Saturday, December 30, 2006

EMGs & 24 Frets

For a few months I have been pondering building another custom guitar. I was looking for very specific features that were missing on my other electrics, and I was intent on putting them together on an Explorer-style guitar. This is what I was after:
Basically I was looking for an Explorer with a 24-fret neck & no whammy--just a nice, simple bridge. I priced several different builds, compared it to an Epiphone Explorer, a Gibson Explorer, an ESP EX-400, an (on a whim) ESP Viper, and an ESP EC-400. I used Gimp to do mock ups of the 24-fret Explorer with different finishes and hardware. This laborious process continued for too long.

Finally I decided I would just settle--I would go with an ESP EX-400 in Olympic White.

It would be a 22-fret Mahogany/Rosewood neck with it's faux-Explorer-like mahogany body. A big difference would be an EMG active pickup 81 (bridge) / 60 (neck) set instead of the passive Seymour Duncans.


Throughout this decision process I have bored my wife with the details of the project. When it came down to the final call I was very surprised at her reaction, but it all worked out very well as you will see...

Here was the kicker, she hated the EX-400--which is what I had settled on! Hated the body style, hated that it would be white, basically told me not to settle for this one. She pushed me to build the one I was after, no settling and absolutely no cheap-o guitars (which I had considered at some point in the process to get some of the features I was after).

Wow. Ok. Hmm.

By chance ,I showed her a guitar that had virtually everything I wanted but a totally different body-style. The EC-400. It comes in three colors: black, white, and see-thru black cherry. White was out (the wife wouldn't have it), black was too "metal" for me, but the black cherry--now there was something. Just the picture on the website was a sight to behold. We both fell in love with that.

It was settled. That would be the guitar. I have always wanted a guitar with EMG pickups anyway so that was a plus too. The only thing missing? Strap-locks (an easy mod) & locking tuners (but it comes with quality Grover tuners so that isn't a real issue anyway).

It was a whirl-wind from there.

I called up our local Sam Ash and asked them if they had any EX-400s or EC-400s in stock. No EXs, but they had two EC-400s in the black cherry--new in the box and, even better, they had just dropped the price to $499! I hadn't seen any for less then $600. That was it. We were on our way.

So there you have it, two days before Christmas I ended up with a guitar that is not only beautiful to behold but sounds incredible. I knew this was one of the best deals I've ever gotten because it's rich tone comes through unplugged--always a good sign. With the EMG set (which everyone seems to insist is only for metal) it sounds like an acoustic electric on a clean setting.

For example, I had recorded a bit with it the other day on a little digital recorder. I had forgotten about it amongst so many other recorded snippets, and thought I had done it on our Washburn acoustic/electric. I was blown away when I heard the toggle switch flick and realized that it was the ESP and not the Washburn. It sounds so good.

My take on the EC-400? The finish is flawless. The black hardware looks like it will wear well. The vol & tone pots are smooth. It comes with the Earvana nut, which is a nice plus. The sound is rich & full, coming from the mahogany body & the mahogany/rosewood neck. The action was set to spec from the factory. The pickup heights were also set to spec from the factory. (Impressive, how often do you see that?) The neck is fast, and the XJ frets are just right. The pickups are incredible--they pick up every subtlety in playing and are totally noiseless--clean & dirty they prove why pro players quite often choose them over others. The bottom cutaway on the body allows easy access all the way up to the 24th fret. Only a couple of items need to be taken care of on this guitar. It needs a proper setup by my local luthier (as all new guitars should receive), and there are a couple of frets that need to be dressed because the notes are "dead", otherwise can I just say this guitar rocks? Yeah, I think I can.

My wife (and the salesmen) convinced me that I should get a case for it that day--I thought it would be ok to hold off and just set it on one of my stands. I have to laugh now. How foolish that would have been. The SKB-56 case for about $100 is solidly built, it fits the guitar like a glove and the warranty (the Million Mile Guaranty) for it is out of this world. It has protected my new baby from more then one nearly disastrous occurrences already.

So there it is. I have to give a lot of credit to my wife for this selection.

She's not a player but she knows what she likes, and her wisdom far exceeds mine. When it came down to it, she was pretty insistent and convincing that it either be this guitar or I was going to be building my own.

It may be quite a departure from what I initially intended but it's definitely one of the best early Christmas gifts I can ever remember receiving! This guitar is a solid choice and I recommend it to anyone looking for a nice mid-range priced instrument. I know it's going to serve me well for many years to come.

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Tuesday, December 26, 2006

U2 by U2

Introspection by one of the world's most renowned rock bands.

Admittedly, I haven't read many autobiographical works, but this one is definitely different compared to what I have seen previously. It tells the U2 story from beginning to today through a collection of statements by the band themselves. They don't seem to leave much out or gloss over the less then glamorous sides of their very unconventional lives (and by unconventional I don't just mean as "rock stars"). This doesn't appear to be the controlled propaganda that is usually the fare of rock star documentaries, rather its no-holds-barred approach is quite refreshing. From the revealing truths about the infamous "stolen" lyrics for the October album and the extremely unconventional processes they use to produce their music (it seems they never have anything prepared before going into the studio), all the way through to Adam Clayton's battle with alcoholism. Even the mystic behind one of rocks greatest concerts ever put on film (Under A Blood Red Sky) is dispelled unceremoniously in this book (much to my own dismay I might add).

I only got the book yesterday as a gift. I have not read through the entire thing by any means, but I would say just from my cursory reading that it would be quite interesting not only to fans of the band but to anyone interested in the behind the scenes workings of a struggling unknown group of kids who barely know how to play their instruments all the way through their assent to stardom. It depicts the heights, depths and the challenges that they face even as they were reaching the pinnacle of success in the rock & roll game.

To this day I think they would attribute their success not only to a great amount of hard work but also to a great deal of luck. I may not be too far off the mark. These are four very different people who've somehow made this U2 thing work for the last thirty years. That's quite an accomplishment in itself. Who knows what they will do next? But it seems that it's definitely a long way to the top if you wanna rock 'n roll.

ISBN: 0060776757

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Saturday, October 28, 2006

hdparm To No Avail

Strange thing. I wanted to see about boosting the hard drive throughput on my little home fileserver (consisting of three Western Digital WD3200JB 320GB drives) but my hdparm tweaks resulted in no appreciable gains in performance over the default Ubuntu Server settings.

hdparm -X69 -m16 -d1 -c1 -u1 /dev/hda /dev/hde /dev/hdf

Resulting in these custom settings for each drive (as shown here for hda):

/dev/hda:
multcount = 16 (on)
IO_support = 1 (32-bit)
unmaskirq = 1 (on)
using_dma = 1 (on)
keepsettings = 0 (off)
readonly = 0 (off)
readahead = 256 (on)
geometry = 38913/255/63, sectors = 625142448, start = 0

hdparm -Tt /dev/hda returns the following with both the default Ubuntu settings and with barely any noticeable difference with my custom settings for each of the three drives:

/dev/hda:
Timing cached reads: 252 MB in 2.01 seconds = 125.24 MB/sec
Timing buffered disk reads: 104 MB in 3.01 seconds = 34.57 MB/sec

Based on documents I have read I expected to see a substantial increase in performance over the default settings. I think I will find that it probably has more to do with the limitations of my GA-6VEML mainboard and the Promise Ultra100 TX2 card then the drives...

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Thursday, October 26, 2006

Oracle Taking On Red Hat?

First (as I recall) there was White Box Enterprise Linux. Then came CentOS. Now it seems it's Oracle's turn to get into the game. What game is that? Why, taking Red Hat Enterprise Linux source code, stripping out all of Red Hat's trademarks, recompiling and repackaging it as your own distribution.

Introducing Oracle Unbreakable Linux. (Unbreakable Linux--I like the sound of that. Hope it can live up to this rather dramatic titular claim...)

Imitation, the sincerest form of flattery? Maybe this is just a bit over the top though? Don't misunderstand, it's all perfectly on the up & up. Nothing legally or ethically wrong with this approach--after all, the code is all covered under the GPL licensing. And the key here isn't even a new distro based on someone else's codebase. Who really cares anyway? Selling distros isn't where the money is in Linux anyway. It's the support contracts that count, and that is precisely the game Oracle wishes to join. This is a step right in that direction for Oracle I suppose but it will make the former "friends" direct competitors.

Interesting developments but not totally unexpected, and indeed probably good for the late adopters. The more warm & fuzzy corporations feel about commercial support, the more likely they will be to move forward with Linux integration. It ain't 1995 anymore...

PS You can download it from this link after registration.

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Saturday, October 21, 2006

PostScript & GIMP For Windows

Setting up Print to PostScript & the option to open these files for editing with GIMP in Windows 2000.

Requirements:
Download and install the current versions of GTK+, GIMP, and GPL GhostScript for Windows.

Set up a Print to File PostScript printer driver
  1. Start --> Settings --> Printers --> Add Printer
  2. Click Next in the Welcome to the Add Printer Wizard dialog box
  3. Select Local Printer. Clear the checkmark in the Automatically detect and install my Plug and Play printer
  4. Click Next
  5. Select Use the following port and choose FILE: in the list under that option in the Select the Printer Port dialog box
  6. Click Next
  7. In the Add Printer Wizard dialog box under Manufacturers select HP
  8. In the Printers field in the same dialog box select HP Color LaserJet 8500 PS
  9. Click Next
  10. In the Name Your Printer dialog box enter PS Printer in the Printer Name field
  11. Select No for the Do you want your Windows-based programs to use this printer as the default print? option
  12. Select Do not share this printer in the Printer Sharing dialog box
  13. Click Next
  14. In the Print Test Page dialog box Select No
  15. Click Next
  16. Click Finish in the Completing the Add Printer Wizard

Set the GS_PROG environment variable
  1. Start --> Settings --> Control Panel --> System
  2. In the System Properties dialog box select the Advanced tab
  3. Click the Environment Variables button
  4. Click New in the User variables for username section
  5. Enter GS_PROG in the Variable Name field in the New User Variable dialog box
  6. Enter C:\Program Files\gs\gs8.54\bin\gswin32c.exe in the Variable Value field in the New User Variable dialog box (if you installed GhostScript in the default location, otherwise modify this value as needed)



  7. Click OK --> OK --> OK to save the settings and close the System Properties dialog

You are now ready to print to PostScript and open the resulting file for editing with Gimp!

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Ubuntu Kernel Builds In A Virtual Machine

Use VMPlayer and Ubuntu server to create a virtual build system to compile custom Linux kernels for Ubuntu (and Debian?), quickly & easily.

Particularly useful for compiling kernels on faster machines for slower target system--which is exactly why I did this! Compiled custom kernels for a VIA C3 box on my AMD64 system. It saved me a lot of time and works marvelously well.

What you need:
  • The specifications for the target system for which you are going to build a custom kernel. Processor type, chipset information, etc. Google the model number of your mainboard to find the needed user manual and/or specs for your system.
  • VMPlayer
  • Build a Virtual Machine with EasyVMX
  • Ubuntu Server. Why? Fast, easy installation in the virtual environment. No need for all the extemporaneous desktop stuff, just a clean command line environment to compile kernels.
First, navigate to EasyVMX and configure your build system. These are the options that I chose as shown in the configuration file & image (click for a readable version) that follows. After downloading the Ubuntu Server iso image, you can either burn it to CD and install it to your VM from your drive or copy the .iso file into your VM directory & install it as a virtual CD:



#!/usr/bin/vmplayer

# Filename: Ubuntu_Build_Server.vmx
# Generated 2006-10-18;08:17:44 by EasyVMX!
# http://www.easyvmx.com

# This is a Workstation 5 or 5.5 config file
# It can be used with Player
config.version = "8"
virtualHW.version = "4"

# Selected operating system for your virtual machine
guestOS = "ubuntu"

# displayName is your own name for the virtual machine
displayName = "Ubuntu_Build_Server"

# These fields are free text description fields
guestinfo.vmware.product.url = "http://www.easyvmx.com/"
guestinfo.vmware.product.class = "virtual machine"

# Number of virtual CPUs. Your virtual machine will not
# work if this number is higher than the number of your physical CPUs
numvcpus = "1"

# Memory size and other memory settings
memsize = "320"
MemAllowAutoScaleDown = "FALSE"
MemTrimRate = "-1"

# Unique ID for the virtual machine will be created
uuid.action = "create"

# Remind to install VMware Tools
# This setting has no effect in VMware Player
tools.remindInstall = "TRUE"

# Startup hints interfers with automatic startup of a virtual machine
# This setting has no effect in VMware Player
hints.hideAll = "TRUE"

# Enable time synchronization between computer
# and virtual machine
tools.syncTime = "TRUE"

# First serial port, physical COM1 is not available
serial0.present = "FALSE"

# Optional second serial port, physical COM2 is not available
serial1.present = "FALSE"

# First parallell port, physical LPT1 is not available
parallel0.present = "FALSE"

# Logging
# This config activates logging, and keeps last log
logging = "TRUE"
log.fileName = "Ubuntu_Build_Server.log"
log.append = "TRUE"
log.keepOld = "1"

# These settings decides interaction between your
# computer and the virtual machine
isolation.tools.hgfs.disable = "FALSE"
isolation.tools.dnd.disable = "TRUE"
isolation.tools.copy.enable = "TRUE"
isolation.tools.paste.enabled = "TRUE"

# First network interface card
ethernet0.present = "TRUE"
ethernet0.virtualDev = "e1000"
ethernet0.connectionType = "nat"
ethernet0.addressType = "generated"
ethernet0.generatedAddressOffset = "0"

# Settings for physical floppy drive
floppy0.present = "FALSE"

# Settings for physical CDROM drive
ide1:0.present = "TRUE"
ide1:0.deviceType = "cdrom-raw"
ide1:0.startConnected = "TRUE"
ide1:0.fileName = "auto detect"
ide1:0.autodetect = "TRUE"

# Settings for the optional virtual CDROM, ISO-image
ide1:1.present = "TRUE"
ide1:1.fileName = "ubuntu-6.06.1-server-i386.iso"
ide1:1.deviceType = "cdrom-image"
ide1:1.mode = "persistent"
ide1:1.startConnected = "FALSE"
# Set the line about to TRUE if you wish to install from .iso file

# First IDE disk, size 4Gb
ide0:0.present = "TRUE"
ide0:0.fileName = "Ubuntu_Build_Server.vmdk"
ide0:0.mode = "persistent"
ide0:0.startConnected = "TRUE"
ide0:0.writeThrough = "TRUE"

# END OF EasyVMX! CONFIG


Install Ubuntu Server to your Virtual Machine via CD Rom or .iso file. The simple interface is very easy to navigate and you will be up and running in no time. Here are some of the defaults that I used. After installing it once you will probably be able to do it in your sleep...
  • English
  • United States
  • American English (keyboard)
  • hostname (of your choice)
  • Partition disks
    • Erase entire disk: IDE1 master (hda) - 4.3 GB VMware Virtual IDE
    • Write the changes to disks? Yes
  • Select your time zone
    • Is the system clock set to UTC? (probably not) No
  • Full Name for the new user: that's you!
    • Username for your account: totally up to you
    • Choose a password for the new user: remember this! It is not only your login password but you will need it for issuing commands as the root superuser with sudo.
  • The system installs... The CD ejects... Continue is highlighted... Remove the CD & press Enter. The VM reboots and you can now login.
Remember, the sudo password = your login password.

Now it's time to get the needed pieces for building kernels installed on your VM and ready to go.

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get upgrade
sudo apt-get install linux-image-k7 (or the kernel that best suits your particular host system, or skip this if the standard server kernel is acceptable)
sudo telinit 6

Log back into the VM. If you are connected to the internet via broadband and don't want to deal with the install CD, remove it from the apt sources file:

sudo nano /etc/apt/sources.list


Comment out the following line near the beginning of the file by adding a # to the start of the line as follows:

# deb cdrom:[Ubunutu-Server 6.06.1 _Dapper Drake_ - Release i386 (20060807.1)]/ dapper main restricted


Ctrl+x
Y [Enter] to save the changes

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install build-essential
sudo apt-get install kernel-package
sudo apt-get install libncurses5-dev
sudo apt-get install linux-source
cd /usr/src
sudo tar -xjvf linux-source-2.6.15.tar.bz2
sudo ln -s /usr/src/linux-source-2.6.15 /usr/src/linux
cd /usr/src/linux

sudo make clean
sudo make mrproper
sudo make oldconfig
sudo make menuconfig


Modify the kernel options as desired for your target system. Particularly you will probably want to go to Processor Type & Features and select the correct processor for your target system and save your new config when finished.



sudo make-kpkg clean
sudo make-kpkg --initrd --append-to-version=-custom kernel_image kernel_headers


Insert what you want in place of "custom" (lowercase) to identify your custom kernel.

Let the compiling begin!

cd /usr/src
ls


You should see your new custom kernel packages, for example:

kernel-image-2.6.15-custom_10.00.Custom_i386.deb
kernel-headers-2.6.15-custom_10.00.Custom_i386.deb

Copy these to your target system and install them with the following:

sudo dpkg -i kernel-image-2.6.15-custom_10.00.Custom_i386.deb
sudo dpkg -i kernel-headers-2.6.15-custom_10.00.Custom_i386.deb
sudo telinit 6

The system will reboot, and you can verify that you are running your new custom kernel with the command:

cat /proc/version

Credit goes to this doc for providing several pieces for this how-to:
http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?s=0d310eadb229405b090ab3fab7090ab7&t=56835


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Thursday, October 12, 2006

Software RAID & mdadm

A quick note and a link I don't want to lose to a very useful article on Linux software RAID management:

mdadm: A New Tool For Linux Software RAID Management

I'll use this post as a placeholder for other relevant links.

Software RAID seems to be progressing nicely since my first attempts with it several years ago. It's generally a no-brainer to work with these days, but it was a much more intensive learning curve back then...

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Pain In The Ubuntu

***Updates:
  • apt-get updateable to 6.06.1 with no boot up problems!
  • mondoarchive / filesystem backup commandline
  • Ubuntu Server 6.06.1 boot problem solved?
I finally got around to upgrading my little home fileserver. I have always wanted to do a software Raid5 setup for my data partitions and after my workstation HDD failed, I thought now was the time.

I have been using Ubuntu server edition for this box and I wanted to stick with it. I downloaded the latest stable version, Ubuntu Server 6.06.1 for this install. I installed the Promise Ultra100TX2 IDE controlled card that I had on hand, and purchase three new 320GB Western Digital drives for the project from ZipZoomFly (on a really good special).

All this HW is going into an old eMachines case (not ideal). I bought 3.5" to 5.25 mounting kits with cover fans to be able to mount two of the drives in the two external 5.25" slots. Out came the DVD & CD-Rom drives--not a big deal, there is an open IDE connection on the mainboard that I hooked the CD-ROM drive up to temporarily (once installed I remove the CD option from the apt sources.list) and all the drives should now stay relatively cool. A couple of new rounded IDE cables and I was ready to go one the HW side.

The last time I installed ubuntu server it was painless. The / partition was hda1 formatted as ReiserFS. The main data partition was RAID1 (mirror), also ReiserFS on two drives (no spare), add a swap partition and another non-RAID data partition and it was good to go. The drive space was somewhat limited--but for slapping together a bunch of "junk" lying around the house, it worked flawlessly (aside from the mainboard voltage problems--it got replaced).

This time I would do things a little differently:

PartitionhdahdehdgRAID LevelRAID DeviceTotal Useable
/8.1GB8.1GB8.1GB (S)
1 /md08.1GB
Swap255MB255MB255MBNoneNone765MB
/home61.7GB61.7GB61.7GB5 /md1123.4GB
/data250GB250GB250GB5/md2500GB

Pretty simple configuration. If one drive fails, I can continue on my way until a replacement is procured while maximizing my available usable space on the data partitions. The setup during the installation for this configuration was very easy. Instead of marking a filesystem for the partitions to be used in the RAID arrays you mark them as devices for RAID. Once completed you scroll to the top and use the configure software RAID option to set up the arrays. When that is done, you scroll down and find your arrays ready to be modified with filesystem options, mount points, etc. Nothing to it.

Unfortunately though, no matter what I did, no matter how I configured things--once the installation was completed the system would go to GRUB and start loading the kernel and then it would just reboot at that point. Endlessly until I turned it off. I can't begin to describe all of the attempts I made to get it to work over the last few days. I can't say why it won't work. Even when I set up the root partition as a non-RAID device, it would still do the same thing.

I conclude (and this is borne out in numerous posts around the net) that ubuntu-server 6.06.1 is broken when it comes to software RAID.

I simply ended up downloading ubuntu-server 5.10 and all is well. My setup is running exactly as I intended it to. I will wait until I am certain the software RAID conflicts in the later versions are fixed before upgrading.

What a total pain. I almost went with a completely different distro but as my little box here uses a lame VIA C3 processor that distro wouldn't even boot.

Update: Once installed as indicated above, I tar'd up the / filesystem into a file on /data and made the following changes to see if an upgrade vs. a clean install would get me into Dapper (6.06.1) without kill my boot up:


sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get upgrade
sudo apt-get dist-upgrade

sudo nano /etc/apt/sources.list

The file now reads:
#changed all the breezy references to dapper & comment out the cdrom entry:
# deb cdrom:[Ubuntu-Server 5.10 _Breezy Badger_ - Release i386 (20051013)]/ breezy main restricted

deb http://us.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu dapper main restricted
deb-src http://us.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu dapper main restricted

## Major bug fix updates produced after the final release of the
## distribution.
deb http://us.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu dapper-updates main restricted
deb-src http://us.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu dapper-updates main restricted

## Uncomment the following two lines to add software from the 'universe'
## repository.
## N.B. software from this repository is ENTIRELY UNSUPPORTED by the Ubuntu
## team, and may not be under a free licence. Please satisfy yourself as to
## your rights to use the software. Also, please note that software in
## universe WILL NOT receive any review or updates from the Ubuntu security
## team.
deb http://us.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu dapper universe
deb-src http://us.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu dapper universe

## Uncomment the following two lines to add software from the 'backports'
## repository.
## N.B. software from this repository may not have been tested as
## extensively as that contained in the main release, although it includes
## newer versions of some applications which may provide useful features.
## Also, please note that software in backports WILL NOT receive any review
## or updates from the Ubuntu security team.
#deb http://us.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu dapper-backports main restricted universe multiverse
#deb-src http://us.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu dapper-backports main restricted universe multiverse

deb http://security.ubuntu.com/ubuntu dapper-security main restricted
deb-src http://security.ubuntu.com/ubuntu dapper-security main restricted

deb http://security.ubuntu.com/ubuntu dapper-security universe
deb-src http://security.ubuntu.com/ubuntu dapper-security universe

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get upgrade
sudo apt-get dist-upgrade
sudo telinit 6

That's all there was to it. Why a clean install would not work with my software RAID configurations, I still cannot say but the upgrade is done, and I am where I wanted to be in the first place...

I need to find the camera. The cobbled-together HW doesn't look too bad. I think the only original parts from the eMachine that it was originally is the case and a cable or two.

Update: mondorescue is my backup utility of choice to go from bare metal to full restore. After the upgrade above I did an apt-get install mondo and used it to build a root filesystem restore disk for the box with the following command line:

mondoarchive -Oi -d /data/mondo -s 4580m -E "/home /data"\ -0 -F -T /data/mondo/temp -S /data/mondo/scratch
  • -Oi Backup to .iso file(s)
  • -d dir or device to backup to--in this case, write the iso file(s) to /data/mondo
  • -s max size for the .iso files (it came out to 530MB so setting it for DVD was a little excessive)
  • -E Exclude. Exclude the /home & /data partitions--I just wanted a backup of the OS, not the user data.
  • -0 No compression (Default is 3)
  • -F Don't offer to make boot floppies
  • -T Path to temp directory
  • -S Path to scratch directory
I knew that an 8GB root partition was way overkill. 530MB of uncompressed backup proves that point! LOL

Update: Inspecting the kernel source .config file for the Ubuntu 6.06.1 server kernel I see that it is compiled for the Pentium Pro. No wonder it would just continuously reboot on my VIA C3 box!

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Sunday, October 01, 2006

Media On Demand

As I stated on a previous occasion, "...When moderate voices prevail and ...technology can be employed so that the consumer has on-demand access to media, AND the production companies can still get paid--we will all win."

Kudos to ABC for posting popular TV shows for on-demand viewing.

I hope more media companies follow suit. I will gladly sit through the commercials or pay a modest subscription fee for such a service. I think this model reasonably meets the needs of the consumer as well as the media producers. It is an ideal means of eliminating the "piracy problem". After all, who needs a local copy of anything really if you can access what you want on-demand via the net any time you wish.

No more lawsuits. No more making criminals out of your customers. Everybody wins.

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Tuesday, August 29, 2006

OLGA Offline

The lawyers win again, the rest of the world loses.

The On-Line Guitar Archive has been forced offline. Here's a screenshot, I don't think even it's there anymore:



Sad.

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Monday, August 28, 2006

Broke At The Bridge

I have been playing the heck out of the Fender and haven't changed the strings since it came back from the fret-job/set-up. All the credit for the strings lasting so long has to go to Deoxit D5 (which I wrote about previously). There are still no real signs of corrosion on these strings. Granted, they are not as bright-sounding as a brand new pack but they are well broken in, sound great, and play well.

I have been working on some really fast rhythms that have put a lot of stress on the low E. It finally couldn't take it any more and broke at the bridge. Too bad it didn't break at the other end, I could have saved it. Anyway, many thanks to my local luthier for telling me about Deoxit. It's saving me a fortune on strings.

In other news, Brad over at Brad Sucks recently blogged about a Windows DAW application called REAPER (Rapid Environment for Audio Prototyping and Efficient Recording). This thing is amazing! The executable weighs in at barely over 1MB but it packs a punch that will knock the lights out of many other similar products out today. It's powerful, easy to use, flexible, feature-rich, customizable and should appeal to both novice and seasoned digital recording enthusiasts. It's a fully-functional shareware application with no built-in timeout nonsense. $40 for the non-commercial user, $200 for commercial use. IMO, this is a bargain for either usage based on my experiences with it.

Try it, you'll like it!

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Saturday, August 05, 2006

More Musix .50

Well this isn't good. I am not having any luck getting version .50 to play nice with any of my equipment. I'm not sure what is going on. Rosegarden hangs on both of my systems. Hydrogen starts to load but then immediately closes. I got Jack to work with the Audigy2 ZS based system but as it is I am not getting much done. I'll keep trying though but it looks like Studio To Go! will remain my main audio distro for now (which is a good thing in a way--since I paid for that one!).

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Friday, August 04, 2006

Linux Music Studio: Musix .50 LiveCD Released

Musix GNU+Linux .50 has been released. This is a well-crafted distribution based entirely on free software designed specifically for musicians and DJs alike. It boasts a large selection of applications and I have had good experiences with previous versions. Language support for "Spanish, Galician, Catalan, Basque, English, Portuguese and French... German and Italian too." You can run it as a LiveCD or install to your HDD if you wish.

Several fixes included over the .49 distro, and .50 can now be considered the stable variant. Check out the changelog for more information.

Download Information:
md5: ec8371e7af063a0efb4e431c3ccd88dc

FTP Download

Official Bittorrent has not been posted at this time.

Linux Tracker Bittorrent

GPG Signature File

To obtain the Public Key for this project use the following command line:

gpg --keyserver pgp.mit.edu --recv-keys 0x5320454D

To check the signature file against the ISO image use the following (when you have both files in the same directory of course):

gpg --verify MusixGNU+Linux-0.50.iso.sig MusixGNU+Linux-0.50.iso


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Thursday, August 03, 2006

If It's Too Loud...

I'm laughing, I don't quite know what to make of this...

Jamming on the Fender with a GNX2 Eric Johnson patch through the ol' Deluxe 85. My eight-year old comes in and yells, "It's too loud dad!"

Huh??

"IT'S TOO LOUD!!"

LOL!

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Supermodels For The Digitech GNX

No, not that kind of supermodel. I am talking about a must have addition for every Digitech GNX owner. A patch set of cabinet & amp models & artist presets that will turn your guitar multi-effects system from a neat idea into an actual useful (and useable) musical instrument in it's own right.

Here the producers of this exceptional series give you a glimpse of what it's all about:
What are Supermodels? Not the gorgeous celebs but very close where musicians are concerned. For those familiar with the GNX series units, many of the amp models are average in most opinions. Supermodels are complex warped models that more accurately define the amplifier sample. By taking dozens of electrical snapshots or samples, you get a more accurate representation of the amplifier being modeled, including gain characteristics, Eq, Sustain and Compression..all of which are the amp's identity.

Using state of the art technology and amplifier sampling, these supermodels contain the most extensive amp model library ever created. These are the real live amplifiers most sought after by many and not included in the majority of multiffects units on the market today. With this Supermodel series you will have tones you dreamed about. Yours to enjoy whether you are jamming, recording, or playing live. The experience and rewards from these exceptional models will surpass anything currently available. Fully organized for use. From the most experienced to the beginning musician. These CD's are designed for pure simplicity.
The skeptic will probably dismiss this description as marketing hyperbole out of hand. That would be unfortunate to say the least. Consider my own experience for example. A while back I purchased the GNX2 (which was discontinued shortly after). I had a good time with it initially but soon realized that the factory patches were (for the most part) frankly useless. Was I going to have to upgrade to the recently released GNX3000 to get the amp/cabinet sounds that I was looking for? Or maybe the GT8? I began to search for reviews on both products (as well as other multi-effects systems). That's when I began to find references to the MFX SUPERMODELS. Hands down, every review I read indicated that these patches were indispensible for getting real usability from the GNX series of guitar effects. The potential of the powerful Digitech technology embedded in these devices--amp/cabinet warping and modeling--was not being realized it seems for the average user. The MFX Supermodel series changes everything!

Fortunately for me, the folks at MTProsound developed the MFXBASIC Series Supermodels for us lowly GNX2/3 users. Hundreds of amp models, artist presets, acoustic amps, and bass simulations. Instructions on how to get the most from the set are included and the website provides further information on the art of amp/cabinet modeling. Even video tutorials. The result?

I am keeping my GNX2! The MFXBASIC Series is, in a word, incredible! Here are my initial (and subsequent) reactions to the patch set that I e-mailed to the creators of this exceptional product:
WOW! This is great! Got the disc in the mail today. The patch set is incredible. I have been running through them with headphones for hours. Who thought this [GNX2] could really sound so good? Now I have a LOT to work with instead of maybe the one or two factory presets I had tweaked...

...Many thanks! The modeling is incredible! I'm off to play for a few more minutes with the Deluxe Reverb model. Very nice.
...

Aside from my initial purchase of the GNX2, your patch set for this device has been the best investment in my 'sound' in years! This is absolutely NOT an exaggeration. I have (almost always) hated the 'tone' of my current amp [Fender, Deluxe 85 (solid state noise)] since the day I traded my old one in... Man, what a mistake that was...

...I have told my friends that you could (and maybe should) charge MUCH more for your work. I sincerely hope that it has been worth your time & energy. I know it has benefited me greatly. Initially, I had barely two or three factory patches to work with (which was more then I had before I bought it, I'll admit). Now this thing is "for real" and I can hang out with the "cool kids!"...

IMHO, DigiTech should hire you (period). You made their GNX2... a very worthwhile & useful musical tool...
I have had the patches for months and haven't begun to exhaust the possibilities. The tonality and musicality are simply brilliant. At only $60 this is a amazing bargain, well worth every penny and then some. GNX2/3 users can order the basic set here.

Last night as I was working on a song and I thought I have to help get the word out to GNX users about these products! They have made all the difference for me. If I had a GNX4 or GNX3000, the first thing I would do would be to order the Ultimate Series Supermodels set (GNX3000 information here). Thousands of quality presets for $115? Don't even think about it. Just order it!

MTProsound has turned the technological marvel of the Digitech into art.

One final note. It is evident that the folks at MTProsound love what they do. When I e-mailed a couple of questions for them, Mike was quick to respond, courteous and very helpful. Not only have they produced a valuable resource for guitarists but their dedication and professionalism is quite apparent.

You can literally hear it.


Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Bust The Rust!

I usually sweat a bit when playing guitar. Corrosion builds up pretty quickly on the strings as a result. Our local luthier pointed us to a product that would help resolve this problem without fear of damage to the finish or fretboard. It's called DeoxIT D5 Power Booster.

The can touts that it "cleans, enhances, lubricates & protects electrical connections (Treatment for All Metal Surfaces)". They should also promote it as a string/fretboard cleaner! This stuff works wonders! A quick spray along the strings, wipe them off and it's amazing! Almost like having a new set of strings, except these are already stretched.

I haven't put a new set of strings on in months. I play pretty intensely nearly every day. It may be related or not, but I also haven't had any of them break on me either.

This stuff is pricey, but a little dab will do you--as they say. I've had the same 5oz can for months. I've used it on all my guitars.

Of course your mileage may vary, but if you haven't tried this stuff, dump those silicon based "products" and get a can of this stuff. It's the best tip I've gotten on guitar care in ages.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Say It's Possible

Wow. You never know what you will find when you're not even looking... Check this out.



Say It's Possible --Terra Naomi



Update:
Instructional video for
Say It's Possible added.

The main riff tabbed out (with capo on the second fret) would go something like this, if I am following the video correctly (I don't have a capo so I mute the 3rd srtring):

5--5--5-------
5--5--5-------
2--2--2-------
4--4--2-------
4--5--4-------
------5--4-5-4

Terra admits it's quite simple, but you know, simple works--and in this case, works well... Now all you need to do is find someone who can sing it properly and you're set! ;-)

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Updated 24 June 2006: Added link to YouTube profile.
Updated 29 June 2006: 'How to play...' video added.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Enforce Net Neutrality

"Where do you want to go today?" Without Net Neutrality you may not get to decide that for yourself...



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Review: Damone, Out Here All Night



A totally rocking, fun, well-produced CD that harkens back to elements & style in rock music that have been missing for years. All sorts of great aspects from '80s rock without the silly posing.

You should buy this disc.
  1. Now Is The Time -
  2. Out Here All Night -
  3. What We Came Here For -
    (Yeah man! Now THAT is what I'm talkin' about!)
  4. Stabbed In The Heart -
    (Bryan Adams LIVES!!!!!)
  5. On Your Speakers -
    (lame - Ashlee Simpson lives :-(
  6. Get Up & Go -
  7. Outta My Way -
    (The PERFECT Poison clone in 2006!)
  8. You're The One -
    (Nice '80s sound. "...fade into the black..."?)
  9. New Change of Heart -
    (Where have I heard that trill lick before? Oh my, of course! It's Journey!!)
  10. When You Live -
    (Break out your lighters if ya have 'em. "...everything fades to black" yet again?? You know they must be dying to do a cover of that song--two references on one album? Anyway, nice ballad.)
  11. Tonight -
    (Fun & Rockin'!)
  12. Wasted Years -
    (This version of the classic Maiden tune has really grown on me. A closer listen to the arrangement has changed my mind on the ochestral tracks. It's really well done.)
Perfect discs are few and far between for me. Overall, after playing this CD in the car for a month or so I can definitively give it a very respectable Four Warmoths, it ROCKS!





Is this a cool shot or what? Dude reminds me of Cliff Burton.


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