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Tshirt Idea: I Hate Java In A New And Special Way
Date: 5/3/2006
Java sucks, and now you know why. However I don't agree that C++ is worse. At least with C++ you have some damn accountability. If it's broken that the app should be fixed. Whereas with frickin Java if it's broken then it might just be the Java implementation.

Currently all my Java apps are busted because of a bug in the JRE whereby it screws up the local timezone, meaning Java reports the current timezone as GMT (+0) instead of the setting in Windows: Australian EST (+11 currently).

I never liked Java to start with. But this just puts the last nail in the coffin, RIP Java. So I need a DVB recording server (ala Webscheduler) that ISN'T written in Java real quick, ideas?

Update: Seems Java has a bug that screws up the timezone when automatically adjust for daylight savings is switched on. Thus the easy workaround is to switch it off and manually adjust the timezone to some neighbouring country with the right offset from GMT. Gah, stupid STUPID Sun engineers.
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Quickies
Date: 2/3/2006
  • If your using WebScheduler to record digital TV (like me) and all your shows are shifted out of position by the number of hours in your timezone then you need to kiss WebScheduler goodbye and get a real scheduling record service. RIP Java, we hate you.
  • I saw Karnivool last night at the Mona Vale pub and man, they kick butt! Very tight live set, sounded very close to the album a lot of the time. I didn't get to see the band much from the back but hey I can still hear things ;) Not surprisingly they were using a Mesa Dual (Triple?) Rectifier and a 5150 guitar amps. Niiice amps. Oh and PRS guitars. A setup I could definitely see in my future.
  • Speaking of amps, my Peavey Classic 100 didn't fire up on Wednesday, so I had to get that attended to quick. Seems on of the internal power fuses was not seated correctly from the factory, causing undue sparking which eventually killed one of the power tubes. Way to go Peavey! It's fixed now, all good for the weekend.
  • The reason I tried the amp on Wednesday is because I was waiting around for the tech to come and replace the cable modem. They say "sometime between 8am and 12". Nice. So waiting, waiting... 11:59 the van shows up. Arrrgh. Thats so annoying!
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Hardware
Date: 24/2/2006
Ok, so the PC boots but the ongoing saga of stability took a new turn last night. In fit of morbid curiosity I pulled one of the memory sticks out of the machine, bringing it down to 256mb and did the usual video encode stress test overnight. It ran fine. And was still working in the morning. Currently the stock cooler fan is running about 3100rpm, the CPU is underclocked to 1.2ghz instead of 1.4ghz and it's voltage is stock. It ran at about 50 to 51° under load all night (12 hours straight).

I think the booting thing might have been related to having the fan speed set too low. Seems ok now.

So I have one suspect memory stick. Great. I'll swap in the other one and run it all again tonight and see what happens. Hopefully it'll fail quickly and I can ditch the bad ram and move on. I've bid on a few name brand sticks on ebay... I have 3 slots anyway so I may as well use them. 512mb is starting to feel cramped on XP anyway.

Update: Last night, back @ 1.4ghz again and the machine reset itself, and then this morning @ 1.33ghz the encode completed. So something is not happy at full speed. Maybe memory timing, the CL??? settings... hmmm I don't know. I guess I'll keep getting more sample points.

Update2: I ran memtest86 with both sticks in and it errored out. So I pulled the motherboard manual and read the section on RAM. Turns out that slot "1" is the furthest from the CPU instead of the closest. Duh. So I moved the sticks into slots 1 and 2 instead of 2 and 3 and reset the timing to the correct default. And reran memtest86 at 1.2ghz overnight. No errors. Then the next night at 1.4ghz, no errors. Riiiight finally. Then last night it froze while printing. *bash head against wall*
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The Cost Of Doing Business Online
Date: 22/2/2006
How much does it cost to take payments online?

processor base perc signup $20 $50
paypal $0.30 3.40% $0.00 $0.98 $2.00
kagi $1.00 2.50% $0.00 $1.50 $2.25
2co $0.45 5.50% $49.00 $1.55 $3.20
esellerate 10.00% $0.00 $2.00 $5.00
plimus 10.00% $0.00 $2.00 $4.50
swreg $1.00 6.00% $0.00 $2.20 $4.00
regnow $1.00 6.90% $19.95 $2.38 $4.45
shareit $2.95 5.00% $0.00 $3.95 $5.45


These are some popular payment processing sites. There are more listed here but most are expensive. Some people hate paypal, and with good reason most of the time, but still they do right by a business fee wise. I'm toying with using 2co as a 2nd option. I have used Kagi in the past, and the fees are low but access to your money is expensive and difficult compared to PayPal, and they seemed to have issues with fraud. I went backwards some months. Some people would rather rip you off than find a serial on the 'net somewhere. There fruadulant key ends up being banned in all future releases of the software anyway, so they get just 1 release of InScribe forever for all their efforts. Dumb crims.

Anyway, thought I'd share the list.
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Editor Work
Date: 21/2/2006
Amongst all the other things I'm doing, I had some time to play around with creating a rich edit component for Scribe. I am building it on top of the HTML control that Scribe already uses via sub-classing and adding editing functionality. So far it's going better than expected and I want to share a little video [860KB] of one of the tests. The test case is just holding the delete key down to gradually delete the whole document. What makes it cool is that you can see the live HTML changing on the fly in the right pane.

This in no way means there will be a functional HTML editor in the next release of Scribe, but I might release this as a plugin at some point for early adopters to try.

I'm not sure why I didn't try this before, my last attempt at rich editing was embedding IE and using a online javascript editor. But IE behaves differently as an embedded ActiveX control than when it runs as a web browser. And Mozilla doesn't even implement 97% of the API needed to embed fully. So that died a premature death, although the code is still in subversion.

I'm sure if this HTML/Edit hybrid ever sees the light of day it'll be pretty flakey for the first 'n' months/years/decades. Unless someone steps up to the plate to help with the coding. Takers?
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Australian Digital TV On A Mac
Date: 20/2/2006
With the advent of free to air digital TV in most countries the average Mac user has been somewhat left behind by the mad rush of .tw companies scambling to fill the new void in the market for digital TV tuners for computers. Lots of devices are available for PC's ranging from USB2 and PCI cards starting at as little as $90 AUD.

So whats a Mac user to do? Scout around of course! The first thing you'll bump into is the EyeTV DTT device ($295 AUD). And then you'd also find that Miglia do the TvMini (~$240 inc shipping).

Both of these sound great but just cost way too much. However there is a little known 3rd option called TinyUSB2 by Digital Now ($149 AUD), which is an Australian company. It works well with the mac via 3rd party drivers, which I can confirm, as it likes my little Mac mini (1.42ghz) as well as my PC.

So it's the right price, or at least within shooting distance of the PC only equivalents and it works with a Mac but what the quality like? Well from what I've heard the TinyUSB2 is the only USB2 digital tuner based on a standard circuit tuner (i.e. from a PCI tuner) instead of the "tuner on silicon" that goes into most small tuners. Giving it an advantage in reception quality over the PC only products. I'm running mine off the unmodified analogue TV aerial on our roof and it's pretty good. Obviously if we upgraded to proper digital grade cabling it'd be better, but so far I'm impressed.

Add to the package a little aerial, a nice remote, some software for the PC and it suddenly becomes excellent value for money. Kudos to Digital Now for a excellent little product.

One thing I'm really appreciating about digital TV on computers is that recording is so painless. Using an analogue tuner takes all this effort to encode the signal to disk which chews vast amounts of CPU and also results in a less than stellar result. Whereas recording digital TV takes almost no CPU and never has quality issues, as your recording professionally encoded material at good bitrates. Sure the files are big but you can re-encode or delete watched material... or just buy a bigger disk!

I'm finally coming around to this Digital TV thing :)
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