the itjerk

my adventures with technology

Monthly Archives: October 2009

ubuntu 9.10, karmic koala

<Did the distribution upgrade on Friday. Took a while to download, as I imagine about a million others were doing the same thing. Relatively seamless, here's my notes:

1. had to change this line in /etc/fstab to get the 2nd internal drive to mount properly:
/dev/sdb1 /mnt/music ext3 rw,user,exec 1 2

2. ran this to get GDM to _not_ show list of all users (gconf doesn't work):
sudo -u gdm gconftool-2 –set –type boolean /apps/gdm/simple-greeter/disable_user_list true

3. Grip was uninstalled. Using SoundJuicer, lots to get used to.

4. Opera – no channel, but in Synaptic. Will it update?

5. Volume Control – Hardware Profile – Analog Stereo Duplex. Got it?

6. Squeezeboxserver (another new name) – uninstalled on upgrade, have to wait until it's fixed to work with MySql 5.1. Thanks Logitech. BTW, in the last year, it's changed names from slimserver to squeezecenter to squeezeboxserver.

UPDATE: Installed the testing repo and Version: 7.4.2 – r29092 @ Sat Oct 31 04:00:55 PDT 2009 has corrected the problem.



Remember that Dell Mini 9 that I bought earlier in the year. Check it out now:

How easy was this? Very. First, I purchased a Super Talent 16GB SSD drive to replace the paltry 4GB STEC that came with the Mini (you'll need about 8-10GB for the install). SuperBiiz/eWiz had it for $49.95 delivered, with coupon. It's a fast drive (this is the FEM16GFDL), much like the Runcore drives, but less inexpensive and in stock (ordered it Sunday, had it Friday).

Then, on a tip from the great resource of MyDellMini, I found a guide at Mechdrew that details the installation process. The step-by-step instructions show how to create a bootable flash drive from your Snow Leopard DVD ($29) on a Mac computer, and then install the OS on the netbook. The magic is two-fold: First, the Dell Mini 9 has extremely compatible hardware to OS X. Secondly, NetBookMaker, a GoogleCode project, adds the appropriate extensions to make it all work.

And work it does! Trackpad, wireless, camera, sound, battery meter, software updates (10.6.1), even sleep mode. But even more impressive is how responsive Snow Leopard is on the Mini – maybe this is the SSD too? So, however much I think Apple sucks, it's testament to the fact that OS X is Unix, and Unix is good.

On the web:
MechDrew guide
Netbook-Installer software

webmail and the death of the email client

I know this isn't a great revelation, but it's become quite obvious that web-based email is the way to go. Of course, when I first got email a long time ago, I usually checked it from just one (1) computer. The email client was a good proposition, if not the only one. But now there's so many more places to check email: home, laptop, work, smartphone, etc. that I'm making the switch to webmail for all my email needs. And web-based clients, thanks in part to the rise of Gmail, are refined to the point where they outshine the software clients. So with portability, unlimited capacity, and the ability to check multiple accounts, there's little reason to use a computer-bound POP or IMAP client. I'll miss my little Thunderbird, but not that much.

I've also realized that the number of email accounts I have is far too many. How many do I really need? 1) A primary personal account, 2) one for my website, and perhaps 3) a throwaway account, for those I don't want to give out my name/email address to (though this could be done with an alias). BTW, my work email is an island unto itself. I only use it at work and for work. My wife doesn't even know it.

I've also decided to switch my primary email from the Ameritech/SBC Global/Yahoo!/AT&T account I've had for nearly 10 years to Gmail. Why? It's such a major annoyance to log into Yahoo! EVERY time I open a browser. One really has to wonder what the (not so) good folks at Yahoo! were thinking when they implemented that feature.

Goodbye Yahoo!, hello Gmail.

home theatre

Although I bought this thing back in May, I never got around to writing it up. When I made the decision to do the home theatre, I first picked up the remaining PSB Alpa series speakers to match my existing fronts and subwoofer; it's important to have a balanced soundstage between all five speakers, so definitely I stuck with the same line. I also purchased the Oppo DV-980H, a universal disc player that plays all the multichannel formats, except Blu-Ray (which I'm not interested in). All that was left was to purchase a home theatre receiver.

I purchased the Marantz SR5003 from Decibel Audio for $629.00. Why did I pick the Marantz? Well, honestly, because it was there. I mean, the price point was perfect and the Marantz brand name is still well respected. But I didn't really audition that many receivers, and given how many choices there were (a boatload of low-end options were nixed, as of course were the high-end ones), I was just happy to make a choice (yeah, I'm a Libra) and get on with it.

Now the SR5003 did have a couple of things going for it: HDMI 1.3a (for DVD-Audio over HDMI), High Bit Rate Audio capability for all those 96Khz/24Bit mixes, 90W per channel (plenty for the room I'm in), and a ton of features I'll never use! I hooked it up to the Oppo with both HDMI and optical cables; the latter was specifically for HDCDs (which don't decode over HDMI). Receiver setup was a lot of work, but with some patience and the manual I eventually got it all figured out, including how to enable the subwoofer for two-channel stereo ("both"). Oh yeah, the remote sucks, big time; but find one that doesn't. Britian's Prince Philip is spot on here. I also had to reconfigure the Oppo player to output everything properly – just remember to do so with an empty tray (it won't enable all options with a disc in it!).

One downside of having a projector (Epson) with component input for video, or more aptly put, one without HDMI connections, is that I can't use the video output from the Oppo over HDMI while the Marantz is connected to the projector via component. It's not that critical for my use – I just output the video directly from the Oppo, and don't worry that I'm not using all the upconverting features of the Marantz. Granted, it's a pain during setup as you really need to view the Marantz's options on-screen.

All said and done, I'm now enjoy 5.1 audio from all those DVD-Audio, DVD-Video and SACD discs I have. Porcupine Tree's "Lightbulb Sun" and the Beatles' "Love" were instant favs, although I have been disappointed with older 70s albums that have been "remixed" into 5.1 (like King Crimson's 40th Anniversary edition of "Red"), along with a lot of music DVDs that "claim" to be multi-channel. But most of my Netflix rentals now have that extra edge that multi-channel sound brings, and having the capability of 5.1 audio now brings the entire system up a level and into the present of true home theatre. One big bonus is using the digital-out of my computer over optical cable to take advantage of the 192kHz/24-Bit DAC converters on the Marantz. It's a difference I can actually hear.

There's little on the downside, except of course that all home theatre receivers have so many options that will never be used (video processing and especially, all those audio "modes"); you can only wonder why they're all there. Well, it doesn't matter, it sounds great and it didn't break the bank. My home theatre is complete!

On the web:
Marantz SR5003 Receiver