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I haven’t been this pleased with Foobar 2000 in a long time. The default user interface (UI) in 0.9.5 has been significantly upgraded, with integrated support for things like album art, autoplaylists, and themes. I’m already tweaking out a new config that uses the default UI combined with the Facets plugin I linked to before, changing away from Columns UI after using it a few years and dabbling in the Panels UI a little.

FB2K is my favorite app for encoding, tagging, organizing, and, oh yeah, playing my digital music. If only it would stream to my Airport Express…

Update: Added a screenshot of my current config.

Foobar 2000 0.9.5b1

I finally got around to downloading and playing the SupCom demo and even though FarCry doesn’t have a kickin’ graphics card, it’s fun.  I am a huge fan of Total Annihilation and have been playing TA Spring more recently.  SupCom will definitely be purchased soon!

I’ve got both Firefox and Thunderbird using our Windows-based profiles under Ubuntu 7.04. “firefox -profilemanager” and “mozilla-thunderbird -profilemanager” are my friends.  And so is ntfs-3g.

In this day and age, I’m completely miffed that I can’t upload DV footage from my Canon Elura 100’s IEEE1394 (Firewire) port to my new computer. I moved the cheap TI-compatible Firewire card I had in Earthshine to FarCry and haven’t been able to get the camcorder detected in either Windows XP x64 (using WinDV) or Ubuntu 7.04 x64 (using Kino). I may try to load up 32-bit XP to see if that’ll do it, but that seems too much like giving up. I still need to check and see if a Firewire-capable external hard drive I have is recognized on FarCry before I completely blame the OSs. I’ll probably end up getting another Firewire card for what’ll end up being the new Ghostrider (ie. the old Earthshine with a spiffy new 32-bit Windows install) and trying to upload the DV there. We’ll see. This problem has vexed me (admittedly part-time) for a few weeks now and I had to publicly complain. 😉

Update:  I’m going to try this adapter since one of the reviewers said specifically that it worked with their camcorder under XP x64 using WinDV.

Had a whirlwind weekend between helping with Zachary, Ryan’s soccer game and birthday party, tinkering with “the beast” (now named “FarCry”), hanging with my parents, and going to the Middletown Fair as well as some “normal” weekend stuff.

Ryan’s soccer game Saturday morning was great.  They’ve got a core of 6 kids on the team that are playing together well; the last two weeks, they’ve really started playing like a team.  They have one more game this coming Saturday.  Can’t wait to see how they do in the Under-8 division next year, and I hope they get to continue to play together.

Mom and Dad came late Saturday morning to visit and watch Zachary as we took Ryan over to Fountainblu for his early birthday party.  I’d never been to this rink before and was impressed by its organization, cleanliness, and size.  I hadn’t been on my blades yet this year, and hadn’t skated indoors since leaving Buffalo.  I was in hog heaven.  I had fun whipping around the rink, and helping the little guys get the hang of their skates.  Being six and seven, they haven’t skated much yet.  Ryan really impressed me.  He went down a lot, but everytime I thought “he’s done” he was back out on the floor a few minutes later.  I think we’ll be back at Fountainblu, even if it’s just Ryan and myself.  Melissa did get out on her skates as well near the end, but she was great as the greeter and overall party runner.

I was pretty tired after the party; the skating was my first significant exercise in a while.  But it was all good; I made dinner and we had a restful evening talking with my parents and playing with Zachary.

Speaking of Zach, at a month old he’s really liking laying in front of the activity gym and observing the lights and songs for 15-20 minutes at a time.  I’ll have to get a pic of that soon.

I did find some pockets of time to get Win XP x64 installed on FarCry and get the drivers loaded.  The only “gotcha” was that I had to go out and grab Realtek’s drivers for the onboard audio.  MSI’s provided drivers (had to go online; the x64 OS wasn’t supported with the included CD media) weren’t installing.  Everything else loaded up great, and once I get the Audigy 4 and FireWire card from Earthshine inserted I should be able to finalize the hardware build and then install Ubuntu 7.04 x64.  Don’t know how often that’ll get used upstairs, but I have plenty of hard drive space to use to play with it.  I’ve also successfully tested its dual-boot-ability with Win XP and was impressed.

On Sunday my Dad wanted us to go for a bike ride but I woke up with a headache and was still feeling the skate a bit, so I declined.  Early in the afternoon we headed down to Hoffer Park in Middletown for our first Middletown Fair.  It was nice to go a craft show that we weren’t participating in as Manolas.   It wasn’t as crowded as I expected and the food was OK.  I noticed that the crowd skewed pretty old; I guess that reflects the average age of the borough’s population.  We don’t get down there much except to go to Alfred’s.

The build has progressed far enough that I was able to energize the beast for the first time this morning.  All the hardware is green so far.  As I just emailed Andy Bolin: it runs like Red October.  I still have to attempt to install the internal CPU air-flow handler after I get two more PCI cards installed.  There’s a lot of cables in there!

So… a name.  My last two computers are “GhostRider” and “Earthshine”; I’m thinking “FarCry” or “Spindrift” for this one.   Whaddya think?

Putting together my latest “beast” made me think about the very first computer that my dad and I (well, mostly my dad) built back in 1991. Let’s compare the two:

Unnamed PC (circa 1991):

  • Intel 486DX/33Mhz
  • 16MB RAM
  • 200MB hard disk
  • 2MB VESA Local Bus video card

Yet-to-be-named PC (circa 2007):

  • AMD Althon 64 X2 2.5GHz (Brisbane core)
  • 2GB RAM
  • 160GB & 320GB hard disks
  • 128MB PCI Express x16 video card

Comparison points (new vs. old):

  • Nearly 50% Cheaper: I think the ’91 PC cost about $1200 (or more?) to build. The ’07 one was a little over $650.
  • Nearly 500 times faster:  The DX/33 could produce 18.1 Dhrystone MIPS.  The Athlon 64 X2 produces 4300 per core!
  • 128 times the system RAM
  • 64 times the video RAM
  • 2400 times the hard disk capacity

Build pix will be up on Flickr once I’ve started, which may not be until next week.  We’ll see.

I was a big BeOS fan in the mid-to-late 90s and ran it on a hand-built dual P2-300 computer.  I don’t know how many CPUs it supported back then, but its architecture built around pervasive multi-threading (so as to take advantage of multiple CPU cores) hasn’t been completely forgotten in this multi-core world:

Ars Technica: Microsoft exec: Future versions of Windows to be “fundamentally redesigned”

Back in 1991 when ex-Apple executive Jean-Louis Gassée was starting development of a new operating system called BeOS, its designers tried to make the entire operating system “pervasively multithreaded” in anticipation that multiple CPUs would be much more common in the future. This ensured that any one window that became unresponsive would not interfere with any other windows, although the forced multithreaded programming model increased the risk of programming errors such as race conditions and deadlocks.

CYGNET is now powered by both my Airport Express and my new Buffalo WHR-G54S running DD-WRT, and I’ve upgraded from WEP to WPA2 encryption.  I’m hugely impressed by DD-WRT and I’m barely scratching the surface of its capabilities since it’s not acting as my Internet router, just an access point.  I now have pretty decent wireless speeds on the first and second floors, and in the basement if it isn’t speedy enough I have a little GigE switch I can plug into.

Now, if that Foobar2000-to-Airport-Express gap could be filled I’d be an even happier camper…

The U3 platform came on the Sandisk Cruzer Micro 4GB flash drive I recently purchased and instead of formatting it into oblivion I actually used it.  Apps I already used in a portable fashion (on the Cruzer Micro 512MB it’s complementing) like Firefox, PuTTY, and FileZilla have U3 builds, as well as some other ones I haven’t previously used portably like WinSCP and OpenOffice.  It’s a pretty slick platform, although I have to think Sandisk was inspired by John Haller‘s work.  Looks like he published a similar platform that I hadn’t previously seen or used.

U3 on Wikipedia