I store all my music on a 70GB laptop hard drive in a USB enclosure which I carry in my bag between work and home. Most of my tunes are MP3 but there are a few OGG and WMA albums. I am anal about my file structure and naming scheme.
GenreArtist – AlbumArtist – Album – Track – Title.ext
I decided on this structure by necessity. I don’t use the genre tag in ID3 because often times I just don’t agree that such a track belongs under such a genre. So when I want to hear a bunch of Industrial Electronic music I don’t want to build a playlist. I just drag my Industrial Electronic folder onto my media player and hit shuffle. The next level of playlist building I use is album. I don’t bother with an Artist directory because I usually want to listen to just an album or shuffle all the albums. It’s feasible to shift+select the list of Artist – Album folders and add them to the queue since they are all in alphabetical order in the same Genre directory.
This is just the first of the reasons I love Amarok. More to come. Stay tuned.
Don’t use Windows Media Player
Do use God’s gift to media players: Media Player Classic.
I can’t say enough good things about MPC. It’s small (less than 2MB), doesn’t use a huge number of resources, plays nearly any media format known to man, and it’s free.
The developers have included support for many plugins by default. If you want to get crazy and really see what MPC can do download the K-Lite Codec Pack. This Windows installer streamlines the process of installing and configuring over a dozen different audio/video codecs as well as Media Player Classic.
VLC is also a really useful media player and can do some things that MPC can’t. For example: streaming any media source over a network. This is especially handy if you want to stream a DVD ISO from a computer to an Xbox. VLC does have a higher learning curve and requires a little more setup to play video than MPC.
Don’t use bookmarks or favorites in your browser.
Do index and tag your bookmarks using some online service like del.icio.us.
I used to be a fan of FavoriteSync which would periodically upload all of your Internet Explorer favorites to an FTP site of your choice. There was also a Firefox plugin that would periodically sync your IE favorites and FF bookmarks. The problem with this is that you still have to add and remove bookmarks on a computer which has FavoriteSync installed and connected to your own FTP server.
Now I use del.icio.us along with the del.icio.us plugin for Firefox and the extension for Internet Explorer. The beauty of the system is that I can tag sites using keywords that I will search for later when I’ve forgotten the name of the site. I can also share the bookmarks with people who I think might be interested in them and search the tags of all 2 million users.
You may also notice that you can see a live list of my most recently tagged links on the right side of my blog. This is just an RSS feed of my last 10 links.
Don’t buy the top of the line video card.
Do buy two older GPUs and SLI them. If you’ve got an ATI chipset you’ll need to shop for CrossFire compatible video cards.
Let me crunch some numbers for you:
You can buy a GeForce 8800GTX with 575MHz core clock and 1800MHz memory speed for around $750.
You can buy 2 GeForce 8600GT with 620MHz core and 1600MHz memory clock for a total of around $300. Yes they have less memory but turns out on-video memory isn’t as much a performance gain as processing speed and pipelines. The video cards can only process so much data at one time so having a huge memory buffer waiting to be processed is just a waste of space.
The memory interface of the 8800GTX is wider than the 8600GT but you pay a premium for the latest technology whether there is a clear advantage or not.
I’d like to let the Internet know that The Venture Brothers is my favorite animated series of all time. I know it’s not the most cleverly scripted or well-animated show ever made but I love it.
I used to get up at 8am on Saturdays to watch Jonny Quest. In fact I spent a day in California office building where Jonny Quest was drawn and published.
My parents were friends with a couple of musicians who had two girls within months of my brother and I. Naturally we were assigned as playmates. Well as much playmates as zero-year-old kids can be. They moved to California before I can remember.
We visited a few times every couple years. The last time I remember vividly. Preston (the girl’s dad) took me with him to work for a day at Turner Broadcasting. We rode in his VW bus and tried to listen to the radio over the deafening road noise and wind through the completely non-aerodynamic frame. When we arrived he placed me in his office and told me not to touch anything. At the time I didn’t know anything about the contents of the 2 ceiling-height telco racks. As far as I remember one was devoted to audio equipment: DAT boxes, amps, mixers. The other was high-end VCRs and other video recording and playback devices. I asked about the stack of VCRs later and he said he was dubbing some tapes for a friend and advised me to not mention it to anyone.
For lunch we visited the bakery down the street. I spilled flan on his corner desk. He let me play with the “intern’s mac” down the hall while we took care of some business. I don’t think I’d ever seen a screen that big before.
When he was done we watched the dailies of whatever animated film he was working on in the in-office theater. I used to be totally into film scores and he let me play my Broken Arrow score CD over the theater sound system (the animations didn’t have any audio anyway).
That’s pretty much what I remember about that.
Work sent me to Microsoft’s Launch Tour 2005 on November 29th at the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle. It was probably the geekiest event I have yet attended. I mean I went to the AMD vendor expo a few months ago and it was no where near as geeky as this one. I’ll spare you the ugly details (like this group of gothed-out programmers talking about the new Windows Server, or the fact that I only saw 3 women at the entire event and they looked like men).
After getting my badge and goodybag I went to the vendor room and met a few of the local user groups. I didn’t know there was a .NET user group in the area but there is. When I’d accumulated enough fliers to build myself a paper V8 engine I went to check out the Web Development demonstration. Basically the guy demonstrated how to open Visual Studio, click New, Web Site, type some text and then drop a few page elements on the designer. I’ll admit there were some interesting hints about improvements in memory management from 2003 but it was all stuff I learned reading the docs when 2005 was in beta.
I left the lecture early and went down to the “Ask-The-Developers” area. I wasn’t looking forward to trying to explain what I wanted to know to some sales person but luckily the first person who came up to me had a nametag which read “.NET Web Development Team.” Turns out he had been on the development team who did the web dev module of VS2k5. Here are the answers to my questions:
Favorite Feature 1:
Abstracted event handlers. I was a little bit concerned when I generated my first new web app in 2005. All the built-in event handlers (On_Init etc) were missing. I had read about partial classes and that code could be hidden from the editor in a subclass but this was not the case. This guy from the dev team told me that all those extra event handlers have been abstracted back into the framework and are no longer visible in the interface. You are still free to overload them if you wish.
Favorite Feature 2:
Web site publishing. In 2003 I had to build my site on the test server then copy the libraries and interface files over to the production server manually. In 2005 there is a Copy Web Site option which takes the current state of your web application and copies it to another location (via UNC path, FTP, or FrontPage Extensions). This copy includes the code-behind source for each page. The other option is a new Publish Site feature which will build the application and copy only the release binaries and interface files over to the production system.
Overall Visual Studio .NET 2005 has made major improvements. Intellisense works on everything now instead of just some of the objects. The interface is much more intuitive: left/right arrows for tabs have been replaced with a dropdown menu, dragging panels around no longer involves guessing where it will land because of excellent colored drop-points. There is a new mini-IIS that gets started when you build your webapp on the test system and stops when you stop debugging. This takes the pain out of keeping IIS on my laptop when all I want is to test a simple app and then copy it to a real server. And finally, even with all these new features and pretty buttons, even though it uses more memory than 2003, it cleans up after itself beautifully.
Guess who got a PSP? That’s right, I did. Was it expensive? Hell yes. Does it look sweet? Oh yeah. Was it worth it? Time will tell… Right now I’ve got Wipeout Pure, Lumines and Ridge Racer.
Wipeout Pure is my favourite game so far. It’s visually pleasing as the textures are quite simple and fit the idea of a futuristic hover-plane racing game. The initial stages are pretty easy. Things move slowly and the computer-controlled racers don’t use their weapons very well. Into the second tournament things get a little dicey. The speeds pick up considerably and all of a sudden you’re racing against unpredictable and very skilled computerized racers.
Lumines is like Tetris on steroids. Not only do you drop geometric shapes onto other geometric shapes but you have to line up colours as well. And the music isn’t just a catchy distraction, it changes based on your progress and adapts to your playing style. Drop blocks faster and the music speeds up, do more rotating and place those blocks carefully and the music is more melodic.
Ridge Racer is a little disappointing. The graphics are good but not great in my opinion. The controls are extremely simple (there’s no airbrake or powerslide like Wipeout) but I was left wanting either a more extreme challenge (jumps, spirals, loops, etc) or a fully driving simulator. I guess I’ll have to wait for Gran Tourismo 4: Mobile.
In reply to my previous post regarding a way to email photos from my cellular phone to my blog, I have found a new and better method.
Flickr is a weblog for photos. It supports email posting and can host up to 10MB of images per month (there is no limit to the storage space but you can only send in 10MB each month).
Just click “Flicker” under the images on the right. The script loads the first image at original size and lets you switch between the rest. Click the full size image or the “Close” button to hide the Flicker viewer.
Let me know if it doesn’t work in your browser.
Musicians have musical instruments, scientists have microscopes, painters have brushes, I have portable electronics.
There are a few new devices I’m interested in but on which should I spend my hard-earned money?
Here’s the rundown on one of them:
Toshiba e800 Pocket PC
eBay: $400 (approx.)
Seems like a lot for such a little computer. The thing about this one is the screen and the connectivity options.
It’s a 4 inch display driven by an ATI graphics card with a dedicated 3D processor… I have never played a good 3D game on a handheld before, but it’s definitely an interesting idea.
As for connectivity: WiFi (802.11b); Infrared; Bluetooth; USB 2.0 connection from the dock; SD and CompactFlash card slots; and I can use the Bluetooth to interface with my cell phone and get online wherever I get service.
The processor is 400MHz which is ridiculously fast for a handheld but seeing as how it runs Windows Mobile 2003 I’m sure it doesn’t hurt to have a few extra Hertz for the apps I might want to run.
I thought about going with another Palm but it’s going to be a while before PalmOS 6 (Cobalt) comes out (it allows multi-tasking, which is heretofore virtually non-existant on previous PalmOS versions). Not to mention the fact that hardly anyone writes software in C anymore so it’s becoming hard to find good applications to run on Palm devices.
If any of you use or would use a handheld computer to keep track of dates, contacts, and get directions while on the road, what do you think?