Friday, December 23, 2005

Sipura SPA-3000

Although phonegnome is supposed to be the next big thing, I think the Sipura SPA-3000 device is still very good value for money. (data sheet)

Its a relatively reasonably priced FXO, FXS interface. I've purchased a couple from jmg technology in australia which had some package deal for 2.

The pain with these things that it doesn't really come easy at this stage unlike broadband internet routers.

Looking at the configuration pages were a real pain and it is really difficult to understand every option. The solution was voxilla. After you create an account in voxilla and log in. under the sidebar voIP tools, device config wizards you will find a link that will ask simliar questions to let you configure your device.

The simplied setup guide for australia can be .

The support website is

Just to get started
- plug in everything except the phone line cable
- dial **** followed by 110# to get the ip address (accessible on the LAN)

A factory reset is **** followed by 73738#

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

What quake taught us

Playing Quake II basically thought me that life was short and its not nice to camp with a rail gun at a spawning point.

I read today that the average life span of a non protected windows machine on the internet is 20 mins. I'm assuming this is with all the normal activity that most people do like surfing and checking their email.

This means that the first websites we should visit and the application to install after connecting up our new machine is the windows patch page and an anti-virus protection program.

I thought this might be an interesting fact to know. And of course the average lifespan of a space marine dropped into battle is ?

Merry Christmas

Tis the season to be jolly. Christmas is upon us and I've found it excessively hard to spend time to type a new article or do any music production. I imagine it would be a great time to reflect on our achievements and areas of improvement for the next year and spend some time writing some resolutions.

Merry Christmas everyone.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Offline MIDI routing mysteries for XP

The problem I've been having with MIDI on my winXP machine is that I've been unable to do any MIDI routing without launching my sequencer.

MacOS X has an inbuilt and intuitive function in the system preferences to manage this, however this function is lacking in windows.

Some midi interfaces provide its native routing program, e.g. emagic, but my tascam us-428 just didn't have that.

The solution, MIDI OX and MIDI Yoke. They have been around for a while, but its something i just discovered that does something similar. You will need to add all your MIDI devices and connect them up.

Its not as pretty as the MIDI controls in MacOS X, but it works.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Dream computer

I believe a person's personal computer tells a lot about the person. Before that, people could only read faces, palms, handwriting. Now we know more about people by seeing what brand, operating system, choice of programs, wallpaper and desktop layout.

The last few of generations of machines has just swooped by us and a lot of people would have seen at least 3 - 5 computers pass them by. Naturally, it will soon be time to be looking at a new upgrade. So what would be this character defining machine be.

The more significant machines of this decade is my Fostex 4-track, Korg N5, Pentium 2-333, Pentium 3-667. G4 977 ibook. I have to say you really get great ROI on good machines. In fact, my old pentium machines are still serving faithfully to this day.

The trick to actually determining ROI should be best determined by the amount of time you spend at your machine, or at least the amount of time you want to spend at your machine. i.e. your best ROI will be your wife's nightmare. This means productive time vs waiting time and multi-processing abilities. Notice I didn't mention multitasking. I resided to the fact that I cannot multi-task and I do not try to anymore. multitasking == distractions.

The biggest time wasters, rendering, booting, burning. Happiness may be elusive to some, but in computing happiness is the lack of lag and great response times. The solution to each normally is a fast internet connection, a fast disk, good maintenance, installation and some intelligence. Of course ample system resources help the mix but is never the solution.

I've seen some supposedly fast machines run like a dog (no offence to fast dogs). In those cases, the system just isn't maximised. Some enthuisasts go to extremes. Call me lazy, but after gazillion program installations, you just dont change the installation path after a while (with the exception for games, old habits die hard)

The next dillema is that I'm a mac addict as well, and as much as I want my powermac, somehow the few dollars cheaper saved initially on a PC seems to easily sway people over. In truth, it is probably more cost effective to get Mac. You get all the software you need up front and no hassles and pain from the normal Windows world.

Games! Unless you only plan on playing on consoles, you'd bound to get a PC game which isn't on XBOX. Dawn of War, Guild Wars, Warcraft, Half-life2, etc.

So if I were to get a machine, here is what I would get:

- Intel Socket 775 Pentium D 830 3.0GHZ 800MHZ FSB Dual Core CPU
- ASUS P5ND2-SLI-DELUXE nFORCE4 LGA775 2xPCI-E G-Lan Raid Motherboard or Asus P5WD2-PREMIUM I955P PENTIUM D 4xDDR2 Raid PCI-EX GLan LGA775
- DDR2 2Gig(2x1G)PC5400 667Mhz Dual Channel Kit+Copper Heatspreader OCZ
- 2 x Maxtor 300G Serial ATA Hard disk
- Radeon X850XT, PCIe, 256MB GDDR3
- LG DVD16X+- Super Multi DVD Rewriter with Software(DUAL LAYER Black )4167BBK
- SilverStone LC17 BLACK ATX Desktop Case
at umart - $2,576

Yamaha 01x at musiclab - $1,299
Dell 24in 2405FPW LCD display at dell - $1,499

And if I were to get another notebook, it'd be a powerbook. Hey, a person has to have at least one Mac. Then again the new imac's do look really sweet.

So I wait... and I would imagine it will be a long wait....

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Awards for 2004/2005

Fav tracks

These aren't from 2005 but I would just claim them to be my fav tracks this year. To qualify I would have listened to each track like numerous times and occasionally several times at once.
A couple these tracks are fun to drum since I got my kit this year. A couple I played guitar with the band. Others are just exceptionally touching.

K's Choice - Iron Flower
Radiohead - Exit Music (For A Film)
Beatles - Come together
Bach - Concerto in D minor, BWV 1043 - I. Vivace
Chemical Brothers - The Test
Crystal Method - Weapons of mass distortion
Depeche Mode - World in my eyes
Grinspoon - Kills, Thrills, And Sunday Pills
Jebediah - Animal
The Vines - Ride
Collective soul - Listen
Stone Roses - Love Spreads
Getz/Gilberto - girl from ipanema
Air - dirty trip
New order - brutal
Sergio Mendes & Brazil 66 - Más Que Nada
Propellerheads - On Her Majesty's Secret Service
Placebo - bulletproof cupid

Other awards

Best Band - K's choice (thanks to many train rides and 1 MD)
Best Album - stan getz / joao gilberto (its a hi fidelity CD, good stuff too)
Best concert - Muse (real nice out in the park event)
Best Soundtrack - Doom (clint mansell)
Most memorable concert - Pavarotti (most expensive)

Gizmo vs Skype

Skype is going video while Gizmo is SIP.

In all fairness, I think people should give gizmo a go. I like the idea that its interoperable with other SIP networks while maintaining the ease of Skype.

Unfortunately, its not getting as much glory for being bought at a huge price, but I'm sure gizmo is a contender for the next big thing.

I've got my gizmo ID, get yours!

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

aliens designed apple computers

Last night I dreamt I was back in my old room and there was a blackout. My UPS was buzzing and I had to rush to shutdown all my machines with only 1 KVM.

Soon after I hit control alt delete to save time, the wall I was facing was sucked away leaving a funny material wall with a small beige cusioned tunnel. the flat cusions was stuck to the walls of the tunnel with velcro.

I climbed into the tunnel and finally reached a white corridor and discovered little blue aliens. The aliens revealed that they designed apple computers when I noted that the ship internals look familier. As I walked along the corridors, I noticed a small chill out loungy looking bathing pool with bubbles populated with some guy and more aliens. I also met some immortals from "The Highlander" one played by Sean Connery.

Soon it was time to leave and I was hoping for a free mac. Unfortunately they didn't keep any stock but were kind enough to loan me one of the early concept design macs which actually looked like a 1970s portable hifi box with USB ports and VGA port on the side and a purple CRT monitor(similar to the blueberry series).

They explained that this model didn't do very well in the trade show and they finally went with the current designs. Purple wasn't very popular as well, so I could keep the monitor.

I probably exited the spacecraft and ended up in some graveyard voodoo ritual, but thats another story.

Friday, December 02, 2005

voIP adoption - part 1

Sure, we know all about voIP. We read the news and about how telecommunications is going to change. Apart from some phone card services and the alternate IDD line that use internet gateways, how else has voIP changed our lives.

About one year ago, I was trying to get my friends and family to install skype. Some finally did and still run it faithfully while others still plainly refuse. Now, I'm trying to get these people not to use skype but use a SIP capable internet phone instead. I was never quite happy with the limitation of skype not being transferable between other voIP services, but the plain simplicity of the installation and use was great for the people you had to talk to on the other end.

The process of making the switch will probably be gradual, but how do I make sure everyone is on the same system for interoperability? My solution would be to pick the protocol and not the application and SIP naturally comes to mine. Although SIP has been out for a while now, I still think it hasn't totally caught on as yet. Although I hope it would as mentioned in this article.

For a new system that everyone including my grandmother can use, there has to be no complications and very intuitive to be able to use by all skill levels.

I've identified there are 2 methods:

1. Mostly try to use the phone
2. User is able to select most preferable application

To be able to do this, some hardware is required.

Full setup: FXO/FXS interface, POTS line and telephone, dedicated server, internet connection
Half setup: FXO/FXS interface, POTS line and telephone, optional computer, internet connection
Computer setup: computer, internet connection, microphone

As most people already have more than half of the list, just getting the FXO/FXS interface would be the only thing left, if not a computer setup can be used for voIP calls.

Naturally to start things off, I decided to get myself one to figure out how it all works and since last year, I've been banging my head agaist the wall with my asterisk development kit only to find out I had a faulty set. Well, I just decided to put that aside for now and got a Sipura SPA-3000. After configuring my brand new spa-3000, I was rather excited that I could set it to ring my house phone when my freeworlddialup SIP number was called over the internet and get redirected if there was no answer.

The next challenge will be to do more intelligent routing to PSTN numbers and SIP numbers and to get my dial plan right. *sigh*. Is this ROI justifiable? Well, i do hope so. I'm sure it might be easier to just use a subscriber service, but just think of the satisfaction of dialing 9 first for an outside line? Maybe and maybe not.

Will provide a more detailed update as I progress.

monitoring and reporting interview

Q: Is there a monitoring and reporting tool package that can do "everything"?

A: Depending on the application. Well, speaking on past experience, I haven't seen a tool that has just out of the box done all the monitoring and reporting you will ever need. Uptime, performance or disk space alerts probably, but once you get down to the application you need to support, you're on your own and will need to build your own interface to the package or alert system.

Q: What about mature software packages by big vendors that have complicated specifications and requirements.

A: Some of these are great tools that work in specialised enviornments. Each tool will work on a case by case basis. Policy is currently an organisations best friend in controlling this enviornment. It can dictate what computer hardware and software are used. However in real life, its very difficult to maintain a certain standard as everyone works differently and you will obviously get the renegade department or people who will do something else and making them comply to standards is not a method of increasing productivity.

When you find a monitoring system that sounds too good to be true, it probably isn't true. Always implement a proof of concept and determine the measures of success first.

Q: What are the measures of sucess of system monitoring and reporting?

A: 100% of system managers will say if the business need is met. Thats just an easy answer because its vague and easy to get away with. After all, who is going to challenge "business need"? A chalenge of determining a success of a system is normally in determining the metrics and thresholds. Since monitoring and reporting are already metrics, success factors are already determined. How easy is that?

I'd work through this process with the example of recording a track, as there is always more than one method. Laying the drums is normally the most basic and un-inspirational. Using an appagiator kicks of some imagination, but gets monotonous. These are the easiest methods. drum == server metrics, apagiator == third party tools. You get a solution but is it what you need?

Q: What makes the best "track" or solution?

A: I feel that the best track normally comes from the inspired player. It doesn't happen often and thats probably why there aren't that many best tracks around. How this equates to system and reporting is that the designer already knows what he or she wants. An apple hitting the head, or falling in the bathroom (kids do not do this at home). After knowing what you want, just go out and get or build the thing that you need.

Sounds way to tough, but dig deep and find that the answer is always simple. That determines the best solution for you. Do not fret if its not like what other packages are like. As long as it works for you and your organisation.

About the interviewee; pipsqueak has been designing monitoring, reporting and alert systems in various projects accross different servers both with and without cash from management.

computer gym

One of the more fun things about thursdays other than band practises is the computer gym. Its like a truck with computers for kids. I think its a great idea but i'm not exactly sure if the kids feel the same way. Still its good to get a bit of screen time and a lot more time outside.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Housekeeping MS-DOS

Last year someone from the office bought me MS-DOS 5 still in the original packing as a practical joke during the secret santa gift exchange.

I've been keeping it on my shelf for almost a year and its about secret santa time again. As I am not that evil, I decided to dump it this year. Before it goes to the bin, I thought i might as well image the disks in case the planet blew up.

I opened the shrink wrapped box and found 5 floppy disks and I dont mean 3.5inch disks. Good grief. To give an idea on my view about floppies, 2 out of 3 of my current machines doesn't even have 3.5 inch floppy drives and the one that does is a linux box, which is there for historical reasons. Although I think I might at some point use to backup essential configuration files, but meanwhile with external drives, why bother?

Anyway, as you can see I used a scanner to copy the disk in the end. Here's to backups!

Isync can only setup one symbian phone on Panther

Yikes! Just got a Panasonic X700 and tried to set it up on my ibook still running Mac OS X 10.3. with isync 1.5

One of the first hurdles was the fact that the Panasonic x700 is not listed as a supportable device in Panther. This was easily overcome by a published hack

The only thing to note when making changes to the file example is to use correct the device address. You can also change the phone name as well. I changed mine to the same name as what I named and paired the mobile as.
If you do not know the name or device address, goto: System Preferences > Bluetooth > Devices

Next was the really curious bit. I attempted to add my 6600 back as another sync device and it started complaining. So it seems that 1.5 can only manage one symbian phone sync at a time.

The solution, remove and add. The painful part in that is the x700 is not supported.

Unix script to the rescue. Create 2 files, one for each phone, e.g.

Script version:

cd /Library/Application\ Support/SyncService/501
cp SymbianConduitDefaults.plist_$1 SymbianConduitDefaults.plist

Finder version (its not in a hidden directory):

Your HD > Library > Application Support > SyncService > (your user id, i.e. the only folder you have access to) 501
Same thing, create 2 files and just rename or replace using [apple]-c and [apple]-v when needed

Apple isync support can be found a here.

Using other media forms in blogs

I've recently discovered the next blog button (top right) and I have to say there are tons of interesting blogs out there. I've found more mac users and other forms of media. Theses are the interesting ones I've found which use video and audio on their blog.

vidsofwati - video on blogger
AuralFixation - audio on blogger

The amazing thing is you dont need to be a genius to do this, but there is a catch. you need web space somewhere else. Webspace in a uni or a .Mac account. I've not tried using the picture attach button to attach an mov file, which I might try in a while. Not hopeful.

Upload, link and "tada" a more intersting blog experience.

Oh yeah, check out the a free mp3 from boards of canada! I didn't realise that did audio downloads as well.

--- Date: 25th Dec 2005

Looks like there's this website that does videos as well and its like full lenght music videos that you can link to your blog.

check out

Monday, November 21, 2005

Is documentation really such a pain?

Since the discovery of blogs and wikis, I have never found that much fun in documentation. There is a certain element of funlyness, if there is such a word, that makes you feel all soft inside. Ooooo.

I'm sure everyone struggled to try to put their homepages online. I remembered when I first had to put up. Only managed to fix it today, although I've been wanting to do something with it for ages but never got about to it. This is the first brilliant example of how blogs make documentation easy. It's so much easier for me to just focus on the content on message instead of worrying about how to structure the page into the rest of the site. The days of large number of webmasters are numbered. Blogs naturally being great for journals and historical references.

Once we get into the area of categorisation and versioning, I would highly suggest using a wiki. There are quite a few wikis out there to join in. Its a great opportunity to put your valued knowledge and learn a thing or two. Everyone has tons of weird 'useless' information in our brains, wouldn't it feel better if we just 'documented' these somewhere?

Especially when faced with improper, outdated, unused documentation and technical people who refuse to document tips and tricks based on no proper category in a word document or website, knowledge gets lost.

One day, after getting pissed with the state of documentaion, I suggested, "Lets start a wiki". Oddly enough, the response was "Whats a wiki?". Things progressed and I installed openwiki, the most idiot proof wiki I can find that runs on windows having a simple ms access backend with ASP files that can be published on IIS.

Sometime after I implented the wiki, someone asked me a question and I responded with "check the wiki" and not so oddly enough, the response was, "that sounds like a technical voodoo god?" :P

My opinion on what makes a successful wiki; Give and you will receive. It is preferable to give more information especially when starting out. As a general guideline, documentaion should take as much time as performing a task, unless when performing the task, you spend half the time twiddling your thumbs in wonder.

With both these tools, documentation is easy. Go forth and plunder.

toto annihilation

Before this blog gets insanely boring, I ought to put a picture of a cute dog to maintain interest. Good grief, the things people have to do to captivate audiences these days.

This is toto. His last name is not annihilation, but I thought that was a very funny line from "cats and dogs" and decided to use it for a title. I previously tried to name a guide dog we sponsored toto, which didn't happen. Somehow my neice managed to think this one up on her own.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Guide to buying music gear in Australia

It was one of the longest queues I've ever seen in Brisbane waiting for a shop to open. The one day only sale at Billy Hyde Music. They sent me the brochure that promised $5 condenser microphones, which I did not see. and did not really have a chance to ask for because it was just a mad house. They did seem pretty professional with piped music, live act and annoucements for the people queing outside. I have to say the first half hour was torturous. But I'm sure if there was a similar sale in Singapore, it would be equivelent to the esprit or zara sale.

Items itself were cheaper and relatively good prices, but since there were so many people about, further bargaining wasn't very likely. This would have been of greater value if people already know what they want and have previously negotiated good prices and walk in to see if they can get a better deal.

One more point on tackling the sale, allow yourself a lot of time. As I had only 30 mins before leaving for my tire servicing appointment. Deciding to do my shopping next year in Singapore, I decided not to go away empty handed for my troubles of getting in and bought a Beringer Ultra DI box for $50 normally $65 at Allens but retailing at Billy Hyde at $79. $50 bucks to getting it in Singapore would have been about the same, but the only difference being a local warranty.

Things are normally more expensive here. There are a few discounts which makes something worthwhile, but whats really great is the warranty service. Most importantly, "Keep the receipt". With the receipt, people are more likely to want to help you out. So sometimes paying that extra isn't a bad idea for a piece of mind. Which reminds to visit drum worx again to get my dodgy yamaha high hat pedal fixed.

Another recommended shop is Brisbane Sound Group on Sandgate road. The guys know their stuff and its not all about selling something right there and then. Amazing service. Allans is quite alright, on Queen street mall, I have not bought anything from there yet. I've heard the prices are good and I have seen a really nice spirit compact mixer for cheap, but didn't pick it up. Music express at kessels road, near the junction of mains road is quite nice as well. Lastly, at the homemaker city at Jindalee, Music Junction I think its called, where my wife takes piano lessons. Nice friendly folk and not very packed place. Gives you time to muddle on the guitar, although not a big selection of items.

As most of these places are rather distributed, unless you like window shopping and looking at various gear, its easy to pick up the phone and call to make price comparisons. Thats the quickest way to get the best deal. Happy hunting.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Apple - IBM Joke

Question: What do get when you cross Apple with IBM?
Answer: IBM

Here's another variant

Question: What do get when you cross Oracle with Peoplesoft?
Answer: Oracle

I'm sure these jokes were made by an american, never can really understand their humour.

Windows is more evil, the blue screen of death strikes again

I spoke too soon, just as I was commenting on how stable Windows XP was in Apple is Evil, Windows XP decided to go blue screen on me. At the time of failure, the guys in the studio just stared at the screen and said that was interesting. They had XP crash on them all the time, but haven't seen the blue screen in a while. Can't say that was consoling.

The reason of the crash was windows fighting over the audio driver for my tascam 428. The moral of the story is, do not attempt to start Acid when using Cubase. Only one main application should be run at any one time.

One more year to getting powermac. Gonna start counting down the months. "12 .."

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Data Inheritance Part II

I was about to type a comment on a friend's blog but as this response would be too long, I decided to put a post on my own. Refer to Data Inheritance.

To try to make this point easier, pick a school of thought.

Optimist: Of course data will be stored forever and easily assessible via web interfaces on your refrigerator

Pessimist: Data is will be lost before you die due to some stupid virus or a hardisk failure. And you curse and swear

Tecnologist: Adequate information lifecycle management strategies can be implemented using archival, backup and content management tools.

The Optimist

Harddisks are getting bigger and cheaper right? When you upgrade machines, just copy stuff from one to the next leaving lots of spare. you might end up with a horrid number of old harddisks like myself that will confuse the wife, but its just the part of parcel of upgrades.

You can also utilise a host of external storage media, external enclosures and network attached storage and varied distributed and redundant file systems if you have an amazing amount of free time.

The Pessimist

For the people who believe that "We are all going to die", or simply those who had experienced several blackouts and had their computer power turn off while working. Trust me it is super irritating. Actually the dumbest incident I experienced was when i decided to plug my computer into a server room UPS not knowing maintenance was taking place, suffice to say I did lose some emails and documents I was typing several times. Also not forgeting the recent incidents when my collegue accidentally plugged out the main cable to my workstation that was under his desk. Maybe this was all some kind of karma for the time I accidentally unplugged a server's power to test a zip drive. Occupational hazzards for working in unknown environments.

Not sure if anyone remembers the CIH virus, but when I was in Uni, that wiped out my FAT partition table and I lost all my data. Thankfully, since then I've not lost much. Experienced multiple harddisk failures but that have been overcome by Linux's powerful will read everything attitute and multiple copies of data.

So in short, shit happens.

The Tecnologist

The fabled technologist with his infinite wisdom and astounding number of jargon and abbreviations, spurning out lingo like ILM and resilence. So, WIIFM aka. "what's in it for me"? In most cases I believe that care, common sense and courtesy will give people the ability to run any system. I actually got that 3 Cs from my boating instructor and thought thats incredibly simple and it is. This means that being a technogist isn't as far fetched as it sounds. Just ignore the show offs, get into a boat and start practising.

What is common sense in data management? Read my previous disk management post.

This is the end

In summary, I think data is a very important and integral part of people who spend half their lifes typing into various machines. It characterises people and I will not be suprised if in the future, our descendents will study cultural revolutions and argue whether web publishing and blogging was an important step in our cultural changes, evolution and education.

Data, more correctly described as 'information' (interpretated data in the useful form) is intangible making it immortal, however media is tangible and hence has a life expectancy.

Data conversion does take place, much like it has over the centuries and even vital information that may have been lost may be resurrected by modern archeologist. The only thing we can do is be responsible for our own information. I'm sure other than the junk we leave behind on the net on a daily basis, we should be responsible for ourselves and be the technologist with backup.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Apple is Evil

The worse of wars come from the best of intentions. As much as I am an Apple fan, I occasionally get the sinking feeling that my passion in the future will be naught.

We all have heard that "windows is evil" more often than any other operating systems. Occasionally we feel that way, which our machines crashing, our data corrupted, virus attacks, etc. Giving it some credit, I am impressed with XP and my consistent uptime. In fact it now "has been up for: 14 day(s), 8 hour(s), 11 minute(s), 49 second(s)"

We all know mac's are great. Great for uptime, great for idiots, great on a total cost of ownership in any organisation, although not widely accepted. After reading Winn's Mac/Wintel TCO analysis, mac wins on the virus, spyware patching stuff. But why run analyse TCO of just that? How about Fedora vs Wintel? If there is any basis of comparision in an organisation, it would solely be the compatibility factor of groupware applications like outlook and office. The corporate world still revolves around outlook doesn't it?

Apple is still in the game because of Microsoft's Entourage. Most like me have hear of Evolution, but does it really work? I am sure the move to Evolution will be successful only with the support of CIO changing outlook server settings, adequate testing and documentation of support. Is this too much trouble?

I think Sun had the right idea the first time when they recokoned that the network was the computer and everyone should have thin clients. They were and still are too advanced for this generation and I dont believe this sat well in the multimedia hungry world which wanted the power to create with their workstations, possibly leading to Microsoft's "start something" campaign, giving the user the power to "create".

So, lets get back to Apple, what is so potentially vicious? Is it another Microsoft? For some time, Apple produces the hardware as well as their software. This means when you buy the hardware, you will be forced to use Mac OS and buy Apple applications. 10 years ago if everyone wanted an Apple computer instead of the PC compatible, they would have ruled the world. Of course, hackers would have put another OS on it, but it wouldn't be a big percentage and they would still have ruled the world.

And its not just Apple out there forcing people to go the proprietary way. Sony developed the memory stick, a form of media compatible with all Sony devices. If you had a camera with a memory stick, chances are you want to plug that memory stick into your portable computer if possible directly and that would mean youre looking at getting a vaio for convience. Sounds too good to be true for the marketer? I believe this to be a double edged sword. Sony is at the last of my list when shopping electronics. This is because having my PDA using SD card means my camcorder or digital camera needs to preferbly use an SD card.

Maybe this will all change once Mac OS goes Intel. It is a strange and rather unknown road ahead. Apple may lose on the hardware side of things if consumers are able to load Mac OS on cheaper standard Intel hardware. Still this is not a bad thing as it gives more power to consumers, but I'm sure the marketers will make this short lived. What will they think of next, an Apple gaming console?

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Setup Grip to encode to mp3 and include track numbers

In Fedora Core 3, the default encoder is oggenc which encodes to ogg format and not to the more popular mp3. The default setup also does not put the track number in front. This can be configured as followed.

1) Download and install lame-3.96.1-2.1.fc3.rf.i386.rpm from Dag. This is not included in the fedora installation even the full install of 4 disks!

2) Change the Encoder Settings - Config > Encode > Encoder

Encoder: lame
Encoder command-line: -h -b %b %w %m
Encode file extension: mp3
Encode file format ~/mp3/%A/%d/%t_%n.mp3

I pretty much just left the encoder command line as default, but changed the bitrate in the Options tab to 192

3) For consistency, I changed the ripper options in Config > Rip > Ripper

Rip file format ~/mp3/%A/%d/%t_%n.wav

4) yibidi, yibidi - thats all folks.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Lifetime Warranty

I used to think it was a joke until today. I received a nice courier package containing a new 128MB 133mhz RAM I must have got ages ago.

Through my years of buying memory and harddrives, I've always been quite amused by the fact that kingston had some lifetime warranty label. I never thought too much about it until I realised I had a spare (and compatible with my current machines) simm that wasn't in a computer. How horrid is that?

So I opened up my Pentium 3 667 and stuck it in and it didn't work. Not having Sim Lim Square around the corner, I decided to look on the kingston site. After a few links, I think I managed to send an electronic form to the australian distributor stating my problem. They quickly responded with an RMA. In response, I mailed the memory back in an envelop to NSW for bit more than 5 bucks and thought thats the last I'd see of it.

As I was walking past my pigeon hole, I noticed a note saying package in the bigger pigeon hole below and it was a couier package.

The end of the story is that now, the memory is now sitting comfortably in my Pentium 3 mainboard, being fed electricity, living hapily ever after, giving me the much needed overhead RAM.

The End

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Pavarotti Concert

Although Not the best concert I've ever been too, but i have to say it was pretty top notch. I dont attibute it to the artists, but the location. Queensland is still rather lacking in the areas of refined arts. The orchestra wasn't entirely inspiring during the first half, but quickly brushed up on the second half with more vivace.

Its amazing to be able to hear the popular voice of the tenor in real life, not to mention catch one of the guest stars on the original muppet show. This is suppose to be his farewell tour, so we wish him all the best.

Monday, November 07, 2005

GPRS with ibook and nokia 6600

Its been a while since I've setup my ibook to use the GPRS connection. It has come in really handy before in the sunshine coast hinterland town of malany where there weren't any telephones in the luxury chalets and to get to the nearest phone line, would mean a trek to the hut at the entrance where one phone might be available.

I believe anyone who owns a mobile and bluetooth capable notebook should at least set up their GPRS to the notebook. Its good to know that in cases of emergency, when there isn't any power and the lines are cut, you can at least check your mail or surf the net at slow speeds. In my case, one of things I must have is SSH. SSH actually works fine on GPRS. Its a bit laggy, but usable. This means youre never too far from your server.

Each GPRS connection for mobile providers are different. The differences are in the APN. I've included some in this post.

There are 3 steps to this process:

Step 1: Add/Pair your mobile as a device your computer can recognise. This shouldn't be too difficult with bluetooth assistant.

Step 2: Download your modem scripts/driver files. I've lost the links I've managed to download the Nokia modem scripts from, but I'm still glad I have the files. I'm using the "Nokia GPRS CID 1" script. Just download and copy these files to /Library/Modem Scripts. After you copy the files there, you can specify which file to use in system preferences.

System Preferences > Network > Bluetooth > Bluetooth Modem > Nokia GPRS CID 1

Step 3: Setup your network connection. Remember to add the DNS servers in the TCP/IP Tab. No comma required for DNS, just put each ip on a new line.


System Preferences > Network > Bluetooth > PPP > Account Name:

Leave everything else blank. It does look weird, but you have to remember that your mobile is already authenticated to its GPRS connection.

Caution: I see a posibility for hackers to search nearby mobile and try to use their GPRS connection for net access. Bluetooth security does require a pin to pair, so thats one barrier, but if a hacker pairs your mobile when youre not looking, you can be a potential victim. So that means if your mobile device beeps and says accept connection from blah. Say no and look at your pairing to make sure nothing extra is there. Its still good practice if this hack sounds a little far fetched.

Operator: - Optus
GPRS APN: - internet
Username: - {blank}
Password: - {blank}
DNS: -,

Operator: - Telstra
GPRS APN: - telstra.internet
Username: - {blank}
Password: - {blank}
DNS: -,

Operator: - M1
GPRS APN: - mobilenet
Username: - {blank}
Password: - {blank}
DNS: -,

Operator: - SingTel
GPRS APN: - internet
Username: - {blank}
Password: - {blank}
DNS: -,

Operator: - Starhub
GPRS APN: - shwapint
Username: - {blank}
Password: - {blank}
DNS: -,

Sunday, November 06, 2005

DNS and Organisational Planning

I fixed up my DNS server last week. Its really strange how organisations can still rely on hosts file for name resolution. What was even more amazing was that I just accepted that for almost 2 years. When the network change and you realise that its a real pain to make changes and you start wondering who's bright idea it was to use the hosts file in the first place and of course its always easier to for people to blame the guy who's not there.

So whats the big deal with running a DNS server anyway? Its not a big overhead to create a functional a workgroup DNS server, unless of course, its some windows thing that need to log into some domain that requires some auto population something that caches some hosts to some server that needs to be assessible via some funny port across the intranet, etc? No doubt windows can also do a simplified version, but in a typical organisation setup, policies determine logic. Mind you that common sense normally means that logic should dictate policy. But in the burocratic enviornment who cares if things just dont make any sense?

If you are wondering why fully "featured" management applications are so expensive, it is probably because they are banking on the fact that there is no planning made by system mangers who are more than willing to spend the extra cash to hide their ignorance, thinking the package can do their work for them. I'm sure you heard the saying "a computer is only as good as the user". In my experience, most system managers purely have no understanding on how the system works and I dont mean by the book definition on what the system is.

So is planning that difficult? A tour guide out in the bush told me things dont need to be complicated to do stuff. I think that might explain some of the many interesting inventions here that are so cool, but taken out of context, just look like really strange objects. The umbrella clothes rack which is a real big hit here and the shoo roo, a car mounted whistle to shoo kangaroos from hitting your car. One of the greater signature inventions out in the bush is the "stick to check rock movement", which is actually a stick to check rock movement.

Apparently some scientists have debated how to check if lava tubes were unstable and prone to collapsing. Some suggested using all types of sensors, but I was told it was an aussie who stuck a stick against the wall and said that will work.

Photo Archive - May 2005

Ju at work

All work and no play makes Ju a dull boy

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Akai S2000 with Windows XP

Basically since Akai stopped making the s2000, for the longest time I couldn't figure how to use mesa II with anything other than windows 89. Its now possible to use mesa with windows XP.

Download Mesa 2

Apparently you just need to update the adaptec ASPI driver. (so I've read)

Download the ASPI driver from Adaptec

Or you can look in to find Adaptec ASPI Drivers (Windows 98/Me/NT/2000/XP) 4.71.2

Now all I need to do is look for my scsi card and find another PCI slot in my machine. I think I've only one left and thats reserved for a video editing card.

Friday, November 04, 2005

I/O, Lets Go

The world of USB is rather amazing. Practically every other device comes with a USB interface. In fact to cope with this

Distributing your Bus

Most magazines will mention to utilise the different buses as much as possible, which is part of my current quests. However the last article I read in Mac Addict didn't mention anything about controlling the number of USB devices to each USB bus. Well, I haven't actually ran into any USB problems with my ibook, but i've actually at one stage ran out of USB resouces on my AMD desktop. The logitech webcam was actually the killer which now resides on my ibook instead.

As a matter of fact, you can actually take a look at how much juice each usb device is taking up so that you dont kill each USB host controller.

In windows XP (I use the classic layout), Control Panel > System > Hardware > Device Manager > Universal Serial Bus Controllers.

Look for the entry that ends with controller. Click on the "Advanced" tab and it will show you how much bandwidth the device takes up. Of course, when idle it uses less. If you have a USB soundcard like I do. Make sure that that has its own controller. When you stick a usb midi controller on the same bus, you dont get a kaboom, but after a while, you will get rather cross when you realise that your audio is doing funny things and dropouts start occuring.

USB vs Firewire

Naturally Firewire being the prefered interface solely for stability and data transfer reliability, but USB should not be neglected especially when you use each for the strengths of certain devices.

Things I would have done over

I would have gotten a firewire audio interface instead, but those things were really expensive back then and tascam was pretty much the leader in DAW technology working with frontier to develop the us-428. Its a great tool, except its rumoured that the components in there are cheap. Channel 1 is lost its gain, so I'm inclined to believe it.

The Future

Raid 0 SATA disk for audio. I used to have a 10K rpm SCSI disk on a P3 667, before it died. It was a bit crazy on the price, but definately worth it. I actually heard complains from people about hold long rendering audio took on their machines which actually had a higher CPU spec than mine, but I've always normalised audio, etc really quick. I've come to believe that it was the SCSI disk. It will definately be missed :(

Unfortunately, I will not be looking at a full upgrade although, the dual processor G5 machines look sweet. Its all vanity there.

Vocanic Crater in the Tropical North

My feeble attempt and merging 2 photos. Partly due to camera autosensing the colour and auto changing it, I would need to find out how to put that in manual, not to mention use a tripod stand.

This was quite an interesting site. Dormant volcano crater which collected rain water and is now a swamp. No crocs here.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Using linux apps on other OS - part 2

In my earlier post about Mac OS X, I was going to suss out gentoo for . What I have discovered that, gentoo still does not have as many applications as compared to fink at this point. The list of avaliable packages are listed in this webpage.

If you plan on using more applications, I would probably suggest using fink instead.

Via the command line, installing applications is just as easy. "# fink install package"

If you have already installed X11 for darwin, you might realise that the fink X applications may not like it very much, I'm guessing the X11 for darwin is not a full featured X server. To get past this, I just moved the darwin X11 files so that I wouldn't lose them in case I happen to need them again.

# mv /etc/X11 /etc/X11_old
# mv /usr/X11R6 /usr/X11R6_old

Friday, October 28, 2005

Cold Turkey

Back from a holiday at Cairns. Yes, it was great, but seriously going back to my natural habitat after being out in the bush for a couple of hours can be a rather harrowing experience. People fear change, but they embrace holidays. Most find it a way of escaping the "real" world. They joke about how they like to maintain a permanent holiday, but I doubt they seriously mean it though. Some might survive a couple of years the most, but at some point of time, they will probably want to start doing something more along the lines of what they left behind.

So if you ask me whats the best thing about holidays other than the experiences? Its the fact that you know it is going to end and thats what makes it a plesant experience. Simply because you know it can't last forever. Of course there are different aspects to how true this statement is. You can join a tour from hell and each minute can be excruciating pain. I can vaguely remember a tour I've almost sucessfully blocked from my concious mind. I was rather young and sitting on a tour bus that did karoke on the long journey up through peninsular malaysia. I'm sure the older people on the tour might have had a blast, but it was truely something that I can have done without.

What is life without technology?

I've survived 6 days without a computer and internet access. In all honesty, its not a long time and most people can do without it for longer. In more honesty, I was dead ill for at least a couple of days, so my mind wasn't working anyway. Even if I did have access, I'd be doing all the wrong things and mucking up more that would have been effective.

I'm back and experiencing mixed emotions booting up my machine and checking my email. Going away makes you rethink about certain things. Making you look at things in a different perspective. What I discovered is that my machines are not running in an optimal state and I would need to rethink and rebuild. *sigh*

There is a lot to learn about the natural ecosystem as I have discovered in this trip. Like the name suggest, it is an eco-"system". This means lots of different elements living together and making the most of everything. This is going to be my new inspiration for building my new home systems.

There are a couple of examples which are rather inspiring especially when you can translate this to the computing world.

One type of tree in the bush is capable of cutting of the flow of sap into some branches letting those die, rather than killing of the whole tree. When the water is available again, it grows new branches.

The saltwater crocodile has 4 chambers of the heart. It uses 3 normally like other reptiles on the ground, but when it sinks to the bottom, it switches to only 1 chamber.

Thats excellent resource management! And I haven't started about the Kangaroos being able to control the birth process, but then again, we are only human so I'd use the first 2 examples only when crafting the new plan.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Using linux apps on other OS

Its instinct how we try to change people. "I love you for who you are, now change". I've been relatively happy with windows since I've discovered cygwin. What that does is that it puts a linux bash and other commands into windows cmd.

This means that I dont feel lost once i run cmd. How often have you typed "ls -l" in a dos prompt? The great thing now is that i can do crazy things like "dir | grep file".

Thats one reason why I like Mac OS X. You wouldn't feel lost, or should I say that lost. Its not exactly like the user friendly Linux enviornment that allows you to do tons of stuff in many different ways. And it doesn't have that many open source applications and not known to be as friendly to them as well.

There has been a few projects to port linux apps to mac os. I've been trying some since, fink included. As that was a long time ago, I can't quite remember the reason why I needed it, but I have a feeling it had something to do with perl and how the mac perl was all funny.

Today, I decided to give gentoo a go. I'm not sure how its going to be yet though. Essentially, I dont think its really necessary to have both, but having one is a good idea. It really does expand the realm of the mac and its odd internals making it a little more user friendly.

In all my experience and history in only using Redhat styled distributions, getting into dedian styled method of doing things might be a bit of a change in habit. I hope its not going to be too strange. Looking on the bright side, I did manage to adapt from solaris to hp-ux after a lot of swearing. Lucky I dont have to work on AIX at this point in time.

Friday, October 21, 2005

ITIL standards

Just on the topic of standards, I need to mention one asI think it's amazing, as it is able to summarise and effectively deal with the problems of most organisations. I've heard people say that "Our problems are different. We are in a very challenging situation at the moment. This is a very tough implementation."

Believe it or not, there is an idiots guide out of any situation. Check out these links to find out more. Everything is defined and desired outcomes very beautifully illustrated.

The concepts are easy and you do not need to rely too much the experts ;)

I think this to be an example of developing a culture of technology and not culture vs. technology.

Long live the Queen?

Do you love standards?

I love standards and I think everyone should too! Coming from a generation of the marketing era where everyone is differentiating and niche marketing, there just isn't the common ground for people to communicate with each other.

In fact, there is an additional layer of intepretation that needs to be developed just to overcome this concept of being special. Firewire, I-Link or IEEE 1394 for the other losers who couldn't patent a name for themselves, we all know are the same thing now, but think about all the marketing dollars that went into us making us realise that it is the same thing after all. Think about how many times the guy at the shop has to repeat himself about this. Can that have been prevented? The answer is "Yes, but why should I?". The ones who patent the name have a "differentiated" product when though it is the exact same thing as the next.

The next question, should big organisations, like microsoft for example, play well with others? Why, of course not silly, what would be differentiation and money in that? Why do you want to comply with the rest of the world when you can try to define the rest of the world and be a market leader?

Lets just stereotype and define 2 groups of people
* market leaders
* market adopters

Generally, who would you admire most? The market leader who takes the risks, makes mistakes and develops a proprietary system that we end-users need to pay big bucks for?

Or, the market adopter which watch the market leaders, learn from their mistakes, develop standards to make the world a better place? That doesn't sound quite right, but we'd just move on for now.

If money makes the world go round, it is no wonder that big price tag items like wars and market leader solutions and all the integration programs associated with these solutions are so popular. And the sad part is most companies do not want to pay for these, but are forced to.

Truth is that corporate systems aren't always a bad thing, on the people aspect and priceless aspect, they offer an opportunity to change culture which as you know is one of the harder things to change if the right product is selected and correctly implemented.

One question never asked is how do you want your company to behave at the end of the implementation? If you asked clients what they want, they will say, I want a 20% increase in output and a 10% decrease in costs. They do not say, "I think we want to have a culture of knowledge and information sharing and world peace." At least its not on the top of their piority list. Its all about the financials isn't it?

wish lists

The problem with wishlists is that they constantly change due to need. Hence the problem of saving for wish lists become even more of an issue. In the last 15 or so years in my life, I've kept a wish list of items and some of these items are still there since then, but happy to say that the bulk of the items are now gone. The days where the bulk of the list was amps, guitars and stompboxes are no longer here and the equipment have also all gone.

The one item that eludes me in a good synth. Although I had my Korg N5 for the last 6 years and has fuelled great sweeps and pads, not having multiple effects channels for midi channels really kicks the butt when you programing in multi mode.

Right now, I'm having to record each track to wave so I get each channel with the associated midi effect. I've outgrown my 15 year old fostex 4-track and currently using it as a mixer. It would have been crazy to keep boucing tracks. My lucky sequencer now is Cubase LE. Although I bought Cubase SE, I got a bit irratated with moving the dongle between machines that I now run LE on both. So far, I haven't yet hit the track limit.

My RM1x is back after 80 bucks replacing the control board. I lost my loops but at least I'm programming beats again. Now, how do i transfer that to Cubase. There should be a tool to import rm1x files to cubase on independent midi channels rather than put 16 channels into 1 midi track. You wouldn't believe how frustrating that is, or to sit though each midi track again just to record midi into cubase.

My Current Wish List

Joe Meek Compressor
Korg Triton Something
Mackie or Yamaha compact mixer
MPC styled midi controller (m-audio one looks pretty good)
Mastering software (probably ozone)
Canopus RT card
300 GB Serial ATA HDD

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

futility of life

Generally I can understand why in most deliberations, the common outcome is how futile life is, as illustrated in the hitch hikers guide to the galaxy. It really doesn't matter how much you do or how exciting most adventures are when youre always in the middle of it and don't see the big picture. Pretty much like the bug in the rug concept.

Would you suddenly take pride in being a hyper intelligent robot when you've always been a hyper intelligent robot? Apparently not. Maybe someone who isn't a hyper intelligent robot would say, "Gee, wouldn't it be great if i was a hyper intelligent robot?"

If there isn't already this version of the meaning of existence, I think it can be added to the list. "I do not know, therefore I am". Ignorance, the driving force of civilisation. The ones that admit it, learn and evolve, the other than don't live in relative bliss and die anyway.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Spring in the garden

I didn't know those green bushes would have white flowers before they popped up.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Blogger Friends

This friend made me start a blog. I created an account so I can post comments on his blog and meanwhile decided to put some thoughts down.

Oddly enough I realised that another friend started his blog as well on saturday.

I mean I know blogging was popular but this is getting a bit nuts.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

jumping on the virtualisation bandwagon

Is virtualisation the next wave of true computing or just the recent hype that technologist are throwing at system buyers? Why are we all jumping to believe that its the way things should be implemented now? Back to the earlier post, less than 2 years ago, open source and linux wasn't a viable option and now it is. Virtulisation isn't mature technology, if youre talking about pseudo virtualisation, then maybe, but definately not on the enterprise level.

So what makes virtualisation more popular than open source, or have we learnt from our mistakes and suddenly willing to take any risks? I think its commercialisation as in how much money can you make from it. Industry is still driven by vendors isn't it?

Mature commercial virtualisation has massive overheads. A couple of examples is that it does not handle resources effectively as what essentially happens is that you are running one operating system on top on another.

To get things into perspective of system performance, you might have heard of embedded system. These are scaled down no nonsense operating systems that do only what they are built to do only. these lean mean simple machines may have limited functionality, but do these functions really quick.

The proportional speed chart is as follows (not considering hardware speed)

Fast -> Usable -> Sloppy
Embedded OS -> tweaked operating system -> default operating system

So what happens when you run another OS on top of a default operating system? you get a really ineffective machine isn't it?

This is probably how most people will deploy virutalisation to production.

layer 4 - Production Application
layer 3 - Guest Operating System
layer 2 - Virtual Application Layer
layer 1 - Default Host Operating System

So far, we only mentioned performance and not even talked about other potential risks like resource contention, but of course, your vendor has already mentioned that unlike other products, ours is safe.

If you want to learn more about virtualisation, read "Xen and the art of virtualisation". Doesn't the title just grab you? Warning, its open source. It talks about the maturity of current solutions and highlights the risks involved

Now for my beloved home user readers. How can virtulisation benefit them? Here are some people I would suspect will enjoy running a virtual machine on their home computers

a. Hobbists and enthuisasts
b. People who do not have a whole lot of strange perliherals
c. People frustrated with windows
d. people who have some strange habit of destroying their operating system, start using virtual ones and make copies
e. do you have kids? refer to point d.
f. bored people, you reading this aren't you
g. wannabe geeks

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

installing fedora on reiserfs

Natively, this is not possible, but I did it anyway to get around a faulty disk with bad sectors on a notebook.

Step 1

I used knoppix live distribution to boot the machine since the whole previous OS was corrupted by the disk anyway.

Step 2

Next, I started the guessing game on how much of the disk I didn't want. Ok, its not that graceful, but i didn't want to spend like 2 hours scanning to look for bad sectors. Although one of the things I would do is to try to find them later.

I spilt the disk to 2 x 20 Gb partitions and left some out of that for swap of the 2nd partition.

fdisk /dev/hda
(n)new partition
(p)rimary partition <1>
(n)new partition
(p)rimary partition <2>
(w)rite partition and exit

*optional as this gets blown away in disk druid anyway. Just leave some room for swap. Traditionally, its 2 x RAM available.
(n)new partition
(p)rimary partition <3>

After exiting the fdisk tool. You have created partitions, but not formated them. I wanted a journalised file system so i formated the created partitions to reiserfs. Its quite a good FS which I have been relatively impressed with since my Mandrake machine came with reiser as the default filesystem.

# mkreiserfs /dev/hda1
# mkreiserfs /dev/hda2

Step 3

Reboot to Fedora install and select manually use disk druid for install. Convert the last partition to swap and attempt to install to first partition

When prompted to format say no. they will still force you to format the swap, so thats cool.

Step 4

As predicted the first attempt at installation to /dev/hda1 failed.

No worries. Run the install again and select /dev/hda2 as / mount aka root mount aka mount as / just in case I haven't confused you enough.

Step 5

Wait. In fact my installation is still running. Hopefully it goes sucessfully. This should breathe some life into old notebooks which will be a waste trying to pick up a new harddisk for it.

what the inside of the office looks like

Thats my band. These guys are people I work with in the office even :)

The missing drummer and tired basist.

view from the office

All i can say here is that we used to be over on where the lights were. Would you prefer looking out at the lights or being right smack in them? I'd prefer the latter.

singaporen geeks unite

This post is a tribute to all you singaporean linux geeks out there. You will definately have strong feeling about this post, either good or bad.

Blog search "linux singapore" and you might come in contact with this article which links to;1512589723;fp;2;fpid;1

dated 03/08/2005 15:11:17 Ok, so this is is real recent right? Beat this comment.

"The Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) Technology Group has positioned Linux as a medium term technology bet, which means one to three years to mass adoption." Read on for more marketing.

For those new to linux this might actually mean something good to you, but for those who already know linux and the culture that developed it. Its basically putting it into a box and sticking a label on it. Well looking on the bright side, to some extent there is some focus on it now, although it doesn't sound right how its being brought across.

(clause: Linux isn't equal to open source, but i'm using it as an example.)

No doubt the culture of "Ai Pi, Ai Chi" (sorry about the spelling, feel free to correct me) Think that means want cheap, want "something or other" appeals to the corporate culture, but that isn't what it means for me (a person that sticks a linux box in and run opensource software whenever I can). To me, its FREEDOM. The unclutter from the corporate world dominated by the anal CIO and flashy salespitch.

Linux and open sourse is a break out of convention. Stop the rules, put anything you want in it coz we really dont care attitute. Forget govenance. If you think that you can't stick what you want into an existing distribution, why worry? Create a new distribution. This has led linux to the fully frilled and fat operating system it is today.

I'd like to see authorities control that. Code is very available and let the best exploit win. Lets see, does this mean creativity? Oh no, quick call the education department, we need to put a curriculum in place.

2 years ago I read a POV stating that linux/open source was bad. Early this year, I read a POV released from the same source that its now a great idea. The excuse being the technology needed to mature.

Side note; Apple? Open Source? Bwahahahaha!!! Think they are just trying to hide behind darwin.

Sign me up for SOSA! Hopefully some good will come out of it. Hope i can tahan the bureaucracy, but this organisation should really rock the boat for conventional computing.

If we dont change our culture, an amount of technology can save us. Live long and prosper.

Monday, October 10, 2005

modern home processing distribution

"Harness your true potential!"

Like one of those talks people pay tons of money to hear. In fact this line is so good, that I'd have to say it again "Harness your true potential!"

Now that we are in the mood to roll up our sleves and put all our little machines to good use. fine print (please check with your partner if there are any areas you can use as there may be an obscene amount of equipment that will emerge after our excercise)

Like all good excercises, start planning. Here's a guideline.

1) inventorise your machines, give them names, they will thank you for it.

2) Identify what software or services you will need to run and on what operating system.

3) roughly decide which machine is going to be for what.

4) choose your flavour of operating system. all kinds of different distributions and versions of linux or windows and possibly mac os.


In my case, i've got 1 x portable (ibook), 1 x linux server, 1 x workstation/gaming machine. Just the bare essentials.

Oops, forgot another 1 x linux server, 1 x winXP workstation at my parents and 1 x workstation and 1 x notebook at work, well and i run a redhat virtual machine off my windows xp workstation at work. bid to save space and resources. (we will talk about virtualisation in later posts)

Did i lose count there? Ok, lets go back to basics. 1 x portable, 1 x workstation is possibly what is required.

If I had to pick only 2 machines. One would be a dual processor powermac and the other will be a powerbook. (Of course I'd start loading up virtual machines on my powermac, but that is another post isnt it). But then again, i'm sure there's a spare lying around somewhere, especially if you come from singapore. Going back to business.

One workhorse and a portable for visiting relatives and long holidays in the mountains. Thank god for GPRS.

Assign Machine Duties

Second point will be deciding which machine is your main machine. My 933 mhz ibook is my main machine although its not the fastest, but its the one that can still do all the work if i had to go down to one machine.

Dunno which one is yours? Simple, which machine do you have a POP client installed and active. TaDa! So you check mail, work, surf off this machine and use the other machines for whatever the intended purpose. The advantage in having your portable the main machine is also the flexibility.

Most things that you do, really do not require a fast machine to work with. Surfing the net, typing a blog, chatting.

Now, lets talk about your beast machine, the workstation. In my case, its a lowly 1.7 Ghz AMD with 1 GB of slow memory and 200 GB harddisk. It still plays guild wars great, so I'm not complaining and does my audio on Cubase. So its a focus and play machine, not to get distracted when playing online or working.

When you have to start burning disks and still can't get rid of the superstitious habits or when youre rendering large audio files or video files. Having multiple machines means you can walk away and do something else on another machine while one machine is chugging through a process. If your portable is right next to your workstation. swivel the chair :)

One think you want to avoid doing is trying to duplicate work on both machines as much as possible. Sometimes its inevitable, but you got to put your data in the right place.

Use your powerful machine as your server if you do not have a spare box lying around somewhere. If you do have a spare pentium celeron or pentium 2 or G3 powermac, etc. One win is that your spare machine doesn't need to be rebooted and to my mind generates less heat, hence uses less power.

Using Linux Servers

Its a myth that linux always uses less resources than windows. Mostly rather than always. I use fedora core 3 now and with all the fancy stuff on screen, its real resource intensive as well. On point, I use redhat 9 in runlevel 3 as well and that just kicks ass as a virtual machine.

To be honest, I started with linux because I thought it was, well that was redhat 5 on a texas instruments notebook in university. Studying Information Systems, it wasn't very common. It died after uni :(. After I started work, after a stupid windows 2000 error, i decided to reformat and install SUSE much to CIO's dislike. SUSE is great for laptops! Had to fdisk it on returning as it didn't comply anyway.

Windows vs. Mac

Why argue. Mac! Except for the price so I'm still on a PC saving for my $8000 - $10000 powermac. Its like buying a Porche :( .

re-installation and disk management

Face it, re-installations are a pain. However, its always a chance to put the best of plans into place and then find out how your plans ended up in the mess.

Well, all wasn't lost so far. The original plan was to software raid 1 (2x 120GB disks) the installation. Of course, greed took the better of me and i decided, i'd just use one whole disk as a separate data mount and if i need to backup, cron an rsync between disks. at least I'd have a bit more room to play with. But like that is ever going to happen.

Data issues, sigh. Unknown to most people, they normally have at least a terabyte of drive space lying around the house. Think about it. How many computers do you have. How many external firewire, usb drives do you have. Have you recently upgraded and have a couple of disks lying somewhere. And we haven't even started looking at optical media yet.

Sometimes, I feel like just getting a NAS with at least a terabyte and not having to worry about it for a year, and I still get the sinking feeling that 1 year is pushing it.

Doesn't sound realistic? if you happen to be like me. A total must to convert stuff to data. Because data is the most secure form of storage hey? So what if bytes corrode, hard disks crash and machines explode. You just got to like those blinking lights.

Distributed file systems. How much of a good idea is that? What redunancies should be put in place? Is my power bill going to shoot the roof? Right, now that we asked the right questions, lets start.

Data Management

1) Identify all type of data stored

2) Classify your data in terms of importance and level of availability

3) Size each category and include potential growth trends

4) Say Yippee and pat your back

Obviously, if you haven't figured what I'm saying is that the important data needs to be backup. you can stick to normal scheduled disk/file copy or network transfers. nothing fancy, just auto windows SMB mapping and bat file for xcopy or rsync or scp -r.

Next think how readily available do I want this data. All the time? Alright, if you look at your list, put the following in order.

|| Important, Always available || Not Important, Always available ||
|| Important, Not always available || Not Important, Not always available ||

Saying that I can't draw a Cross here you, use your imagination.

Take the first layer and allocate the data in your server (machine that is always on). If that machine has 2 disks and you have the space for backup, make a backup schedule between disks. If not schedule a network copy to your other machine. Removable disk do count as additional disks)

So, you have one stable machine you plan on leaving on connected to your broadband router with NAT and server software with the spare firewire drive lying around stuck to it for backups.

You might feel really proud of yourself right now.

In my next post I will talk about the distribution of modern day home processing and how you can benefit from wastage.

Friday, September 30, 2005


welcome to machine

Recording Methology Part 3

Step 1: Beats and Pieces

Step 2: Bring it to the machine

Step 3: Centralised Repositories

Step 4: FX or not to FX

Step 5: Listen

Step 6: Mastery leads to Perfection

dead pi

Well, I guess it has to happen at some point. the home automation raspberry pi has died. Much to do with the stupid Strontium mini SD card. ...