31 December 2012

Ran guitar - Follow-up review 2

Seeing as there still aren't a lot of Ran guitar reviews floating around and my Ran NGD post gets hit on the regular, I'll continue to review mine.

It's been 7,5 months since I received it and I don't think there was a single day I haven't picked it up to play for at least a bit.
One of the things I was looking forward the most was experiencing stainless steel frets and now I absolutely love them; 7,5 months of bending and they're still as shiny new as on the first day.
Bending is smooth as silk and, depending on the brand of course, other guitars with 'regular' frets now feel a little weird to bend on.
According to some sources ss frets make the guitar sound too bright, but I haven't noticed that tbh.
Another thing I read is that ss frets supposedly make strings wear out faster... haven't noticed that either.
I think they actually make strings last longer as there's way less friction but that's just a hunch.

I was watching some videos of Paul Reed Smith the other day where he was talking about the PRS wood drying process, hinting they dry their wood more then other vendors to get maximum tone and stability out of it. Makes sense to me.
Apart from the initial set up I did when she first arrived and that one time not too long ago where I decided I wanted the action just a fraction of a mm lower, I didn't have to do a single set up adjustment.
Lowering the action was only a matter of lowering the Floyd Rose a tiny bit (obviously), but since I was already doing that I figured I could check other stuff as well and I couldn't have been happier: everything was still perfect.
Neck relief: right where I left it, intonation at the 24th fret: perfect, Floyd Rose: level with the body.
Did I mention she stays in tune, all time time, with whammy abuse and all, for weeks on end?
To put all that a bit in perspective: my Gibson V is always cased when I'm not playing her but still there are small noticeable variations in neck relief during the year as I don't usually heat the house when I'm not around.
Now, my Gibson is by no means bad, but still: the Ran is better.
So that's it: after the initial "OMGZ, dat geetar iz teh awesome!" phase is over and a couple of seasons have passed I can safely review it as being awesome.

Update: click here for the previous Ran articles.

31 October 2012

On Tritanopia

This is going to be a lengthy one; it's not really about colorblindness, rather on how it affects me.
For the TL;DR crowd: skip this one, it's boring.

A bit of history first.
I was diagnosed with colorblindness at the age of 7 (iirc that is).
I remember one time when I was around 6 where I was asked to fetch my 'green' trousers from the wardrobe but I kept returning with the wrong ones. In the end I started crying in front of the wardrobe because I had no idea which ones to try next, as far as I could see I didn't have any green ones.
I don't quite remember how it came to be my mother took me to the hospital to do the tests, but by the time it was all over I was told I was 'green/blue' colorblind.
Green/blue refers to the colors I have problems with perceiving/telling apart but actually it's called Tritanopia, or blue/yellow color blindness, referring to the difficulty of seeing hues of blue and yellow resulting in seeing blue hues as greens (does that make sense? -yes it does, cool).
Now, I remember being presented with the Farnsworth arrangement test (my mother told me years later I fucked that one up pretty badly) and Ishihara plates at the hospital, supposedly there were more tests but I can't remember those.
Anyways, once we exited the hospital building she pointed to a tree and asked what color it had; 23+ years later most people still do that when first being told about my color  deficiency :') Not that I blame them, far from it, but I think it's pretty damn funny.
Does anyone really think after having lived for over 30 years I don't know a tree is green?
Why is it no one is surprised a completely blind person knows the color of grass, but most blank stare me when I correctly state every single color of stuff they're pointing at?
The day after I was at school telling my classmates about it all when one asked the one question I've never been able to answer: so what do you see?
It seems to be a pretty important question as almost every online article has these 'this is what normal people see, this is what a colorblind person sees' images but I'll go into detail about what exactly I do (and don't) see later on.
Years later (I was in high school) my biology teacher was talking about bacteria and meanwhile showing some black/white slides of different bacteria samples when I asked which color those organisms have got.
He said it was irrelevant as it completely depends on the type of light one uses to look at them.
I still suspect he just didn't know the answer but still, he was quite right.

About online tests and stuff
20+ years after being diagnosed I'm able to pass a lot of online colorblind tests. Pass as in: 'Estimate of color vision deficiency's probability:3%', that kind of passing... am I getting 'better'?
Not at all it turns out, but it took me some time to figure out what was going on :)
See, a couple of years ago I started to check which tests were on the interwebz.
Turns out there's not too much out there which interactively tests color deficiency, but I did the few that were out there with spectacular results.
That's because, unlike in real life, I'm able to fiddle with the source 'lighting'.
Let's say you're looking at a square and you know there's supposed to be another colored square inside it but you can't see it... just adjust your monitor's color settings until you do... that's it.
That's why my monitors' colors appears off (I think) as seen by 'normal' people.
That is when there's actually color on there of course, most of the time I'm working on a grey on black terminal ;)
Now, in theory this practice isn't too different from adjusting the lighting conditions in some colorblind tests.
As color is just a byproduct of light interacting with surfaces; changing the lighting changes the color, right?
Happy cheating on online colorblind tests ;)

About sun glasses, video games and black ops
I've got these blue glass sunglasses for about 15 years now, I feel it enhances my vision although I can't quite explain what exactly it's like.
In video games I very much like the night vision option, I feel it levels the playing field by taking away color so I can totally focus on shapes and movement.
I used to play this military simulation game where I got called a cheat on the regular.
The game had vast maps (~200 km²) so playing a marksman role and long range sniping (1000+ m) was very much possible, provided you could actually pull it off of course: ballistics were incredibly realistic; SEAL used the game engine to train their men, go figure.
Anyways, although sniping on those ranges was technically possible it was very hard to do, especially when the target was camouflaged and hiding in a bush more than a 1000m away.
Of course, on that distance a camouflaged person hiding in a bush would be reduced to a set of pixels through the scope, what I saw though was 2 sets of pixels... one being the bush, one being the person.
When I play airsoft it's the same thing. Camouflage just doesn't work that good on me, I tend to look at shapes, patterns and movement instead of color.
The 'new' binary camouflage is a bit better, but still pretty easy to spot.
I usually get laughed at by people wearing the 'proper' camouflage when I wear ACU in a woodland setting but I feel it's only fair: their camouflage stands out for me just as much as my ACU does for them :')
In WWII, some colorblind people were sent on special missions because of their decreased ability to see green led to an increase in ability to see through camouflage or detect it.
I've even heard people like me were sent on night missions because our vision is supposed to be better in very low-light conditions.
I've always been more comfortable in these low-light conditions, when I was little I used to tell my mother I could actually see in the dark.
She didn't buy it back then thinking it was a child's imagination but there's some truth in it.
I don't know if could scientifically prove I'm actually able to see better in 'the dark' than your average Joe but what I do know is I see better in those conditions than everyone I know.
I understand it's nothing special though, Special OPS soldiers train to be able to do stuff like that.
What's a fact though is that I'm very sensitive to light, aiming a lit flashlight at me physically hurts.
During the day I usually wear shades just because the daylight intensity is a wee bit too much for me to handle; and it hit me a couple weeks ago it worsens over time.
Dusk is awful... too dark to wear shades yet too bright to go without them, I don't usually drive a car at that time if I can help it, fortunately it only lasts a couple of minutes.
When the sun goes down though I can my eyes relax for the first time since I woke up so that may explain why it seems I have better night vision.
But I don't know for sure either way, if you're running a science department somewhere reasonably close to me and want to test my eyesight: let me know.

So, how do I see stuff and how do I feel about it
I've been asked numerous times if I feel bad not seeing stuff as it is but that question is quite irrelevant to me: color isn't just that big a part of my life if I'm honest.
I prefer either very dark colors (black or almost black), white or red; I usually wear black/dark clothes, my car's black (I wanted red, my girlfriend insisted on black), my guitar's black, most of the house's interior is either black or light etc. I do think I couldn't handle being surrounded by color, the thought alone frightens me.
But how do I see colors then? That's the main question isn't it... the answer is I don't know how to explain it as everything's perfectly natural for me. I've never seen what 'normal' people would call blue, or green or any other color for that matter so we might as well be living in another universe.
In the past I tried to make the 'I know a shitload shades of grey' analogy, but that doesn't work out too well and you know... there's those porn books ;)
People actually think I see blue as grey and the thing is, maybe they're right.
How the fuck would I know what grey looks like to them?
Names of colors are just that: names; given any color I could call it X, you could call it Y but we'd both mean the same, we'd only see it differently.
I wrote about my biology teacher stating color is irrelevant as it all depends on the lighting being used earlier, right? That's how I see it, it's irrelevant for the most part.

Without being overly philosophical on the subject I'll try to explain:
  • Blue looks like blue to me (it probably looks different from what it actually is).
  • Green looks like green to me (it probably looks different from what it actually is).
  • I can see yellow just fine unless it's light yellow in which case I can't differentiate it too well with white.
  • Mixed blue/greens I usually can tell the right main color (blue or green).
  • Cyan (equal amount of green and blue) I honestly don't know what to call it, so I usually call it grey but I don't like it one bit.
  • I know the word 'purple' but I've never actually seen it, what people call purple is just a variation of blue or a variation of red to me.
  • I define a shitload shades of red, from what usually would be called brown to what would be called purple... it's mostly variations of "very dark red" to "very dark pink" to me.
  • Yes, pink is a variation of red to me. I think it's supposed to be a variation of purple, right?
  • When 2 'problem' colors are next to each other a kind of optical illusion can occur where they blend to a single color I can't easily define. Usually I'd call the resulting color 'grey' because I'm not really sure how to define it but usually I get a really bad headache if I look long enough at it. The upside of that was I got to skip pesky topographic map questions on geography exams based on medical grounds :) The downside is I can get stuck in MMORPG's simply because I can't see anything anymore (think dark blue/greenish caves or jungle settings), often my friends had to come back for me and guide me out :)
  • When text is in a 'problem' color, depending on the background, it all becomes one big blur. Some of my colleagues deploy this technique in order to effectively block me from reading off their terminal emulator's window (yes, I'm looking at you guys: Nende,K and Stijn). A fine example of this would be the 'Matrix' Konsole theme, the bash color scheme on Ubuntu or the color schemes in Vim.
That's about it, I omitted posting links to relevant articles but it can all be easily found on Google.

30 October 2012

imapsync revisited

Reading around the interwebs I've gained a little insight in what's happened to imapsync: the author wanted to make some money on the project and decided to change the license.
Next the Debian maintainer wasn't comfortable anymore packaging it and asked the author whether he still wanted Debian to ship imapsync... guess what the answer was[1]
Now, the gitsource repo I wrote about earlier is from a guy who's bought a license from the author, so as far as I can see he's got the right to put up the source[2].
Which, in turn, gives me the right to clone the repo, package the script and put it up here.

The package only depends on perl and libmail-imapclient-perl so it shouldn't matter which distribution you install it on, as long as it's a Debian derivative.
So, there ya go [3], install with sudo dpkg -i.


[1] http://lists.debian.org/debian-legal/2011/01/msg00044.html
[2] http://www.linux-france.org/prj/imapsync_list/msg01371.html
[3] http://bin.syphzero.net/imapsync-1.508_all.deb

13 October 2012

Disable UPnP on Scarlet's Sagem F@st3464 DSL bridge

Quickie:

telnet 192.168.1.1
Trying 192.168.1.1...
Connected to 192.168.1.1.
Escape character is '^]'.
login: admin
Password: ******** (OLOVDSL2)
[admin @ home]$ rg_conf_print upnp/enabled
(enabled(1))

Returned 0
[admin @ home]$ rg_conf_set upnp/enabled 0

Returned 0
[admin @ home]$ rg_conf_print upnp/enabled
(enabled(0))

Returned 0
[admin @ home]$ Connection closed by foreign host.

That's it.

24 September 2012

Preferring IPv4 over IPv6.

As more and more hosts are moving over to IPv6, you might encounter DNS A records with IPv6 entries.
That's all fine and dandy and I do realize the need for an extended IP address pool, but if it's starting to affect performance I say fuck IPv6.
Sadly, modern GNU/Linux systems prefer IPv6 addresses over IPv4 when being presented with a choice. I honestly don't see why the fuck IPv6 should be preferred right now as it's bound to be a lot slower on a lot of networks, for the time being at least.
Case in point: Debian's apt-get update over IPv4 and IPv6:

root@box:~# host security.debian.org
security.debian.org has address 195.20.242.89
security.debian.org has address 212.211.132.32
security.debian.org has address 212.211.132.250
security.debian.org has IPv6 address 2001:a78:5:1:216:35ff:fe7f:6ceb
security.debian.org has IPv6 address 2001:8d8:580:400:6564:a62:0:2
security.debian.org has IPv6 address 2001:a78:5:0:216:35ff:fe7f:be4f
security.debian.org mail is handled by 10 chopin.debian.org.

IPv6:
root@box:~# time apt-get update
[...]
real    1m18.222s
user    0m7.472s
sys     0m6.948s
IPv4:
root@box:~# time apt-get update
[...]
real    0m13.481s
user    0m7.728s
sys     0m5.332s
We could just add static ipv4 lines in /etc/hosts, but that's kinda defeating the purpose as we don't want to disable IPv6 altogether.
So, how do we tell the system to prefer IPv4 addresses over IPv6?
It's rather simple, actually: we need to have a look at getaddrinfo(3)'s configuration file; /etc/gai.conf.
Locate this line and uncomment it:
#precedence ::ffff:0:0/96  100
There ya go, IPv4 is preferred now.
This works as that's the special address range to help in the transition from 4 to 6; every IPv4 address can be written as an IPv6 one using that form.
Anyways, the format is ::ffff:0:0/96 which means that the ipv4 ip address 192.168.18.234/32 will be written as 0:0:ffff:192.168.18.234/128 and will match that line in gai.conf.

19 July 2012

About Jeff Hanneman's signature guitars.

Usually I'm not really one to get on the barricades to fight for political correctness but Hanneman's ESP signatures have always made me fucking sick.

Allow me to elaborate:
The dude likes to put Nazi symbols on his guitars and ESP guitars actually built and sold those in the past.
Example:

Please notice the 'SS' logo:



And the skull of course:


Next guitar:



Think the daggered H has something to do with this last name? Nope.

Next:





Nazi symbolism on a fucking guitar makes me sick, but I kinda get it... the dude likes Nazi shit for some reason.
What I don't get is your average (US?) Slayer fan boy defending Hanneman and collecting these guitars, I saw it happen again recently on the ESP bbs. 
Here's a list of dumbass arguments I've seen people use:
  • He's just into WWII memorabilia (right, but for some reason he only puts Nazi stuff on his guitars...)
  • His grandfather fought in WWII.
  • It's just art.
  • He can't be a Nazi, Slayer's singer isn't even "white".
Fucking morons...seriously.
That's all.

Edit (3/6/2013): Hutchinson Guitars did a custom guitar called the 'Kriegsadler' and advertised it on Facebook...
I'm posting the pictures here in case the link goes down:





Ubuntu to Debian

It happened again today and I hate it when it happens:
Ubuntu on a server...sigh
"But Ubuntu is Debian and you love Debian, why do you hate Ubuntu so much then?"
No it's not Debian, it's Ubuntu. (Oh and btw: OSX isn't BSD, Darwin is BSD... sort of.)
"But Ubuntu is so much easier than Debian..."
Yeh well, Hitler thought exterminating an entire group of people was easier than just dealing with them.
"Ubuntu LTS has long time support and is commercially supported..."
Get away from me, suit, go hug an SLA or something.
Ubuntu is bloated and I don't want it anywhere near my servers... and upstart is evil.
Not the cool evil like Behemoth, more like the bad evil like Codemasters.
So I guess I overreacted a bit and converted the Crabuntu into Debian, I've done that a couple times before and it works fine but every time I do it something unexpected happens so don't take this guide too literal.


Disclaimer: but of course I am fully responsible for what you do to you system, this won't hurt your system at all and nothing stated in this disclaimer is a lie...

First I'm going to delete everything:


dpkg -l | awk '{print $2}' | xargs --replace dpkg --purge {}

We can totally do this as the most important stuff will refuse to purge. Next, let's make apt decide what the system can do without:


apt-get autoremove

Now purge every package which only has configuration files on the system:


dpkg -l | grep ^rc | awk '{print $2}' | xargs --replace dpkg --purge {}

Good, not too much is left on the system. Let's upgrade those packages to their Debian counterparts:

echo "deb ftp.de.debian.org/debian testing main contrib non-free" > /etc/apt/sources.list

apt-get update


Install the Debian version of apt-utils as we're going to need it:


apt-get install apt-utils

Upgrade everything:


dpkg -l | awk -F' ' '{print $2}' | xargs --replace apt-get install -y --force-yes {}

Remove those pieces of shit:



dpkg --purge --force-all upstart
dpkg --purge --force-all mountall
dpkg --purge --force-all plymouth

Install something decent:


apt-get install sysvinit

Reinstall grub (not so important I think)


apt-get install grub2

Reinstall a kernel, might be useful sometimes:


apt-get install linux-base  linux-image-amd64

Throw away everything else Ubuntu related:


dpkg -l | grep ubuntu | awk '{print $2}' | xargs --replace apt-get remove --purge {} -y

I like openssh:


apt-get install openssh-server

If it's good enough for Linus, it's good enough for me:

sync
sync
sync


Reboot right the fuck now:





reboot -fn

TADA.... and gone is the Ubuntu crap.

02 July 2012

imapsync


Today I found out the immensely useful tool imapsync isn't free anymore.
A bit of browsing around and I found the source on github, I'm going to assume that being the last free version.

apt-get install libmail-imapclient-perl
apt-get install libterm-readkey-perl
apt-get install libauthen-ntlm-perl
git clone https://github.com/imapsync/imapsync.git
cd imapsync
make
./imapsync

There.

Now, the license file literally says to do whatever the fuck you want to do with it, so I'm going to do just that.
Stay tuned.

10 June 2012

Lemon oil

My Gibson's rosewood fret board was getting as dry as a dead dingo's donger.
Last week I restrung it with some nice coated EB slinkys but as the board was so dry they felt like rusted barbed wire.
Ok, maybe I'm exaggerating just a tiny bit here but it got to a point where it just didn't feel right anymore.
I've been reading about oiling fret boards with all kinds of stuff: 'lemon oil', 'mineral oil', olive oil (yes, olive oil), etc but the most common advice was getting some lemon oil.
I'm not big into DIY stuff and had no idea what lemon oil actually is so I went to a DIY store.
People working there had absolutely no idea what I was on about and as I didn't know what it actually was I wasn't going to buy just anything.
Instead of going on a rant about inaccurate and incomplete advice given out on message boards on the intertubes I turned to my local music store's website and there I saw some Dunlop 65 ultimate lemon oil.
That's right, ultimate lemon oil, not just regular lemon oil, _ultimate_ lemon oil; the only thing missing is a '2000' or '5000' at the end of that name.

Again, a long story short: I bought some, applied it to the fret board and these are my findings:

Pro:
* It's easy to use and dose because of the applicator.
* It cleans the grime and grease pretty well.
* The wood got (what I assume is) its natural color back.
* Fret board feels much smoother and is much more enjoyable to play on.

Con:
* It smells funny.
* It's like everything smells like funny at least 2 hours after using it.
* My guitar's fret board now (the day after) smells funny.
* I don't want my guitars to smell funny.

Did I mention yet it smells funny? No? Well, it does; smells funny, that is.
The reason I'm going on about this is that I don't even think there's actual lemon extract in it, it smells nothing like the lemon extract bottle I keep in the fridge.

It smells like Cymbopogon, the Citronella stuff my mom soaked me in with 25 years ago when I was little right before bed time during summers.
I never really liked the smell of it and it didn't keep mosquitoes at bay at all but to be honest, my mom couldn't have known because it was only in 2002 a study (8th paragraph in the article) concluded the stuff is effective for about 20 minutes.
Anyways, one night the bottle started to leak in the drawer of the end table next to my bed so that drawer reeked for years to come.
Smell memories are funny that way, cleaning a fret board took me back 25 years; another smell that really fucks me up is cherry blossoms but that's another story and totally irrelevant now.

But yeh, the fret board: it's stunning now and I took a before and after shot for your amusement.

06 June 2012

Gibson V-Factor X Flying V

There are some subtle differences between Gibson's Flying V model over the years.
It's particularly nasty when trying to verify whether a certain model is most likely to be a real Gibson only having access to pictures of said guitar.
So I've been trying to find information on the intertubez on a particular V from 2008 (according to the serial number), it looks genuine enough but there's something strange about it: the head stock looks different from the V pictured on gibson.com.
So, is it real? Refinished? Maybe a rebranded Epiphone / Chibson ... ?

Here's a picture of the guitar:

This is a regular Flying V:


Same head stock as the one I've been trying to find info on:

You'll notice the head stock on the 2nd one is sharper.
Problem solved, right? Nope, because the guitar's finish is ebony.
The red one is a 'faded cherry' finish, which basically is Gibson selling a genuine Gibson for the price of a decent Epiphone as far as I can see.
Anyways, could it be a refinished one?
Doesn't look like it plus the guitar comes with a hard case, while the faded cherry ones come with a gigbag.
It does bear an uncanny resemblance with the Epiphone version of the '69 V though, but the tuners are genuine Gibson and the nut is different as well.

A couple Google searches later and I found this jem:


(Source: http://axestaticprocess.com/2011/09/19/get-monte-pittmans-flying-v/)

Exactly like the one I'm researching except for the hardware and pickups.
The site says they owned changed it, so fine but I still didn't quite know which guitar this is.

The mystery V was advertised as being a 2008 '68 flying V re-issue but all the images on Google show a regular V, not the pointy head stock one.

Anyways, long story short: the pointy ebony one is a Gibson V-Factor X Flying V.
Yes, seriously.
Gibson apparently tried to 1337-en up their guitars, so they briefly named the Flying V the V-Factor X and the Explorer the X-Plorer.
This is what Gibson have to say about it:

"The neck on Gibson’s V-Factor X has the best of both worlds—it is a hybrid between the ’50s rounded contour and the ’60s slim-taper profile."
"Whether it’s the regular Flying V, or the Gibson V-Factor X, the solid mahogany body provides tone, sustain, and performance."
"On the flipside, warm up the cutting tone of the bridge P-90 on your SG Specialby using a more rounded pick, or take some of the aggression out of the high-gain pickups of your V-Factor X by using a thinner pick for a smoother, more compressed rhythm tone."

So nothing really usable, no archive product pages, no nothing.
Attempts to look at how gibson.com looked like in 2007 through archive.org simply fail as Gibson has a robots.txt in place. Thanks Gibson!
No product catalogs to be found either so I decided trying to find the same guitar on a webshop somewhere to verify there was, in fact, a time where the standard Flying V's had that type of head stock.
After a bit (hah!) of Googl'ing I found these:
That's the one! Finally a shop which took the effort of actually taking a picture of the instrument they're selling instead of just using the same one over and over again.
Right, so now we know it at least exists and isn't a fake (although there's always the possibility a store is selling an obvious fake, but let's assume they're legit).

A bit more Googl'ing resulted in 2 NGD's on random forums and a couple more links:

http://www.in2guitar.com/flyingv.html: Nice picture of the pointyness
http://i133.photobucket.com/albums/q53/joolzriff/SuperHawk002-1.jpg (from http://www.thegearpage.net/board/showthread.php?t=250162)
http://www.musicradar.com/gallery/reviews/v-factor-x-157224/1: "The classic arrowhead headstock remains" - No, not really.

So although I haven't been able to find pictures of that actual model on a page hosted on gibson.com, I'm pretty confident it's, in fact, real.

Now if only Gibson would provide archives of their site (ESP does) or answer email ...

Edit: some picture links were dead, fixed that.

30 May 2012

On local name resolving on Linux

Local name resolving in Linux distros can get confusing.
Case in point: man hostname(1)

Anyways, our fictional situation for today is this:

hostname: what you've named your machine
domainname: which domain you're on.
FDQN: hostname+domainname
You've probably named your machine something but didn't include the record into the domain's DNS.
Then you're trying to use hostname -a or hostname -f and get this error:

hostname: Name or service not known

You need to check 2 files if that happens: /etc/hostname and /etc/hosts.
This is what you should have (provided, of course, you're not running a NIS/YP and you're using a hostname which isn't configured domain's DNS):

/etc/hostname should contain 1 line: the hostname of the host.
If you do write the FDQN in there, no problem, it gets parsed anyhow.
I found out about this just about half an hour ago when looking into a problem together with a colleague.
/etc/hosts should contain at least 1 line with:

127.0.0.1   FQDN hostname

The order is /etc/hosts is important.
 The hostname in /etc/hosts and the hostname in /etc/hostname must be identical.

27 May 2012

Making working on Windows bearable.

First things first: I've got Windows 7 installed on my laptop.
Line 6 software for my Pod just doesn't work under Wine so I had to have at least one machine running either OSX or Windows and I absolutely, positively, passionately fucking hate OSX, every time I see someone using it I throw up a little in my mouth.
Not that I hate Apple though, their hardware is insanely overpriced, but decent and I'm a big fan of the (old) iPods. Apple users and I on the other hand aren't usually best friends, we see stuff differently I guess.
I like to think a computer should stfu and do what I want it to do, how I want it to do it, not the other way around.
'Think different'... but for some reason the vast majority of their OSX users willingly plugged themselves into the Apple corporate HQ's controlled hive mind, oh the irony almost kills me sometimes.
But anyways, of course I use the laptop for more stuff than just music related stuff but the thing is over the years I've grown accustomed to software I use on my other machines... which run Debian mostly.
So here's a list of stuff I use, maybe it's useful to some poor geek finding him/herself forced using Windows:

* Amarak (http://amarok.kde.org/wiki/Download:Windows): Face it, there's not a single music player on Windows that matches Amarok. Even if it's the sucky version from KDE4 without iPod support, it's still better than everything else out there.
* Kate (http://windows.kde.org/): My preferred editor. Personal preference mostly I think. Has some pretty cool stuff I like.
* GMusic: (http://gmusic.codeplex.com/): Google Music is awesome! Standalone app to GMusic (not official though), running it in a browser blows, even more so on Windows.
* Audacity (http://audacity.sourceforge.net/): Almost as good as on my preferred platform but that's not Audacity's fault. Windows' access to lower level hardware is laughable but for some reason I don't find it funny.
* NX (http://www.nomachine.com/): I hate VNC with a passion and I don't want to run an X server on my Windows machines just to be able to tunnel X sessions. NX rocks, try it out.
* VLC (http://www.videolan.org/vlc/index.html): pretty popular even among Windows users I heard. Listed for completeness as, of course, you don't want to use Media Player.
* Handbrake (http://handbrake.fr/downloads.php): I w00ted when I found out this exists for Windows as well. Fits all my video transcoding needs.
* GIMP (http://www.gimp.org/): I don't need Photoshop, Gimp is good enough for the stuff I do.
* Truecrypt (http://www.truecrypt.org/): No dm-crypt so this fits all my encrypting needs on Windows.
* Chrome (https://www.google.com/chrome): duh.
* Pidgin (http://www.pidgin.im/): IM, all of them.
* Google Talk (http://www.google.com/talk/): Standalone. Mostly for the video calling feature. Skype is meh.
* 7-zip (http://www.7-zip.org/): Supports every compression algorithm I'll ever need.
* Cygwin (http://www.cygwin.com/): I need a decent shell and CLI tools. cmd.exe is lmfao.
* Perl (through Cygwin): same reason as Cygwin.
* OpenSSH (through Cygwin): having to use PuTTY makes my skin crawl and my blood boil, it's a program written by clickety click users for clickety click users.

That's about it.

16 May 2012

Ran guitar - Follow-up.

After a bit more than a day of playing the guitar it became clear I would need to do a setup.
The low E string rattled a bit due to the low action setup but now I could hear it through my amp.
So I redid the neck relief, string action, bridge height and intonation; the works.
Then I noticed something: when I pulled up strongly on the whammy bar the guitar went out of tune and I heard something, like a clicking noise. Dive bombing returned it to pitch.
I first thought it was a retention spring, but those were fine. Then I loosened the nut and had a look at the 2 screws that attach the nut's base plate to the neck.
I tried to move it but it wouldn't budge. But then when I put my screwdriver in I could fasten both screws just a tiny bit more.
I locked the nut again and did some whammy action... clicking sound was gone and it returned to pitch.
So the base plate wasn't secured enough causing tuning problems when using the Floyd as the nut could move around and that means (I think) the good people at Ran made an oversight when checking the hardware on this guitar.
I'm not sure what to think of it, it's an easy fix but I feel that shouldn't happen on a hand made custom shop guitar.
Still, after more playing I'm still in awe of this axe and now I've done the setup myself it plays like molten butter, which is a tad better than regular butter.

Removing audio devices in KDE4

Whenever I lock my KDE4 desktop there's no telling which audio output device I'll get.
I set it to 'Analog Stereo Output' in System Settings/Multimedia/Phonon/Audio Hardware Setup but more often than not Phonon/KDE4 (no idea what is responsible)  changes its setting to 'Digital Stereo (HDMI) Output'. It's possible to change it through Kmix as well, but it's the same UI as far as I can see.
No /etc/phonon config file to be found, so it must be a KDE component... fucking brilliant.
Of course there's no way to clickety-click remove audio devices from within KDE, that'd be too straightforward, right?
Anyways, I set out to find a config file and delete those #$(%#$ HDMI audio output entries.

~/.kde/share/config/phonondevicesrc

Entries are like this:

[AudioDevice_HDA Intel, HDMI 0\nHDMI Audio Output_playback]
cardName=HDA Intel, HDMI 0 (HDMI Audio Output)
deleted=false
deviceNumber=-1
hotpluggable=false
iconName=audio-card
index=-6
initialPreference=30
isAdvanced=false

So I just changed the deleted=false like to true for all HDMI devices.
Problem solved.

Thanks, KDE, once again... KDE 4.7 and still not on 3.5's level of functionality.

15 May 2012

Sperzel locking tuners string breakage at the peg

I broke 2 strings before it hit me: you're not supposed to loosen the string completely after having tuned up with Sperzel locking tuners.
The thing with that is the string makes a really tight turn at the peg when tuned up and when loosening again it bends back, weakening that spot.
Rinse and repeat for every tune/detune cycle eventually breaking the string at the point it makes a turn to fit into the peg's opening.
Better would be, if you're planning to ever loosen the string that is, to insert it at a 1/2 or even 3/4 turn around the peg so that the weak spot never bends back when detuning.
Update: come to think of it, even 1/4 of a turn around would be enough. As long as the bend at the peg doesn't get straight again it should be fine.

12 May 2012

NGD - Ran

My Ran arrived yesterday :)
As it hasn't been easy to find information on Ran apart from here, I'm going to write down my experiences ordering one and a couple of first impressions as well as some pics at end.

TL;DR version: I'm happy with it. Scroll down for pics.

I started communicating with Dariusz in November 2010 after it turned out he could build a KH2 NTB clone with a couple modifications for €1860.
I fiddled around on a KH2 in a shop a bit a couple weeks before that and everything just felt right, you know?
The real deal is about €2200 over on Thomann and that's without the modifications/improvements Ran could do (and the ESP is just a production guitar, not a custom shop).

I did some reading in old threads on a couple of forums, people were absolutely thrilled about their Ran and their reputation in Poland itself is very good as well.
I noticed from the posts prices kept going up over the years though.
Figuring prices would only continue to rise because of materials getting more expensive and of course Ran getting more and more exposure I figured I'd take my shot now.
ESP charges upwards of $6000 for custom shops...
Ibanez and ESP, to name only 2 major vendors, started out small as well so I wouldn't be surprised Ran will become a major player on the guitar market one day.
Cannibal Corpse, Vader, Annihilator and Clawfinger are just some of the bands already using Ran guitars.
So yes, it was an economical decision, I'm nowhere near the level of guitar expertise where I would require having custom shop guitars built.

Anyways, Dariusz answered my every question and it came to a point where I was happy with the specs and I wired a deposit of €1000.
The next day he sent me a mockup (see pictures) and based on that I changed a couple more things until I was satisfied.

Basically what I asked for was an ESP KH-2 NTB clone but with following changes:
* Sperzel locking tuners
* Stainless steel frets
* White body/neck/head stock binding
* Schaller strap locks
* Custom graphic on the back of the neck

€2060 in total (€40 UPS shipping + €160 flight case + €1860 guitar).

Dariusz is great to deal with btw, he offered his opinion when I asked for it and right up until a couple days ago when he sent word my guitar was going to be shipped the next day he kept up the the responsive communication.

So, Ran'd start building somewhere around 1/2/2011 and the build time would be approximately 10 months.
It turned out to be 15 months, but that's partly due to issues they had no control over.
Their spray booth was acting up and they were having problems with the distributor, creating a backlog of projects waiting to be painted.
I asked for it to be stringed with a specific brand and type of strings a couple months later which wasn't a problem at all.
It was clear to me no information nor pictures would be given during the build, but I got a notification when the woodwork was finished and a set of pictures when it was ready to send out.
On the pictures I noticed the guitar didn't have the arm rest contour the KH2 has.
Dariusz said they never do that for superstrat bound bodies which is fine by me, but it would've been nice if I had known that up front; after all I asked for a KH2 type body with a white binding.
No biggie, I payed the rest of the money (€1060) and 2 working days after they had received the money  the guitar was ready to be shipped out.
At least, that was before Dariusz discovered it was strung with a different string gauge.
They restrung it and sent it out one day later. took UPS 2 days to deliver.

So yesterday it arrived.
It took me about 15 minutes to liberate my guitar from the packaging ;)
The flight case was wrapped in an insane amount of bubble wrap and the guitar itself and the accessories in the flight case where packed in bubble wrap as well.

Despite all that the plastic thingy on the pickup selector switch was broken in half. One half I found in the Floyd cavity.

The flight case needs some additional work apart from it being well designed and very sturdy.
They put in foam padding so the guitar can't budge but the thing with that is the foam padding aren't all glued to the inside of the case so I'm going to do that myself.
The guitar was secure in the case during transit though, it was only after I removed all the bubble wrap I noticed I'd need to do some gluing for myself to make it a perfect fit.
Again, no biggie but it would've been nice if I didn't have to do that myself.

I played it for about 3 hours today, it's an amazing piece of work.
I have yet to find a single flaw in the finish and the setup is almost perfect.
Almost, because the 2nd and 5th string are a little bit sharp on intonation at the 12th fret.

Stainless steel frets in combination with the coated Ernie Ball's are a match made in heaven, bending has never been so smooth and effortless.
Action is set up exactly like I want it to be, which is pretty subjective but bonus points for them for being able to read my mind :)
The Floyd Rose is balanced perfectly, the ebony fret board and inlays are stunning.

The strings needed some stretching before the tuning got really stable but apart from that it plays like butter, what more can I say.

I don't really believe sound clips can really showcase the build quality or 'tone' of the guitar and that's why I'm not going to make one.
As I see it 'tone' comes from the amplifier/cab + effects used and the level of comfort the guitar provides the player with. Of course the guitar has tonal qualities of its own, but I don't see the point in doing a sound clip unless someone actually uses exactly the same equipment as I do.
Having said that, the thing plays like a dream and sounds fantastic, I couldn't be more happy with it.

Update: Dariusz offered to send over a replacement pickup selector plastic thingy.
Good customer service is in the little details like that.

And now it's picture time:


12 April 2012

KDE4 multiple screen handling

So in the good old days XFree/Xorg handled monitor configuration but apparently that was working out too well so nowadays the desktop managers are in control... sigh.

It's been 4 years since the KDE guys released 4.0 and configuring multiple monitors still doesn't work.
You'd think the 'Save as Default' button in the 'Size and Orientation' section of 'System Settings' would work, wouldn't you?
Well, think again, it still doesn't.


Introducing a nice little program called 'xrandr'.
Install it, run it, save its configuration in ~/.kde/env/ so it gets loaded at the same time KDE loads and you're done.
It'll even work when no external monitor is connected, so no weirdness anymore.

Btw:
http://www.trinitydesktop.org
It's a fork of KDE 3.5 made to run on modern day distros.
KDE 3.5, which, as we all know, was almost perfect.
It even includes the old Amarok (yes, ipod sync included).

14 March 2012

PS3 Mediatomb Debian configuration - cont.

I recently made some improvements to my mediatomb setup, so here's my config file.
It now does some server-side transcoding for stuff the PS3 doesn't have native support for like Vorbis audio, video codecs and iso images.
It's not perfect yet, but it works for most of the stuff I've got.
The mediatomb xml is pasted first, then the support scripts which handle the video transcoding, just don't forget to chmod +x them (they can be used standalone as well btw).

/etc/mediatomb/config.xml:


<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<config version="2" xmlns="http://mediatomb.cc/config/2" xmlns:xsi="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance" xsi:schemaLocation="http://mediatomb.cc/config/2 http://mediatomb.cc/config/2.xsd">
  <server>
    <ui enabled="yes" show-tooltips="yes">
      <accounts enabled="no" session-timeout="30">
        <account user="mediatomb" password="mediatomb"/>
      </accounts>
    </ui>
    <name>[NAME]</name>
    <udn>uuid:dae13796-e78c-486c-ab54-f79c144a20f3</udn>
    <home>[PATH_TO_HOME]</home>
    <webroot>/usr/share/mediatomb/web</webroot>
    <storage caching="yes">
      <sqlite3 enabled="no">
        <database-file>sqlite3.db</database-file>
      </sqlite3>
      <mysql enabled="yes">
        <host>localhost</host>
        <username>mediatomb</username>
        <database>mediatomb</database>
      </mysql>
    </storage>
    <protocolInfo extend="yes"/>
    <custom-http-headers>
      <add header="X-User-Agent: redsonic"/>
    </custom-http-headers>
    <manufacturerURL>redsonic.com</manufacturerURL>
    <modelNumber>105</modelNumber>
    <extended-runtime-options>
      <ffmpegthumbnailer enabled="yes">
        <thumbnail-size>128</thumbnail-size>
        <seek-percentage>5</seek-percentage>
        <filmstrip-overlay>yes</filmstrip-overlay>
        <workaround-bugs>no</workaround-bugs>
        <image-quality>8</image-quality>
      </ffmpegthumbnailer>
      <mark-played-items enabled="no" suppress-cds-updates="yes">
        <string mode="prepend">*</string>
        <mark>
          <content>video</content>
        </mark>
      </mark-played-items>
    </extended-runtime-options>
  </server>
  <import hidden-files="no">
    <scripting script-charset="UTF-8">
      <common-script>/usr/share/mediatomb/js/common.js</common-script>
      <playlist-script>/usr/share/mediatomb/js/playlists.js</playlist-script>
      <virtual-layout type="builtin">
        <import-script>/usr/share/mediatomb/js/import.js</import-script>
      </virtual-layout>
    </scripting>
    <mappings>
      <extension-mimetype ignore-unknown="no">
        <map from="mp3" to="audio/mpeg"/>
        <map from="ogg" to="application/ogg"/>
        <map from="asf" to="video/x-ms-asf"/>
        <map from="asx" to="video/x-ms-asf"/>
        <map from="wma" to="audio/x-ms-wma"/>
        <map from="wax" to="audio/x-ms-wax"/>
        <map from="wmv" to="video/x-ms-wmv"/>
        <map from="wvx" to="video/x-ms-wvx"/>
        <map from="wm" to="video/x-ms-wm"/>
        <map from="wmx" to="video/x-ms-wmx"/>
        <map from="m3u" to="audio/x-mpegurl"/>
        <map from="pls" to="audio/x-scpls"/>
        <map from="flv" to="video/x-flv"/>
        <map from="avi" to="video/divx"/>
        <map from="mkv" to="video/x-matroska"/>
        <map from="mts" to="video/mpeg"/>
        <map from="ts" to="video/mpeg"/>
        <map from="m2ts" to="video/mpeg"/>
        <map from="mov" to="video/x-quicktime"/>
        <map from="vob" to="video/mpeg"/>
        <map from="m4v" to="video/mp4"/>
        <map from="vob" to="video/iso"/>
        <map from="VOB" to="video/iso"/>
        <map from="iso" to="video/iso"/>
        <map from="ISO" to="video/iso"/>
        <map from="img" to="video/iso"/>
        <map from="IMG" to="video/iso"/>
        <map from="rm"  to="video/realmedia"/>
        <map from="rmvb"  to="video/realmedia"/>
      </extension-mimetype>
      <mimetype-upnpclass>
        <map from="audio/*" to="object.item.audioItem.musicTrack"/>
        <map from="video/*" to="object.item.videoItem"/>
        <map from="image/*" to="object.item.imageItem"/>
      </mimetype-upnpclass>
      <mimetype-contenttype>
        <treat mimetype="audio/mpeg" as="mp3"/>
        <treat mimetype="application/ogg" as="ogg"/>
        <treat mimetype="audio/x-flac" as="flac"/>
        <treat mimetype="image/jpeg" as="jpg"/>
        <treat mimetype="audio/x-mpegurl" as="playlist"/>
        <treat mimetype="audio/x-scpls" as="playlist"/>
        <treat mimetype="audio/x-wav" as="pcm"/>
        <treat mimetype="video/x-msvideo" as="avi"/>
        <treat mimetype="video/quicktime" as="mov"/>
        <treat mimetype="video/x-quicktime" as="mov"/>
      </mimetype-contenttype>
    </mappings>
    <online-content>
      <YouTube enabled="no" refresh="28800" update-at-start="no" purge-after="604800" racy-content="exclude" format="mp4" hd="no">
        <favorites user="mediatomb"/>
        <standardfeed feed="most_viewed" time-range="today"/>
        <playlists user="mediatomb"/>
        <uploads user="mediatomb"/>
        <standardfeed feed="recently_featured" time-range="today"/>
      </YouTube>
    </online-content>
  </import>
  <transcoding enabled="yes">
    <mimetype-profile-mappings>
      <transcode mimetype="video/x-matroska" using="transcode-video"/>
      <transcode mimetype="video/x-flv" using="transcode-video"/>
      <transcode mimetype="video/x-quicktime" using="transcode-video"/>
      <transcode mimetype="video/realmedia" using="transcode-video"/>
      <transcode mimetype="application/ogg" using="vlcmpeg"/>
      <transcode mimetype="application/ogg" using="oggflac2raw"/>
      <transcode mimetype="audio/x-flac" using="oggflac2raw"/>
      <transcode mimetype="video/iso" using="video-iso"/>
    </mimetype-profile-mappings>
    <profiles>
      <profile name="transcode-video" enabled="yes" type="external">
          <avi-fourcc-list mode="ignore">
              <fourcc>DX50</fourcc>
              <fourcc>DM4V</fourcc>
              <fourcc>M4S2</fourcc>
          </avi-fourcc-list>
          <mimetype>video/mpeg</mimetype>
          <accept-url>yes</accept-url>
          <first-resource>yes</first-resource>
          <hide-original-resource>yes</hide-original-resource>
          <accept-ogg-theora>yes</accept-ogg-theora>
          <agent command="/usr/local/bin/transcode-video" arguments="%in %out"/>
          <buffer size="1048576" chunk-size="26214" fill-size="52428"/>
      </profile>
      <profile name="video-iso" enabled="yes" type="external">
          <mimetype>video/mpeg</mimetype>
          <first-resource>yes</first-resource>
          <hide-original-resource>yes</hide-original-resource>
          <accept-ogg-theora>yes</accept-ogg-theora>
          <agent command="/usr/local/bin/transcode-video-iso" arguments="%in %out"/>
          <buffer size="1048576" chunk-size="131072" fill-size="262144"/>
          </profile>
      <profile name="oggflac2raw" enabled="no" type="external">
        <mimetype>audio/L16</mimetype>
        <accept-url>no</accept-url>
        <first-resource>yes</first-resource>
        <accept-ogg-theora>no</accept-ogg-theora>
        <agent command="ogg123" arguments="-d raw -f %out %in"/>
        <buffer size="1048576" chunk-size="131072" fill-size="262144"/>
      </profile>
      <profile name="vlcmpeg" enabled="yes" type="external">
        <mimetype>video/mpeg</mimetype>
        <accept-url>yes</accept-url>
        <first-resource>yes</first-resource>
        <accept-ogg-theora>yes</accept-ogg-theora>
        <agent command="vlc" arguments="-I dummy %in --sout #transcode{venc=ffmpeg,vcodec=mp2v,vb=4096,fps=25,aenc=ffmpeg,acodec=mpga,ab=192,samplerate=44100,channels=2}:standard{access=file,mux=ps,dst=%out} vlc:quit"/>
        <buffer size="14400000" chunk-size="512000" fill-size="120000"/>
      </profile>
    </profiles>
  </transcoding>
</config>


/usr/local/bin/transcode-video:

#!/bin/bash
exec "/usr/bin/avconv" -i "$1" -vcodec mpeg2video -b 4096k -r 25 -acodec ac3 -ar 48000 -ac 2 -ab 448000 -f mpegts - > "$2"

 /usr/local/bin/transcode-video-iso:

#!/bin/bash
exec "/usr/bin/vlc" -v dvdsimple://"$1" -I dummy --sout "#transcode{vcodec=mpgv,vb=800,fps=25,acodec=mpga,ab=192,samplerate=48000,channels=2,deinterlace,soverlay,audio-sync}:standard{mux=ps,access=file,dst=$2" --sub-language=en vlc:quit >> /var/log/transcode.log 2>&1


13 March 2012

About gallops and down picking

I've got some serious problems with alternate picking.
From when I first picked up a guitar down picking felt much more natural than alternate picking but now I'm starting to realize I've made a serious mistake ignoring it.
I've always wanted being able to play kick ass down picked riff like that MoP riff.
So I practiced and practiced and built up speed until it sounded pretty good.
Meanwhile I practiced galloping as well but somewhere along the way it went wrong and now I'm re-learning to gallop the 'proper' way.
A couple days ago I realized why this happened.

Let's take this riff from MoP as an exmaple:

A |-----2-----3-----4-----3-----2-2-- [...]
E |-0-1---0-1---0-1---0-1---0-1------ [...]
    D D D D D D D D D D D D D D D D

This is played at 218 bpm, so it's pretty fucking fast.
Down picking obviously implies performing a down stroke, then bringing the pick back up without hitting the string and down pick again and doing this really really fast.
Now let's take this basic gallop:

E |-0--0-0-0--0-0-0--0-0-0--0-0-0-- ...
    D  D U D  D U D  D U D  D U D

And this is where my problem starts...
I'm so used at performing the D-D movement, I'm now having the greatest problems performing a basic DUD movement.
Instead I noticed I perform a gallop like this:

E |-0--0-0-0--0-0-0--0-0-0--0-0-0--
    D  U D U  U D U  U D U  U D U

Somewhere along the way my brain decided to perform a gallop, which is a form of alternate picking of course, starting with an 'up' movement to, I guess, differentiate between the regular down stroke and an alternate pick.
When doing faster alternate picked stuff I caught myself starting with an 'up' movement as well, losing speed, needlessly creating extra hand movement so losing efficiency while doing so.
Detecting and realizing why one makes mistakes is the first step, right.
So now I've got to unlearn starting an alternate series with an up stroke by default and that's easier said than done.

17 February 2012

Dunlop Black Fang vs Ultex Sharp

Disclaimer:
This basically is one big Dunlop advertisement, so deal with it.
No, I'm not getting paid to do this and if you're reading this, Dunlop dudes: why the fuck don't you lot answer my emails?

Anyways, for what it's worth: a bit of history first... maybe this'll help someone.

Since I started learning playing the guitar I've been a bit obsessed with finding the perfect pick for me.
I noticed very early on the kind of pick I used greatly affected my playing.
The dude in the music store I bought my first guitar at (grossly overpriced, but what did I know... bastards) recommended those floppy light nylon ones, I tossed those after 5 minutes. That started my search for the perfect pick... (still haven't found the Pick of Destiny)

I recently fell in love with Dunlop's Ultex Sharps 1.0.
I already was using regular Ultex which I love for the material it's made of: durable, very nice sound and they don't slip as much as, let's say, the Tortex ones.
The Tortex ones, I used the green 0.88 ones, were great at first, but they wear down as fast as hell and they get incredibly slippery after half an hour of use.
Now, before Tortex I used the famous Jazz III for quite a while.
Incredible picks, I bought a couple of them and only had to grab another one when I lost one. They last forever, they really do.
The sharp tip was so great to use and the small size forced me learning to pick more accurately, which was great as well at first.
They only have one major downside: they're extremely slippery.
Heh, I used to cut them up with a knife to increase friction.
So when I heard Dunlop would release a Max Grip version I immediately placed an order at the local music store.
The Max Grip version has this diamond plate thing going on on the surface which really works and I used them for quite some time as well.
After a while I grew tired of the additional harmonics I created while playing fast riffs as the thumb of my picking hand would keep hitting the strings because of the small size of the pick.
Yes, I know, it's all technique and all and I guess I just suck.
But that lead me back to normal sized picks.
Ultex ones were the next ones I tried but I really missed having a sharp tip.
Apart from that Ultex is an amazing pick: the brightness of the tone it produces is amazing .
After another trip to the Dunlop site I saw the Ultex Sharp ones... and placed an order at my local music store.

Btw, start seeing a pattern here? For some arcane reason they don't stock a great variety of picks, I wonder why...
Anyways, about 2 weeks later they arrived and I fell in love.
Lightweight, durable with a sharp tip and they produce a great sound. I absolutely love them.

I noticed people talking about Hetfield's Black Fangs on a couple websites.
Looking at the specs it seemed just a branded Ultex Sharp in varying thicknesses the regular ones aren't available at and way more expensive of course.
Rephrase: ridiculously more expensive.
They go €7,50 for 6 here which is 2.5 times more than what I buy the regular ones for.
Just because of that I wouldn't buy them but it kept bugging me: was it really just a Ultex Sharp in another color, another gauge and with a fancy drawing on it or was there something else going on?
Reviews just reviewed the pick, not comparing it to a regular Ultex Sharp of course, that'd be too obvious and easy... sigh.

Then, my mother got me some as a present (thanks, Lien!) so when I got home I tried the Black Fang and Ultex Sharp back-to-back, not expecting much difference.
The first thing I noticed about Black Fang is it's a much rougher texture than regular Ultex, which is smooth as a baby's bottom.
They're exactly the same size, apart from the thickness that is.
So without further ado, here's my take on Ultex Sharp vs Black Fang:

Black Fang is better.

There's no sound difference at all but due to the rougher texture they're so much more enjoyable to hold as they're even less slippery than the regular Ultex and a bit more durable as far as I can see.
And, let's be honest here, they're just plain fucking cool; appealing to my inner Metallica fanboy even.
A black rhino silhouette on transparent yellow doesn't exactly scream metal to me.

That's it.
So, are they worth the money? Hard to say, isn't it... how much do you want to spend on a pick?
One could spend 1000's on guitars, amps and effect pedals while saying 'you get what you pay for'.

I used to say €7,50 for 6 picks is ridiculous, but I'm not too sure anymore.
Time will tell which ones I'll buy next, but chances are it'll be Black Fang.


01 February 2012

DHCP IP end is not in the subnet or not autorized

Yesterday night the Sagem bridge supplied by my ISP suddenly decided to reboot around 4:00.
Remote firmware update? I don't think so, the firmware build number seems pretty old.
Anyways, afterwards dhcp wasn't working anymore.
Turns out the dhcp server configuration was changed to serve 192.168.1.100 to 192.168.1.63...
Trying to change the .63 to something like 120 simply didn't work, the damn thing refuses to accept anything over 63... "DHCP IP end is not in the subnet or not autorized".
So I changed the dhcp config to serve 192.168.1.10-50, now it works again.

Firmware-VTU-R:5.5.1.2IK105012 Time Oct 1 2009, 14:04:47

31 January 2012

Why du and df report different disk usage.

Two different programs with two different goals.
du: diskusage, df: diskfree.
du is used to see how much space is used by files and folders on a file system.
df is used to see how much space is used/free on a partition.
Big difference.

du and df will report different disk usage and there are two main reasons.
Indeed, there are two main reasons and for some arcane reason when I hear people talking about this subject they almost never mention both possibilities.

du calculates the amount of space used by stuff on the file system by (special) files and directories.
df looks at the file system usage: how many blocks are available and how many blocks are used.
As file systems use some disk space to store meta data about the stuff on the file system, so even on an 'empty' file system df will still report a usage of a couple of MB, depending on the options chosen at creation time of course.
That metadata consists of inode tables, superblocks, extended attributes etc.
Those bits have to be stored somewhere, hence the difference in reported size.

The other reason they can differ in output is open file descriptors.
Let's say you edit a file and delete it from another terminal.
df won't report the used size as the inode isn't pointing anymore to the file (it was dereferenced after all), but du will still include the file in its calculation as the file is still open.
This situation is also valid in case where defunct processes are still keeping files open which are since long deleted.

Disclaimer: this is at least true on GNU/Linux and *BSD systems.

30 January 2012

Linux: about swap


I can't even begin to count how many time I've heard this argument: "You don't really need swap space as in an ideal situation your system shouldn't be swapping anyhow."

Well...*sigh*... no.

Linux has this little cool thing called swapiness; it's a number between 0 and 100, basically telling Linux how fast it should swap out unused applications.
That's right: how fast... not if.
Setting swapiness to 0 will result in Linux avoiding swapping out stuff as long as possible, turn it up to 100 and Linux will swap out agressively, trying to have as much free physical memory available at all time.
Everything in between 0 and 100... well, you get the picture.

Swapping out stuff is a good thing!
I'm not going to start a crusade to set swapiness to 100, but c'mon... don't tell me an application running 24/7 but only occasionally actually doing something should keep all its data in physical memory.
I like the idea of Linux swapping it out to disk, freeing valuable and expensive physical memory for something important in need of fast memory space.
Have a look on your system right now, do a  cat of /proc/sys/vm/swappiness.
I'm willing to bet it's not set to 0.

What I'm trying to say here is swap is a cool system, but it depends on what you're building.
Some systems can benefit greatly of having swap space at their disposal, sometimes you just want to run everything in RAM all the time.

Oh and btw: not having swap space at all is fucking retarded (we're talking desktops and servers here, not embedded stuff).

23 January 2012

03 January 2012

PS3 Mediatomb Debian configuration

After writing the previous article about the wol file server set up I realized Mediatomb on Debian doesn't, by default, play nice with the PS3.
Here's my config file, it has a couple of extra mappings to make sure everything can be played on the PS3.
Don't forget to adjust the <home> bit and, if required, enable the YouTube and transcoding settings.


<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<config version="2" xmlns="http://mediatomb.cc/config/2" xmlns:xsi="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance" xsi:schemaLocation="http://mediatomb.cc/config/2 http://mediatomb.cc/config/2.xsd">
  <server>
    <ui enabled="yes" show-tooltips="yes">
      <accounts enabled="no" session-timeout="30">
        <account user="mediatomb" password="mediatomb"/>
      </accounts>
    </ui>
    <name>Media</name>
    <udn>uuid:dae13796-e78c-486c-ab54-f79c144a20f3</udn>
    <home>/path/to/</home>
    <webroot>/usr/share/mediatomb/web</webroot>
    <storage caching="yes">
      <sqlite3 enabled="no">
        <database-file>sqlite3.db</database-file>
      </sqlite3>
      <mysql enabled="yes">
        <host>localhost</host>
        <username>mediatomb</username>
        <database>mediatomb</database>
      </mysql>
    </storage>
    <protocolInfo extend="yes"/>
    <custom-http-headers>
      <add header="X-User-Agent: redsonic"/>
    </custom-http-headers>
    <manufacturerURL>redsonic.com</manufacturerURL>
    <modelNumber>105</modelNumber>
    <extended-runtime-options>
      <ffmpegthumbnailer enabled="yes">
        <thumbnail-size>128</thumbnail-size>
        <seek-percentage>5</seek-percentage>
        <filmstrip-overlay>yes</filmstrip-overlay>
        <workaround-bugs>no</workaround-bugs>
        <image-quality>8</image-quality>
      </ffmpegthumbnailer>
      <mark-played-items enabled="no" suppress-cds-updates="yes">
        <string mode="prepend">*</string>
        <mark>
          <content>video</content>
        </mark>
      </mark-played-items>
    </extended-runtime-options>
  </server>
  <import hidden-files="no">
    <scripting script-charset="UTF-8">
      <common-script>/usr/share/mediatomb/js/common.js</common-script>
      <playlist-script>/usr/share/mediatomb/js/playlists.js</playlist-script>
      <virtual-layout type="builtin">
        <import-script>/usr/share/mediatomb/js/import.js</import-script>
      </virtual-layout>
    </scripting>
    <mappings>
      <extension-mimetype ignore-unknown="no">
        <map from="mp3" to="audio/mpeg"/>
        <map from="ogg" to="application/ogg"/>
        <map from="asf" to="video/x-ms-asf"/>
        <map from="asx" to="video/x-ms-asf"/>
        <map from="wma" to="audio/x-ms-wma"/>
        <map from="wax" to="audio/x-ms-wax"/>
        <map from="wmv" to="video/x-ms-wmv"/>
        <map from="wvx" to="video/x-ms-wvx"/>
        <map from="wm" to="video/x-ms-wm"/>
        <map from="wmx" to="video/x-ms-wmx"/>
        <map from="m3u" to="audio/x-mpegurl"/>
        <map from="pls" to="audio/x-scpls"/>
        <map from="flv" to="video/x-flv"/>
        <map from="avi" to="video/divx"/>
        <map from="mkv" to="video/x-matroska"/>
        <map from="mts" to="video/mpeg"/>
        <map from="ts" to="video/mpeg"/>
        <map from="m2ts" to="video/mpeg"/>
        <map from="mov" to="video/x-quicktime"/>
        <map from="vob" to="video/mpeg"/>
        <map from="m4v" to="video/mp4"/>
      </extension-mimetype>
      <mimetype-upnpclass>
        <map from="audio/*" to="object.item.audioItem.musicTrack"/>
        <map from="video/*" to="object.item.videoItem"/>
        <map from="image/*" to="object.item.imageItem"/>
      </mimetype-upnpclass>
      <mimetype-contenttype>
        <treat mimetype="audio/mpeg" as="mp3"/>
        <treat mimetype="application/ogg" as="ogg"/>
        <treat mimetype="audio/x-flac" as="flac"/>
        <treat mimetype="image/jpeg" as="jpg"/>
        <treat mimetype="audio/x-mpegurl" as="playlist"/>
        <treat mimetype="audio/x-scpls" as="playlist"/>
        <treat mimetype="audio/x-wav" as="pcm"/>
        <treat mimetype="video/x-msvideo" as="avi"/>
        <treat mimetype="video/quicktime" as="mov"/>
        <treat mimetype="video/x-quicktime" as="mov"/>
      </mimetype-contenttype>
    </mappings>
    <online-content>
      <YouTube enabled="no" refresh="28800" update-at-start="no" purge-after="604800" racy-content="exclude" format="mp4" hd="no">
        <favorites user="mediatomb"/>
        <standardfeed feed="most_viewed" time-range="today"/>
        <playlists user="mediatomb"/>
        <uploads user="mediatomb"/>
        <standardfeed feed="recently_featured" time-range="today"/>
      </YouTube>
    </online-content>
  </import>
  <transcoding enabled="no">
    <mimetype-profile-mappings>
      <transcode mimetype="video/x-flv" using="vlcmpeg"/>
      <transcode mimetype="application/ogg" using="vlcmpeg"/>
      <transcode mimetype="application/ogg" using="oggflac2raw"/>
      <transcode mimetype="audio/x-flac" using="oggflac2raw"/>
    </mimetype-profile-mappings>
    <profiles>
      <profile name="oggflac2raw" enabled="no" type="external">
        <mimetype>audio/L16</mimetype>
        <accept-url>no</accept-url>
        <first-resource>yes</first-resource>
        <accept-ogg-theora>no</accept-ogg-theora>
        <agent command="ogg123" arguments="-d raw -f %out %in"/>
        <buffer size="1048576" chunk-size="131072" fill-size="262144"/>
      </profile>
      <profile name="vlcmpeg" enabled="no" type="external">
        <mimetype>video/mpeg</mimetype>
        <accept-url>yes</accept-url>
        <first-resource>yes</first-resource>
        <accept-ogg-theora>yes</accept-ogg-theora>
        <agent command="vlc" arguments="-I dummy %in --sout #transcode{venc=ffmpeg,vcodec=mp2v,vb=4096,fps=25,aenc=ffmpeg,acodec=mpga,ab=192,samplerate=44100,channels=2}:standard{access=file,mux=ps,dst=%out} vlc:quit"/>
        <buffer size="14400000" chunk-size="512000" fill-size="120000"/>
      </profile>
    </profiles>
  </transcoding>
</config>