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April 18, 2008

Radiohead, Am I Behind The Times?

So, Radiohead released “In Rainbows” just after christmas. I waited till I could actually buy the CD and have now listened to it a few (sic) times. And you know what… I don’t think its that good…
I’m currently listening to “Hail To The Thief”, which is absolutely amazing. Of course when it was released I didn’t think it was that good. Well not as good as “Amnesiac”, which I then thourght was absolutely amazing…
I have noticed a pattern.
I am always an album behind…

April 27, 2007

Ubuntu Feisty Fawn – Initial opinions

So another Ubuntu has been released and so far my opinions have been OK. This release doesn’t feel a big change from edgy. Stability is has been quite good and the new artwork makes it appear more professional.
The upgrade on my laptop (Xubuntu) went flawlessly and even managed to fix Alsa which I had broke recently. It did however, break the 3D direct rendering of my Rage Mobility graphics card, but then this is only important for hardcore gaming and I wouldn’t attempt this with an 8Mb graphics card. Annoying but not worth trying to fix.
I did a complete re-install of my work desktop. I had broke the exchange back-end of evolution, screwed up the Apache install and free-nx was playing up so I decided to cut my losses and install from fresh. The first annoyance was that my graphics card has two outputs; a DVI and a VGA which I am running two LCD monitors off; didn’t work with the live CD. Unplugging the VGA had no effect but unplugging the DVI and it was fine (just meant crawling around under the desk). After this hitch the install went fine. Playing around with my desktop and the desktop effects is kinda cool. They are however very buggy. Windows don’t go back to where they came from on rotation of the cube and somehow have multiple desktop has got confused. Also Matlab (the program I generally use most) doesn’t display when the effect are turned on. This is probably down to some JAVA flaw but it means no fancy effects at work.
My home desktop has an ATI graphics card (booo!!!) instead of a nVidia so the desktop effect wont work without 3D acceleration and installing the drivers fixes this but breaks the composite extensions which the effects need so no wobbly window here either. Bummer!
E’s laptop upgrade (again Xubuntu) went flawlessly, the new version boots without a huge list of errors, the sound card finally works and the wireless card switch now works which means that if someone has turned it off I don’t have to boot into XP to turn it back on! Very well done here.
So, a lot of minor problems have been solved. ATI graphics cards are still a major headache as the main improvement has been the 3D desktop effect which are buggy (which is too be expected as they are still experimental) but as the ATI Linux drivers are so bad don’t allow you to use.

October 18, 2006

Winamp Features

Recently, the Winamp team have added a load of new features.

First is a ReplayGain plug-in. Don’t bother, it takes far to long to analyse your music to bother with it. Its a good idea in principle and would be great if it worked in the background slowly analysing your music whilst it played for the first time so on the second time through it played at a sensible volume and storing the information in the Meta data tag. It would also be good if it was hooked up to the shuffle/random button and knew when to change from track normalisation to album normalisation. Or that it had its own button so you don’t have to go traipsing through the preferences. But it doesn’t so forget about it. Also, it takes ages to process your music but once it is processed there is no easy way to see which have been processed, not useful if you cancel halfway through or add extra music to your collection.

Second is Predixis MusicMagic. This has changed its name since being incorporated into Winamp. There is almost no help. And the plug-in doesn’t work with Vorbis… which is my codex of choice so forget it as well. I did download the MusicIP software standalone which works with Vorbis. It is supposed to scan through all your music and then create play list that don’t have style discontinuities but this doesn’t work very well until it has thoroughly analysed your music which takes forever, then it still is crap. Very disappointing. Not even worth wanting Vorbis support adding to the Winamp plug-in.

Finally, Autofill. Winamp is now able to automatically fill your portable media player. It randomly chooses songs from your collection and adds them to your player until it is n% full (with n being a variable you can set slight sarcasm). It is more likely to pick songs that are played more often or have high recommendation ratings. This is great for making a mix of songs from my laptop. My media player uses .ogg (and you can tell Winamp what files your player supports) which is great for reasonable quality music with small file sizes. As my laptop has a reasonably small hard drive all the music is in q1. This quality is OK for playing through tinny laptop speakers and through the cassette adaptor in my car. And its is small in size which is great for my player as it is only 512Mb. There is also a transcode feature but as Vorbis is not supported this limits me to using the files on my laptop and not from my main music repository which are at q6 which is transparent (lossless to your ears). I have far too much music for a large player and hence knew that I would need to change the music on my player often so didn’t bother with getting a bigger one. I also like quality sounds and hence chose the a Samsung player as they support Vorbis, have long battery lives, are drag-n-droppable in Window & Linux.

So, one of the new-ish features of Winamp are OK but the others are crap…

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