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:   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.


Entries are like this:

[AudioDevice_HDA Intel, HDMI 0\nHDMI Audio Output_playback]
cardName=HDA Intel, HDMI 0 (HDMI Audio Output)

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: