Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Demo Day at Holiday Valley

The Saturday before Christmas (December 19th) was a great day to go to Holiday Valley. Although winter had been a little slow in our region, you can usually count on reasonable skiing in Ellicottville, New York this time of year. My son had a final exam (AND it was his 22nd birthday too) so he couldn't come. My friend Bryce, an excellent skier who has made the Holiday Valley trek with me (and Matt) a number of times, came along and brought HIS son and several of his friends.

Little Mountain Limited, a ski/sports shop and travel agency located about a mile from my house, had a very reasonably priced bus trip, so we tagged along. I intend to go on at least a couple more of their day trips this year.

It was "demo day" at HV. This is when ski manufacturer's reps set up tents and allow you to try the latest gear, all set up for maximum ski lust. I normally use some pretty old, long skis, and Bryce' are even older and longer. We signed up for demos, and each got to try two - one Blizzard and one Line. Both were great experiences. The Blizzards were the best skis I ever had on. It was amazingly easy to carve up even steep, ice crunchy sections of hills. Nice. The Lines were not so good for control but man were they fast.
From The End of the 00's

From The End of the 00's
We had lunch at the brand new John Harvard's Brew House in the new Tamarack Club at HV. The place had been open less than a week, and you could tell. Everything was clean and the staff was green. Our server had no idea what kinds of beer were served (we were part of her first ever shift there). It turns out the beer is quite good. I had a pleasant stout and a good biting IPA. Bryce had an Amber ale he said was tasty. The food was much less memorable - the menu is pricey all-American fare ($15 meatloaf, $8 sandwiches with fries).

The Hearth restaurant at HV has been part of my New York skiing tradition for decades. It was always classy and there is a fantastic view. I still liked it even when they chopped off the better half of the dining room. The menu was old and tired, but not as boring as John Harvard. I guess I will go to the new place for the next few trips (my next trip is to Holimont anyway, and that is always a fancy bring-your-own-picnic and drinks affair, no restaurants).

After lunch we went to get more demos. The reps were all packing up because a storm was coming. We were at a ski resort where they get 300 inches of snow a year, for crying out loud. I called them a few very politically incorrect names and we went on our way, laboring with our old skis. The storm never came. Wimps.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Problems Indexing an EML Inside a ZIP in SharePoint

Previously on Bob Klass.Info (I've been watching too much TV lately, re-watching several seasons of the "Dexter" series in the last few days):

"Friday, December 18, 2009

Adding Zip Search File Type in MOSS 2007

I am a little behind the curve on this. Better late than never.
  1. Get the filter pack here: http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyId=60C92A37-719C-4077-B5C6-CAC34F4227CC&displaylang=en
  2. Install it
  3. Set up the item type in the SSP
  4. Set up a new key for .zip in HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Office Server\12.0\Search\Setup\ContentIndexCommon\Filters\Extension\
  5. Give it a value of {20E823C2-62F3-4638-96BD-90F4F6784EBC}
  6. Restart the search service
That is the shorthand version! This is done for you in SharePoint 2010."
That was all fine and interesting, but then the real interesting stuff turned up. My Foxit PDF ifilter and standard MS text ifilters both seemed to function on files nested within ZIP files. But EML files did not (and EML's further have attachments!).
It turns out there is a property of the ifilter called "threading." This threading is simply an object property to say whether it works in single or multi-threaded modes.
A utility called IFilter Explorer will help you look at threading. I don't know if there is another tool like this anywhere or an alternative to this tool. Running this on my test indexer seemed to work OK, but it is old (in software years - like doggie years, it is about 80) and it seems to be an orphan (widow?). But it beats sifting through the registry manually.
Now it gets (unnecessarily) messy.
I was looking to find how EML indexing works. It uses:
  • c:\windows\system32\mimefilt.dll
  • content type message/rfc822
  • GUID of {5645C8C2-E277-11CF-8FDA-00AA00A14F93}
  • related PersistentAddinsRegistered of {89BCB740-6119-101A-BCB7-00DD010655AF}
I should have found the threading model set as "both" indicating that BOTH single threaded or multi-treaded daemons can use it. I found it marked as "Bo" in the two places in the registry.
I changed the first "Bo" entry to "Both" and the second one magically was fixed. Time to restart the services and re-try the indexing ... and ... it worked. Even PDF's attached to the EML inside the ZIP were indexed. This "Both" corrupted to "Bo" burned up a few hours of troubleshooting.
Dexter's usual actions would be justified if he could find a guilty party in this case.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Adding Zip Search File Type in MOSS 2007

I am a little behind the curve on this. Better late than never.
  1. Get the filter pack here: http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyId=60C92A37-719C-4077-B5C6-CAC34F4227CC&displaylang=en
  2. Install it
  3. Set up the item type in the SSP
  4. Set up a new key for .zip in HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Office Server\12.0\Search\Setup\ContentIndexCommon\Filters\Extension\
  5. Give it a value of {20E823C2-62F3-4638-96BD-90F4F6784EBC}
  6. Restart the search service
That is the shorthand version! This is done for you in SharePoint 2010.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

I've Been Promoted ...

... from Acolyte to Initiate on the Beer Advocate web site. This is a promotion from the lowest of first time public users, to the next to lowest. Although I should consider this insulting considering the amount of premium brew I have consumed in my lifetime, and as a graduate of THE Ohio University in Athens, Ohio (a supreme school of partying for over 200 years), I am instead thrilled!

If you like beer a lot, you should become a member at Beer Advocate (http://beeradvocate.com). Although it is a great source of beer info, it is more importantly a great place where you can record your beer observations (in public). I have been doing this for four years, mostly for my own records.

For a while I have been wondering what criteria gets a person a promotion at this institution. I had been a member for a long time and I have submitted well over 100 beer reviews, but no promotion. Their system is mysterious, kind of like my employers' salary and partner info (but obviously of less consequence). Very hush hush. The writings I have published are far more interesting than the same old recanting of the color, head, aromatic characteristics, etc. I thought perhaps one needed to subscribe to their magazine or something, as some people seem to get promoted quickly. That's my guess since I never did that. But my efforts and long term advocacy of Beer Advocate have finally been acknowledged.

Take a visit to the Beer Advocate web site today and look for me there under my beer alias "Schoolboy."

Friday, November 20, 2009

Asus O!Play HDP-R1

Sometimes I feel like I am a little slow adopting some technologies. Of course this isn't really true. There are just some I don't like. MP3's, for instance. They don't sound very hi-fi, like most digital TV (and it's all digital now, isn't it). I didn't get a DVR right away, but we've had one since we got Uverse (maybe a year ago) and we love it. I am almost always bleeding edge on Microsoft products. I convinced myself, I'm not a Luddite.

I like my video hi-fi too. The Uverse DVR is reasonably good (like the Uverse service), and I have a Blu-ray player, and that stuff looks and sounds great. I have a lot of video content (most of it high definition) on the 3TB of internal disc in my Windows 7 machine. I had been sneaker- netting it to my Blu-ray sometimes (or watching on the 25" LCD monitor) but I got the idea that a media player would be way better. This is also better than trying to attach a PC to my living room HDTV (I tried this in 2005 when I got it and it didn't work well - I needed better stuff).


Shopping for media players, I found there are a bunch. A few are expensive. A couple don't have a network connection (that won't do). I stumbled on the Asus O!Play HDP-R1 and gave it a long look due to the great price and the Asus name. When you are building a computer, Asus is always a brand you should consider - their stuff is first rate. This product is VERY new.

I don't know much about what is in the box. It's small, and consumes very little power. The Oplay is running some flavor of Linux.

The Asus forums had lots of posts from dissatisfied customers, but reading between the lines, I thought I would be able to make it work just fine and that it would do exactly what I needed - play just about any video or audio file, connect to my network, host ESATA, etc. It does all it was supposed to do, and well. This post on the Asus forum has the secret to getting it working with Windows 7.

If you buy one, it will probably come with firmware version 1.07N on it and the network will not work right for Windows 7 machines (other computers will be OK). Set up a Windows 7 user "OPlayer" with password "OPlayer" and give it permissions on shares that hold your media. Reset the Oplay to factory defaults, load firmware version 1.13N, and the network connection will work perfectly (UPnP will work too).

So I have another cool gadget! It is a highly recommended toy!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

SharePoint 2010 (Caveman Edition)

I am hopelessly (humorously) politically incorrect and caveman readers probably will be offended, but it seemed like the 2010 beta was aimed at them. I mean this as a big compliment to the killer Install Software Prerequisites option in the 2010 installer and the smoothness with which a simplistic stand alone install runs.

Install Software Prerequisites does the following steps from a one click operation:
  • Application Server Role, Web Server (IIS) Role
  • Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Native Client
  • Microsoft "Geneva" Framework Runtime
  • Microsoft Sync Framework Runtime v1.0 (x64)
  • Microsoft Chart Controls for Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5
  • Microsoft Filter Pack 2.0
  • Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Analysis Services ADOMD.NET
Any installation "cookbook" will be streamlined by this (assuming it is putting in the right settings).

The configuration wizard of the 2010 install failed when I first ran it Tuesday morning. I got the same "Failed to create sample data" error lots of people did. I corrected it Wednesday (when I didn't see anything official posted) by removing the two references to "allowinsecuretransport" (deleting both entries entirely) from the Client.config file in the 14 hive /WebClients/Profile folder.

I don't think this change is recommended, but it gets you over this hump for now. This is a pain future cavemen will be spared. More time for Visio cave wall workflow diagrams.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

I don't know Jack, but now I know Jorma

Founding member of the Jefferson Airplane and Hot Tuna, Jorma Kaukonen, appeared at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame yesterday for the American Music Masters Series tribute to Janis Joplin. Jorma and Janis were part of the San Fransisco area pre-hippie scene and they shared some interesting early times before they were rock stars.
Per the usual Rock Hall format for such events, he gave an extended interview interspersed with a number of songs, followed by a meet-and-greet. As always, the fourth floor theater was filled to capacity and the sound and overall experience were first rate. Jorma was playing his new signature model Martin guitar (serial number 1).

Schoolboy was in attendance and I heard some of his 24 bit 96 kHz Zoom H2 recording and it is very good.

Afterwards, at the meet and greet, I asked Jorma to bring Hot Tuna to the Beachland. Hopefully I planted a seed in his mind. It would have been very cool if Jack Casady could have been there, but since he wasn't, I still don't know jack.





Friday, November 06, 2009

Adding a New Text Search File Type

As heavy Interwoven document management users, we sometimes include Interwoven link files (.NRL files) in SharePoint document libraries. This doesn't give a whole lot of functionality in and of itself, but it is necessary. The NRL is a very simple one line text file that contains a library name and a document and version number. There are times when a user might want to search on the document number, so we needed to add the NRL as a searchable file type.

To do this, there are two places the extension needs to be added in the registry, and the SSP needs to know about the file type (Search settings / File types / New File Type). Your registry keys will look like the entries below. It would be good to verify the GUIDs with the TXT entries on your system. If you navigate in the registry to the locations below you will see how the keys look.


Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Shared Tools\Web Server Extensions\12.0\Search\Setup\ContentIndexCommon\Filters\Extension\.nrl]
@="{C5BD8BA8-4209-4A15-B010-534AEB020A54}"


Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Office Server\12.0\Search\Setup\ContentIndexCommon\Filters\Extension\.nrl]
@="{4A3DD7AB-0A6B-43B0-8A90-0D8B0CC36AAB}"


Naturally, this would extend to other text file types and of course you will do this in your test environment first, etc., etc., blah, blah.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Fran Healy and Andy Dunlop in Cleveland

If you are a Travis fan you have probably heard about Fran Healy and Andy Dunlop's current tour of North America. It brought them to my favorite concert club yesterday, the Beachland Ballroom in Cleveland. Everything you have heard about this show is true.

From Fran Healy and Andy Dunlop of Travis
The show is a very humorous look back on the history of Travis. There is as much dialog as music, and the audience is quickly won over by Fran's wit. This is a program that is best for hard core Travis fans, and that is pretty much all you had in Cleveland.

Schoolboy was there and made a 24 bit 96 khz hand-held Zoom H2 recording. I heard some of it and it is very nice. Nearly every person in attendance seemed to be buying the "official bootleg" (which is considerably shorter than the full Schoolboy version that is over three hours, including the meet-and-greet).

After the show, most of the crowd (that I would guess at around 150-200) waited around to greet Fran and Andy, and they took the time to chat with everybody. I think I was there for a good hour and a half after the show. In April, the Travis Cleveland House of Blues show proved to be my musical highlight for 2009. Last night was an extension of that great vibe.

Check out my photos and youtube. The video gives a good feel of what it was like.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

SharePoint 2010: Honing Up on Powershell

One of the interesting bits to come out of the SharePoint 2010 previews is the inclusion of more than 500 Powershell cmdlets. As a SharePoint admin or developer (remember, you developers, you have to know admin and end-user stuff so you know what NOT to develop) it will be important to know your way around Powershell.

I wouldn't call myself either a command line junky or command line phobic. I always liked command line scripting. Powershell is something I have used, but having touched the surface of it, I've known that I need to know more. I think most of you are in the same position (be honest).

A little knowledge, while being dangerous, can calm those feelings of ignorance. A quick search brought up this TechNet lab:


If you spend the prescribed 90 minutes studying it (and trying other stuff), you won't be an expert, but you will feel more comfortable when it comes time to sort and pipe and filter all those SharePoint 2010 commands that are coming your way.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Rounder Records 40th Anniversary Concert

We made a little diversionary trip to Tennessee this last week. My son is an electrical engineering student in his senior year at Purdue and since they had a two day break, it was a nice time for a quick trip. We originally were going to go to Memphis and Nashville, but we didn't get going early enough to include Memphis. None of us had been to Nashville.

Along the way we stopped and took landmark photos at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Churchill Downs in Louisville. We started exploring at Churchill Downs and found that there were no locked doors. That was fun. We ended up in a deserted top level Millionaires Club. Nice view.

Nashville is a nice town. It has a unique cosmopolitan flair. More sophisticated than I expected. I liked it. Much of the city is very beautiful and nicely kept. We walked and drove around quite a bit, seeing lots of nifty stuff, including:
  • The Broadway area (bars, shops, etc. downtown)
  • The Country Music Hall of Fame
  • Ryman Auditorium
  • The Parthenon
  • Bicentennial Park
  • The Grand Ole Opry House
  • Belle Meade Plantation
The weather was variable (cloudy some of the time, a little drizzle here and there, nice the rest of the time). It was definitely warmer than we are accustomed to in October. Nice.

I hoped we could catch a good show while we were there, but I never anticipated we would see such a great one. While we were at the Grand Ole Opry in the afternoon (October 12, 2009) we inquired about tickets to that night's performance. They had some floor seats at around $50 each, but they were selling good balcony seats for $12. What a deal. As it turns out, this hall is a good one. The balcony view and sound are first rate. They even have pews just like the Ryman Auditorium (but they are nicely padded).




Here is the lineup we saw. It was the Rounder Records 40th Anniversary Celebration.
  • Minnie Driver did a set and acted as MC for the show. She sang beautifully and was very witty. The Show was being recorded for broadcast on PBS in March.
  • Nathan & The Zydeco Cha Chas gave Matt and Gayle a nice introduction to live, jumpy zydeco music.
  • Bela Fleck did an interesting little set. Mesmerizing banjo, as always.
  • Irma Thomas had a special guest of Henry Butler. Very soulful.
  • Mary Chapin Carpenter was uplifting and inspiring.
  • Alison Krauss & Union Station featuring Jerry Douglas finished the evening with the most beautiful singing and string band playing you can imagine.
Over all, the show had the feel of many of the Rock Hall tribute shows (American Music Masters). They pulled it off better, but it was a smaller scale. It was a bit drawn out as it took time to switch the bands out. With the exception of Bela Fleck, these were good sized bands! The Grand Ole Opry House gets a 10. They even had a house beer (something like a dark lager - I think they called it Opryhouse Brew).

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Goodbye to an Old ...

... well I was going to say "friend," but it's really just a refrigerator, so friend is going too far.

In September 1974 I was a freshman at Ohio University. My first week there I decided a fridge was imperative, so I headed to a place where they rented them. I can't remember if rent was $40/year or $40/quarter, but I do remember that you could buy one of the well used ones for $45 - as-is, no warranty (or maybe a very short warranty). That was a no brainer for me. I bought it. For two years it served me well, and for the following two years I lent it out to friends.


Since then, it languished in the basements of the three houses I have owned since 1980. Most of that time it has been plugged in and running. The last 15 years or so it has been set on a very low setting to keep beer barely cold, the way I like it.

When I went to check on my stash of killer beers today, it was very warm in there. The compressor seems to have been running continuously for a while and it was very hot. I will try (not too hard) to fix it, but I think my old friend may have finally given up the ghost.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Another Use for AVCHD - Hi-Fi

If you are coming into this cold, you might first read my other two posts about AVCHD.

Some audiophiles recently started burning AVCHD discs instead of using DVD-Audio or the LPCM capabilities of DVD-Video.

DVD-Audio and PCM on DVD Video both allow some pretty high quality audio. With DVD-Audio, you get two channels of 24 bit 192khz or 6 channels (5.1) of 24 bit 92khz and lossless compression. PCM on DVD video also goes to 24 bit 96khz, but they take a lot more space and I am not sure if anyone did much with multi-channel PCM on DVD-Video for this reason.

Lots of people have been using those formats for original recordings, vinyl rips and such, but now we have some AVCHD's starting to show up. This is somewhat lost on me because of equipment limitations. My Blu-ray player is in my living room home theater which has Pioneer/Bose audio which is very much inferior to what I use for hi-fi listening in my studio. So far I haven't gotten my studio PC to play these either (although I thought it might be able to with the right software). This will probably lead me to getting a Blu-ray for the studio.

I am exploring tools for authoring this content: http://www.videohelp.com/tools/sections/authoring-bd-hd-dvd. This may be a good way to go for the future. It's nice to have so many options, but I just recently authored my first DVD-Audio (of a nifty vinyl rip I made myself of The Three Sounds "Soul Symphony"). Now on to the next format!

Lastly, I will share some somewhat related links that are cool. The first is some analysis of various formats including vinyl, and the second is a look at DVD-A vs. SACD.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

9-9-9 Beatles Remastered - Criticism - They Got it Wrong

Today the long awaited remastered Beatles CD's were released. The new versions are not an improvement on the versions released in the 80's, unless you were looking for compressed dynamics and some tweaks in the bass equalization. Like many CD's being released today these days, the new Beatles releases were made to sound louder - they are less dynamic so they don't sound quieter than other recordings.



This of course is not a good thing. The one thing CD's can do well is dynamic range, but lately many CD's are all about being loud. Ultimately this will help kill the CD market and further deaden peoples senses, so they can be happy with horrible compressed audio (MP3, etc.). As far as the bass, I think I could have tweaked in a little bottom if I thought it was missing. I do not understand the whole mono thing (the new releases are available in both stereo and mono). These recordings for the most part were originally stereo, so what's with mono? I want more channels, not less.

My listening tests compared the new CD's with the old ones as well as with vinyl and some oddball Beatles releases like a 20 bit HDCD of Let it Be (Naked) and the Love DVD-Audio (remixed by Sir George Martin and son). As you may know, I am quite the audio snob, with some serious listening gear (electrostatic speakers, tube amps, etc.). I am also a long time Beatles fan - I have purchased pretty much the whole cycle at least two or three times.

So I would be lying if I said I didn't want these new CD's to sound great and jump out of my speakers like the Stones and Kinks and many other old rock groups' high resolution remixes. The regular 16 bit CD's can sound very good too. I wanted these to be good. But they don't offer any improvement for me. In fact, although I may change my mind after more listening, for now I prefer the old CD releases over these new ones.

I did not do any empirical analysis of the new versions of any of the tracks (maybe I could suck them into Sound Forge and measure the dynamic range - for now I used my ears). I also have a strong prejudice in favor of vinyl. Nine times out of ten the listening experience from vinyl (even somewhat worn) beats CD's, HDCD's, SACD's and DVD-Audio. It doesn't matter which digital media is used, vinyl is almost always significantly better. Remember, the resolution of analog signals is continuous, so it has infinitely higher resolution than anything digital. The best digital sound comes from DSD (SACD), but it's still not analog.

I imagine a lot of people will disagree with me, but time will tell as other audiophiles weigh in on the subject. I am sorry if I sounded harsh, I am just trying to steer you readers towards the best sound.

If you have the vinyl, play that, and enjoy the best there is. If you have the old CD's, you don't need the new ones. If you have neither, you can get the new (and hardly improved) ones or seek out old versions. Have they inadvertently created a new market for the vintage Beatles CD releases? Wouldn't that be something.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Oppose Elimination of Federal Thrift Charter

I could say a lot about this subject, all from a semi-informed point of view. What I would like to express is that smaller banks used to play a very beneficial role in the building of neighborhoods in our cities. We have almost completely lost this and I don't think that is a good thing.

I sent this message through the ABA's web site to my congressman and Ohio's senators.

Representative LaTourette
Senator Brown
Senator Voinovich
Message text follows:

Robert Klass
(personal)
Mentor, OH


August 26, 2009

[recipient address was inserted here]


Dear [recipient name was inserted here],

As a constituent, I am writing to express my strong opposition to the
Administration's proposal to eliminate the federal thrift charter.

On the contrary, we should encourage the creation and maintenance of
community banks.

When I was a VP at an S+L in the 1980's I saw how regulators were
responsible for as many problems as they may have prevented. Had we
listened to them, we would have created variable interest rate loans which
would have been unaffordable and possibly unmarketable.

Our company became strong by lending in our area and making sound
underwriting decisions. Underwriting guidelines should be rolled back to
what they were "in the day" - 1980 style. 28% of income for housing, 36%
total debt ratio, etc.

Don't screw up this industry further. Turn back the clock and recognize
the benefits of smaller thrift institutions.

Sincerely,


Bob Klass

Monday, August 24, 2009

Finding a SharePoint Database GUID / Restoration Tips

I needed to run the stsadm command preparetomove with the oldcontentdb switch (at least I thought I did) for a database that I wanted to restore in our testing environment. Running this command is supposed to fix sync issues when moving databases around.

Although there probably is a more efficient way to query the database (maybe a config database?) to get the database GUID, there is an ID parameter on some URL's. So I added the content database in Central Admin. After that you can take the ID from the URL for that database like so:

http://qapt03ms:8800/_admin/oldcntdb.aspx?DatabaseId=%7BF6FD3F98%2D1044%2D4728%2D8C6D%2D2A22140FFC13%7D
    %7BF6FD3F98%2D1044%2D4728%2D8C6D%2D2A22140FFC13%7D
      F6FD3F98 - 1044 - 4728 - 8C6D - 2A22140FFC13

      Then you can run the command:

      C:\>stsadm -o preparetomove -contentdb servername:databasename -oldcontentdb F6FD3F98-1044-4728-8C6D-2A22140FFC13

      Operation completed successfully.

      You can see that a couple characters get stripped from the beginning and end (%7B and %7D) and the "%2D" are the dashes.

      I've done restores without cleaning it up this way but I figured it's time to start doing it the right way.

      Saturday, August 08, 2009

      In Place Upgrade from Windows 7 RC to RTM

      When I loaded the Windows 7 RC on my studio PC (AKA the litterbox PC) I didn't think I would be able to upgrade to RTM. I thought that I would have to do a clean install. As it turns out, there is a simple procedure to allow an upgrade.

      If you try to just upgrade form the RC or a beta, you get a message that you cannot do that, but there also is a little link that will take you to some instructions. Basically, you copy the install media somewhere and edit ..\sources\civersion.ini so that it reads:

      [HostBuild]
      MinClient=7100.0
      MinServer=7100.0

      Yesterday morning I dowloaded the RTM DVD from MSDN (it took around an hour - not bad), and in the late afternoon I ran the installation. I received warnings that iTunes should be deactivated (shocker there, that this peria would have a problem) and that there were two driver issues. For the drivers, I disabled the one device (one of the multiple disc controllers on this fancy-schmancy Gigabyte motherboard, and one I am not using) and I just plowed ahead on the other (the Edirol FA-101, about which I was confident things would be OK since I read it in such a fine blog).

      Once again, Windows installer had maybe one more click, and then said I should just sit back and watch. It took a bit longer to run than the original amazing install of 20 minutes, and I could only watch the first 15 or 20 minutes because I was doing the whole thing via remote desktop! After the first reboot, it was another 20 minutes or so before I was able to RDP back in, activate Windows, and resume my BitTorrent seeding and whatnot.


      Kudos to the many smart people at Microsoft who put together such a solid installation system for an incredibly complex piece of software. My cat thinks it is the most advanced desktop operating system in the world, but what does she know. In a couple weeks they should be releasing R2 for Windows Server 2008 for us MSDN subscribers. This is what I use for my desktop OS at work, and I think IT will be the most advanced desktop operating system in the world.

      Friday, July 31, 2009

      Take Control of Your SharePoint Crawl Schedules, Content Sources and Indexes

      All my farms were set up (the old way) with one server running Central Admin, and generally I use that for an Indexer too. On top of that, I use a certain utility (which I am not at liberty to discuss in detail) which also runs on the Central Admin server(s). This can sometimes put an intense burden on one server (while the others are loafing).

      One thing I am going to do, is load balance my Central Admin and spread it (and that certain utility) around. My setup now is just plain wrong. But in my defense, at one time it was right, and when we did our sanity checks with other experts, it still was right. Once things started getting heavier (indexing 500 GB, then over 700GB of content), there isn't much room for error. Our data center is miles away, but I think I can hear the little fans in those blade servers cranking like mad from here. VVvvvvvv...

      Until I redo my Central Admin sites, I have to be cautious about what activities that over-burdened server is doing. One thing I do is turn off indexing when I know I will need those resources. Indexing takes disc space and CPU. I've seen big full crawls fill up lots of temporary space. Be sure to factor this in. It's so easy to take control. You can stop a crawl, but better yet, just don't let a new one start. Change the schedule to fit your activities. Use something like "Every 20 minutes from 8:00 AM for 810 minutes." That will start the last incremental at 9:30 PM, and at 10PM, you should have all the resources of that server for other tasks.

      This relates a bit less, but one of my regrets on my setup is that I didn't separate things into different content sources. The logical thing would be to break it up by web app. I will do this soon too. That way you can prioritize (by starting one first) or set separate schedules for different content.

      In a really large site, I suppose you could use separate SSPs and manipulate where they are and what they are indexing. We started to go down that path, but if you keep everything together, and just watch how you set up content sources and crawl schedules, you can get a whole lot of useful search indexing (out of not much hardware). Under one SSP, you can have a universal, site-wide index, with no additional setup.

      Thursday, July 30, 2009

      More on AVCHD and Blu-ray (and M2ts)

      First, read my first post on the subject. I talk about the utilities I have found that are great for manipulating MKV files and creating an AVCHD file system, suitable for use with Blu-ray players.

      For whatever reason, I have found that demuxing into the AVCHD file system format has some overhead - maybe 5-8%. It really shouldn't expand, but for some reason it does. This is enough that sometimes it is difficult to get things into a size that will fit on a DVD 5. I don't have a solution for this other than using some other utility to re-write the file with more compression.

      I have found that a 4GB M2ts (MPEG 2 Transport Stream) file will turn into an AVCHD with enough room left to be comfortable - a 100% success rate. Using TXMuxer and MKVExtractGUI I have made some disks that work great.

      About audio with AVCHD, like a DVD-Video, you can have a PCM track, but there will only be room for that if the video is compressed like mad, so you pretty much need to resign yourself to (a high bit rate) AC3 5.1. Blu-ray has some wonderful audio capabilities, but to get those, you will need the extra space of a Blu-ray. The AVCHD is limited to the two formats.

      Wednesday, July 29, 2009

      Bing vs. Google

      A lot of people who saw me using Bing (ever since it came out) would chuckle and make remarks to the effect of having thought higher of me - that I wasn't a true Microsoft bigot. But I am, I give them a chance and the benefit of the doubt every time. They truly are a much more benevolent bunch than ANY of the large influences in the corporate world. But I try to be an open minded bigot. Hey, I got an iPhone (and learned how to make it work MY way), OK. That's my proof.

      BING vs. GOOGLE

      So Bing vs. Google. Google is an extremely useful tool. For casual users, it gives them what they need very efficiently. For power users, likewise, even better. It's indispensable. Bing comes at things from a completely different perspective. It seems to have a strong commercial slant. I am searching for something so I must want to buy it, or buy a book about it. This is great if I do, but more often I don't.

      Bing also seems to have a strong bias to sites closely related to Microsoft and away from sites related to Google. If I search for topics on this blog in Google, they come up very high. Much less so in Bing. On SharePoint things they may not come up at all. That's not right. It could be said that Google has the bias toward their sites (which this is). Probably BOTH are true, but Google seem much better balanced.

      Google is still much more useful for my day to day needs, and will be put back into the browsers where it was temporarily replaced by Bing. This will mean that I will Bing very seldom - probably about as often as I used Live - not very (but still more than I ever used Yahoo for anything - how could that mess be useful to anyone).


      Sunday, July 12, 2009

      Bob Dylan Show Comes to Eastlake

      On Saturday, July 11, 2009 Bob Dylan, John Mellencamp and Willie Nelson brought their tour to the Captains minor league ballpark, Classic Park, in Eastlake, Ohio as a part of their tour of minor league baseball stadiums. For your $75 (including fees), they bring along a barely adequate (not good) sound system. The stage was decent. There are lights, but not what I would call a light show, and there is no TV. They are counting on the music to entertain you.

      But the vibe was still nice, as were the performances. They had a redeeming gimmick - children 14 and under were free.

      The whole show people were talking to me. They were saying, "C'mon Bob" and stuff. Wrong Bob? This stadium is about 2 miles from my house (in a straight line) so I felt very at home. It was nice to have Bob over so he could jam on his organ (unfortunately, he only played guitar for two songs).

      Set list:

      Monday, June 15, 2009

      Edirol FA-101 Windows 7 64 Bit Drivers

      The original post I had here was a work around. Roland published Windows 7 64 bit drivers in late 2009 and I have found them to work well with Windows 7. Go to Roland and get them.

      If anyone has tried these drivers with Windows Server 2008 R2, please let me know. Thanks.

      You really don't need the following information, but I leave it here for historical purposes.

      Original Post:

      Windows 7 again impressed me when I needed to load up my FA-101. I use the FA-101 as the only audio interface on my studio PC.

      Doing a quick search you will find that there are no Windows 7 64 bit drivers for this device and if you try to run the Vista installer (FA_101_Vista_x64_Ver.1.0.4) you will get an error that it will not run for this version of Windows.

      All you have to do is run Windows 7's (very cool) "Troubleshoot compatibility" wizard.


      You select "Troubleshoot program" and check the "The program worked in earlier versions of Windows ..." box. Indicate that is was Vista, and then the driver installs as it did in Vista.

      I have found the FA-101 to be much less susceptible to problems under Windows 7 than under Vista. Although the FA-101 driver did not contribute to my former 64 bit Vista's instability, the driver itself would frequently seem to get stuck. I was very used to powering off the FA-101 to un-stick it. So far, that has not been necessary with Windows 7. It continues to shine!

      Thursday, June 11, 2009

      Windows 7 Amazing Installation

      I lost one of the two 400 GB Western Digital drives in my RAID 0 array on my home "studio" PC on Sunday. The performance of two mediocre drives raided together has always been impressive, so I was determined to go back to it. This desktop machine was running 64 bit Vista, and was not particularly stable. I was hoping to put either Windows 7 or Server 2008 R2 on it, and I was going to wait until fall.

      Monday I bought two Seagate ST31000333AS 1TB drives from Antares Computing which arrived yesterday. I recommend both Antares and these drives (both are fast!). I only recommend RAID 0 if you can deal with losing the array (as I could). Reliability will be low - performance high.

      So I take out the two old drives and stick in the two new ones. It takes longer than it should - thirty minutes - a little bit of cable manipulation and contortion (I never remove the full tower case from the rat's nest where it lives). Next I stick in the Windows 7 RC disk and boot. I think I had two clicks before it took off, and 20 minutes later it was done.

      This bears repeating. Twenty minutes later, Windows was installed into previously unallocated space on freshly installed hard drives. I am sure I will have a lot of playing around to do (but I enjoy that - hit me). Twenty minutes. No formatting. Nothing.

      Friday, June 05, 2009

      Fixing SharePoint Search Propagation Problems - Part II

      As a continuation of Fixing SharePoint Search Propagation Problems ...

      In my previously described situation (stuck on propagation with a few other issues thrown in), the problem recurred, and repeating the procedure (moving the index file location on all query servers) again provided relief.

      Since I needed more than a few hours of relief and I could see nothing new was making it's becoming available to search, I also stopped indexing. Over night, this allowed propagation to clear itself. Since all was well, I boldly turned indexing back on. More good results - all the new content made it to the query servers and continued to do so. I still may have issues because after a while, the propagating status once again seemed stuck, but content is getting added and we are otherwise healthy (otherwise - that is a big qualification).

      It would be great to get an in-depth explanation of what the services are doing when they report various statuses. I wish I could give one - I want to get this explanation. My own experience has been that although monitoring the services can be alarming, they work well. Indexes are built and updated quickly, even when things do not appear to be working very well. This from a person whose life has been made much more stressful by having to watch over this system.

      Thursday, June 04, 2009

      Using MKV Files With a Memorex Blu-Ray Player

      I naively bought a two Memorex MVBD 2510 players last fall - one for my dad and and one for myself. They were good Black Friday deals, so I have no buyer's remorse. I knew they didn't have an ethernet port, but I had no idea what good it might be. I still can only guess what utility I might get from having my player on my home network.



      Like most of these players, it has a USB port, so I quickly got into experimentation and found that it would play MP4, AVI, and a mess of other file formats, but not every file format. Around the same time, MKV files started to become prevalent. The Memorex doesn't like MKV's but they play wonderfully from VLC on my computer (which has a 24" HD widescreen). I don't live and breath for this stuff, but I am an enthusiast, so it took me a while to understand why we needed yet another format!

      MKV (Matroska) is a container. From what I can tell, it is lossless, and it gets a small amount of compression. They can hold a lot of stuff, but in order to use them with devices that don't support it (and aren't being well supported by the manufacturer), you have to do something with them. I have the answer for that!

      You could get a conversion program that knows how to read these files and write them out to another format - like AVI or MP4. That means all your content is going through another rendering and compressing process. Although the results may be acceptable , I know there is no way doing this is going to improve the video or audio. And it takes a long time. We need something better.

      The answer is demuxing the file (and maybe doing something cool with the demuxed content). Demuxing the MKV contents to a .ts file will work with the Memorex (and thus I would think many other - better - players). The tool to do this is TXMUXER. Demuxing is as fast as your disk (you will wish you had a fast disk setup) and there is no re-compression.

      The only problem is (at least with the Memorex) that .ts files act a lot like AVI's or other files played on the Memorex - rewind, fast forward and other operations don't always work as you would like, but otherwise, it's not a bad arrangement. You get the nice menu from the player and you can select the files nicely (just don't make the name too long - no scrolling on the Memorex).

      MKVExtractGUI includes the ability to extract files to a Blu-Ray or AVCHD folder structure that it creates. AVCHD is what you want. Many BD players (Memorex and Playstation 3 included) support AVCHD. It's basically a Blu-Ray file system for DVD 5 (4.7GB DVD recordable discs). I haven't explored all the audio possibilities of this (Blu-Ray includes several outstanding lossless formats). These AVCHD discs have no menu, but you can "join" multiple input files and add chapter stops at whatever point you like (think "episodes"). Just burn the two folders the process creates to a UDF file system on a DVD 5 (I have not yet tried this with a DVD 9, but that is coming).

      With a little trial and error, I've come up with a nice way to play and store content.

      Wednesday, June 03, 2009

      Fixing SharePoint Search Propagation Problems

      See also Part II

      I have been baby sitting my SharePoint search engine lately. I have some long term fixes I am planning to deploy, but in the mean time, things sometimes go bump!

      The latest problems surround the engine sticking on "Computing ranking" and then today a propagation issue. The indexer eventually found itself unable to communicate with the query servers. This got ugly fast. Search results turned to garbage. They would cross scopes and return all kinds of erroneous stuff.

      I was getting pannicky, all the while hoping I would not have to reset content. This I thought would very likely be a total fix, but drastic - the all new index would be pretty meaningless for quite a few hours. Resets of services and things were not going to fix this problem. Since the indexer seemed to have lost contact to the shares where the indexes were supposed to go, I decided to change the locations for the index files on the query servers.

      In case you forgot, you do this in Operations > Services on Server > Office SharePoint Server Search Service Settings. For each of them, I put it in a brand new location. This didn't seem to help at all until they were all done. Then it all came back (faily quickly). I still have a stuck on "Computing ranking" problem, but I have more reasonable content. I still intend to do that "Reset all crawled content," but I can do it in off hours.

      See also Part II

      Tuesday, June 02, 2009

      PDF Ifilters in SharePoint - Follow Up

      I would like to add an addendum to http://bobklass.blogspot.com/2009/04/pdf-ifilters-in-sharepoint.html.

      I was not aware of PDFLib's ifilter until I was near the end of my testing and procurement a few weeks back. Since I still had a pretty good test setup for this, and I needed to do some final QA, I decided to test PDFLib too.

      Before you can test PDFLib you will need to get yourself a license from their sales group. They give you a reasonable testing period and the process is painless.

      In today's test, PDFLib's installer didn't add both of the registry keys I mentioned in my last post, only the first.
      • [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Office Server\12.0\Search\Setup\ContentIndexCommon\Filters\Extension\.pdf]
      • [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Shared Tools\Web Server Extensions\12.0\Search\Setup\ContentIndexCommon\Filters\Extension\.pdf]
      The GUID for PDFLib seems to be {47A1AF35-C345-475d-AE68-EB07E948BD07}

      I added the second manually. I would guess it is not important if you have MOSS.

      My test set was not a very challenging bunch of documents (about 680 MB, 1200 documents). In some previous tests, Adobe was much slower (as anticipated) but in the ones today, they all three were similar. I previously was running the test after resetting the content. On today's I did full crawls (to save time??).

      Interestingly, the quality of Adobe was much lower. The same search terms produced far fewer hits with Adobe while Foxit and PDFLit had the exact same results. It almost seemed anomalous, but my main objective today was to review the installation process (I have beaten that to death, no?) and give PDFLib a quick test, so I don't have time for further tests.

      We already bought Foxit. I may have been able to save a little money with the way PDFLib is licensed, but I think I made the right choice because of Foxit's more foolproof installer. Hopefully I can add one more follow up article once I have been running Foxit in a large production environment for a while.

      Sunday, May 31, 2009

      Eric Brown - Kethani

      English author Eric Brown's 2008 sci-fi novel Kéthani shows an earthly world that is at once scary and intriguing. An alien race has left its' imprint on our society by giving it a boost to the future. The characters' lives are described by their central point of reference - the pub. We readers get to meet them at "the Fleece" for a few pints every Tuesday (and many other days that end in "ay").

      Unfortunately, as a reader, I cannot be "implanted" and so the association must end. But I thoroughly enjoyed the company of so many of Brown's lifelike characters. So much so that next I will read his Helix (unrelated story).

      Highly recommended: Eric Brown's Kéthani.

      Friday, May 29, 2009

      Nancy Kress - Steal Across the Sky

      A recent good and fast read of mine, Nancy Kress' Steal Across the Sky is a great romp through a near future world where we have made alien contact. These aliens had been here before, and they messed things up for us. But they came to make things right and thus they called themselves "the atoners." They send witnesses to see what they messed up and ... well I don't want to spoil it.

      I do want to say that Nancy Kress is a great find for me. My taste lately has been to seek out new books and try new-to-me authors (hey, Robert Silverberg and some of my other old favorites aren't churning them out the way they used to). She reads very smoothly - crawls right into your head. There were some global warming related story points that are based on bad science, but like other bad sci-fi inventions, you can just look past that.

      Nancy Kress is a celebrated author and with this, her latest, it is easy to see why.

      ... and sorry about the recent "test" post, everybody. We were trying the Word 2007 integration on our (new, not yet completed) standard desktop, only to find that it can publish to Blogger rather nicely if you know what you are doing (or almost do).

      Thursday, May 21, 2009

      Cedar Point 2009

      What can I say about Cedar Point that I haven't already said? It is one of my favorite places, and I'll bet you would love it too. Yesterday we had a wonderful day. Perfect weather. Lots of great rides. The Dragster picture looks just like one I posted before (only a year older). The rest of the pictures (click) are seriously sun-drenched.

      From Cedar Point 2009


      We had one big mishap, and it paid some dividends. Early in the morning we were going to ride Maverick, which I had yet to ride. There were very short lines, but while we were waiting, it had a minor problem. A few minutes later they had it back up and we were riding. Maverick has two lift launches. On the second launch (which is out of a dark tunnel) we shot out as designed, but at the top of the hill the machine braked heavily and we slid back down backwards, all the way into the tunnel. There we sat for 40 minutes - 12 of us. Harnessed in with no way out.

      Eventually they got the machine working and we were re-launched. When we arrived in the station they gave us a free no-waiting pass onto Top Thrill Dragster, Raptor and Millennium Force. We turned the Dragster and Raptor ones into instant front seat rides. Not too shabby.

      In general, Cedar Point never looked better. The place is extremely clean and well manicured. Everything (well, most things) seemed to be in great working order. Even the ticket prices were reasonable (early season Internet specials). Famous Dave's was great, as always, for BBQ wings and Sam Adams. I hope the coming Memorial Day weekend turns out as nice.

      Here's a tip:
      save your parking receipt and turn it in for 100% credit at Famous Dave's. I've been doing this for years. $10 off! It works at some of the other places on the pennisula that aren't in the main park, but you won't find it printed anywhere.

      Wednesday, April 29, 2009

      PDF Ifilters in SharePoint


      We have more PDF files than anything else in our SharePoint sites, by a huge margin. We also have some pretty over-sized hardware, so up until recently, we have been able to get by with the single-threaded free Adobe ifilter.

      When the Foxit ifilter was released I did some testing and could not see sufficient benefit to make the change. I am pretty sure my testing was flawed, as others have confirmed the superior performance of the Foxit ifilter. I carefully retested it and with a relatively small sample size (less than 2000 files) I got a benefit of not quite double the throughput. I think that with a larger sample the benefit would be greater, but the successful test is sufficient for my needs and allows me to justify this purchase.

      Checking Ifilter Registry Entries

      Along the way I experienced some difficulties. The instructions for installing the Foxit ifilter are very simple, and sometimes they work as they should, but not always. If you are doing a first time installation of a PDF ifilter, follow Foxit's instructions carefully. For a replacement of Adobe, you simply uninstall the Adobe ifilter and then you install Foxit. I did this uninstall/install cycle a couple times. Either of the uninstalls may not always happen cleanly, so you may need to get out your SharePoint/IIS/Windows hammer and do a bit of tapping.

      As I was testing, I was getting an error on all the PDF's that there was no ifilter installed. I ended up manually modifying two registry keys, at first just to put back Adobe so I could test that. Then the uninstall/reinstall worked, but I still checked it just to be sure. My problems could have been from not following procedures (starts, stops, etc.) or possibly from the install / uninstall not being complete. Checking these keys was a big part of my solution.

      The two keys are:
      • [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Office Server\12.0\Search\Setup\ContentIndexCommon\Filters\Extension\.pdf]
      • [HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Shared Tools\Web Server Extensions\12.0\Search\Setup\ContentIndexCommon\Filters\Extension\.pdf]
      Their multi-string value should be the appropriate GUID for the classid for the ifilter you are using (I think that's what this is):
      • {987f8d1a-26e6-4554-b007-6b20e2680632} Foxit
      • {4C904448-74A9-11D0-AF6E-00C04FD8DC02} Adobe 6
      • {E8978DA6-047F-4E3D-9C78-CDBE46041603} Adobe 8 (or 9 or 64 bit??)
      You also need to be sure to start and stop the search services and why not throw in an IIS reset while you are at it (hammer). Of course a reboot has the same effect (more hammering). After doing that, to make your tests cleaner, it's good to get the setup primed. You can do that by running it twice (reset the content in between), or just enough the first time to be sure that everything is running. If you monitor the index you will see a minute or two delay on an un-primed setup.

      I am looking forward to getting this into a production environment with hundreds of thousands of PDFs. I hope I won't need my hammers, but at least I know where to look if it doesn't seem to be working.

      Thursday, April 23, 2009

      Jeff Beck Cleveland Set List

      In response to a request for a Cleveland (April 15, 2009) Jeff Beck at the House of Blues set list:

      1 Beck's Bolero 
      2 The Pump 
      3 You Never Know 
      4 Cause We've Ended as Lovers 
      5 Behind the Veil 
      6 Blast from the East 
      7 Stratus 
      8 Angel 
      9 Drums 
      10 Led Boots 
      11 Nadia 
      12 Space Boogie 
      13 Goodbye Porkpie Hat 
      14 Blue Wind 
      15 Bass 
      16 Day in the Life 
      17 Big Block 
      Encore Break 
      18 Where Were you 
      19 Scottish One 
      20 Theme from Peter Gunn 

      Tal Wilkenfeld-Bass 
      Vinnie Colaiuta-Drums 
      Jason Rebello-Keys 
      Jeff Beck-Guitar 


      You can probably find an active torrent of this show. I have heard two very similar sounding recordings (OK, but A- grade). 

      The show was a nice display of Jeff's guitar prowess and thoroughly enjoyable. A sonic treat. I was very disappointed that the "Jeff" album was not represented (I hoped it would be featured). Jeff's last three albums have been explorations in this direction, with Jeff being the pinnacle of the bunch. 

      Here's the set list for the show I am seeing tonight:
      ;<)

      Cleveland Orchestra - Sir Colin Davis, guest conductor

      Hector Berlioz - Overture to Beatrice and Benedict

      W.A. Mozart Piano Concerto No. 25 in C major, K503
      1. Allegro maestoso
      2. Andante
      3. Allegretto
      Mitsuko Uchida, piano

      INTERMISSION

      Jean Sibelius Symphony No. 2 in D major, Opus 43
      1. Allegretto
      2. Andante, ma rubato
      3. Vivacissimo
      4. Finale: Allegro moderato

      Wednesday, April 22, 2009

      Travis Review



      This is the text from my gushing review I posted yesterday on TravisOnline.com:

      What a lovely, lovely show. All day yesterday I had the Monday blahs. I was wondering how I could get myself up for seeing Travis. I listened to a lot of Travis during the day, and that helped, but it wasn't until Travis started playing that my day turned around. And it really turned around.

      As the show progressed, you got the feeling that everyone was having the same beautiful experience. We were all feeling the power of the music. I had seen Travis once before in Detroit, several years ago, and it was the same experience, but on a slightly larger scale. The House of Blues crowd was less than capacity (it was a rainy, crappy Monday night) but that added to the intimacy of the show.

      Having checked all the set lists posted on this site, I noticed that "As You Are" was missing. I was sad about that. You could feel that this was a really good show the band was playing - one with lots of positive feelings. When they played "As You Are," it went over the top for me. 

      It was a very special Monday. Thank you Travis.

      Wednesday, April 15, 2009

      Jeff Beck, Travis, Berlioz, Mozart and Sibelius in 8 Days

      Today begins a very full 8 day week of music. I have been looking forward to tonight's Jeff Beck concert at the Cleveland House of Blues for some time. Years, in fact.  Fortunately, Jeff Beck has been touring a lot lately. He fronts a band with the highest caliber of musicianship. 

      Next Monday is the great brit-pop group, Travis, also at the Cleveland House of Blues. Travis latest album is similar to their other hauntingly dreary yet uplifting albums, but more electric. 

      I am looking forward to seeing both of those shows from the extreme comfort and sonic heaven of the HOB balcony. 

      Also a sonic heaven will be the Cleveland Orchestra with guest conductor, Sir Colin Davis next Thursday. Cleveland's Severance Hall is a wonderful place. My employer is sponsoring these concerts, so heavily discounted ($60 tickets for $20) were available. 

      Speaking of ticket prices, the Jeff Beck tickets were the most expensive I have purchased for the HOB at $99 each, including the ridiculous fees. You may or may not know, I used to boycott the HOB because they are an out of town company that received tax abatements so they could put local venues out of business. Once I broke my boycott, the flood gates opened, but I still bad- mouth it and the bar stinks (high prices and poor selection).

      Thursday, March 26, 2009

      Aloha

      Greetings from Hawaii. What a crazy long way from home this is, but how simple it is to get here (put it into your favorite mapping program, it will tell you to just go straight across the Pacific - not a problem, but a jet helps). It's just another state. So everything works, U.S. money, bank cards, cell phones. The Outrigger Waikiki Beach hotel where we are staying is extremely hospitable. This should be a fun visit.

      Wednesday, March 18, 2009

      Live Recording with the Zoom H2 - Epilog

      See previous

      Last Saturday I took the H2 to the House of Blues in Cleveland and recorded Dickie Betts. Dickie allows taping, but I thought I'd try out my stealth since they have overly strong security at that venue. I had no issues with stealthiness.

      In general, I would say that recoding with the H2 is much less prone to error than with the Rockbox iRiver. Once it is set, just turn it on, press record to arm and press record again to confirm. I used the same levels I used for the last show (78, and it is set at the least sensitive level).

      I have not used any of the compression or limiting and there hasn't been any issues with overload. The levels also haven't been too low. Just no issues (so far).

      The recording is great. Betts brings a three guitar, two drummer (plus bass and keys) ensemble. They can do "Allman Brothers" style music very effectively, and as my friend Nick said, he obviously just loves to play.

      Monday, March 09, 2009

      How Bad Is it?

      8.1% unemployment. That's bad. Unemployment was much worse not that long ago. How about the entire period of November 1981 through December 1983. What was that like? In the media it was always somewhat gloomy, but it seems like the media negativism is worse this time. And even more mindless.

      There have been some economic extremes in my lifetime. How about 18% mortgages? Or double digit inflation year after year. Globally. And whatever happens to the U.S. is usually much worse in most of the rest of the world.

      Most people in the U.S. do well all the time. Some never do well. During such crises, there is a bit of crossover of the mosts to the somes. If the media didn't over play it (and we "mosts" never looked at our 401k statements), the mosts would hardly be aware of the crisis. 

      I truly believe that contributions from the media towards a negative psychological state of the masses are significant to overall trends. Most of it isn't news from a well-informed source, it's just drivel. 

      So the answer is, it's not that bad. Who do you trust, TV writers or me? At least I have an MA in economics. If you have some dough and can figure out some winners, it's time to buy!

      Friday, March 06, 2009

      Live Recording With the Zoom H2 (Part Two)

      See also Part 1

      My second recording with the H2 was a bit of a clandestine affair. Instead of bringing a mic stand to the show, I used the very nice, discrete black cloth bag that comes with the H2. This particular venue is a pretty laid back club - no strip search, metal detectors, etc. and I recorded there many times with my Rockbox. But sometimes it's best to take a "don't ask, don't tell" policy.

      So the little, thin bag that comes with the H2 fits loosely on the device. It is acoustically transparent, so once I set levels, I simply left the bag on the table pointed towards the stage. I had recorded in this club many times so I knew that the best place to sit is right by the sound board. 

      The recording came out far better than expected. Usually this room has a very boxy sound to it - there is nothing that can be done, it's a very boxy room. In this case the recording is much better than any previous I had made. Again, the mics pick up nicely and the 24 bit digital sounds smooth.

      I am convinced the H2 was a good choice. I have several big shows coming up (check my calendar) so I hope to give it a workout. 

      Wednesday, March 04, 2009

      New Photos From the Ice!

      I posted a couple new albums last night. The first is from a rec league all star hockey game at Quicken Loans Arena (where the Cavs play). the second is also the Q ice, the U.S. Figure Skating Championships from January. Both sets were taken by me with Gayle's cool Casio camera. It has a long zoom for a ultra compact camera (7x). Still, it's hard to get really great results without a faster lens, more light, etc.
      All Star

      2009 US Figure Skating Championships

      Friday, February 27, 2009

      IPhone = Lotus Notes

      I my have been drawn to this phone because this wonderful user interface is so similar to the "concentration game" tiles we have been using with Lotus Notes for DECADES.



      Photo taken with an LG Vu!

      Thursday, February 26, 2009

      Free the iPhone

      I've had an iPhone for less than a week.  Sure it is very cool in many respects, but there is a big butt! Actually, there are a number of big butts, things about which an astute user might be upset.

      There are the missing things, like Bluetooth for something other than a stupid earpiece. How about files and such. And MMS - we really need multimedia messaging - it will save the world and get us out of this recession.

      And the dumb things that aren't there - like a clipboard. But of course there are good things. The UI, of course. And it works well as a phone. And many other things we expect a phone to do, it does well - play music, calculator, take pictures (this is really not that good), SMS texting, etc., you know, phone things. It is a great phone for those.

      Then there are the crazy apps. The vast majority are crappy things - toys for wasting time. I am not a gamer, so I have not evailuated those capabilities (not do I care to). The minority of apps are somewhat useful, or gee-whiz information that is amazing to have so conveniently in your pocket.

      I like it, and it can stay. 

      The Big Issue

      There is something outside of my drivel that is a topic of contention - the freedom for an application developer to create something for the iPhone platform. It seems that Apple is trying very hard to stifle this. If you tried to create a new Mail client, for instance, forget it, Apple won't let you distribute it.

      This is wrong. It's un-American. Remember? Freedom? We used to value it. We cannot let corporations or governments dictate our actions like this. We don't have to take this without a fight. Think about it.

      Being locked to iTunes is simply silly. Tethering users to a moronic user interface, designed to sell them more stuff is insulting. So it should be obvious that I will be avoiding Apple's proprietary setup. Having a closed system so that something works reliably is OK, but having it so you can control consumer behavior is unacceptable. 

      The "Jailbreaking" community seems to have a lot of junk out there too, just like the Apple apps store. I think the only way for Apple to make this ethically right is to reconcile with Jailbreakers and mainstream the process of freeing the platform. From what I've heard, this is another point of view I have taken where I am on the losing side.