PTB beta “Arrested Development” released 11.01.2010, Mario takes a break from development


Mario takes a break

The first PTB beta update for 2010, codename “Arrested Development” has been released 1 week ago. “Arrested Development” is not only the name of a medical condition, a hip-hop band and a tv series, but also the only item on my todo-list for Psychtoolbox throughout the next few months. I have to get the writeup of my thesis finished and time spent on PTB development & support is a major obstacle to this goal, although a pleasurable one.

I will continue to monitor the forum for serious problem reports but only respond to really urgent and important requests, if you make it really simple for me to help you by preparing your specific questions carefully according to the guidelines we have at the start page of the forum and on our Wiki. In short: “Careless emails do not invite careful responses.” – Other users are of course welcome to help their troubled colleagues.

A good way to help yourself is to look at the various demo scripts in the PsychDemos folder if you need help on how to implement certain things or get examples for coding, to use google to search the forum for previous answers for similar questions, to search the Wiki for information, to actually read and follow the instructions for beginners that our installers print after each single installation and update. It also helps to actually read error messages and warnings and follow the pointers to troubleshooting instructions that they quite often contain, instead of simply copy & pasting them to the forum – Although copying the output is still better than simply writing “It doesn’t work” in the most fuzzy way possible.

I’m not interested in discussing feature requests for the next months, we have a page on our Wiki where you can write those down, together with a contact address, and i’ll likely come back to you, once i have time to pick up development again. You are still welcome to submit improved code or new functionality to me or the other developers for inclusion into the toolbox, as long as you’re doing most of the work and not me.

I’m also not interested in bug reports for trivial bugs or pure annoyances. If it is trivial enough for you to fix it yourself, fix it and send me the updated files. If it is non-trivial for you to fix, write a bug report and add it to our bug reporting system, or to the proper section of our Wiki.

Reports for really serious bugs will still catch my attention if they are well written and i will do beta updates to fix such bugs should this become neccessary.

Thanks for your sympathy.

New features in “Arrested Development”:

These are the new features and improvements of the latest beta. I’ll post more details when i have time.

  • Good support for international character set handling, Unicode and Multibyte/UTF-8 text encoding and other non-ASCII scripts on all operating system platforms. Read help DrawTextEncodingLocaleSettings for further details, as well as the updated help of Screen TextBounds? and Screen DrawText?

  • High-Quality text rendering support with anti-aliasing and Unicode drawing on GNU/Linux via use of dynamically loaded FTGL text rendering plugin. Should work out of the box. For interesting options and troubleshooting if it doesn’t, read help DrawTextPlugin.

  • Support for control of power-management and dithering of modern ATI GPU’s via PsychGPUControl() + proper helper binary executables for Windows and Linux. This will require further explanations, stay tuned…

  • Workarounds in IOPort for broken USB serial drivers as reported by Xiangrui Li, see message 10537.

  • Improvements to PsychRTBox driver to expose new functionality in the latest generation of the RTBox response time box.

  • DaqDIn may be able to read from USB 1024-LS now, as requested by Thomas G. Fikes, see message 10484.

  • Improvements in visual stimulus onset scheduling, realtime scheduling and high-precision visual stimulus onset timestamping on all platforms as result of the extensive benchmarking and tuning efforts on all supported platforms. This will need further explanation in the future. If you want to take advantage of it and get best possible stimulus onset timing, make proper use of the ‘when’ parameter of Screen('Flip') and the returned timestamps, as explained in the Intro-PDF and demonstrated in a few of our demos.

  • Kbcheck, KbWait, KbQueueXXX et al. functions on MacOS/X can now also handle keypads, not only keyboards. Read their help texts for explanation. This code contributed by Roger Woods. Thanks!

  • Initial support for the VPixx Technologies "DataPixx data acquisition and graphics system for the vision sciences”. This is the first iteration, so far only on OS/X on Intel Macs under GNU/Octave is supported. This is work in progress. The basic infrastructure for good integration into PTB is implemented, tested and shown to work very well. As most of the remaining development work will be done by VPixx, e.g., support for all other operating system platforms and Matlab, i’ll probably do some beta release with an update, once all other platforms are ready. See help PsychImaging and search for Datapixx for supported high precision display video modes of the device. Most of our demos for high precision stimulus display have been updated to support the device as well. help PsychDataPixx for more interesting features. Again, this is work in progress, a somewhat functional sneak preview, not the final product.

  • Some improvements by David Brainard et al. to the PsychCal subroutines for monitor calibration and similar tasks.

  • Lots of bugfixes, small improvements.

Have fun and good luck, -mario