Ruapehu trip

K, we’ll be going up this sunday morning, back tuesday night, you’re all invited. My goddaughter, Corinne, is over from England so it’s time to show her the steep stuff.

If you want transport, then there’s two spare seats in the van. Weather might be variable, but dammit I really can’t take thursday or friday off. If the weather is dubious, a plan might be mountain walks and/or hot pools.

Please let me know if you’re keen by tuesday eve, and I’ll book accom first thing wednesday morn. I’ll aim for something cheapish on Ohakune without being too scummy.

Incoming Goddaughter

Corinne, my goddaughter, is arriving on sunday for two weeks. She’s been working around Oz for her summer. So, suggestions for entertaining activities for a 19 year old who’s doing a degree in conservation and tourism?

Suggestions so far have been Weta Cave, Karori Sanctuary, see District 9, go boarding up at the mountain and a stop at Mt Bruce on the way back. What else?

Govt announces new targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions – aptly described as no vision, no guts, no future. Why do I bother putting the science out there when this is the result?

Anyway, even I’ll admit that the iPod is a decent piece of hardware. As for software that doesn’t make me want to throw it through the window: MusicBrainz (picard) for auto-tagging, Media Monkey for manual tagging and syncing, and iTunes never.

A new iPod

So it turns out that an iPod is a seamless multimedia experience. It has features. It is glossy. It has rounded corners for easy insertion.

The one thing it doesn’t appear to be is a music player. I have yet to get it to play the music I want it to play. After two hours of trying.

Maybe this is culture shock? Maybe I just need to think about music in the right way? Maybe having a piece of equipment do what I tell it to do is just so five years ago? Maybe I should accept that Apple does know best and I should just sit back and let it do whatever it is that it wants to do, including telling it what my credit card number is? And then getting another credit card when iTunes doesn’t like that credit card? Why the rubbery fuck does an mp3 player need my credit card number?

I’ve got a PhD from the University of Cambridge and I used to work as a computer programmer. Maybe I’m not clever enough to use an iPod? Maybe I’m too clever? Maybe I need a lobotomy?

Maybe I should take a hammer to this fucking thing?

It’s all been downhill since 2003

Sadly, I need a new mp3 player. My iRiver H140 lasted me five years, because it did exactly what I needed. It played everything I asked it to play, it never deleted my files. It did what I told it to do, it sounded gorgeous and it lasted sixteen hours between charges. So, my criteria are:

1) Sound quality. This is the Twenty-First Century and there’s no excuse for shitty reproduction.
2) More than 40 Gb of space. I like my tunes. I like them all.
3) No hassle.

I should expand on the last one. No hassle, for me, means:
a) Treats my data as mine. These are my files and I’ll do with them what I like. (If I like them enough, I’ll even pay money for them.)
b) Works with multiple computers – there’s normally several laptops at home, plus tunes at work. Music comes from all of them.
c) I’ve never used tags, just directories. Tunes are files, they already have metadata – filenames and folders – so I have no need to set up another metadata system that needs to be kept in sync. How many people here have all their zillion audio files correctly tagged?
d) What the hell is a playlist anyway?
e) I don’t want to have to keep a copy of all my music on a computer. My mp3 player is my music store. Occasionally it gets backed up to the phuge external hard drive, but that’s backup, not sync.

So I look around the market place and WTF? It seems the only players with big hard drives are iPods and Zunes? Are my options limited to:

1) Get an iPod and completely change the way I listen to music. Oh, and convert all my ogg files into mp3s? And then hope it doesn’t delete all my music…
2) Get an iPod and try to battle iTunes into submission? And by that I mean drag it out into the street, shoot it in the guts, and stand around watching it die? And then try to find some way to use a new iPod without iTunes?
3) Get an out of date iPod and hack Rockbox onto it?
4) Get a Cowon S9 for the sound quality and accept a 16 Gb capacity?
5) Buy a Zune and a pair of thick leather gloves for every time I have to physically touch its fetid, satanic carcass?
6) Find a second-hand, five year old H140, put a 80 Gb drive in there, gaining myself both a music player that does just what I need and a sense that for the last five bloody years, technology has stagnated?
7) Buy myself a hard drive, lithium battery, decent decoder, DAC and an OLED display, build my own box, write my own firmware, and do it myself?

“Jesus is deeply troubled by Pagan drug dealers”

Can insane paranoid spam reach truely poetic heights? Or are they just ticking boxes and trying to fit as many delusional topics into single sentences?

“It is not clear whether the Aliens have invaded the minds of the USA elite or whether the Satanic rituals of the USA elite have beckoned the Aliens on to Earth (for a few thousand years), but what is certain is that the bad Aliens have made false promises of superior weapons and spaceship technology to the USA elite in return for evil and destructive invasion of the earth for their own purposes. Since Aliens do not have a digestive system, they apparently bathe in a pool of human blood and organs provided for by the USA elite via human “abductions”, “missing persons” and wars.”

Can you tell what it is yet?

This is the Next Project, version 0.1. For a change, I’m going to make something that I already know how to make. For even more brownie points, it’s something that doesn’t push the boundaries of technology until it’s precariously balanced on the edge, waving its arms frantically to avoid falling into the abyss of not-workyness.

That’s a MAX1796 to give me 5 V, 250 mA off from one battery and two external caps. I like. Shame it’s so tiny. The other board is one of Pololu’s shiny accelerometers. The microcontroller is an old Picaxe 28X I had at the bottom of the bits box. Most of the output side isn’t there, coz I just need enough to let me write the code for the sensor integration and output method.

In fact, I’ve even written half the code. This took one evening. It all appears to work. Holy crap! Admittedly, the code has no fancy state tracking, no complicated algorythms, no byzantine pre-processed pile of data, it just turns on and does it’s thing. One sensor, one microcontroller, one output.

Still, I should point out that:
a) I’ve found the perfect box, a 2xAA battery box with switch. As this runs off one AA battery, I just need to squeeze all these gubbins down into the space left in the box, namely the footprint left where the other AA battery would go. This looks feasible but interesting.
b) The microcontroller I want to use (a Picaxe 20X2) isn’t even out till next month. That’s how bleeding edge I am.