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1  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Once again, magically expensive items are only different in your mind on: Today at 02:10:33 PM
But most of us save audio files in digital format. Some use FLAC, I prefer wav as do all of the engineers I work with. There is a reason programs like ExactAudioCopy use wav as the default copying format.
For working with digital audio, you definitely want to work with wav. For long term storage of anything except original recording masters, I consider flac the better choice.

flac is a lossless compression format that allows you to use musical contents without decompressing the entire file. Unlike MP3., AAC, etc., the source material is not changed, but if you work with it directly, there can be artifacts introduced by the interaction of codecs and sound processing software. However, if your conversion software does its job correctly, you should be able to convert a flac file back to wav format and the results should bit compare to the original.

If I were doing sound engineering today, I'd probably keep multiple copies of original masters in the original (wav) format simply to avoid any potential problems, but I would compress at least one archival copy using software with some kind of parity recovery to guard against corruption. flac does not have any recovery capability, but for anything that is not going to be used as a master for further processing, it works just fine and saves a lot of storage.

2  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: web hosts on: April 22, 2014, 11:27:31 AM
Have used FutureQuest for 12 years and they have been rock solid.
3  Other Software / Found Deals and Discounts / Re: 010 Editor (hex editor) discounted today at bitsdujour.com on: April 22, 2014, 09:36:49 AM
Once again, 010 editor is at BDJ today for $49.95 (Commercial)/$19.95(Home/Academic).

Version 5, introduced last year, has many new features, including syntax highlighting, column mode and customizable toolbars and menus, that make it more competitive with regular text editors, while retaining its unique binary editing capabilities.

It is also now available for Linux.
4  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Once again, magically expensive items are only different in your mind on: April 20, 2014, 05:47:02 PM
There have been several solid scientific studies starting back in the 50s that attempted to analyze why a Stradivarius violin sounded so good. (FWIW I much prefer the darker sound of a Ceruti violin to the sweeter quality of the Stradivarius.) Those studies and experiments led to some interesting outcomes.

To my mind, the most profound was the ground-breaking work of luthier Carleen Hutchins that resulted in a modern family of violins usually referred to as the Violin Octet.. More on Carleen and the Hutchins Consort can be found here and here.

Which just goes to show that, when it comes to violins, the arguments that "old is better" and "there's nothing new to be had" are simply not true. Cool

A close relative is a respected violin maker and restorer, and also teaches violin making.  He has always told me that, except for cheap mass produced violins (and violas, cellos and basses), each instrument is different. Quality does not depend on the age of the instrument, but rather on the skill of the maker and, for older instruments, of the craftsmen who worked on them over the years.

He also explains that violin makers adapt the instruments they work on to the tastes of the musicians who own them, which leads instruments to change over time.  He likes to say that very little in any 300 year old instrument actually remains from the original builder. But old violins that are still in use tend to be among the best, because those were the only ones worth the high cost of maintenance and repair over many decades.

The value of older violins built by Stradivari and other well known makers has more to do with their rarity and the desires of collectors than anything else.  Good modern violins cost less because they are not collectors items, but they are not cheap either. Young musicians often have to take out large loans or mortgages to acquire an instrument good enough to qualify them to play in a major orchestra or chamber group.
5  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: WinXP is officially dead! on: April 11, 2014, 03:31:13 PM
And one way to accomplish that is to take away the ability to load your own software. Or posess your own copies. Both goals can readily be accomplished by simply taking hard media (like DVDs) out of the equation.

Adobe has already done that with their family of products. Microsoft is well on it's way to doing that for their entire ecosystem. And where the big devs go, the smaller will of necessity follow.
WRT Adobe, that is only true for professional products like Photoshop, Indesign, etc... The people who use those depend on them for their livelihood, are not about to switch platforms unless they absolutely have to, and are mostly happy to pay big bucks for their software to be always up-to-date as a cost of doing business.  Consumer products, and even professional products which face credible competition in the marketplace (eg., Photoshop Lightroom), follow the old paradigm and most likely will continue to do so. Some products remain free while attempting to entice users into paid additions and upgrades (Eg, Adobe Reader).

Outside of their Enterprise level software, Microsoft doesn't really have separate product lines for professional users and consumers, just different option levels of what is basically the same product.  I'd guess they may split Windows and Office into substantially different standard and premium lines, with the latter requiring a subscription.  They have already taken steps toward that by making Windows 8.1 free for devices with screens under 9" and including Office 2013 H&S for free with some Windows 8.1 non-professional editions, while requiring an Office 365 subscription for professional users.  In other words, I expect them to require subscriptions where folks really have to use the product, and make it free or cheap where it's an optional purchase.

So if you have an option to switch, that leaves you in the driver's seat, but if you depend on either of these companies software (or Apple's or Google's, for that matter) to stay in business, they will insert a siphon into your wallet.
6  Other Software / Found Deals and Discounts / Re: today's giveaway challenges Revo Uninstaller Pro on: April 09, 2014, 02:10:22 PM
Soft Organizer was previously known as Full Uninstall.

ChemTable makes an excellent registry editor called Reg Organizer ($39.95 for 2 computers) which includes much of the basic uninstall capability of Soft Organizer, without the program management features like update checking.
7  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Once again, magically expensive items are only different in your mind on: April 08, 2014, 04:15:45 PM
Slashdot reports a study which shows that even elite  musicians can't tell the difference between what-are-believed-to-be legendary hyper-expensive instruments and modern instruments:
That's nonsense. 

The only thing this study shows is that a certain sample of violinists liked some modern instruments better than some older ones.  It doesn't mean they can't tell the difference, or that new instruments are better or the same as old ones, or vice versa. Nor does it mean that every study along these lines would show the same thing.

Before jumping to conclusions, it should be noted that the person responsible for the experiment, and the publicity surrounding it, happens to be a violin maker who stands to profit from the notion that his instruments may be just as good as any made by Stradivarius or Guarneri del Gesu.
8  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: WinXP is officially dead! on: April 08, 2014, 03:11:08 PM
Microsoft has basically adopted the ransomware model widely used by criminal hacking groups and increasingly popular with some allegedly legitimate cloud storage firms.

Microsoft will continue to provide support for governments and large institutions willing to pay huge sums to keep large numbers of XP systems safe for the next few years. 

So Microsoft will continue to write the necessary patches and provide them to those who can afford to pay their extortion, but it will not provide them to the rest of us, even though it would cost them next to nothing to make them available for download by everyone.

That doing so endangers everyone on the Internet matters not one whit to them.
9  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Best Investigative Journalism magazines or webistes? on: April 02, 2014, 08:29:37 AM
Here are some sites with a U.S. focus I'd recommend:

For general in depth investigative journalism, ProPublica. Note, in particular, their "Tools & Data" tab, which gives visitors access to the actual data collected in many of their investigations to play with and draw your own conclusions.

For public opinion, polls and statistical analysis, the Pew Research Center.

For investigative reporting on the media and journalism, the Columbia Journalism Review.

For unbiased information about U.S. health care issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation site.
10  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: Microsoft: All your data are belong to us. on: March 28, 2014, 09:34:42 PM
News just in...

Microsoft: Let's be clear, WE won't read your email – but the cops will

Today Microsoft's general counsel Brad Smith has announced Microsoft has changed its policy again. From now on, Redmond staff won't probe the email inboxes of its customers, but will outsource the job to law enforcement.

So they won't read your email themselves, but they still reserve the right to rummage through any documents you have stored in their cloud.
11  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Microsoft: All your data are belong to us. on: March 27, 2014, 03:59:50 PM
Last week, it was revealed that Microsoft had examined the Hotmail/Outlook.com emails of a blogger, who was NOT a Microsoft employee, in order to find who had leaked confidential information to that person.

It seems this is legal because, under Microsoft’s terms of use, the company has the right to examine any user’s data for any reason they see fit.

This is very different from data mining user data to sell advertising, and it makes me wonder why anyone in their right mind would consider using Office 365 for any reason at all.

12  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: A three drive system - the sweet spot on: March 23, 2014, 04:56:18 PM
What are drive image backups doing staying on the PC itself?
In my case, for backup purposes, I only image my system/software partition (which I keep small, as explained earlier) and keep copies of only the most recent images on an external drive, case of drive failure.

But I also keep locally a good number of images created at various intervals since a system was initially set up. This allows me to go back to an earlier state, or to mount an image as a drive to retrieve something that I might have overwritten or deleted.  Keeping images on the system itself makes this much faster than searching offline backups.
13  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: A three drive system - the sweet spot on: March 23, 2014, 04:24:28 PM
I used to use multiple drives on my working desktop system, but after moving to smaller form factors in the past five years or so, have used a single 2TB drive with 3 partitions.  C: is under 100GB, and has system, software and critical or frequently used data (work/accounting/correspondence, etc.).   The remainder of the drive is divided roughly equally between two data partitions, with D: used for multimedia, reference materials and VMs, and E: reserved for longer term storage, including software libraries and backup images.

On my working laptop, I have the same sized C: partition, roughly mirroring my desktop C: drive, and a single data partition, where the essential folder trees from the two data partitions on the desktop are mirrored.

Keeping the C: partitions small allows me to image them regularly, while most of what is on the data drives is backed up on external drives.

Earlier this year, I added 120GB SSDs to both desktop and laptop and moved C: to them while keeping the hard drives for the data partitions. This was possible on the laptop because it has an mSata slot, and on the desktop by wedging a 2.5" bracket into space under its single drive cage. 

The difference was more dramatic than I had expected and after a couple of months, I have become a believer in using an SSD for one's system drive.  If you spend a lot of time in front of a computer, it makes day-to-day work much more pleasant:  Programs load almost instantaneously and, perhaps surprisingly, browsing is also faster and smoother, which I attribute to the browser's caching to the SSD.
14  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: What the Heck is Happening to Windows? Article on Windows 8 Disaster on: March 19, 2014, 09:21:38 PM
The problem with the tiled interface is that it imposes an unnecessary cognitive burden that makes it harder to accomplish what you want to do.  Without delving too deeply into cognitive neuroscience. the human brain operates by recognizing patterns.  If the needed information can't be immediately determined, it switches from "fast" (subconscious) to "slow" (conscious) processing in order to figure things out.

In the case of the Windows "Modern" interface, the dominant pattern consists of the tiles themselves, which appear identical until one deciphers the ideogram on each one.  This slows the process by which the user recognizes the function of each tile, if only by milliseconds, but enough disrupt thinking and distract from the intended task.

I actually like the look of the Windows tiled interface which reminds me of the conceptual art of Sol Lewitt.  But Lewitt wanted to force the viewer to take time to figure out the patterns in his designs. That's not what you want from a user interface.

And there are other usability problems.  The ideograms are too stylized to be immediately recognizable -- a problem that some people have also found with the "flat" look adopted by the latest version of iOS.  A more important criticism is that there is no consistent way to navigate the interface, let alone between "Modern" apps and Windows programs.

So even if you personally find the tiled interface to be aesthetically pleasing and it meets your personal needs, it generally provides a less productive environment than alternative mobile or PC operating systems, which is why it has met such determined resistance.
15  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: What the Heck is Happening to Windows? Article on Windows 8 Disaster on: March 19, 2014, 05:21:32 PM
I can't help but think Windows-RT will eventually go the way of Windows CE (now CE was one cool and fast little OS!) and Surface the way of Zune.

Don't forget the Windows Tablet PC.  That's where I got bitten.

RT is dead because it does not provide any of the advantages of Windows and the interface is simply not as usable as either Android or iOS on either phones or tablets.  With all due respect to johnk for his personal experience, "Tile World" as David Pogue refers to it is a usability disaster.

See this post for a description of my my recent experience with a Windows 8.1 tablet.  It's not quite there yet, but clearly, the future of Windows (not RT), is probably going to be running on tablets.  The ability to use a single device on the go and also as a desktop PC, just by docking it with a keyboard/mouse/monitor, is a huge advantage over Android and iOS devices.  The biggest stumbling block may well be the nearly unusable tiled interface.

What on earth were the executives at Microsoft thinking when they signed off on that ridiculous design?

That said, x86 Windows tablets are not going to replace ARM based devices running Android or iOS for consumer mobile devices because they do not use power as efficiently. The fact that run times for both kinds of devices are similar is deceptive, because most of that depends on the display, not the processor.  It's when the display is off that you really see the difference. The battery in a Windows PC will run down quickly if you don't actually shut the system down, whereas ARM devices can last a very long time on battery power in sleep mode while still keeping essential processes going.

16  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: Raymond.cc compares 20 Drive Imaging Tools on: March 18, 2014, 10:49:23 AM
+1w/mouser on reliability. If you don't have confidence in them in that regard, everything else becomes moot.
That's why I don't find this kind of superficial comparison very useful.  Saving a couple of minutes up front doesn't do you much good if you can't restore something when you need it.

I have used imaging as my main backup strategy going back to MS-DOS days, starting with the original Ghost (before it was acquired by Norton).  I also image and restore frequently, particularly when installing software, and keep selected images going back several years in case I need to retrieve stuff that has been deleted or lost.  I always verify images immediately after creating them.

I used Acronis for many years but gave up on it some 5 years ago because of reliability problems, and I know from postings on various forums (including DC) that others had similar experiences.  Problems I personally encountered were corruption in images made from a running Windows system (as opposed to cold booting from an external device) and problems mounting images as drives under Windows.  Acronis may have gotten their act together since then, but I'm not interested in spending my time testing it.

I now rely exclusively on Paragon, which I had previously been using for disk management, for backup imaging.  In literally hundreds of restores, I have never had a failure with their products.  

Note that Paragon has a wide variety of program versions at different price ranges (including free) with different combinations of features, but the underlying technology is the same.  I personally use Hard Disk Manager Pro because it gives me everything I might need in a single package, including P2V and V2P. 
17  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Windows 8.1 and the future of PCs on: March 15, 2014, 10:47:45 PM
A couple of weeks ago, Best Buy had a quickie online sale of the 32 GB Lenovo Miix 2 8 tablet for $199.99.  That was cheap enough for me buy one just to see for myself how Windows 8.1 works on a tablet, particularly since it came with a full copy of MS Office 2013 H&S.

The quick answer is that the Windows 8.1 Modern interface is no better on a tablet touchscreen than on a desktop PC, meaning that it is close to unusable, but what really surprised me was how well the tablet runs the full Windows desktop environment.

The Miix 2 8 has a quad-core x64 Atom processor, 2 GB of RAM and runs 32-bit Windows 8.1, so I am not going to be loading Adobe Lightroom on it or doing MCMC simulations. But it runs Word, Excel and Internet Explorer just fine, as well as the other 32-bit Windows programs I have tried so far.

While It has less than 8GB of storage left after Windows, one can add a 32GB micro-SD card, so that isn’t a problem for me.  Bluetooth keyboard and mouse work beautifully with it.  The only thing keeping it from being used as a full blown desktop system is that it has no video out, and its 8” display is too small for serious work.

It does however, have a micro-USB port that supports OTG, and Plugable has a USB dock that can be used to provides video from a Dell Venue 8 Pro, which is almost identical to the Miix 2 8. Unlike the Dell, Lenovo does not require a shorted data line to initiate charging through the USB port, so it is possible to use a Y-OTG cable to charge and connect a USB device at the same time. I have a Plugable dock on order and by next week should be able to test how well my Miix 2 8 can function as a full desktop computer.

The Miix 2 8 is roughly the same size as the Nexus 7 and weighs just 12 oz.  In the next couple of months, Lenovo should be introducing the ThinkPad Tablet 2, which is similar in size and weighs just a couple of ounces more, but with a 1920x1080 display instead of 1280x800, USB 3.0 support and HDMI out, meaning it can substitute for a low-end desktop PC out of the box, although it will cost considerably more.

This really changes a lot of things. I expect Android and iOS tablets to remain the devices of choice for things like reading, watching videos, browsing, games, etc., if only because the Windows tiled UI is just too clumsy, and the desktop environment too complicated, for that kind of activity.  But I can see Windows tablets replacing laptop and desktop PCs for many users in the not too distant future.
18  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Does anyone here use Bitcoins? on: March 12, 2014, 10:23:05 PM
The economist Nouriel Roubini tweeted the following analysis of Bitcoin this past weekend:

Apart from a base 4 criminal activities, Bitcoin is not a currency as it is not a unit of account or a means of payments or store of value
Bitcoin is not a unit of account as no price of goods and services is set in Bitcoin unit nor it ever will. So it isn't a currency
Bitcoin isn't means of payment as few transactions in Bitcoin. And given its volatility all who accept it convert it right back into $/€/¥
Bitcoin isn't a store of value as little wealth is in Bitcoin and no assets in it. Also given price volatility it is a lousy store of value
So Bitcoin isn't a currency. It is btw a Ponzi game and a conduit for criminal/illegal activities. And it isn't safe given hacking of it.

Pretty much my own feelings on the topic.
19  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: Directory Opus 11 Released! on: March 07, 2014, 06:30:21 PM
Another interesting point is the licensing. DO is the only one that limits the number of computers you can use the software on.

As a matter of principle, I decided some years ago that I would avoid software that places arbitrary restrictions on how I can use it on my own computer(s).  In some cases, I have purchased "family" licenses for some programs that I need on multiple systems, but unless there really is no other reasonable choice, I will always take software that offers per-user licensing over those that license per computer.

20  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: Beyond Compare v4 Open Beta on: March 01, 2014, 10:05:01 AM
Beyond Compare is an amazing tool.
Beyond that, I'd like to say that Scooter Software, has long been a model for what a good software developer should be, IMHO, providing exceptional value at a reasonable cost, excellent support and without any form of arbitrary restrictions on how the software is used.

As noted here, I've been using Beyond Compare every day for over 16 years now, and can't imagine doing without it.
21  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Software longevity on: March 01, 2014, 09:46:57 AM
The arrival of Beyond Compare 4 made me look back to see how long I have been using that software.  It would seem to be at least 16 years, since I found an email from Tim Thousand from February 1998 concerning a suggestion I had made for adding some features to BC 1.

That, in turn, made me wonder just how many programs that I still rely on have I been using on a regular basis for that long.  It's a pretty short list.

I've used Kedit and Opttech Sort since the 1980s, and while neither has been updated for years, they both remain essential in my work and are still maintained and sold by their developers.

I've relied on Quicken and Turbotax for financial matters since at least 1990, and probably started using them earlier than that.

I converted to Microsoft Word and Excel in 1994 and have stayed with them ever since.

My earliest licenses for the Opera browser (it didn't become free until several years later) and Treesize Pro date from 1999, and I may have used them before that.  I still use both on a daily basis.  I purchased Adobe Acrobat in 1999, and I guess that might count since, while I haven't used Acrobat in years, I do still use Adobe Reader.

I may have missed something, but looking at the dozens of programs I use regularly, no others have been around that long.

22  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Dropbox and privacy (or lack of) on: March 01, 2014, 08:39:46 AM
I think you are mis-interpreting this.

If something is uploaded to any Dropbox account and made available to others for download, it is perfectly reasonable for the poster to be able to know who has downloaded the file. 

I don't see anything nefarious about that or any kind of invasion of privacy.
23  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Jazz Recommendation Thread on: February 24, 2014, 07:49:44 PM
That's from a 1963 live TV show in Baden, Germany. 

The whole 22 minute concert broadcast is also on YouTube and well worth listening to.

24  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / ASUS routers hacked on: February 18, 2014, 02:33:35 PM
Hot on the heels of the Linksys router malware revelation, comes news that ASUS routers have been hacked, making the content of any attached drives available across the Internet, among other things. 

Supposedly, this has been known for a number of months, but ASUS has just admitted to the breach and has posted new firmware for the affected models.

25  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Constant C adjustment to Moore's law on: February 16, 2014, 10:51:15 AM
This is so true!
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