Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 17th Jun 2015 13:51 UTC
Windows Windows is an old and complex operating system. It's been around for a very long time, and while it's been continuously updated and altered, and parts are removed or replaced all the time, the operating system still houses quite a few tools, utilities, and assets that haven't been updated or replaced in a long, long time. Most of these are hidden in deep nooks and crannies, and you rarely encounter them, unless you start hunting for them.

Most. But not all.

There's one utility that I need to use quite often that, seemingly, hasn't been updated - at least, not considerably - since at least Windows 95, or possibly even Windows 3.x. Using this utility is an exercise in pure frustration, riddled as it is with terrible user interface design and behaviour that never should have shipped as part of any serious software product.

This is the story of the dreaded Character Map. I'll first explain just how bad it really is, after which I'll dive into the little application's history, to try and find out why, exactly, it is as bad as it is. It turns out that the Character Map - or charmap.exe - seems to exist in a sort-of Windows build limbo, and has been stuck there since the days Microsoft scrapped Longhorn, and started over.

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RE[3]: Comment by ezraz
by ssokolow on Thu 18th Jun 2015 00:11 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Comment by ezraz"
Member since:

Could you clarify and cite the "known psychological issues with ABX testing" that you mention? ...because I'd never even heard a hint toward there being a problem with it.

(Though, unless a better alternative can be devised, I'll stick with ABX as the final arbiter. I've seen far too much harm and error brought about in all sorts of fields by trusting one's ability to be objective.)

I definitely agree with the signal chain part though. Far too many people get crazy ideas about what affects audio quality because they missed a quality bottleneck somewhere up the chain.

(Admittedly, though, that's also why I have yet to be convinced that 24-bit audio as a release format provides any significant benefit. I've yet to see a properly controlled test comparing 24-bit audio to 16-bit downsampled from the same source with proper precautions taken to ensure no glitches crept in due to different decoding paths or poor-quality downsampling.)

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RE[4]: Comment by ezraz
by ezraz on Thu 18th Jun 2015 13:00 in reply to "RE[3]: Comment by ezraz"
ezraz Member since:

I can't point to anything already compiled that summarizes issues with current listening tests. I'm not sure if anyone has published the proper take down in a simple to understand form. I have read various takes and opinions burried in discussions. I can make a quick list of problems in AB tests that are ignored and could be addressed to yield better data:

1 - Our earbrain cannot do instant recall of the previous quality, relying solely on memory of previous quality while the current version is playing.

2 - Our earbrain immediately reacts negatively when the material is stopped, switched, or skips. This is an interruption to the song and this greatly skews data.

3 - Our natural listening state of music is emotional, not technical. When listening for sound quality we are not listening in a normal state and we are not listening to enjoy, therefore we can't test the pleasure of the sample.

4 - Volume and brightness will present as higher quality to many, at least initially.

5 - Most sound quality improvement is in the "air" - space and timing of the music. Because of this, often times we hear a quality change in the introduction of the song, not in the middle of the first verse. Also the "breakdown", the quiet part into a big ending - show details of quality. Therefore fast switching should not be allowed, and half-songs should be the smallest unit of sample.

6 - We are always comparing sound to our own personal listening experiences. If given strange gear we compare it to our own, we seek familiarity. If listening to strange material we aren't comfortable no matter what, it is not a natural test.

OK gotta wrap it up, I think if you google criticism of AB listening tests you might find some stuff. I support AB tests for most sciences, but when trapping for musical enjoyment it fails for several reasons.

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RE[5]: Comment by ezraz
by ssokolow on Sat 20th Jun 2015 01:43 in reply to "RE[4]: Comment by ezraz"
ssokolow Member since:

Thanks. I'm currently focused almost exclusively on exams but I'll put that on my TODO list for afterwards.

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