Monthly Archives: April 2003

Synapse

I discovered Synapse today thanks to a reference over at Slashdot. It looks like a pretty sweet mp3 player and much more interesting than WinAmp 3 (all those windows annoy me) because of its built in Brain and unique interface.

The Brain is the central intelligence of Synapse. When you use Synapse, it learns. When you play songs, it learns. It learns what you like and it knows exactly how likely — to the hundredth of a percent — you are to play those songs. It learns your style from you. There is no master database anywhere telling it to play two rock songs one after other. It knows to do that because you did it. And if you never played two rocks songs together, it wouldn’t either, which alone beats any other product available today.

Beautiful Day

It was a beautiful weekend in Spokane and it seems to have spilled over into Monday as well. Mary and I both have the day off so we’ve been taking it pretty easy. I’ve been fiddling around with computers (big surprise) and Mary has been doing some reading for work. Gitte’s been enjoying lots of play time in the backyard. I think we’re going to try to go to Anger Management later this afternoon.

Safari Public Beta 2

The new Safari: if this is still beta, then I’m a giraffe.

This new Safari is so innovative that, despite being “just a web browser”, it has the chance to make a real impact on the user experience, more so than the last three Safari betas combined. I woke up this morning being a hater of tabbed browsing. This evening, I can admit that I’ll never again enjoy web surfing without tabbed browsing.

I started using Safari Beta 2 on Monday and probably wouldn’t have any reason to go back to Camino if I could get new windows from other applications to open in a tab. Update: there is a radio button under general preferences that allows this. I’ve been a huge fan of tabbed browsing since it debuted in Mozilla. In fact these days I simply won’t use a browser for any length of time if it doesn’t support tabs. So that definitely means I keep my Internet Explorer use to a minimum.

And that goes for my new XP box as well. Phoenix was one of the first things I downloaded and installed after setting up the machine.

Ugh, Tax Day

Mary and I had the misfortune of discovering that this year’s tax bill was much larger than anticipated. Even worse we initially compounded the mistake by not supplying Mary’s student loan information to our accountant and inadvertantly increased the amount owed by almost $400. I ended up using Turbo Tax for the Web for the first time to help figure out the impact of her loans and it proved very helpful. It’s cheaper than using an accountant too so like Brad we may go that route next year.

Pinnacle or Precipice

I ordered Pinnacle Studio 8 for my new computer last week because “Outpost.com”:http://outpost.com advertised a $50 rebate offer that brought it’s price down to $20. I had wanted to get some iMovie equivalent software since my PC is probably at least 4-5 times faster than my trusty Powerbook and I’m fairly interested in digital video. The computer magazine reviews were promising, but I found some disturbing user reviews that indicated there were quite a few bugs in the software. I weighed my options and decided to place the order because the price was right and Studio 8 offered svcd* creation support.

Mini Rant: I really think Apple is missing the boat by not providing built in svcd creation (or vcd creation for the matter) capabilities in iMovie. You can store up to 40 minutes of near dvd quality in svcd format (480×480 mpeg2), cdr media is cheaper and faster to create and reproduce, and a lot of dvd players can play them.

I didn’t install Studio 8 for a few days because I was busy playing GTA III, but when I finally got around to it I ran into a problem where the installer seemed to hang after reaching 100%. It turns out that problem was caused by a pesky background application that doesn’t serve any obvious purpose. Force quitting End tasking it from within the Task Manager fixed this problem. Once I figured that out I was able to register the application and launch without any problems. I briefly fiddled around with the application, determined that it did seem fairly similar to iMovie, and put it away to play some more GTA III.

Fast forward a couple days to yesterday. Studio 8 indicated that there was a newer version of the application available (8.521 I think). I dutifully downloaded it and ran the update application. I then got out my Panasonic MiniDV camcorder, hooked it up to the firewire port on the back of the computer and tried to launch Studio 8. Windows XP indicated that it had recognized my camcorder, but just past the splash screen Studio 8 threw up a couple vague error messages and quit. Nonplussed I decided to disconnect the camera and try again. It didn’t make any difference. Studio 8 displayed the same errors and then quit.

The next two hours were a blur of failed uninstalls, failed reinstall attempts, soul searching and registry examination. Ultimately I succeeded in getting the application loaded again (but not updated- I was simply too tired to brave that once I got it launching again), but it required finding a couple obscure registry manipulating files and a lot of frustration to get there. Exactly the kind of thing that your typical user is not going to be able to deal with.

Tonight I will find out if I can actually import any video. Stay tuned for Pinnacle or Precipice II.