personal

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Finished Dual Tube VCA Project

Yay! It's done. Lovely warm distortion and fits great into Eurorack / Doepfer setup. Check sound samples below.

PLS Synth Module Demos by pulsar

Kudos goes to: Ken Stone and Bill and Will over at Dragonflyalley

Dual Tube VCA - Done

Und weil ich grad faul bin, nur auf Deutsch:

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Also ICH hatte Spass!

Dual Tube VCA - Work in Progress II

Just finished mounting the first VCA Module. YAY!

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and some waveforms. loving the results so far!

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PC Keyboard Layout for a Mac (German)

While switching my main workstation over to a Mac I ran into an issue with the keyboard shipped with those new iMac. To be honest, I would not even consider calling it a keyboard, must be some torture tool straight from hell. Luckily I have a couple of those ergonomic Microsoft keyboard to my disposal. Now the tricky part: the physical keyboard layout does not correspond with the results on the screen. A problem definitely worth fixing, so here we go: a German custom keyboard Layout. Fixed Keys: "{ } [ ] | ~ @ \"

Keyboard Layout InstallationKeyboard Layout Installation

Install it by dropping the bundle file into "~/Library/Keyboard Layouts/" - you will probably have to create that directory.

A great companion to that layout is the Microsoft driver for that Keyboard which will allow you to remap the ALT, WIN and / APP Key:

Microsoft Keyboard PrefsMicrosoft Keyboard Prefs

Download the bundle file right here

Scheduling encrypted backups with Windows (to unix)

Atomic RouterAtomic RouterThis issue has been puzzling me for some time. I have this Atom based home-brew router sitting on the shelf with a 2TB drive attached to it. So yes, it does also serve as a NAS, Meda-Server etc. All the good stuff. So theoretically it should be also a good place to backup my data to – in case one of the workstation harddrives fails – been there, done that. No IBM drives for me since that incident.

So, where is the catch? Backing up private and sensitive data to that device would be almost insane, this nice piece of hardware is directly connected to the internet and thus exposed to a variety of break in attempts. What if one of these is successful? Riiiite, I would be fu***. Properly.

The solution is very obvious; encrypt your data before you move it onto the server. But how would one do that using a windows client and free software only? There are several ways to achieve that. You could choose to write a batch script, use 7zip or something to compress / password protect that data and copy it over to the other side.

Since I don’t really like batch scripting and prefer doing fancy stunts using bash, I choose cygwin, cron (running as NT service, @see /usr/share/doc/Cygwin/cron-4.1-7.README) and openssl to encrypt that data. So, here is the one-liner doing all the work:

tar cz MyImportantDataDirectory | openssl des3 -salt -pass pass:SECRET | ssh pulsar@router "cat > /mnt/backups/documents-daily.tar.gz.des3"

Go crazy now! Use the week-number to create a series of backups instead of the daily snapshot, remove old backup sets etc. Once you have that script, schedule it using the cron (crontab –e) and watch your sensitive data being backed up automagically. /me likes!

Convert a RSS / Podcast Feed to a .pls Playlist

X-Mas time...
I just got my wife a nice WiFi Radio (yes, she does not give a sh** about this blog). She loves to listen to internet radio stations so it seemed like a cool gift. We'll know for sure in less than 4 days.

Anyway. I unwrapped it to make sure it works and to preinitialize it with some presets she likes. But wait! What about my presets? Yes, I love to listen to podcasts. While the device itself has some support for RSS feeds (browsing my genre, country etc.) - it won't allow adding a RSS feed to your favorites / bookmarks. Here it will only accept playlists.  

A minor inconvenience you can fix with some PHP and SimplePie. Here is a small script which will convert any arbitrary RSS Feed to a PLS ... well, playlist :)

  1. <?php
  2. require_once("simplepie.inc");
  3.  
  4. function getFeedItems($rss, $numberOfFeedItemsToFetch = 50)
  5. {
  6. $feed = new SimplePie($rss);
  7. $feed->init();
  8. $feed->handle_content_type();
  9. if ($feed->error()) die ($feed->error());
  10. return $feed->get_items(0,$numberOfFeedItemsToFetch);
  11. }
  12.  
  13. $url = urldecode($_GET["url"]);
  14. $numEntries= $_GET["numEntries"];
  15. if (!$numEntries) $numEntries=50;
  16. if (!$url) $url = "http://feeds.feedburner.com/cnet/buzzoutloud?tag=rtcol";
  17. $items = getFeedItems($url,$numEntries);
  18. $plsItems = array();
  19. foreach($items as $item)
  20. {
  21. if ($item->get_enclosure())
  22. {
  23. $plsEntry = array();
  24. $plsEntry["title"] = $item->get_title();
  25. $plsEntry["link"] = $item->get_enclosure()->link;
  26. $plsEntry["length"] = (int) $item->get_enclosure()->length;
  27. $plsItems[] = $plsEntry;
  28. }
  29. }
  30.  
  31. header('Content-type: audio/x-scpls; charset=utf-8');
  32. header('Content-Disposition: attachment; filename="playlist.pls"');
  33. ?>[playlist]
  34. NumberOfEntries=<?= count($plsItems) ?>
  35.  
  36. <?
  37. for ($i=0; $i<count($plsItems); $i++)
  38. {
  39. print("File".($i+1)."=".$plsItems[$i]["link"]."\n");
  40. print("Title".($i+1)."=".$plsItems[$i]["title"]."\n");
  41. if ($plsItems[$i]["length"] > 0) print("Length".($i+1)."=".$plsItems[$i]["length"]."\n");
  42. else print("Length".($i+1)."=-1\n");
  43. print("\n");
  44. }
  45. print("version=2");
  46. ?>

The usage is quite simple. Call the script like this:

http://myserver/the_script.php?url=[encoded rss url]&numEntries=[optional: max number of entries in the pls]

If you don't know how to encode a URL properly, try this:

  • open a new tab in firefox
  • enter
    javascript:document.write(escape("http://your.friggin.url/feed.xml"))
    into the address bar
  • copy & paste the result

If the Feed-URL does not contain any parameters (chars such as &, ? or =) you probably won't need to encode it. Won't hurt though!

You also might want to add a fake URL part (path info) if your client needs that .pls ending in the url. so the script-call would be like:

http://myserver/the_script.php/fake.pls?url=...&numEntries=...

Oh! And you will need a copy of SimplePie for the script to work. Grab it over here

download the script bundled with SimplePie

Sony Ericsson's Software Quality

Float's Mobile AgentFloat's Mobile AgentI'm sticking with Sony Ericsson Phones for a while now. The phones had some issues in the first 2 generations, but after that they worked smoothly. The other reason was Float’s Mobile Agent – a lightweight sync & management application for the Kxx series. Unfortunately the software does not work anymore with my new P1 and does not seem to be developed any further. So I had to go with the shipped software – here is where my journey begins. (more after the link)

Blender, Yafray and Me

Recently I decided to get used to Blender. Several years ago I've been using Alias Wavefront and 3D Studio Max at work, so I am already spoiled. But what buggs me the most, is the lack of a decent renderer. The built-in kinda sucks and the only one good looking addon renderer with good integration into blender was yafray. This one supports all the latest hype like GI or Caustics. It looks even pretty good and produces a nice natural lightning.

That did not hold be back from running into an issue which I would cosider being a bug. Here is what I've done:

Blender / Yafray SettingsBlender / Yafray Settings

  • Remove everything from your Scene but the camera
  • Add a plane which will be our floor
  • Add a ball or any other shape ontop of it
  • Add a Area-Light above it (we have no other lights)
  • Remove all Ambient-Lightning
  • Switch on Photons in the Yafray's config
  • Hit F12 - Render.

If you are lucky, you will see some kind of inversed lighting. If not, you will see only darkness. Pump up the Emit Power in the Yafray's config a bit or resize the AreaLight in the object properties window up to 100 and pump up the power to maybe 5.

Is it me not getting here something, or is it just a bug? Take a look at the picures, they look kinda cool (despite being plain wrong):

AreaLight Green OverdriveAreaLight Green Overdrive

There are more variations of this image over at the yafray gallery - If you got yourself an account on this site, you can download the original size of the image.

Update:
Ok, call me an idiot. Even the manual says more or less clearly that one should use area lights together with light emiting objects. The area light does only emit photons which are used to calculate indirect light and the color bleeding.

 

Live Feed

Occasionaly, when I am feeling exhibitionistic, I put a live video feed of my desktop on live.yahoo.com while I am working or just burning time.

 
Update: Since Many Cam does not work with Vista 64, I won't be streaming again that soon. Update2: We are back in business, ManCam now available for 64 Bit

Enable AHCI SATA Mode for Vista

Today I decided to finally give AHCI a try on my Vista setup. Unfortunately I've installed Vista with no AHCI support enabled in the BIOS, so no drivers were installed by Vista for this very mode automagically.

How difficult can it be? Reboot, Enable AHCI in the BIOS, Boot back up again: Boom - Bluescreen. Here is something I can't get, why does Windows bug me with plenty of useless dialogs to confirm or cancel but does reboot automatically about 2 seconds after throwing a Bluescreen which IS actually important? If you are lucky, you can catch a glimpse at the error message for about 1-2 seconds but if your shiny new TFT is busy synching to the new video mode you won't even notice it!

This can be fixed by adjusting the Crash Control Registry settings:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\CrashControl\

Set AutoReboot to 0.

OK, next time I will be able to read which component did cause the Bluescreen. Nevertheless I started looking around for others having problems switching to AHCI. Aside very adventurous solutions like moving the boot device to a separate SATA controller, enabling the AHCI mode on the other and booting up so Vista can install proper drivers or hacking the hell out of the Registry and some Intel-Raid application I have found a way more convenient way to enable AHCI.

It turns out that Vista will disable AHCI support for good if you did not had it enabled during the setup. To switch it back on you will need to do one tiny Registry Hack:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\System\CurrentControlSet\Services\Msahci

Set Start to 0

Yes, 0 to enable it. Don't ask.

Reboot, toggle the AHCI Support in your Bios and everything should be fine.

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