The wonders of C


The last time I worked with C or C++ was close upon two years ago. Just now I had an opportunity to write a few lines of code in C++. There is a strong feeling of achievement when you type ./something and it gives the expected output instead of a core dump. It doesn't feel quite the same when you type java -jar something.jar.

So what did I write? not much more than a hello world really. I kid you not. The difference though is that the hello world was synthesized speech and not hello world printed on the console.

For a couple of months I have been toying around with various voice recognition and synthesis systems. My latest victim is Festival; a synthesis engine in C++ by the university of Edinburgh Though it looks like abondonware (if it isn't they are doing a good job pretending otherwise), the engine does look quite stable. Interestingly though the festival manual speaks of a C API, only a C++ API is present.

There was even 'talk' of a JSAPI implementation. Unfortunately that seems still born. Anyway the JSAPI implementation they have worked on is actually a client server implementation and running festival as a server is akin to putting up a large banner saying 'hack me', but more on that later.

I wrote my first C program in '89 or '90 as a school boy. That was on an 8086 - which had all of 640Kb (kilo bytes) of memory and no hard disk. It felt like a super computer when compared with the

spectrum I used in '88.

I rarely do any programming with C nowadays, primarily because I never got the hand of Makefile and M4 macros or reading the info pages (even through one of the X based readers) but all that is another story for another day.

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