will be populated, but check this (see below).
#GAP milliseconds before *lyrics* begin. NOT the beginning of the song. Will edit this later.

For this song, everything is in a folder called "Peter Gabriel - Sledgehammer", which is located in the UltraStar Deluxe "songs" folder. 

See that my cover file, mp3 and video are all in the same folder as my text file? That's why my head looks like this:

You have got to type in file names (mp3, video, cover and background) exactly right. An extra space or spelling miskey will cause an error)

I chose not to use a background - I prefer a video for all my tracks. However, if I wanted a background, which is just a still image, I would have added it with the #BACKGROUND tag, and it would have had to be placed in the same folder as the video mp4 and cover jpg. If for some reason my video did not load, my background would show up instead. If you have a functioning video, though, your background won't do anything.

If you made a text from a midi file (tutorial for creating a text from MIDI for UltraStar Deluxe here) the #BPM may already be in place. I generally check mine against another BPM calculator such as Just play the song and tap your space bar to get the BPM. 

*If your BPM is about 2 or 3 times what the text file says, be careful... you don't want to double or triple (or conversely, half or third!) your BPM via the text file. Get as close to the original number as you can... for instance if your text file says 45, and you tap out 150 - the correct number to put in would be 50. You can double and triple (and you should) from INSIDE the UltraStar editor.

Let's leave our #GAP at 0 for now.

The Middle

Onto the middle of the text file, the meaty part. Mmmm, meaty.

FOR A SECOND TIME... The gray column with the numbers is built into my text editor, those sequential numbers are NOT part of the text file!

You'll notice there's a few things going on here, horizontally.

Our first line reads like this:

: 0 12 19 Hey

This is telling UltraStar the following:
:  - I'm a normal note

This column can also say:
* - I'm a a golden note (think sparkly stars on the note tube)
F - Freestyle note (like the rap meter on SingStar, will NOT be scored)

0  is where the note starts. 
12 is the duration of the note tube.
19 is the tone of the note tube (in this case, a "g") .
Hey is the first lyric.

The next lines reads like so: 

* 16 6 17  hey

That means UltraStar will make this a golden note that starts at 16, has a duration of 6 and a tone of 17 (f). Of course, the second lyric is "hey".

There's a couple more before we get to our first screen break. This ends one screen and brings up a fresh one with the next line of the song. - 57 is how it's made. 

When making a new text file you'll have to manually add such a break towards the top of the song in order for UltraStar to load the file at all! Remember this, it can save a lot of headaches when making new songs.

Here's a peek at the first line inside the built-in UltraStar Deluxe editor.

See how it matches up to our text file?

The Bottom

How do you end a text file? Don't make a break (- 00), just end it with a capital E. That's it.

That's a very basic run through of the text file, how it works and why it's so important. For further reading, please see my tutorials on making your own UltraStar Deluxe tracks.

Monday, July 11, 2011

The Facebook Font - Free!

Why would you need or want the Facebook font? I'm not so sure, but the font actually used for the now famous logo is called Klavika.

...And it's expensive.

So where can you find a good alternative to Klavika, the Facebook font, for free? Well thanks to and Bogdan Balatchi, you can find it the free Facebook font right here. How close is Facebook Letter Faces to Klavika?

Can you tell which is original Klavika and which is Facebook Letter Faces? Click and drag to the bottom of this post to find out.
The first "facebook" is Klavika bolded, the second is Facebook Letter Faces, non-bolded.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Face Recognition Technology

Is being rolled out on Facebook, of all places. You know, that one little social networking hub that has a security leak every 10 minutes.

A Facebook friend posted a link to an article on PC World (it goes against my better judgement to give out free SEO handjobs... but whatever) about this. I take some issues with this article... want to know why?

The article called it "creepy" as did some of it's sources, and went on to say, "Facial recognition technology will ultimately culminate in the ability to search for people using just a picture. And that will be the end of privacy as we know it--imagine, a world in which someone can simply take a photo of you on the street, in a crowd, or with a telephoto lens, and discover everything about you on the internet."

The dramatic italics have been left intact so you get the full effect of the terror you're supposed to feel moments before you rush over to Facebook to delete your account.

But you know, just because you deactivate doesn't mean anything will get deleted. That's right, chances are if you're reading this article from a link you clicked inside of Facebook, it's already too late.

Delete your pictures and every sad poem-like post you've ever put up, every lolcat you've ever shared, take all your friends you listed as siblings off and go hide in the closet.

This woman's face was recognized on Facebook.
It shows how amazing this technology actually is, as 95% of the whores on Facebook are also stuck with permanent duck lips.

I, like the rest of the world, realize what a huge mountain of data Facebook gets donated by the second, uploaded free of charge as the mighty Internet chugs along... but this is why you read the TOS when you agree to be bound by one. And keep current on things, and most of all, THINK BEFORE YOU PUT SOMETHING DOWN IN PRINT, for it could remain there a lot longer than your fleeting thought about it. Ask yourself: if some creep was trying to find this out about me, would I be comfortable having it out of my head and out there in meatspace for him to grab onto?

What I dislike most about the above article though, is how it is very much on the verge of inciting a panic in John Q. User. I appreciate being alerted that Facebook has fucked up once again and "accidentally" sold all my information to a tribe of renegade strippers in outer Mongolia, who now have my email address and will relentlessly attempt to sell me Viagra made in India. I do. But I and most people I know aren't so dense that we need shadows on the wall and Vincent Price telling us about the HORRORS of Facebooks new technology.

And while I'm on it... all in the same scroll I will see something like this and I will see another user advertising a free speckled Farmville cow that shits rainbow ducks.

I, however, have Farmville blocked, hidden and sterilized, so how CAN I see this post advertising a free cow?

BECAUSE IT'S NOT THE ZYNGA APP, FOLKS. You just gave some person somewhere in the universe access to whatever they asked for when you clicked "allow"... because they spelled it "FarmVi1le" with a one instead of an L, you didn't bother to read. And I block and hide that one, still more emerge. Next time it's "Farm ville", them "Farmville Gifts". Every one another person who can now see your shit you hold so dear.

But please, opt out of picture tagging.