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.
SymbianConduitDefaults.plist_x700
SymbianConduitDefaults.plist_6600

Script version: swap_phone.sh

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 download.com 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 http://www.youtube.com

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 melven.com 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!

http://dag.wieers.com/packages/lame/lame-3.96.1-2.1.fc3.rf.i386.rpm


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.

For APN

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: - 202.139.83.3, 192.65.91.129

Operator: - Telstra
GPRS APN: - telstra.internet
Username: - {blank}
Password: - {blank}
DNS: - 139.130.4.4, 203.50.170.2

Operator: - M1
GPRS APN: - mobilenet
Username: - {blank}
Password: - {blank}
DNS: - 202.79.64.21, 202.79.64.26

Operator: - SingTel
GPRS APN: - internet
Username: - {blank}
Password: - {blank}
DNS: - 165.21.100.88, 165.21.83.88

Operator: - Starhub
GPRS APN: - shwapint
Username: - {blank}
Password: - {blank}
DNS: - 203.116.1.78, 203.116.254.150

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 download.com 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.

Splitting the home network

Who wouldn't want to separate the traffic at home for security reasons. The more common ones include wireless guest and wireless users. ...