My recent trip to Edmonton was the heaviest use my iBook has seen as an actual laptop. Although it performed admirably enough, after getting back home and putting it back in its usual spot I noticed something was slightly off. One of the little rubber feet went missing somewhere along the way and now it rocks slightly when typing and slides a bit when opening the latch.
Although there are apparently replacement kits available, they’re awfully overpriced for silly little pieces of rubber. Ah well, at least it’s properly broken-in now…
The iBook also finally has an AirPort Extreme card now, and more memory. Lacking wireless on the trip wasn’t too big a deal since there was plenty of wired connectivity where needed, but it’s still nice to have the option. The memory upgrade (from 256 to 640 megs total now) is a far bigger improvement. Previously, running multiple apps (and there’s generally always at least Firefox in the background) would introduce long delays as it swapped its brains out, but everything is much more responsive now.
Apparently my recent trip to visit friends and family didn’t do my waistline any favours… :-P
A while back I ripped a bunch of the games I own to ISO images so that I could play them without having to swap actual physical CDs around, but there were a couple (Beyond Divinity, Thief 3) that didn’t want to work that way. It turns out that the copy protection on some newer games specifically checks for the presence of certain CD emulation drivers and, if it finds them, refuses to let you run the game.
The purpose of this copy protection is of course to make life difficult for pirates, but the great irony is that it actually has the opposite effect. This form of copy protection has absolutely no effect on the pirates because they circulate hacked versions or patches that remove the copy protection entirely. Who then, actually runs into these conflicts between the protection and other programs? Someone who still has the copy protection on the disc: the person who bought it legitimately.
So, copy protection doesn’t stop the pirates. It frustrates the legitimate users who actually dare to use their systems in unconventional ways (and many who simply have hardware conflicts with the unusual tricks copy protection schemes use). And the game developers, being technically-minded people, certainly know that this is the case. Why does it even continue to exist, then?
It’s actually rather simple: it’s a management issue.
Imagine that you’re a middle manager at a game publishing house. You know that piracy is eating away at your sales, and by jove, somebody ought to Do Something About It. Along come other companies who have developed their own advanced copy protection techniques and they say hey, we *can* Do Something About It, you just have to buy our XYZProtect scheme. Now, the next time one of the development houses you control finishes a game, you can tell them that they have to put this XYZProtect scheme on the disc and now you can sit back and feel accomplished, having Done Something About It.
After all, who’s going to oppose you? The development house? Though they know the futility of it, they’re not going to oppose you since they’re counting on you to promote and distribute the game. Your bosses? Solving problems like this is the only reason they even let you have this job. The game players? They’re certainly mad enough, but you’re not even in direct contact with them. Even if you were talking to them, they’d come across as lunatics. They could argue until they’re blue in the face about technical problems and uselessness and inconvenience and all that, but to your ears all it sounds like is that they want you to Not Even Try To Do Something About It. Sheer madness! Your entire job is to Do Something About Stuff, after all.
Unfortunately, that entrenchment means that we’re just going to have to live with it for the forseeable future…
I’m tempted to pick one up when it comes out. It may be an older console now, but all of the infamous hardware problems have probably been worked out and there’s a large enough library to keep anyone busy for quite a while…
And once again, fate has conspired to take away my servers while I was away on vacation… This time it was a power outage, as evidenced by the blinking clock in my bedroom.
All of my systems are set up to automatically boot into the appropriate OS, start the right services, etc., but there’s still one problem: when the power goes off, it stays off. Even if it’s only a five-second outage, the systems simply don’t come back on after the power is restored, and there doesn’t seem to be any way to control it. (One of my systems at work actually has the opposite problem: it can’t be powered off. A ‘shut down’ simply makes it reboot, so you have to use the main switch on the back.)
I’m tempted to finally get a UPS. Not to keep them on during an outage — they’re not exactly mission-critical servers — but just so that they *stay on* after it…
While I was waiting for the LRT home tonight, for some reason a couple of city police officers were going around and checking fares, instead of the usual bylaw enforcement guys. First time I’ve seen them doing it.
That was bad news for one other person waiting; he didn’t have a fare, and when they ran a check to verify his identity, they discovered two warrants out on him for theft. Instead of hauling him away immediately though, they waited for the next southbound train and escorted him to the next station. I guess their partner with the car was too lazy to come pick them up…
Moral of the story: Always pay your train fare.
Today, while organizing bills and accounts and all that fun stuff, I remembered that my Visa card has some sort of points program. Curious as to just how far it had progressed, I checked my last statement against the rewards listing on the bank’s site, and…
I could redeem them for a clock radio! WOOHOO!
My iBook is being weird again. Well, some combination of the iBook and the rest of the network, anyway.
If I fetch a file from the Internet, I can get 300+ KB/s down to the Linux server. I can get 300+ KB/s down to the iBook. But if I transfer a file between the iBook and the Linux server, on the same switch, I get 4 KB/s.
It *used* to work just fine, so I’m not quite sure where the problem lies. While the transfer is in progress, the ‘frame error’ count on the network interface on the Linux side increases, which generally indicates a hardware problem, but swapping around cables and ports doesn’t change anything. A second Linux box can talk to the first one just fine at full speed but is also slow with the iBook, which would seem to put the blame on the iBook side of things, but the iBook is fine when talking to the Internet at large. It happens under both OS X and Gentoo on the iBook, so it’s not something in the OS. It affects Samba shares too, so it’s not FTP-specific either. Duplex settings are consistent.
I’m running out of ideas here… About the only other thing I’ve changed recently is the firmware on the router (a Linksys BEFW11S4), but this is supposed to be a stable version and the trouble didn’t start back then.
I’ve been trying to rip just the audio stream from each chapter of a DVD I have, but none of the tools I’ve tried so far (transcode, mplayer) seem to work, and just produce noise instead. The disc uses 48khz 24-bit PCM audio, but it keeps getting detected as 16-bit, and the programs don’t even seem to support 24-bit audio at all.
Maybe if I can at least get the raw PCM stream I can manually massage it into a usable form, but it looks like other useful conversion tools like ‘sox’ don’t support 24-bit audio either. Maybe I should just write a trivial app to just knock every third byte off…
Update: Worked around it by playing it in the DVD Player on the iBook and capturing the audio with WireTap (found via Matt). I’m still lacking an automated batch method, but this is good enough for the one chapter I really wanted for now.