Older blog entries for highgeek (starting at number 55)

9 May 2003 (updated 9 May 2003 at 10:44 UTC) »

MacOS X A/V Software

MPlayer is a great little media player that plays a lot of the codecs that aren't part of the default QuickTime player. It is a port from the Linux version. There is a fair amount of work done on Quicktime Components for new codecs such as DivX Video and Ogg Vorbis. It is nice to see some progress here. I wish I could find the time to help out. I have always enjoyed working with codecs and audio in general. On a related front, I am seeing more and more clues towards Akai supporting Ak.Sys on MacOS X sometime in the future. Akai is working on a Virtual Z8 Sampler for the AudioUnit and VSTi plug-in formats, which, naturally, needs similar functionality as Ak.Sys provides to the hardware samplers. So, it looks like the days of MacOS 9 are coming to an end.

Valid Music Metadata

Every time I talk to anyone about building an online music service, they always state that their service is better because they provide more accurate metadata. Real Networks tracked user habits with RealJukebox to gather metadata. MP3.com had a whole staff dedicated to entering album covers into a database. Now, Apple seems to have spend a lot of time on this as well. The biggest issue with P2P File Sharing networks is that you really have to know the name of the artist and song you want to be able to download it. Even when you get it to download, it might not even be what it was advertised as. There are a few companies and projects that specialize are attempting to resolve this problem. Companies such as AgentArts, All Music Guide and Bitzi provide different relationships and data to find new tunes of interest. RealNetworks buying Listen.com might have been a metadata play as well. Listen.com's directory was quite large before they launched Rhapsody. So there has to be a fair amount of demand. I really hope we can get MusicBrainz off the ground, since this would help everyone down the line. The labels apparently do not seem to have this information readily available and if they did, they most likely wouldn't be giving it out for free. If this information is available in some open form, then everyone would benefit and it would make it a lot easier to catalog our collections and share our experiences.

DRM: Everyone is doing it. Even consumers?

There will always be attempts to beat the system when you put such a large quantity of music online. That shows that people are interested in better quality and ease of use then they are finding through the P2P File Sharing clients. Or they are looking for content that isn't as readily available through them such as new releases. To get a good understanding of what the Apple Music Store provides, you might want to hop over to TidBits and read their comprehensive review. So far, on the surface, it looks pretty good. I haven't seen any reports of anyone looking under the hood, though. And I haven't had the time to look at how secure the process is myself. Security was of high priority for My.MP3.com. I can't imagine it being any different here. I don't recall many reports on spoofing MusicNet, Rhapsody or PressPlay either. I am not sure how much you can restrict consumers rights on content that they legally obtained. I have a hard time finding a proper balance. Michael, on the other hand, seems to have an opinion on the subject. You might be interested in this comparison between the Apple Music Store and Emusic as well.

20 Apr 2003 (updated 21 Apr 2003 at 00:01 UTC) »

What the !$#?& do you think you are doing?

As reported by Seattle PI, BillBoard and MTV, P2P networks are being flooded by short clips of Madonna saying "What the f*ck do you think you are doing?". These fans are being greeted with silence and this small personal message. I guess Madonna feels that these people aren't fans looking for a taste of Madonna's new album. She would rather disappoint them, by having them buy her album, only to discover that they just paid for ten filler tracks in addition the one or two they enjoy. Madonna doesn't want them to use P2P Networks to find out if the album is actually worth buying. They need to find an alternative method of discovering new music, online listening booths are much different then those at your local music store. What ever happened to being able to sample music in the comfort of your own home?

Meanwhile, the message is a great new sample that can be remixed into new tracks. Now since this willfully got put online by the artist, do we have to worry about copyrights in regards to this message?

Thanks to a few crackers, the fans could have gotten the MP3s from Madonna.com. It displayed links to MP3s of her new album entitled American Life.

15 Apr 2003 (updated 15 Apr 2003 at 08:22 UTC) »

Cog: The way it goes...after 606 tries.

My brother pointed me to a nifty Honda Ad [large mirror] which apparently took 606 takes to put together. It reminds me of when we would setup dominos around the house with all sorts of little bridges, see-saws and flippers. It was a game of patience and luck. It was always sad to think that someone could open the front door and cause the cold winter wind to come in and blow it all down. We were practicing for a chance to attend Domino Day. If you like the ad, you might also enjoy Der Lauf der Dinge (The Way Things Go) by Peter Fischli and David Weiss.

12 Apr 2003 (updated 12 Apr 2003 at 01:29 UTC) »

Cowboy Bebop: The Movie

This week we went to go see Cowboy Bebop at the Ken. I am always amazed how great of a series Cowboy Bebop is. The movie's plot was abruptly resolved, but it was entertaining none the less. It is also one of the few Anime's that has a sound track made up of a wide variety of genres of music.

NAMM 2003

Lots of great new tools coming out this year. You can tell that we are moving to a more of a component rack system, where the filters, oscillators, knobs and faders can be combined with a USB/IEEE 1394 interface to create a virtual patch bay with custom hardware. The most exciting pieces are the new Nord Modular G2 Engine and the Waldorf AFB16. Combine that some of the generic MIDI controller interfaces and you got a very flexible setup.

Apple to buy Universal Music

It is an interesting move, I am just hoping that Apple will use it to try to bring a consumer friendly online music service. There have been many that tried and failed, let's just hope that it doesn't take the rest of apple with it. Dan Gillmor has some valid concerns on the subject as well. Lots of discussion and speculation going around with some good points by these pholks, such as Jobs' deal with Disney is up and the thought that with DRM Apple might not be a platform the music industry will cater towards. I am actually pretty thrilled with Apple's stance on DRM.

VoiceXML 2.0 Grammars

Building an extensive front end interface with VoiceXML has been a great experience and is a giant leap forward from the old IVR systems. The main thing right now that bothers me is the trouble it takes to make the SRGS grammars handle both DTMF and voice input. Something as simple as "Please enter your phone number or press star for more options" seems to be pretty difficult to do. It seems that with most systems either want to use the <grammar mode="voice" /> where the query string will actually contain the words/numbers matched by the grammar. Or you would use <grammar mode="dtmf" /> and you would get everything entered but with the dtmf-* keywords (such as ?num=dtmf-1+dtmf-8+dtmf-0" , etc). With the voice mode it is very hard to match dtmf-star, where when I use the dmtf mode, I need to strip dtmf- from the keys entered. I haven't found a better way, which is really a bummer, since it seems to me that a lot of people would have expected this to work similarly to how the default types (such as 'digits') work.

8 Apr 2003 (updated 9 Apr 2003 at 00:26 UTC) »

Personal Site Update.

As I mentioned in my last entry, I have been looking into what would be the best way to provide content on my personal website, so that it would integrate with most journal/blog systems. It also required that it would work with XSLT, XML and general goodness. I thought there was no point updating my site unless I practiced what I preached. The site uses a lot of CSS2, which apparently isn't liked by IE, so I am not sure what I am going to do about that. Feel free to ping me if you got any ideas. I have taken some layout and artistic cues from the late 1920s movement of De Stijl. I have always enjoyed the works of Gerrit Rietveld, Piet Mondriaan and Theo van Doesburg so it seemed like a good fit.

Life after Yahoo!.

Thing have been extremely busy as of late. I have been working hard at the first alpha release for a young startup in San Diego that is providing a phone and web ordering service to small restaurants. Since this is designed from scratch we were able to use some new technologies such as VoiceXML 2.0, SRGS 1.0, XSLT 1.0 and SOAP 1.1. I will be taking another look at Matt Sergeant's ApacheCon SOAP Talk notes, to make sure we are still on track there. I'll try to get more detailed about what we are doing after we launch.

Luckly, I still found some time to wrap up some of the code I had laying around and published the perl wrapper around the MusicBrainz Client SDK. It still needs some I18N work, but I want to make sure it works with perl 5.8.0 and above, with potential backwards compatibility, rather then slapping on Unicode::String.

I also got around to installing ProTools 6.0.1 for MacOS X. Now the only thing that keeps MacOS 9 installed is Ak.Sys for my Akai sampler. The CoreAudio drivers do not seem to like it when there is more then one access, which can be really annoying on a multi-threaded platform. Regardless, I am happy to have it available next to a couple of shells and Camino. The OMS/FreeMIDI replacement CoreMIDI, is a work of art. Apple did the right thing by hiring the developer of OMS rather then licensing the defunct OMS from Gibson Guitar (who acquired Opcode Systems in 1998). It allows much better integration between programs using MIDI, to a point where I can use sfront and MIDI monitor next to ProTools. Not much time spend on RTSP/RTP lately, but SIP seems to come up more often then ever now these days.

Lack of Entries explained!

Since I have been doing web architecture for years now, I never seem to be satisfied with how things work. So, one of the things I am working on is a way for me to have a categorized journal that can interact with Advogato, LiveJournal, Blogs and some of my own thoughts thrown in for got measure.

You know what this means? This means I haven't updated this journal for almost 4 months and have been writing specs and ideas on how to accmplish the ultimate interactive way of keeping track of my interests and what is going on with me without having to keep getting stuck in a system where my journal software changes drasticly every 6 months.

If everything goes well, I will hopefully will have a way to interact with everyones blog, journals, RDF/RSS feeds and mailing lists and being able to contribute to the goodness that some of you call the Semantic Web.

I will try to keep you all posted on the progress.


Wow!, if you haven't ready noticed I have been pretty busy and keeping myself away from the journal. I currently spend most of my time cleaning up our home network, reviewing books, random coding projects and spending time at the office. Yahoo! has been great! Great people. Great technology. Great projects. It is close to home with the occasional trip to the bay area. What more would someone want from a job. It is good to be back home.

Online Music

Lots of interesting developments in the online music world, but we are mostly still in licensing and political nightmare land with events such as the CDBTPA Bill and KaZaA's battles with the world. I have been spending some more time looking at RTP and XML engines, but nothing concrete yet. I have been working on a perl XS module for MusicBrainz for a while now, I really should get around to putting an alpha copy on CPAN.

Apache HTTPd

To my surprise Apache HTTPd 2.0 seems to have been released to general audiences. This is very good news! I can't wait for the day FreeBSD's threading is solid enough for production use. Great work being done, I am going to have to find some time to help out. Right now I am just too busy with other things to find things to contribute, but I am sure I will come across things soon enough.

23 Jan 2002 (updated 23 Jan 2002 at 06:24 UTC) »


I have been very busy these last few weeks working on setting up moderation on the SDGoth site and getting into the way of doing things at the new job. So far it has been a mixture of silly boring stuff, mixed with understanding the current architecture and getting a grip on the wealth of information and software available at HQ. I feel pretty confident about things though and have a good idea on how to proceed from here. Everyone has been really great to work with from the start, which is always somewhat surprising.


Setting up Ezmlm to a complex setup as I have now, was kind of a pain. I mean, if you install it out of the box with the right flags it isn't hard. But once you start tweaking things. You can easily get caught up in the details and forget something minor that causes the whole thing to fail. I guess this is where the unix philosophy of small programs with specific functions that make the entire application breaks down. It breaks down when you get lost in the details and don't remember what went where.

Gibson's MaGIC

This is definately one of the most interesting things coming from the AES Show. Granted it has been in the works for a while, but it seems to be getting pretty good. Now, I haven't looked into it much, but although it uses RJ-45, I am not certain it will actually work along side a normal ethernet IP network. If it does that would be great, it would provide a dual purpose for the wire I am stringing around. Now if it could deal with 802.11 wireless as well, that would be even better. This isn't exactly MIDIoIP as provided by sfront, but communicating Sysex and MIDI control messages over TCP/IP would be pretty cool. I guess RJ-45 is nice, but TCP/IP would be even better. RTP and SIP might be able to help here. Hmm.. Ah, too many cool toys to play with and that is besides the creation of music.

How much of your disk space do they own?

I am starting to see this more and more, and I am wondering how far this will go. We all know that in browser cache we sometimes store things that we did not necessarily want. Such as banner ads, pop-ups, cookies and other tracking and control data from online services. But what happens when these things get thrown about your normal applications and download data?

We are starting to see a lot of bundling of applications and pre-caching of content. They can be bonus apps or shareware that you might be interested in or just something that will hide in your windows registry, so you won't be able to adjust your settings later, or provide you with a pretty blue of death. Or what if they are pre-caching content that they assume you would be interested in? such as the rest of an album, although you only asked for the 3rd track you like so much. How would you know what you could delete and what you can not? The invasion of disk space, by people assuming to know what you want.

Now it gets even more fun with DRM and lets say PressPlay content. When I no longer use the service, will I be able to remove all the unwanted propaganda and delete all the now useless songs? Maybe I am caching content for my neighbor, because they threw us in some P2P network, I wasn't aware of. So there goes a good 2 percent of my disk space, for what? I ask you. I am already having a lot of issues with software I install myself (including Operating Systems), let stand some rogue P2P network. I can see it now. Spammers are going to take over my disk space, because they made my machine an open SMTP relay when I installed the latest screensaver.


After doing some minor consulting and hanging out for a couple of months, reading things and catching up on what has been going on in the world. I just recently took on a new full-time job. I will be doing more Network and System Architecture work for an old school dot.com.

During the time off, I ended up reading a few books, playing games, watching lots of ANIMEs and doing a trip along the southern states across the United States. It was a total of about 5,400 miles on the road in a little bit more then 2 weeks. Other then that the significant other had other commitments that made her not able to join us on this trip. It was definitely worth it. While I have just about been everywhere in Europe, this was really the first time I made it to the east coast with some time to look around. It wasn't just for some conference where all you see is the insides of the hotel and (if you are lucky) a couple of bars around the corner.

Remote E-Mail

Now that I had a good trip where we wanted to do some remote logins to be able to check e-mail and such. Now that we have SSL based IMAP, POP3, S/MIME and PGP we are pretty good at securing e-mail body content and retrieval, but we still seem to be somewhat lacking in first delivery to the MTA.

On the windows client side there are a lot of MUA/MTAs that support the pop3 extensions [RFC2449], SASL [RFC2222] and SMTP Authentication [RFC2554]. On the UNIX side it tends to be a lot more slim. Since most clients tend to be just MUAs or only implement a short subset of the MTA. I wonder how some folks do MTA relaying of arbitrary mail messages? They must us static IPs in the ACLs, since that is about the only thing that I can see.

Are any of you aware of a MTA client that supports SMTP Auth? Right now, I am just using a local qmail installation where I can just call 'qmail-inject -h' to have it delivered, but it would be better if I could have a way to sent it from the main MTA (via SMTP Auth).

Conferences and Proposals

Looks like it is time to start thinking of proposals for some of the conferences coming up such as the IETF, BSDCon and OSCon. It looks like another ApacheCon is pretty far out of reach, but I assume we are all just waiting for Apache HTTPD 2.0 to be released. I also have had thoughts of submitting a talk for the "Emerging Technologies" conference put on by O'Reilly and Associates. Although, the deadline for that is in the next few days.

Happy New Year!, everyone!.


It has been a while, but I guess I have been busy enjoying my time off and doing all sorts of stuff, not necessarily computer related.

I had a few trips to Universal Studios, Legoland California and to South Baja California, Mexico for some surfing in freezing water. Overall a very good time to get away from things and ponder some more on the current happenings and goals in life. I find it good to do that every once in a while, just to keep on top of why you are doing what you are doing. It was good to hang out with old friends as well talking what all has happened in the last few years.

On the computer front I have been hacking on MusicBrainz and MacOS X.1 and reading random things that find my interest. Not much in detail really, just reading up on mailing lists and writting random scripts and programs to make life on MacOS X a little easier. I did some minor consulting work, but found I wasn't really what I looking to do right now. Although, I must say it was a fun bunch of people to work with.


With all this time, I have been reading a lot of things, listening to some new music and watching a lot of movies. Maybe I will post about that under my alter ego one of these days.

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