jonathanspence.com

MP3Gain

Friday, September 9th, 2005 at 4:04 pm

I just finished running my 6000+ mp3s through MP3Gain and am very happy with the results. It is a nifty program that adjusts the volume of all the mp3s to be about the same. This allows you to have a playlist that includes stuff from the 70s and the 00s without constantly having to change the volume so playback isn’t too loud or too soft. MP3Gain itself is a compromise between normalizing the mp3 before compression, which irrevocably changes the file, and programs like ReplayGain and Apple’s SoundCheck that store a volume level in the file comments. The problem with the first method is you can’t get back the original volume without re-encoding, and the problem with the second is that your playback programs have to support it. ITunes/iPod doesn’t support ReplayGain, and I don’t trust iTunes enough to let it change my files, so until now I have just been manually adjusting the volume a lot. MP3Gain changes the volume level in the file, but not any of the actual audio data. It also writes an ape tag with the original levels so you can change it back at any time unless you strip off the tag. I am finding a lot of cool songs/albums in my collection I didn’t really pay much attention to before because they were too soft to grab my attention. I am still going to keep an un-modified backup for a few weeks in case I run across any problems, but I don’t expect any.

The 40 Year Old Virgin

Saturday, August 20th, 2005 at 12:47 pm

I saw The 40 Year Old Virgin last night, and it was one of the funniest movies I have ever seen. I do have to caution that if you don’t like crude movies in the style of Anchorman, then you should probably pass. I have been a fan of Judd Apatow and the people in his circle since I first watched Freaks and Geeks, which is probably the most realistic depiction of high school ever put on TV.  His sense of humor seems to be exactly lined up with the kind of comedy I find funny. Most of the "classic" comedies like Blazing Saddles don’t really get anything more than a chuckle from me every once in a  while, but Judd’s shows and movies have me rolling every other scene.

Steve Carell is continuously hilarious throughout the whole movie. He was funnier at times in Anchorman as the retarded straight man, but that’s only because he was slamming home the jokes everyone else was setting up. His character is an surprisingly realistic example of the post college single geek. He isn’t one of those scary guys that live in their parents house and don’t bathe very often, but he does have a collection of hobbies that most people would find a little weird. One of the tings that makes the movie work so well, is that like Apatow’s TV work, it is very close to real life. Everything is slightly exaggerated, but you could see most of the stuff in the movie happening if you had particularly funny and eventful friends. Unlike Apatow’s previous movie, Anchorman, this one has a well thought out and paced plot that keeps the movie moving along in between jokes. While Anchorman was more like a series of SNL skits that dealt with news people, this is a romantic comedy that is ridiculously funny.

The other characters in the movie are also well acted and funny, with the standout being Seth Rogan who is also credited as a co-producer. He started to stand out in Undeclared where he wrote a few episodes, and he is just getting funnier as a kind of more likable Vince Vaughn.

The funny in this movie just keeps coming. I don’t want to ruin any jokes, but I will say that they are masterfully placed, even in scenes with serious exposition. There are also a few in jokes for fans of Apatow’s previous work.

If you don’t think you will be offended, and think Judd Apatow or Steve Carell is funny, then you should definitely go see this movie.

Database Change

Wednesday, August 17th, 2005 at 4:28 pm

I moved the site to a different database server, so hopefully the speed issues will be fixed now. I am really liking WordPress, the plugins make it easy to do a  lot of different stuff that would be difficult to hack in manually.

Microsoft is Nuts

Wednesday, August 17th, 2005 at 4:21 pm

Microsoft announced the pricing for the X-Box 360 today and it is… disappointing. Basically there is a "core" system that has no hard drive, and a premium one with a lot of extra stuff you need anyway. I think MS needs to read up on their console history and go find some ex-sega people to ask about how well add on hardware works (it doesn’t). I am totally at a loss to understand why they wouldn’t put any hard drive at all in the core system. I could see them putting a small one in the core, and a bigger one in the premium, but none at all just hobbles the system. Either developers will never use it at all, which is most likely given past history, or there will be a lot of games that won’t play on the core system. I don’t even want to imagine the confusion that will cause when something like Halo 3 requires a $100 add on to little bobby’s console.

I can’t believe that MS just dropped the one feature that made them stand out. Even live will be next to useless without a hard drive to download extra content and patches to. I think Nintendo’s chances to make a market share comeback just went up quite a bit. At this point they don’t even have to do anything innovative. They just need to release a buffed up GC with wireless controllers, online play, and have it come in around $250 or less.

Cryptonomicon

Tuesday, August 16th, 2005 at 11:58 am

I just finished reading Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson and it was pretty good. The pacing was very slow, and the book felt like it could have used a few more rounds with the editor tightening up the plot, but I enjoyed it overall. It was nice to read a book that was so accurate and realistic with computer  technology. I don’t think I would recommend it to someone who isn’t a computer geek and hasn’t had a few advanced math classes, since there is a lot of terminology that would be incomprehensible.

There seems to be a lot of trouble with the database server that is hosting this site. If it doesn’t clear up pretty soon, I am going to move it to a server I know is stable.

Visual Studio Wins…

Tuesday, August 9th, 2005 at 11:55 am

…the award for longest install in the history of the world. I have been installing VS 2005 Beta 2 for the last two hours or so, and it still has some time to go. Installing XP goes faster than this. Of course, there is a lot to install, but I have games that put more on the drive that take a lot less time to do their thing.

I watched the first episode of Weeds on Showtime the other day, and it looks like it could be a pretty good show. It kind of has the feel of Nip/Tuck with less "I can’t believe that just happened" and more Desperate Housewives. The general idea is that there is a recent widow housewife in a nice neighborhood that sells pot to make ends meet. It doesn’t hurt that Mary Louise Parker is the hottest woman over 40 that has ever existed. It will be interesting to see where it goes.

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