Windows 10 compatibility with Musink Composition Software

Windows 10 is here. So, should you update?

In short, yes.

If you are running Windows 7 or Windows 8.1, updating to Windows 10 is FREE. If this is news to you, take a look here on how to update your PC. When more Musink users are on up-to-date PCs, it is easier to develop new features for Musink.

If you are running Windows XP, please-please-please update your PC. There is not a large learning curve to go from XP to Windows 10. Win XP is over 10 years old, which is like using a horse and cart to get to work. Sentimental and homely, but impractical, slow, unimproving, and unsafe in the current world. Musink still runs on XP, but this cannot go on forever. Go on. Give it a go.

EDIT: Please note that Musink is for PCs (desktops, laptops, etc); it will not run on tablets, phones, or your XBox.

Will Musink Break?

The current versions of both Musink Lite (1.2.0.1) and Musink Pro (1.2.1.2) appear to work just fine with Windows 10. Updating windows should leave these working just fine.

Before running Musink on your new Windows 10 box, however, you should:

  1. Open a web page in your default browser. Beware Microsoft may have (arrogantly) changed your default browser to Edge
  2. Open a PDF (any PDF)
  3. If you publish to PNG image files, open one
  4. If you publish to XPS documents, open one
  5. Restart your computer

If you do not do these things, saving and/or opening your published PDFs/PNGs/XPS documents may fail. Why? It seems Windows simply doesn’t know what to do with these types of files until you have helped it out by opening one.

The only other minor issues with Win 10 and Musink I know of are these:

  • Your PC may now run much faster, and so you don’t realise it has done anything. E.g. When I installed Musink on my PC the install was so quick I thought it had crashed (it hadn’t). Publishing a very short music piece in Musink is also suspiciously fast.
  • After installing new programs, they do not appear in the Programs and Features window until you have closed and reopened that window
  • When you first hit the start menu and type in “Musink” it may not find it. This is because your computer needs a few minutes after the Windows 10 installation to index your programs.
  • The first time you run Musink, hitting enter on the save-pdf-file dialog will close the dialog (as normal) but also may close the “Save Completed” dialog that follows. This should vanish after you restart your PC.

If you have any other issues, please let me know

Feature Requests for Musink Music Software

As mentioned in an earlier post, I commonly receive emails with feature requests, or asking how feature requests ‘work’.  As such, this post explains how I handle such requests, and which features are added.

Send Your Requests!

Requests for software features and wiki entries are important and very welcome. Some features already in Musink (Lite and Pro) are in response to requests made from users. Many pages on the Musink Wiki are in response to suggestions and requests. I appreciate all requests because they help me better understand areas for improvement in Musink. You can send requests by contacting me at Musink directly.

Which requested wiki pages will be added?

Nearly anything! If you feel that there is a subject which is not well covered on the wiki, please just ask.

Which features will be added?

There are five criteria which I use to decide which requested features will be added to Musink:

  1. Can this already be performed another way in Musink?
  2. How many people have requested this feature?
  3. How many people will find this feature useful?
  4. How long will it take to code in to Musink?
  5. How long will it take to test?

The voting system

All requests which are made are entered into a (non-public) voting system. The more people request a feature, the more likely it is to be implemented.

Feature bloat

I usually will not add a feature unless I believe it (1) adds significant value to Musink, or (2) will be useful for at least 10% of all users. The goal is to avoid feature bloat: having so many features that the software becomes very difficult, or slow, to do simple things in. The more features software has, the scarier it can look to a new user, and harder it can be to find what you like. For example, if there are 6 menus one must go through to add a new bar, writing music becomes laborious, and a new user is going to have difficulty writing their first score.

Coding can be quick, testing takes time

Some features are simply faster to code than other features. While it may seem that adding a new feature sounds simple, in truth, the coding can take a long time and, even if it doesn’t, the work required can balloon quite quickly. This blog post from Microsoft, for example, shows how adding only 5 lines of code to MS Windows, can take over 40 people.

I don’t like half-baked software, and neither do you. That’s why every feature must be tested in every conceivable circumstance to be certain that it won’t crash when used. Lyrical text marks, for example, (which will be released in the next Musink Pro version) were implemented in around a week. There are, however, over 700 circumstances in which they could appear or be edited. Writing these tests has taken many months. Once these tests are written, all tests for all features must be run before a new version can be released to ensure everything works as expected. This takes several weeks to complete. As such, no feature can be added ‘quickly’.

Commercial interests

Beyond musicians, I receive feature requests from people and companies who would like some for of support or integration for their product. I am not against cooperating with such requests. However, remember that if this change is likely to benefit my users, it will benefit your bottom line. As such, fees apply for implementing features of a commerical nature. Please note that this is limited to genuine features for music composition; spyware, advertising, bundling, etc is not ever considered.

Market me your feature

If you would really like your feature request implemented, here are some pointers:

  • Introduce yourself. Tell me how long you have used Musink, and what you write in Musink
  • Tell me if you have purchased Musink Pro, or if you have donated to Musink Lite development. I will pay more attention!
  • Tell me how this feature would help you, and how it would help others
  • If you want something changed, be constructive; offer ideas
  • If you have a commercial interest in a feature, provide research into user numbers, and a formal offer for reparation

Please, sir, I want some more

I recieve a large number of emails from Musink users. These emails generally fall into three categories:

How do I…“,
Have you ever considered adding feature X…“,
and
Can I please have…“.

The first of these I am very happy to help with, and usually involve linking to a page on the Musink Help Wiki or Musink You Tube channel.

The second of these I usually appreciate greatly, and a topic I shall cover in a later blog post.

The third of these, however, are usually very tricky to reply to and the reason I write this blog post.

I would really like…

The overwhelming majority of these emails are written politely and ask for things which seem, at the surface, quite reasonable. What is often lacking behind these requests is simply context or background information about Musink, and software businesses in general.

Hi, my name is Lee

I am the developer of the software Musink which many of you love so much. I’m more than that though. I am the business manager, the tech support team, the systems maintenance manager, the public representative, the web design team, the author of all wiki content, the cleaner… and so on. Yes, the email you recieved from Musink may say “the team at Musink”, but 364 days a year, that team is just me. If you have not yet read this article on how Musink came to fruition, please give it a read to appreciate the kind of dedication I have to what is now your music software.

I live in a rented room, in a shared house, in a country which is not my own. I study full time as a PhD candidate, attempting to advance science to improve the lives of children with often-horrific brain injuries. I am on a modest scholarship that covers little more than basic living costs. My personal laptop takes 20 minutes to boot, I do not own a car, and I have a still-growing student loan that would make your eyes pop out of your head.

Nothing is for free

In a world of Gmail, Facebook, and Spotify it is very easy to forget that nothing is truly for free. Everything has a cost, somewhere. Servers cost money to run. Data needs to be backed up. Telco companies need to be paid. Developers need to eat.

I need to eat.

When you buy a product online, chances are, you found that website by clicking a link, or writing in a link you found in a magazine, on TV, or on a billboard. Directly, or indirectly, you found this link because of advertising. Guess what? The company you just bought from increased the price of what you bought, to pay for that advertising. You just bought advertising for someone else. It also increased the cost of what you bought to pay for that website. You just paid to keep some body’s server running.

Gmail, Facebook, and Spotify are advertising-driven. While they may appear to be free, in reality, when you buy something online, you are paying for those services.

Musink Lite is free … for you

Musink Lite is a version of Musink which is free to download and contains all the basic Musink features. It costs me money and time to maintain, to host online, to develop, to test, to write help documentation for, and so on.

I commonly turn down requests from unscrupulous companies to put adware or spyware in Musink Lite. Musink Lite is a gift to the musical community, and I will never infect it with third party nonsense like this. If I am turning this down, and nothing comes for free, who pays for Musink Lite?

I do.

A substantial amount of the revenue from Musink Pro is immediately spent to keep Musink Lite free for people who are just starting to compose, who are ‘poor students’ like myself, or who cannot justify paying for software that they only will use for a very short time. This money comes out of my (rather empty) pocket.

So, please, before asking “You give Musink Lite for free, so why can’t you provide me with a free copy of Musink Pro?“, consider the above. There would simply be no Musink Lite if I gave Musink Pro away. There would be no Musink at all.

Musink Pro is Unbelievably Cheap

It’s true. Musink Pro is sold well below its actual worth. In fact, for the average user Musink Pro is almost 10 times cheaper than competitor products.

This is for a number of reasons:

  • I don’t want to put software out of the reach of students, financially-struggling artists, or low-decile schools
  • Complex price structures would cost me additional time and money, and so drive up the average price
  • I believe that its better avoid piracy than to cover its cost with higher prices for honest customers
  • I believe it is better that many people enjoy Musink Pro at a low cost, than few people at a higher one.

Two For One?

I am very glad most customers are so keen to get their hands on what I have created for them to enjoy. The Terms of Sale, License Agreement and so on, which must be read prior to sale, explain clearly that the software can be used by many users, but must be kept on a single computer. If you change computers, I am even willing to move your license for free as a nicety. Is a this fair system? Should it not allow two computers, or three? To evaluate, a few points should be made:

  • One computer per licence is the standard license for the industry.
  • It is unlikely that your two devices have absolutely identical operating systems. Each of these operating systems costs considerable time and money to test Musink on (over a week each, currently). The more frequently an operating system variant is used, the more testing it recieves. More licenses = higher costs.
  • Providing complementary licenses to existing users is no different to giving the product away for free, or dropping the price to $30 [2014], which is below production cost

There are also our lessons from above:

  • If you purchase software that allows itself to be on multiple devices, you have already paid for that privilege in the purchase price
  • Raising the price of Musink Pro to allow multiple devices would put the software out of the reach of many musicians

And importantly:

  • Musink Pro only costs $60 a copy [2014]. At that price, Musink Pro can be purchased for multiple PCs, and still save you hundreds of dollars over competitor software

There are also a number of technical issues with allowing multiple computers, which can be overcome but, again, would drive up the price of Musink Pro. Remember that Musink Lite is Free software, if you really need to run Musink on multiple computers, and don’t want to pay for the privilege.

But I only want more time…

One request I have received a number of times is “Can I please have a free version of Musink Pro? I only want to use Special Feature X and can’t justify purchasing it for just that feature“.

It’s true, Musink Pro has some great features. It is also true that most people won’t commonly use all of those features, but which features will be used varies greatly between people. What is going to be useful to you also may not be obvious until you have the feature available. For example, no new car owner is likely to get a discount because they are only buying a new car for the plush interior. They may also be pleasantly surprised one day when they get distracted and find the car has collision control, preventing an accident.

Musink Pro has features which I thought would be useful for others, but never expected to use myself. I now use every single one of these features. Most of these save me considerable time in my compositions. Don’t limit your creativity by defining in-advance that you’ll “never have a need for X”. Musink Lite has already saved you time. Musink Pro will do better still. What is your time worth? Even at a low rate of dollars-per-hour, Musink Pro will pay itself off in no time.

Please Don’t Steal

Of course, there will always be a minority who would rather their credit card remained finger-print free and seek an illegal copy. Luckily, Musink Pro remains mostly unpirated and the overwhelming majority of users are honest contributors to the community.
To the absolute minority of people considering getting a peg-leg and waving a cutlass, I simply plead that you do not.

For Your Sake

There is a high chance that what your download will not ever run on your computer. Your download will much-more-likely contain a virus than be successfully “cracked”, and will probably damage your computer. If you copy a license key, all software with that license key will probably cease to work. In the distinctly unlikely event that you have surpassed all checks and balances, and your system registry has not yet corrupted, your software will never update, and may still shut down or crash windows at any given moment. If you ever need help with anything, you won’t have an account to ask for help (I check!).
If your computer is worth more than $60, please do not attempt to steal Musink.

For My Sake

You are not stealing from a giant company whose CEOs swim in coins and wear $800 suits. You are stealing from me, Lee. I am a musician; a student. Chances are high that your bank account has less debt than mine. Your theft would not be neutral: it costs me money to cover bandwidth, to develop, to maintain, to provide updates, to write help documentation for Musink. Thefts of Musink would be not only against me, but against all other musicians legitimately using the software. Don’t steal from musicians!
If your soul is worth more than $60, please do not attempt to steal Musink.

To Summarise

To all of you brilliantly creative people who create beautiful music, thank you so much for enjoying Musink. For those of you who have already started using Musink Pro, thank you so much for enjoying the superior version of the software. I am so happy to share it with you. I am glad you enjoy it, and am I even more glad that many of you want more still.
While musing over your new creative tools please think of me, understand where the software came from, and remember the bargain you got it for.

Enjoy!

Lee

Dear Terrible Sales Rep

Dear Musink,

I am contacting you regarding a business opportunity.

I work for a generic-sounding company who are actively seeking new software partners.  We provide an advanced monetisation platform which can greatly enhance distribution and profitability.

After extensive research we believe that a cooperation between our two companies would be mutually beneficial and highly profitable.

Please forward this message to your business development team.

We contacted you through social media, but we demand that you actually contact us via email. In our ‘extensive’ research of your software, we didn’t bother to go to your ‘About’ page that listed your contact email address.

Regards,

Terrible Sales Rep

This is a message that I have received multiple times. The first few times I was naive enough to reply, trying to explain to the senders why I was not interested. The response I received, each time, was very similar:

Dear Musink,

The research you did on our company must be misinformed. The toolbar that installs with the program merely replaces the default browser, reads hardware and software configurations, and reports these to our server for us to use however we like. It does not affect your software at all! Spyware is an ugly term which we do not like to associate with our product.

I also noted that you showed concern about advertisements appearing during installation andor during your program’s use, but I have decided to completely ignore this point, because advertisements are paying for my new car.

How could you say no! Look how profitable our company is!

Regards,

Terrible Sales Rep

If you are a user of Musink, I would like you to know that I have no plans, at all, to associate any kind of spyware, malware, or advertisements with Musink.

If you are a sales person or budding software-developer wondering why, there are numerous reasons for this:

  1. I do not wany my software running on a compromised system.
  2. I do not want to be responsible, or liable, for software that could compromise computers or privacy
  3. I do not want Musink associated with the terms ‘spyware’, ‘malware’, or ‘advertisements’. I’m sure you do not like to hear your software described with these terms. I don’t want mine to be, either.
  4. I do not want to reward unethical business practices, especially at the expense of people who simply want to compose or learn a little music.
  5. I do not want some giant multinational to piggy-back off of my hard work, especially in a way that devalues my product.
  6. Most importantly, Musink Lite is a gift to the musical community. It is a gift that has come at great expense to me, and continues to take up a lot of my time and energy. It is a gift never the less. It is not a sly money-making venture. It is not an opportunity for me to get ahead. It is not an opportunity for businesses with poor ethical standards to get ahead. I am not willing to spike a gift.

In other words:

Dear Terrible Sales Rep,

No.

Micro-Tutorials on YouTube

I find that demonstrating how to do something is usually the best way to teach. However, video tutorials can be frustrating, because you often have to sit through several 10-15min videos to find how to do one simple thing.
As a solution, I have put together a small series of ‘micro-tutorials’. These tutorials are 1-2min long videos which demonstrate how to do certain tasks in Musink. They are straight to the point, contain no background information and no ‘fluff’.

The first videos I have made are in response to FAQs I recieve.

How To:

Set the tempo
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mE6WysHp4os

Play your score back from a specific position
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HMeJ9gi13CU

Change Instruments / see all available instruments
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LlvS_MpwJBA

Create a piano stave
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wCcjwnL_P5c

Make a drum roll, or tremelo
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9MT1vxbNM84

Musink Moves My Feet

A few days ago, a good friend of mine, Joshua Drummond, created a cartoon that showed how I (Lee Reid) conceptualised, then wrote Musink using my feet and voice recognition software.

cakeburger write Musink music cartoon

An excerpt from cakeburger’s cartoon of how Musink was conceptualised and written

It really is a great piece of art. You can check out the full artwork at cakeburger.com.

A non-illustrated, but more indepth, version of the story is available here.

Since the cartoon’s posting, I’ve been interviewed by the New Zealand Herald for an article which appears here.  I have also had an overwhelming number of people comment, offer support and ideas via My/Musink’s email, twitter and facebook accounts. Thank you all, really, for all of your kind words.

Please feel free to share the story, especially if you know anybody with chronic illness, or otherwise going through difficult times.

Again, thank you every body for your kind words. The word ‘humbling’ doesn’t quite cut it.

Lee

Avast! Antivirus misfiring: Musink is not a virus!

Update, Oct 8th:  Avast! have let me know that this issue should now be fixed. If you still experience this issue after your next antivirus update, please let me know.

I got quite a fright this morning. Loading Musink Pro I was greeted with the following message from Avast! Antivirus:

Avast antivirus false positive

Avast! Antivirus mistaking Musink Launcher for a virus

I can assure you now that Launcher.exe is not a virus. Upon doing some research I found that a recent update of Avast! Antivirus has been flagging many perfectly normal programs as suspected viruses.

For those of you who are curious, Launcher.exe is a small program that checks for Musink updates, then runs Musink. It exists in both Musink Lite and Musink Pro. Without Launcher.exe, your shortcuts to Musink will not work and Musink cannot update.

If you have received this error you need to take the following steps:

  1. Hit “Report the file as a false positive”.
  2. A window will pop up asking for a few details.
  3. Write in the boxes: “Launcher is part of Musink and not a virus”
  4. Tick “I know what I’m doing”
  5. Submit by hitting OK

If you have already pressed OK by accident, Avast! Antivirus will move Launcher.exe to its ‘chest’ and you will not be able to run Musink. To get it back:

  1. Open Avast! Antivirus
  2. Open the ‘Maintenance’ Tab
  3. Right click Launcher.exe
  4. Choose ‘Restore’ (It will remain in the list even after being restored)
Restoring Musink after Avast! Antivirus removes Launcher

Restoring Musink after Avast! Antivirus removes Launcher

If you Launcher is not listed in the chest after Avast! Antivirus warned you about it, then Avast! Antivirus has probably deleted it, and you will need to reinstall Musink.

If you feel uncomfortable using the exe that Avast flagged as a suspicious program, you may be able to run Musink.exe directly by double clicking on it in in Program Files (x86)/Musink Lite or Program Files (x86)/Musink Pro. I don’t recommend this because updates will not work, but it is an option. Your shortcuts to Musink on the desktop and the Start Menu will not work if you choose to do this.

I have sent a bug report to Avast!, and hope that they can get this fixed ASAP.

 

Musink Pro is Available!!

The wait is finally over: Musink Pro is available for download! To get your copy, visit http://musink.net/download/

To read about why Musink Pro is the world’s best musink publication tool yet, see earlier blog posts at http://blog.musink.net or the info page at http://musink.net/info/musink_pro.aspx

Enjoy!

Musink Pro Closed Beta Ends; Musink Pro Public Release Announced

The closed beta period for Musink Pro officially ends on Midnight Friday 2nd August (NZ time). Applications for becoming a beta tester are now closed. If you would like to still get hold of Musink Pro, keep reading.

Bugs: Zero

I’m happy to announce that the total number of reported bugs was zero. Really, it couldn’t have gone better!

What now?

Musink Pro will be released to the public for $60 (US) on Friday the 9th of August 2013. Musink Pro will have an official label as ‘open beta’ for the first 6 months of release: this just reflects that Musink Pro is new. Musink Pro has already proven to be stable, fast, and a pleasure to use.

After the first 6 months the price may be increased, so it is worth purchasing early! All purchases come with free updates, up to version 1.9, inclusive. There is no point in waiting!

To be notified when Musink Pro is available for public download, follow Musink on Facebook, Twitter, or send us a message through the contact page.

I’m a tester, what does this mean for me?

Firstly, thank you. Secondly, congratulations on getting Musink Pro for cheap!

    • Your software will keep working as usual. There will be a slightly-newer version of Musink Pro released soon, that you can download for free. It is not necessary or critical that you do so.
    • You will still be able to download all future editions of Musink Pro (up to version 1.9, inclusive), for free.
    • If you have an issue in the future, you no longer have to report it (but it would be nice if you did!).
    • If you haven’t already provided feedback on Musink Pro, now would be an ideal time to let me know what you thought.

 

??Full steam ahead!

Register for Musink Pro Closed Beta!

Musink Pro is Released!

Musink is proud to announce that Musink Pro will be released on July 1st 2013 under a Closed Beta status.

For a list of Musink Pro’s features, see Post 1, Post 2 and Post 3.

What is closed beta?

In short, we release Musink Pro to a small number of users. They get Musink Pro for cheap, and we get to double check that there are no unexpected bugs, before it is released publicly.

Closed means that Musink Pro is only available to certain Musink users.

Beta means that the software may still contain some unexpected bugs or compatibility issues.

Once we are sure that there are no bugs or compatibility issues to worry about, Musink Pro will be made publicly available.

Who is eligible to use Musink Pro?

If you have received an email about this, you are eligible. Everybody else is free to apply for a copy. We will generally select people who have used Musink Lite before and intend on using Pro’s special features (see previous posts).

How much will it cost?

Musink Pro Closed Beta will be available at the cut price of $40USD for people who initially take up this offer. This can be paid by credit card, paypal, or by a New Zealand bank deposit.

What do I get out of it?

You get a cut-price copy of Musink Pro, ahead of a crowd! We will also take seriously your suggestions for improving to the software.

Am I stuck with ‘Beta’ software?

Nope. The version you recieve (1.2) will be able to be updated to future Musink Pro releases (up to version 1.9). If changes are made to the beta version, your version will update. If you need to, you be able to download future versions on the Musink website, up to version 1.9.

So what’s the catch?

There is no catch, really. We do, however, need you to:

  1. Use Musink Pro for at least 2 hours total within the first fortnight of downloading it (easy!)
  2. Let us know if you experience any issues
  3. Ensure you are connected to the internet when using Musink Pro, and that it is not blocked by a firewall, so that it can report any technical issues to us directly

What now?

Send us an email from our contact page to let us know you are interested! We’ll get back to you ASAP.