The Ruffled Crow

Animation, Art, and Other Shiny Things

Tag Archives: computers

The Progress Bar – Guy Collins

I have installed software and OS’s more times than I care to count, both personally and professionally over the last thirty-some years. The ubiquitous progress bar has been much maligned, in my opinion, much like blaming your car’s speedometer when your engine runs badly.

h/t Videobash

Solar by Ian Wharton

Basic astromechanics and what to do when the moon breaks down.

Multi award-winning short animated film. An unconventional tale of the sun, moon and two characters who inhabit a world that relies on day and night perhaps more than it would seem.

Computer Music

As readers of this blog know  I’ve eschewed cable tv in favor of online content. One of my main suppliers is and last week I came across a documentary called Reformat the Planet about the popularity and culture of “Chiptunes“. It’s a thoroughly entertaining look into the music and worth the watch.

Remember those songs and sound effects your Nintendo made? Use those sounds, and even the console itself, and make music. That pretty much kicked off the genre in the late 70’s.

While it won’t land on my regular playlist (often), it is well done stuff and is a pretty deep genre. For a quick listen:

Being an old computer geek most of my computer music has been the sound of the hardware. Who hasn’t drummed a beat along with the impact printer? Early scanners and floppy drives had great rhythm too. Someone got creative old school in this next video:

There is yet to be a version of Windows released that I truly liked (w2k wasn’t too bad, I guess…) but if nothing else, the sound files can be useful:

You don’t think I’d pass up even the flimsiest of excuses to drop a Daft Punk video in, do you?

Planet MJ and the changing MMORPG

I’ve played the online game Everquest for the last decade. EQ is what’s known as a MMORPG; Massive Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game. Basically it’s a persistent world (it doesn’t reset when you log off) that supports thousands of players at a time.

Well, SEE Virtual Worlds is exceedingly thrilled to announce Planet Michael is set to spin up the end of 2011! A world where Michael Jackson is not only the King of Pop, but “the ruler of his own world of avatars”.

Now I wouldn’t be surprised if MJ did actually upload his consciousness into a computer prior to his untimely demise – I mean who hasn’t wanted to do that and as hard drives are now counting in Terabytes, with a large enough array there might actually be the space. (providing the ego part isn’t too terribly voluminous)

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My Digital Evolution – Killing the Cable – Part 4

[Part 1 – the idea][part 2 – the software][part 3 – the hardware][part 5 – epilogue]

Part 4 – The Build

As builds go it was amazingly easy. I might even say it went swimmingly. Everything slammed in easy (except for the slight confusion when I used the wrong hard drive screws and tore a rubber grommet. fortunately the case came with an extra), powered right up and installed without a hitch. It was kinda creepy, really…

Inescapable Monty Python referenceI’ve built literally thousands of machines; both my own and for a local computer store, and the one thing I’ve never done was take pictures of it. I’d resolved to pictorially document this epic assembly, but when in the throes…. Well… Here is a picture of a Larch:

As noted in my last post (part 3), as HTPCs go it’s pretty standard hardware so if you need a pictorial walk-through on assembly you can find literally hundreds of posts, and even videos, that will help you hobble through the process. Read more of this post

My Digital Evolution – Killing the Cable – Part 3

[part 1 – the why] [part 2 – the software][part 4 – the build][part 5 – epilogue]

Part 3: The Hardware

After spending the last couple weeks working with the various software I’ll be using on my HTPC (Home Theater PC) I’ve come to the conclusion that there probably isn’t one overarching, integrated package that’ll do everything I want. That said, the WAF (Wife Acceptability Factor) should still be high if I set it up right. More on that when I get everything onto the 10-foot interface.

Perhaps even more important than the software will be the hardware. I could have the most sophisticated and beautious interface that catalogued everything and could even anticipate my next program choice (how did it know I wanted to watch Beach Babe Sumo Wrestling?), but if it stutters, buffers, and has poor quality video and audio then what’s the point?

Fortunately hardware capable of doing high end video is pretty much the norm these days and, as hardware has a tendancy to become, it’s cheap.

As noted in an earlier part to this series, I could go super cheap and get a netbook or the like, but I’ve decided to build my own. Having been a computer builder professionally and built all my systems for 20 years one would think that this was a no-brainer, however I really would’ve preferred to let someone else do the work as I’ve been out of the biz for a few years (an eon in computer time) and it is really kind of a pain in the butt.

Using 6 months of cable tv as a cost benchmark, around $750, let’s look at what we can cobble together.

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My Digital Evolution – Killing the Cable – Part 2

[part 1 – the idea][part 3 – the hardware][part 4 – the build][part 5 – epilogue]

Part 2 – The Software

I’ve been evaluating the various software available to run my intended Home Theater PC (HTPC) for the last couple weeks on my current computer. It’s a gaming level machine so the video handling isn’t an issue, the main thing I wanted to know, however, was the useability of the various software packages and if they did what I wanted them to. My main criteria were:

  1. Is the learning curve shallow enough to pick up a remote and find what you want?
  2. Do they have the shows and movies me and my family want to watch?
  3. Are they updated regularly and often?
  4. Will it play my local DVD backups and (rather large) music collections?
  5. Is there online support and a forum community?
  6. Can I update it remotely?
  7. Will little things become annoying over time?
  8. Will it play 1080p in 5.1 sound?

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My Digital Evolution – Killing the Cable – Part 1

[This is the first of a series on my move from cable tv to online content]

Part 1 – The Idea

I’ve had cable television longer than I’ve had cable internet, though not by a huge margin. There were a few years thrown in there that I had to choose between the two and went with the intertubes. I was playing alot of an online game, bringing home videos from the library, and watching what I could find on the internet. About exhausted PBS’s site during that time.

Well, it’s getting time to do that again, not because I have to make a choice again, but because I’m tired of paying for alot of stuff I don’t use. It’s not like I’m averse to the concept of getting what you pay for, I own a Cadillac for gawd’s sake, and I certainly am getting a decent enough deal from my local cable tv provider; hundreds of channels on twenty-four hours a day, premium movie channels, on-demand content, dvr. That’s alotta stuff.

Like a lot of folks, though, I come home, flop on the couch or in my computer chair (with a good view of the tv), and proceed to browse to find something even vaguely interesting to watch or let babble in the background while life goes on around it. There’s perhaps a handful of tv shows we like to tune into over the week, other shows that we’ll watch if we browse across them, and the occasional movie if it’s particularly good (or suitably bad, as our tastes go) or we’re just in the mood.

Lots of dvr’ed stuff goes unwatched. The on-demand content is marginal and smallish. I bet I only watch a dozen channels – tops.

I pay about 130 bucks for the privilege.

That’s going to change…

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The Art of Precision

The Precision of Equus - Barbara Rush

The Precision of Equus - Barbara Rush

My job these days is getting new media and books into the library system and ready for circulation. Despite the repetitive aspect of physically stickering and RFIDing the individual item (A title often comes in 6 to 200 item batches)  doing the final proof-read of the catalogue entry is an interestingly complex task.

Book and media cataloguing starts with the Library of Congress and follows the AACR2 rules published in 1978. This set of criteria defines the information used to catalogue an item in a standard way across all libraries. This is a wonderful thing because you can go to any library and the same book will be described in about the same manner. This is particularly important when looking for a specific edition or format of a title.

Consider Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy. Published in the early 14th century it consists of 3 books, really; Inferno, Purgatorio, and Paradiso. Most folk are familiar only with the Inferno portion as it deals with his tour of Hades with Virgil and any exploration of hell promises all sorts of creepy settings and naked tortured souls. Standard Hollywood copy, but it stills sells. The great thing about Inferno, however, is that it’s really old and not merely written in poetic form, but it’s Italian poetry! So basically you can read a horror story and feel all literary while doing so. Unless, of course, you get a translation that ties your cerebellum in knots. (not that that’s hardly difficult to do, but I digress…) Read more of this post

Embedding Experiment #4

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