Getting up at 7am is stupid.
Getting up at 7am is stupid.
Cheap booze and C++
We drank cheap sparkling wine the other day. When I say cheap, I mean 0.87 euro for a bottle. That's 1.34 CAD at the current rate.
I am also hacking on a modern C++ implementation of property lists. I am also getting rather hooked by some aspects of Boost. The binder is astonishingly clever and asio looks very promising. I'm also told their boost::function does not use a virtual method (unlike my attempt, WvCallback), which I'll have to look into.
No, there is no relation between the drinking and the hacking. :-P
Ok, so I in my last post, I was saying that software patents aren't too evil, that DRM still is quite evil (here a related link to Tim Bray, who's talking about the famous Linn company putting out DRM-free, higher-than-CD-quality music, props to them!), and so that I am switching to MP3.
I had been doing some research, so I figured I'd share some of my resources, while I'm there.
I found a ton of great information on the HydrogenAudio knowledge base, about which encoders are best, the pros and cons of various lossless formats (those harder to find CDs I also ripped to FLAC, for archival), and such things. For example, whether there was any issues with FLAC (apparently, the biggest thing is that you can't put RIFF chunks in them, but I don't think that should be an issue), or whether Ogg FLAC was it now (not really, only for streaming and other special cases, and you can convert from one to another very quickly). Seems like LAME is pretty much the state of the art for MP3 encoding, and that even the latest version of ID3 tags still kind of suck compared to Ogg Vorbis comments (thankfully, my ripping software, Max, keeps a full superset of all the meta-data in its own files).
Speaking of which, I have to recommend Max, it's a great piece of free software, very flexible and with a number of useful abilities, such as encoding to multiple formats in parallel from a single rip (I did some comparison testing between FLAC, MP3 and Ogg Vorbis on some difficult tracks, to test my encoder settings).
I also encountered one of the more practical annoyances with MP3 already, where (with XMMS, at least) seeking isn't accurate. If you hear a specific bit at the 2 minute mark, restart the song and seek back to the "same place", I often found that the time display is off and that when I reach the same bit, the player says I'm 10 seconds or so past the place I was the previous time. Oh well, I don't seek too often, thankfully, but it certainly made that side-by-side testing I was doing rather annoying.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder and patents
Okay, so I'm not writing a music player (yet). One could say my "faith" has weakened, where I am taking the opportunity of a re-ripping of my music library to switch from Ogg Vorbis to MP3. Yeah, yeah, I know, I'm a terrible human being, my soul will burn and everything.
A quick reminder on why MP3 is evil and how Ogg Vorbis will save your eternal soul: Thomson holds some patents on key technologies involved in the MP3 format, those technologies being in the form of mathematical concepts. Some people find the patenting of such intangible things to be stifling innovation, that many these concepts are inherent in nature, and that as such, anyone should be free to use them (some comparing this to patenting something like the Pythagorean theorem, as an algorithm to find the length of the hypothenuse of a right triangle).
After some soul searching, I feel that while this is true to some degree, it is not the most evil aspect of software patents. My issues with software patents are two-fold.
First, the way the process of obtaining those patents seems rather sketchy at best, quite regularly granting completely frivolous patents. Upon application, those often get overturned, but still, this costs money, and if I were to be sued over one, I would most likely be in deep financial trouble, no matter how frivolous the patent. In the case of MP3, I do not feel this is one of those, the thing being filled with psychoaccoustics, modified cosine transforms, polyphase quadrature filter, alias reduction formulas, and other such things guaranteed to give me a headache. These guys are no fly-by-night lawyers trying to make a quick buck, from what I can see.
Second, the duration of patents, for a low cost/revenue ratio industry (like software, as opposed to cars, which are expensive to manufacture) anyway, is quite excessive, in these days of rapid technological advances. Maybe that, yes, Pythagoras should have been granted a patent for his theorem, but the question is how soon should it have expired? Again, in the case of MP3, the oldest reference to those technologies I could find (didn't check very thoroughly!) was around 1986, which isn't shockingly old, but in terms of technology, is starting to get a little dated. I'd say that a 15-20 years expiration on that kind of patent wouldn't be too ridiculous either way, and I'm sure smart inventors would manage to make quite a bit of money in even less time.
So, in short, I'm not technically against software patents, but more against the way they are implemented right now. I suppose I also dislike the way some patent holders keep quiet about their portfolio, until everyone is using the technology, at which point they helpfully point out that every bloody living organism owes them money. Those make me angry.
In any case, for most users, patents are a bit immaterial, it's mostly for developers (especially of free software). It inflates the cost of their iPod by a few dollars, but they can't really tell the difference between that and the rest of the cost.
What's material to people right now, though is DRM, the so-called "digital rights management". Ensuring your rights are properly limited and constrained, that the rights of the poor media corporations aren't being trampled on by nasty people that want to listen or watch the content they lawfully paid for (pesky, those people!).
It's too bad this isn't being done with the arguably superior Ogg Vorbis, but compared to many of the other choices, MP3 is the choice with more freedom, compared to the PlaysForSure and FairPlays of the world. Pirates aren't being stopped, honest people get screwed and I forgot my point.
Quote of the (last work-)day
From one of my co-workers, on internal IRC, after I once more exhibited my sketchy grasp of the French grammar:
curl --mirror http://www.leconjugueur.com/ | ssh pphaneuf 'cat >/dev/brain'
That was unexpected...
Well, no only did it snow yesterday afternoon (which didn't stay on the ground for long), but seems like it snowed again during the night, and there's a (very thin!) layer of snow over Toulouse this morning. It was cloudy earlier, but now the sun is trying to make an appearance, which will probably put an end to this, but still, was nice to see this morning.
But I totally picked the wrong shoes, for the second day in a row. Damn, I miss my boots. I should try to obtain a pair this weekend, maybe I'll finally go for the synthetic micro-fiber stuff that everyone seems to be swearing on these days. Pfft, progress! And then what, computers that work?
OMG! OMG!It's snowing here.
Stupid music players...
So I updated my version of Max (an excellent CD ripping application for Mac OS X) and tackled my music collection, which has been in a bit of disarray for far too long. No wonder I've been listening to so much Einstürzende Neubauten, all their tracks were there at least twice (because of the umlaut in the band name, plus possibly more copies in the song names themselves).
After some ponderings, I decided that I'd switch to a folder per album, without an intermediate folder for the artist. I'm still not sure about that, but that's probably the easiest to mess with.
The new version of Max, among other things, added support for album cover art. I thought "hey, why not? iTunes 7's cover art browser is pretty swanky, I like swanky", which proved to be a rather frustrating train of thoughts, when all was said and done. Bloody iTunes. Bloody Ogg Vorbis. Bloody everything.
While Ogg Vorbis does support embedding cover art, Max didn't do it. Not that it would have helped with iTunes, this probably not being part of the standard QuickTime meta-data (not that iTunes was worth ass at using QuickTime meta-data properly). But iTunes has its own database to index meta-data, including a folder where it caches cover art. I figured that I could just manually set the cover art in iTunes, and that it'd go there (don't worry, I wouldn't have done that by hand for my whole collection, iTunes can be scripted very easily, thankfully).
But no. It see QuickTime content, thinks "hey, I don't support cover art for those!", and just ignores any cover art you set (even though it let you set it in the "edit meta-data" dialog!). Bastards.
But I'm not completely pissed at iTunes (yet), since it still seems to be working better than Rhythmbox (which I use at work)! I deleted my existing music from the library, meaning only to remove it from the Rhythmbox database. Surely, it would ask my opinion before doing something that cannot be undone, right? iTunes does, so, I'm good, right? Nope, everything gets thrown in the wastebin, which didn't seem to offer an obvious enough "restore" option (but I've been known to miss obvious buttons before, so maybe I'm just cranky). Yeah, sure, the files aren't lost, but they're all together in a gigantic mess. Great.
Okay, so after having given up on that anyway, I looked again in the music directory, to find that it had left some files behind? That's kind of shoddy, isn't it? There's two explanations, and neither put Rhythmbox in good light: either it "missed them" while deleting them, or, more likely, didn't import them in the library in the first place.
The latter being especially fun, as the process to import music in Rhythmbox is as follow: use the "import folder" option, look at the number of songs in the status bar, use the "import folder" again, look at the number of songs again, repeat until the number stabilizes. Wow. Just think if find (or your backup system!) was this unreliable. I'm not worrying too much, this is only my music player, but still, that's pretty craptastic.
Not to mention that the "automatically import music in a certain folder" option in the preferences doesn't seem to do anything? Or anything noticeable anyway...
On top of this, for all iTunes' pre-Mac OS X suckiness in the plugins department (you can only make visualization plugins for it, period), Rhythmbox somehow manages to do worse, by not having plugins at all, and being only barely scriptable (as opposed to iTunes, that can be 100% controlled via AppleScript). Thankfully, they have incorporated Audioscrobbler support, because I'd have would have had to stab myself (by which I mean use XMMS, which is just about equivalent).
Bloody hell, welcome to the motherfuckin' 21st century...
I was planning on going out clubbing yesterday night, so I took a nap. I got up more than 12 hours later. Okay... Maybe I'll try again tonight. :-P
Now, off to get a haircut.
Once in a while...
Yeah, a meme... I know, I know...
This one has extra appeal to me, since I like movies and it reminds me of one of my favourites in its format of "top five" lists, which is nicely self-referencing. First, my top five favourite movies:
New HTML Parser: The long-awaited libxml2 based HTML parser code is live. It needs further work but already handles most markup better than the original parser.
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