A Graph

10 02 2009



A (somewhat) Sad State of Affairs for Linux iPod Users

9 02 2009

I have a 30GB iPod Video (5th generation) that I use with Ubuntu Intrepid. My music collection is larger than the capacity of my iPod, so I can’t simply sync everything– what I do is sync specific playlists. This, coupled with the fact that I view album art support a must, creates a specific need that not every program can satisfy.

I’ve tried out most of the popular players and IMO, the only one that really does everything properly is AmaroK 1.4. Here’s why the others don’t live up:

Songbird: Can effortlessly sync my playlists, is (AFAIK) the only program that can “restore” your iPod to factory defaults like iTunes can, BUT has no support for artwork (yet). This is a deal-breaker for me. Another strike against Songbird in my book is the fact that it ignores use Gnome’s window manager and uses its own.

GTKPod: I have to admit I hate this one. The things you have to do to get stuff on the iPod are just silly. The interface is not intuitive. Also there seemed to be no easy (possible?) way to just sync the playlists I want– I can transfer a whole playlist there, but when I update the playlist there is no quick way to sync the changes to the iPod. It does support artwork, however.

Banshee: Supports artwork. Does a pretty good job overall but again, no real “sync” feature. Like with GTKPod, I’m stuck having to drag and drop things I want and can’t just sync changes to my playlists. This one is a bummer because Banshee is my preferred app for library management & playback on my desktop.

Rythmbox: Basically the same as Banshee with respect to syncing. Didn’t bother to check if it will put the artwork on my iPod.

…which brings us to…

AmaroK: I’m not a big fan of KDE apps in Gnome due to the differences look and feel (especially ugly KDE 3.5 apps) but AmaroK 1.4 just does everything I want, the way I expect. It supports selective syncing (e.g. my playlists, even when I update them) and puts the artwork on the iPod. AmaroK 2 doesn’t have device support yet, so I’m sticking with 1.4 for this sole reason.

If not for AmaroK 1.4 I would have to rely on a Windows app under WINE or VirtualBox, which would just add another layer of complexity to the whole thing.  The biggest annoyance here would be the fact that I would have to edit my playlists to be Windows-frienldy (change every slash to a backslash in the playlists using a text editor) then save a “Windows” copy for the syncing player to use.   This is on top of my current process which is:

1. Edit playlist(s) using Banshee, my preferred app
2. Export the playlist
3. Import the playlist to AmaroK
4. Sync

So even as it stands now, I have to do a couple more steps than I’d like (if only Banshee synced the way I like, I wouldn’t have to bother with exporting/importing the playlists like I do).

“Why not use AmaroK for your music playback?”

Not a bad idea, and I actually used to do this– but now that I have a burgeoning video library in addition to my music  (for use with XBMC downstairs or playback on the computer in my room), I like that I can use  one app for both audio and video.

So, seeing as 2009 will certainly be the year of Linux on the Desktop, I hope that this will improve with time.  In the case of Banshee, which is currently under active development and becoming more and more popular, I’m sure that will be the case.  I eagerly await future releases of what has become my player of choice lately.

Reading Material

28 01 2009

Due to the business my company is in, publishers often send promotional copies of books in hopes that we’ll republish their content.  Some of what we receive are technical books.  Recently, as sometimes happens, our marketing department was good enough to give away books that are no longer needed — whether they were used or not.  I was lucky enough to score several technical reference books.  One of them was Mark Sobell’s A Practical Guide to Ubuntu Linux, second edition.

After just a short time, I’m already 120 pages in and have learned a lot about what makes the OS tick and what forces drive GNU and Linux in general.  It has been an invaluable resource and is already helping me to better administer my desktop PC, where I have been using Ubuntu Linux for nearly two years (since just after the Feisty release).  If you have the means, I highly recommend this book.  It is well worth the while!

Time to Step Up: What the Bucks Will Need in LA

9 09 2008
Beanie will need to do what he does and open things up on the ground

Beanie will need to do what he does and open things up on the ground

It’s no secret that the match-up of the week (possibly the entire regular season) will be Ohio State against USC this Saturday in the Coliseum.  What appeared two weeks ago to be a dominant Ohio State against a USC team that would not be as strong as they had been in recent years will now in fact be a #1 ranked firing-on-all-cylinders-and-taking-no-prisoners Trjoan team against a Buckeyes team that so far has only succeeded in underwhelming fans and critics alike.  Any questions about Mark Sanchez’s knee injury have vanished and the Trojan defense looks strong as ever.  The Buckeyes have failed to execute as expected against two overmatched opponents and star Beanie Wells has been injured.  Will the Trojans continue their streak of non-conference domination?  Will the Buckeyes’ O be able to get traction if Beanie doesn’t return to carry the load?  We’ll find out four days and four hours from now.

If one thing is certain, it’s that the Buckeyes- who now will enter the game as a 10-point underdog- will need to step up their game and play a tough one if they want to stay in it.  In their first two games we have seen a lack of boldness on play calling, freshman-caliber mistakes, and more missed catches than a schoolyard game of monkey-in-the-middle.  The running game at this point is a bit of a question mark.  There is no doubt that Beanie will play, but lips have been tight as to his condition.  Even if he is at 100%, which he will certainly need to be, there is always a possibility that he could re-aggravate the toe injury.  He will already be targeted by a hungry USC defense – lead by stars such as standout linebacker Rey Maualuga.  If Ohio State want to open up the ground game, Beanie will be the guy to do it.  Unless we were missing something on Saturday, we saw that the rest of the running backs on the OSU depth chart could not take his place altogether.

Rey Maualuga wont be the only hurdle in the Buckeyes path.

Rey Maualuga won't be the only hurdle in the Buckeyes path.

There has also been rampant speculation about what we have so far seen from Ohio State.  The prevailing notion seems to be that the coaching staff have been deliberately refusing to show their hand so that USC won’t have any film to study and won’t know exactly what we plan to throw at them.  I, for one, hope that this is the case because we sure won’t be gaining many yards with the sort of “vanilla” offense that OSU typically runs.  Trying to run it up the middle every 2nd or 3rd play won’t go over too well in LA.

Another hot topic is what to expect true freshman QB Terell Pryor.  Again, unless we haven’t really seen him utilized to the best of his ability, he won’t be a factor.  So far we have seen that although he can run well, he lacks the sort of “touch” he needs, a la Todd Boeckman.  It’s great if the guy can run, but pre-designed take-the-snap-and-run-to-the-outside plays won’t be fooling anyone.  If Pryor proves that he can pass well and (usually) run when he is under pressure, he could emerge as a threat.

Speaking of emerging as a threat, we have finally seen some razzle-dazzle out of WR Ray Small.  His combination of speed and agility (something we haven’t seen since Ted Ginn, JR) is exactly the sort of thing the Bucks will need if they want to spread the out that tough USC defense.  Hartline and Robiskie have both proven reliable, but they have never had the ability to burn the defense when they hit open space in the same way as Small can.  He spent much of season struggling against a leg injury, so expect better things out of him this year.

Prediction Time

Ohio State will struggle out of the gate.  Expect the first couple of posessions to be short.  Maybe not 3-and-outs, but not scoring drives either.  The defense will be hungry, perhaps too hungry- USC’s O will capitalize on miscues and exploit their weaknesses well.  If the OSU D can step up, execute, and keep USC bottled up, the offense may be able to make things happen.  This will absolutely key: if our defense doesn’t slow down USC’s offense, our offense will struggle.  If both the offense and the defense struggle early on, expect USC to tear this one wide open.  They will do their best to get us out of it quickly because they know that if we can hang with them, we will eventually gain momentum and give them a run for their money.

Boeckman will struggle.  He will do well if the O-line gives him enough time, but he will overthrow his receivers on the deep passes.  He will throw at least 2 INTs.  If he can establish a rhythm he will produce results.  However this is doubtful since USC’s D-line will be tough to hold back.

Pryor lacks big-game experience but may still yield results.

Pryor lacks big-game experience but may still yield results.

We will bring Pryor out in the Red Zone, using 4 and 5 receiver sets.  Don’t expect this to burn USC’s defense though.  His first couple of series will be key because we haven’t seen how he handles big time pressure.  If he can keep his cool and execute, he will produce.  If Boeckman struggles, we may even bring him out at midfield.

Beanie will play and he will do his part, but he will be too high of a priority target to be able to have many big runs.  He will probably average 2-3 yards per carry.  Don’t expect the offense to capitalize on USC’s D focusing on Wells.

The defense will do well early on, just like they did against LSU in Janurary.  They won’t be able to keep it up and eventually USC will open things up, but not enough to run away with the game.

Ultimately, OSU’s demonstrated weaknesses will outweigh their strengths.  USC will win by two scores.

Of course this is all given the assumption that Tressel & co have more up their sleeve than we know.  But given Ohio State’s recent record in “big” games, don’t hold your breath.  If the Buckeyes escape, it will be by 7 points or less.

Whatever happened to flashing the high beams?

26 03 2008

I was driving home from work tonight when, as happens 3-4 times per week, I passed a turnaround on the freeway where two Highway Patrolmen were perched watching the passing traffic.  Waiting no doubt for unwary speeders to catch.  So once I passed them, I decided to flash the ole high beams a few times at traffic on the other side of the highway.  If I could help someone avoid a ticket, I figured: great!

Then, I got to thinking about what I had just done.  It was a simple gesture that I recall learning from my father when I was a kid.  It probably goes back as far as cars and highway travel do.  However until recently, I thought very little of actually doing it for, well, as long as I could remember.   Why that is I’m not certain, but I have begun to do it again.

I can’t help but to think, however, that I really cannot recall any time, any instance at all, where another driver had done this favor for me.  Whatever happened to flashing the high beams?  It’s a courteous thing to do in this case.  I can think of, erm, several instances in recent years where I sure would have appreciated the gesture!

It must be a lost art.

12 Months Removed

27 02 2008

I was paging through my Marble Memo today and I came across a wish list that I wrote at around this time last year:

  1. Computer chair
  2. New glasses
  3. PC rudder pedals
  4. Widescreen monitor
  5. A house
  6. New watch
  7. The latest Zelda game
  8. An HDTV

Let’s see.  I’ve acquired numbers 1, 2, 4, and 6 and don’t want 3 or 7 anymore.  8 will need to wait unfortunately for various reasons.  I don’t think I’ll be ready for 5 until some things stabilize in my life.  So, I guess I did OK.  Just one addition to make: a new car.  I decided I’m tired of my ’06 G6.  It’s not really “me”.   I want something more like, say, this.  Sunroof, iPod-ready sound system, chrome trim, manual transmission, and leather seats.  Ohhh yes.  Put the “vergnügen” back in Fahrvergnügen.  Hopefully I’ll be closer to attaining that one by this time next year.

Cut the chit-chat!

22 02 2008

This Dilbert strip from earlier in the week sums up one of my biggest pet peeves at the office.


Honestly, who does that?? Shouldn’t it be obvious that this is annoying? I think I should patent some sort of installable cubicle ceiling…