Radified News for March, 2002
- Been ripping and encoding my CD collection. We have about 400 or 500
CDs, so it takes a while. I don't rip *all* the songs, cuz they're not all
good, but I'm still surprised by how little space they consume on my new,
monster-sized 120-gig hard
I've been ripping & encoding for days now, and the used portion of
the pie-chart is still only a small sliver of the total available space.
I use a combination of Monkey's Audio (lossless) audio compression .. for my favorite songs, and Musepack (also called MPEG-Plus and MPC) for my less-than-favorite songs. Musepack is a lossy audio encoder, like MP3 (based on psycho-acoustics). Most people in the scene agree that MPC is the best (highest quality) lossy audio encoding format available. You can learn more about ripping & encoding CD audio here.
After the first few CDs, I developed a system, got into a rhythm, and things began going smoothly & quickly .. except when a CD is not found in the case, or when it contains the wrong CD.
Wendy & the kids have a physical impairment when it comes to putting CDs back in their case. They treat their own CDs like gold, and will wake up the whole house if they can't find a certain CD, saying, ""Who took my CD?" .. like I would ever want one of their crappy CDs. I won't even call it 'music'. (I actually bought a pack of orange-colored ear-plugs for those special occasions when their friends come over for parties.)
But my CDs get tossed up on top of the player to collect dust. When I ask them about who didn't put my CD away, everyone suddenly gets amnesia, and looks at each other like they have no idea of what I'm talking about. So I spent an hour finding & putting CDs back in their correct case (not the first time I've had to do this).
After I finish ripping & encoding, I'll break out CD Architect, a program that allows you to to create the ultimate cross-faded, mixed CDs. Sonic Foundry made the program, which functions as a plug-in for Sound Forge, but has since been discontinued. CD Architect allows control of the audio compilation down to the sample level. I still feel that it is one of the finest software programs I've ever used.
CD audio compression & encoding depends almost entirely on CPU performance. The new CPU (> P4 1.6A @2138 MHz) that I installed last week is helping to make that part of the job go quickly. With Monkey's, it is able to compress an entire CD worth of songs before I return from a trip to the bathroom.
- While ordering a new, 120GB hard drive two weeks ago .. to store
.. I noticed that prices of the 15Krpm Cheetahs
(fastest drive on the planet) had dropped to $200, so I ordered one
.. which led to problems after its installation with Windows 2000 assigning drive-letters improperly .. which meant that I needed to re-install my operating system from scratch .. which led to a decision to purchase that new CPU that I've been techno-lusting after ..
After days of installing programs & applications (which I hate doing, cuz it takes so long), I'm finally back to the point where I've actually begun ripping & encoding music .. something that I set out to do over two weeks ago.
Surprisingly, Windows assigns drive-letters normally with this new system. I never did figure out why it swapped drive-letter assignments after I installed the Cheetah. Another unsolved digital mystery.
I'm happy with the new CPU. It's running like a champ. Now that everything is all done, I'm glad that I did it, altho it was pain getting here. I've always heard friends claim how rock-solid their Pentium4 systems were, and now I can see that it's true. This system simply refuses to crash or lock. Of course, I've learned a few tricks about how to configure a system for max stability.
- Built the new system (new CPU & chipset) & attempted to boot straight to 2138MHz, not
stopping at the CPU's default speed of 1600MHz. After pressing the Start
button, I was greeted by a series of long tones. If you know anything about
motherboards, you know that this isn't a good sign.
So I shut 'er down and broke out the manual (sign of true desperation), with a feeling that it was going to be a long night. The manual said that long tones mean that system memory is either not installed or not being detected. I knew it was installed cuz I installed it myself, so I knew that it wasn't being detected for some reason.
Upon careful observation, I noticed that one of the Continuity RIMMs sticks was not fully seated. So I reseated the C-RIMM, pressed the Start button again, and presto! -> 2138MHz.
Ran CPUID to verify speeds [WCPUID home page], and a few benchmarks, including Sandra CPU, .. Sandra memory, [Sandra home page].. and 3DMark [3DMark 2001 SE home page]. Before going to bed, I fired up Prime95 and let it run all night long. P95 stresses the CPU by running it at 100%. If the CPU or system isn't stable, P95 will cause it to lock or crash.
The system was still running when I woke, with CPU temp at 125F. That seemed a little high, so I mounted another fan to the side of the case (drilled a hole), pointing at the heatsink, which lower CPU temp to 114F. Triple-booting WinME, W2K & WXP. Been installing programs & applications all day .. not a single lock or crash. $600 performance for $134.
- First day of Spring. Birds are singing, flowers blooming. Speaking
of things new...
I checked online tracking status for the Rambus RAM that I ordered (last week, from Googlegear), and it says Out for delivery, so I expect it to have everything necessary to begin building this beast soon. Seems like there's always one lagging reseller, who ships a few days after everyone else. I've had all the other parts for several days now .. chomping at the bit to get started.
I've already wired the CPU for the pin trick to boost voltage a little, and set the dip switches for 133/533 (2.13GHz). Going straight for the gold (with default PCI & AGP speeds). Usually I install everything at default speeds and crank 'er up later. Not this time.
I also removed the thermal pad, and used some military-spec thermal paste to mount the heatsink to the chip. The P4 comes with an impressive heatsink. The thing is a monster.
The cool thing is that it's possible, with a $134 chip (retail, 3-year warranty, comes with heatsink & fan), to get performance exceeding a $600 chip (P4-2.2, running stock 400MHz FSB). The people I've talking to are claiming 'rock solid stability'. I have a Costa Rican chip packaged 27feb2002, batch #3204R495.
The pin trick takes more patience than skill .. and a good magnifying glass. I don't even know for sure that the chip requires more voltage, but once the mobo is mounted in the case, I don't want to have to yank it back out, and a little extra voltage never hurt anybody.
My current CPU has been running with an extra 0.15 volts for the last 18 months, no problemo. I've had enuf things go wrong this past week; it's time for some things to start going right. Speaking of which .. here comes the UPS man.
- The latest island to emerge from the digital sea can be found at
which threatens to put an end to streaming
I've purchased many CDs from artists that I discovered on ShoutCast and DigitallyImported (such as Oakie). If I don't know about a particular artist, it's difficult for me to purchase their music. Shutting down music servers seems like a lose/lose solution for all involved, especially little-known artists with good music. I bet that lawyers are somehow behind this mess.
I don't understand how (counterintuitive) US copyright laws can affect other countries. I mean, the Internet doesn't stop at the border. So, maybe we'll just have to download our streams from Canada? .. that's okay by me. Along these same lines, have you seen this one yet? .. or this one?
When I started listening to streaming Internet music over a year ago, I never saw over 50 people on a single server. Now ShoutCast hosts over 50,000 listeners (stats in upper right-hand corner). The Doc was the one who turned me onto streaming music. I still remember asking him, "What's an MP3?" =) [The Doc is German, and MP3s were invented by Germans.]
I have all the parts for my new system, except for the RAM .. which should arrive today (fingers crossed). Once I get started, I'll be gone for a week or two. Takes me a while to configure this beast. BTW .. I appreciate all the helpful tips about how to restore my system.
- The upgrade to the Cheetah (boot drive) went even worse than the
120GXP. For some reason Windows 2000 assigns drive letters to it (SCSI ID 2) *before* another SCSI
drive in the system with SCSI ID 0. Ain't supposed to
do that. Windows ME doesn't do that; only W2K.
When W2K (main system) reaches the desktop at the end of the boot, it goes into infinite loop & freaks out cuz it thinks it's on a different drive letter than Windows assigns to it. Tried every trick I know, including Safe mode, and restoring three different images. I almost tried the sledgehammer trick...
Long story short, I need to install from ground zero. Haven't had to do that in >18 months. Long as I have to build the system from the ground floor, I figure that this is a good time to get that new CPU I been wanting. The Intel Northwood Pentium 4 allows users to get $600 performance from a $134 chip .. with a little Rad mojo applied.
Takes me a long time to configure my (multi-boot) systems just the way I like, and install all my programs & applications.
I lost about two weeks worth of mail, so if you wrote within the last two weeks, I'm not ignoring you.
- Stayed up late installing new 120-gig drive. Things did not go as
smoothly as I'd hoped. (Do they ever?) Couldn't boot to any of my systems
afterwards, and ended up having to pull a few rabbits out of my digital
But I learned some things in the process, and will be able to update the FDISK and Partitioning guides with some helpful insights .. after this is all done. But first, more Rad tricks are required.
I ended up having to leave the old 45-gigger in the system (long story), even tho I don't have the room for it. Right now it's sitting on a stool next to the case. I'll have to jury rig up some kinda kludge to mount that drive. But It sure is nice having an extra 120 gigs of storage. Can you say, "Lossless audio compression"?
Next I need to install the Cheetah (fastest drive on the planet). This will require even more digital gymnastics. So, if you don't hear from me for a few days, you'll know things did not go well. =/
- Updated the
Ripping CD Audio & MP3 Encoding
to include a page containing a side-by-side
comparison of audio codecs,
using popular encoding settings (called arguments).
One of the interesting things about running a web site like this is that I get mail from people from all over the world. All messages are different, but every once in a while I get one from some poor guy who hosed his system bad, and is looking for help.
Not sure why these messages tickle me like they do, but I received one such note today, from a guy named 'Spuds'. I wouldn't be surprised if he's a potato farmer from Idaho.
Can't be sure exactly what happened, cuz he doesn't know, but judging from the outcome, he apparently tried to install a second operating system in order to configure a dual-boot. He already had Windows 98 installed, and tried to install Windows 2000. But instead of clean-installing W2K to a separate partition, he over-wrote his W98 install.
When he discovered the error of his ways, he decided to restore his back-up image to get W98 back. But instead of restoring an image to the partition, he somehow overwrote the entire disk (all 3 partitions).
So he repartitioned the disk, and restored the image again, but this time he somehow cloned the partition where his image was stored and wiped out his O/S, and the system wouldn't boot. To make a long story short, he's in deep do-do and is looking for help getting out.
I told him that Ghost is not a program that you want to learn by 'clicking around', and that it will 'bite you in the butt if you try' (which he has learned).
where we live, contains a lot of .. uh, different people .. known as Lagunatix
.. tree-hugging, granola-eating types, who plan to save the world thru
positive-thinking and good intensions. All very nice people, mind you.
We are on various mailing lists that inform us of when the moon is doing such-and-such, and the planets are aligned for maximum peace-n-love. Groovy. While I remain skeptical of all this planetary mumbo-jumbo, I nonetheless find it entertaining.
Anyway, I thought that the more enlightened Radified readers might like to know that beginning tomorrow (Wednesday) at 6:02PM (Pacific Daylight Time), there will be a new moon in Pisces that will last until 7:34 AM Thursday morning. Supposedly, "while the moon is void, this is a powerful time to meditate, access spirit and seed intentions" (whatever that means).
Many such Lagunatix are meeting down at the beach tomorrow night, to bang drums, dance around a fire, sing, pray for world peace and probably hug a few trees. I figure that this will be a good time to seed another 120 gigs into my system and install my new hard drives, as I meditate on 15Krpm spindle speeds. Excuse me while I finish my granola... =)
- Ordered a new hard drive today: 120GB
It's amazing how big (& cheap) hard drives have become. I want to compress
all my favorite music with Monkey's
(lossless) compression .. not all my music, just all my favorite
music. The majority of it will be encoded using MPC
(aka MPEG Plus) and MP3.
The bad thing is that my case is full, and I have no room for another drive. So I'll have to swap the new one with an old one (45-gigger). Took me almost an hour to move 45 gigs worth of data to other drives. I've done this drill enough times that I feel comfortable with the swap.
While I was in the mood of ordering hard drives, I also ordered an 18GB Seagate Cheetah X15-36LP: fastest drive in the universe. The price was simply too attractive to pass ($229). I justified the purchase to Wendy by saying, "When you run a web site that preaches 'Indulge your Technolust', you gotta have the fastest drive on the planet, honey. =) I've been patient and waited a long time for a 15Krpm spindle drive.
flew up to Frisco yesterday morning, to see Lani in a play. Lani is a Drama
major at UC
(home of the Banana
Wendy never misses one of Lani's plays .. from the time she was in high school.
Last night was closing night. Mom decided to tag along for the trip. They'll return
tonight (overnight trip).
Sidney & I decided to stay behind and hold down the fort. The play was about people expressing their feelings from the terrorist attack of 9-11. Can't say that we feel like we missed anything .. except seeing Lani.
- Posted modified versions of the Ghost & ASPI guides that
contain black backgrounds. Some people (myself included) feel that
reading text from a monitor with a white background is like staring at a
100-watt light bulb: harsh on the eyes.
Yet every book on web usability that I've read claims that most people prefer reading online in a format that mimics text printed on paper (black text, white background). I only modified the two guides that are coded entirely to take advantage of cascading style sheets .. which makes the pages easy to modify.
See what you think. Here's the Norton Ghost User's guide, and here's the ASPI Drivers guide .. both with white text on black backgrounds. Special shout out to Blinky, who converted the strip that runs down along the left-side of the page from red to blue, cuz my Photoshop skills are weak.
08mar2002 - Wendy posted a few photos of her cast .. for her upcoming thesis project film, titled Breakwater, to be shot in April. I have seen the audition tapes of these two (Jon & Jessica). They are both very talented. Two more positions still need to be filled (the mother & the boyfriend).
07mar2002 - Modified the printer-friendly PDF versions of guides to remove the shaded backgrounds, in order to conserve toner/ink .. a suggestion from Melissa (Colorado).
- The site set a new daily usage record with
If my math is correct, that averages to one visit every ~20 seconds.
Made a pot of chili yesterday. I don't cook many dishes, but the few that I can, I do well. I grew up on the East coast (Connecticut), where I never even heard of chili until I got to boot camp (Florida). I asked, "What is this?" The guy said, "It's chili." I asked, "Is it supposed to be cold?" He looked at me like, "You dumb-ass Yankee."
The military's version of chili is combining yesterday's spaghetti sauce with left-over ground beef (hamburger) from lunch, adding a few red beans and hitting it with a dash of Tabasco sauce.
Since moving to the West coast (California), I've become somewhat of a chili connoisseur. I've read a few books on the subject, and learned about the history of the dish. Many fables surround the origins of chili. Some claim that the sprit of a beautiful virgin appeared to an old man and gave him the recipe to restore his virility. (uh, can you say, 'Pass the peyote, Carlos'?)
The secret is to layer the heat. I use plenty of mild chili peppers, less of medium-hot peppers (jalapenos), few hot ones (serranos), and only a couple of the butt-scorching habaneros .. with a sprinkle of cayenne for good measure. Fortunately, here in SoCal, the grocery stores carry all these peppers. (Kids, don't try this at home.)
I've been making it for so long that I have it down to a science. I use black been instead of red kidney beans, and rib meat instead of stew meat. Yes, that's decadent, but it tastes that way. Did I mention the bacon? Yeah, gotta add some bacon (cooked). Cumin, cilantro .. don't forget a half-bottle of cerveza (Mexican beer). What do I do with the other half you ask? ...
Wendy likes it over a couple of eggs (huevos) on a corn tortilla, sprinkled with shredded Monterey-Jack cheese (melted in the microwave), with a dollop of sour cream on one side, and an avocado wedge on the other. They call that Huevos Racheros.
Friends said I could go into business, selling my wares. I actually considered it, until I calculated that I'd have to charge $20 a pint, just to break even.
The golden rule of making chili is to wear gloves when you cut the peppers, and never rub your eyes .. or pick your nose, or touch any sensitive parts of your body .. if you catch my drift. It usually best to go to the bathroom before beginning to make chili. There are some mistakes in life that, no matter how dumb you are, you only make once... =/
05mar2002 - More exchanges on the topic of the legality of making back-up CD copies. You can read all the nastiness in forum threads that I started here (r3mix forums) and here (Project Mayhem forums). I figured that, if anybody knew the poop on the subject, it would be somebody who frequents one of those forums.
The Radified mailbox has been filing will comments about this. Most of them fall along the lines of this one:
"I agree with Intel on this one. It's not the responsibility of government to protect the Entertainment industry's interest at the expense of everyone else, nor should the public have to pay for hardware and software, or suffer a lack of convenience, reliability, or functionality, just for the convenience of the Entertainment industry. These industries exist *because* of technology breakthroughs .. beginning with Gutenberg, Edison's early motion pictures and the Gramophone .. all the way up to the present."
I enjoy the give and take of forum debates. The cool thing about the 'Net is
that it allows you to trade ideas and spar with intelligent and educated people
from all over the world.
The ability to tap the right forum for the right info is key. I have about 20 forums that I use to mine various types of data (Linux, Networking, disk storage, digital photography, etc.). These two are best for info about ripping and encoding. Much of what is written in the Guide to Ripping CD Audio & MP3 Encoding came from those forums.
04mar2002 - I've been trading mail with someone who asserts (bizarre as it sounds) that it's illegal for someone to copy a song from a legally-purchased music CD to their hard drive. I'm still in the information-gathering phase, but I'll clue you in on where I'm at. This was my last message:
I read you correctly, it seems like you're saying that anyone who uses a
legally-purchased CD-ROM drive and a legally-purchased CD
to copy a song
from their legally-purchased CD to their legally-purchased hard drive .. is
breaking the law?
Further more, it seems like you're saying that anyone who encodes their legally-purchased song on their legally-purchased hard drive with a legally-purchased MP3 encoder .. is breaking the law *again*??
It also sounds like you're saying that people who purchased blank CDs to make back-up copies of their legally-purchased Windows 2000 CDs are paying royalties to the RIAA, even if they never use their burner to copy a music/audio CD??? I've never heard of anything like this.
Why, pray tell (legislative malarkey aside), should it be illegal for someone to copy a song from a legally-purchased CD to their legally-purchased hard drive? I'm talking about the reasoning behind the legislative action. The RIAA and artists have their money. Do they really care if a person listens to their music from their hard drive in MP3 format? This makes no sense .. (tho I admit that I've seen more nonsensical laws than this).
If this is true, no one (at least not in the US) could legally make a CD, containing a compilation of all their favorite songs. You'd be an outlaw, by driving around and listening to a compilation CD of your favorite songs, burned from legally-purchased songs ripped to their legally-purchased hard drive. This is the kind of sh*t that makes people never want to buy another (legal) music CD.
If someone (who previously *thought* they were being a good citizen, by purchasing their music legally) now realizes that they're breaking the law by making a compilation CD of their legally-purchased songs, what reason do they have to fork over $12.95 for a (legal) CD?? .. when they can walk next door and have their neighbor make them a copy for free? .. since they're going to be breaking the law anyway.
I own ~200 or 300 (legally purchased) music CDs, that I rarely listen to, cuz they all contain at least one (usually more) on song that sucks. Some CDs contain only one or two good songs. The one music joy I have is making a compilation CD that contains a group of songs I really like. But now you say that this is illegal? Hopefully I'm missing something.
What does it cost the recording industry execs if I make a compilation CD? (of legally-purchased music). Why wouldn't a music exec want someone to make a back-up copy of their legally-purchased CD? So that they have to buy a new one if the origianl becomes defective (which happens). Doesn't that seems a bit greedy to you?
No one who I know has ever heard of anything like this. When I suggested to friends that it might be illegal for them to make a compilation CD of songs from CDs that they're legally purchased, they looked at me like I was crazy. One asked, "What've you been smoking?" I have to admit that the concept does sound bizarre.
Is this a US only thing?
Seems like even Intel and Microsoft have had enuf of this crap and are heading to Washington to put an end to the escalating insanity: http://www.bayarea.com/mld/bayarea/business/2764054.htm
02mar2002 - Posted site usage stats for February, the first month where site usage fell. Blame in on the short month, or the Olympics, or the big jump last month.
was having PC
that he couldn't eliminate and were getting worse, so he wanted to wipe
his system & start
fresh. I went over last night to help. We installed one copy of Windows 2000 for
all his normal PC work, and another copy dedicated solely for video-editing
(he uses Premiere,
Wendy has been helping him). He also wanted to install a copy of Windows
to learn & play with.
We started at 8PM, after dinner. Armed with a pot of Starbucks coffee, we finished at 8AM. Mom kept getting up in the middle of the night, saying, "You guys are crazy." Sidney said, "Go back to bed, dear."
We ended up configuring a quad-boot. For each O/S, we downloaded all Microsoft updates, configured Internet & email settings, installed ZoneAlarm firewall, antivirus protection, Motherboard Monitor, Winzip, and a few other programs such as GetRight to provide basic functionality for each O/S. How many over-clocking, quad-booting 75-yr-old guys do you know?
We configured mail settings so that the client in each O/S accesses the same directory, so that mail he receives in one O/S can be accessed from another. We did the same with a 'downloads' folder. All downloads go to the same directory, which each desktop contains a shortcut to. Lots of little things like that to unify the various boots, including a simple text NotePad file (notes.txt) on the TaskBar for making quick notes.
He has two hard drives: one 45GB and one 80GB. The instability is gone. Everything seems to be running well. When I left, after the bacon & eggs this morning, he was preparing to create initial baseline Ghost images of each O/S and go to bed .. which doesn't sound like a bad idea.
- Learned how to use Board
a program that swaps programming code to add features (such as the ability
to the YaBB
bulletin board forum
software that I use. A list of all mods are posted
broken into categories such as Security.
That Poll mod kicked my butt for a while, until I figured out that I had two files, both named english.lng & English.lng. One file began with a Capital 'E', and the other with a lower case 'e'. Some guy from Germany said, "I think there might be a problem with your language file." (*.lng) Sure 'nuf, that was it. (Isn't the Internet grand?)
The reading I've been doing on PHP has helped me understand the code.
Alex sent word that he just released a new version of Motherboard Monitor. Currently at v220.127.116.11. Lots of changes. Alex lives in The Netherlands. We've become good digital friends. MBM is one of the slickest-installing programs you'll find. Very professional. He's been refining it for 4 or 5 years now. If you stop by his site, tell him, "Rad said 'Hey'". If you use his program, make sure to drop him a quick note to say, 'Thanks.'
Linkage to -> [News for February, 2002]
Linkage to -> [News forApril, 2002]