Year: 2007

Top 11 Albums – 2007

Ziltoid the Omniscient

  1. Devin Townsend – Ziltoid the Omniscient
  2. Robert Plant and Alison Krauss – Raising Sand
  3. N.I.N. – Year Zero
  4. Neil Young – Chrome Dreams II
  5. The Bad Plus – Prog
  6. Alex Skolnick Trio – Last Day In Paradise
  7. Steve Vai – Sound Theories
  8. Rush – Snakes & Arrows
  9. Porcupine Tree – Fear of a Blank Planet
  10. Explosions in the Sky – All of a Sudden I Miss Everyone
  11. Eddie Vedder – Into The Wild

In that order, I think.

Honourable Mentions
  • Metheny/Mehldau Quartet
  • Tomahawk – Anonymous
  • Dominici – O3 A Trilogy Part 2
  • Symphony X – Paradise Lost
  • Paradise Lost – In Requiem
  • Black Snake Moan OST
  • Radiohead – In Rainbows
  • Ministry – The Last Sucker
  • Kanno Yoko – Smooth in the Shell
  • Megadeth – United Abominations

Good, not great.

Disappointments of the Year
  • Dream Theater – Systematic Chaos
  • Foo Fighters – Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace
  • Type O Negative – Dead Again
  • Velvet Revolver – Libertad

These albums are not bad. They just fall short of my admittedly high expectations.

Dishonourable Mention
  • Smashing Pumpkins – Zeitgeist

Not even “so bad, its good”, just mediocre.

Replacements for Spoiled Software

Came across an article about how the newer versions of software may not be better than previous versions, most of it caused by increasing feature sets and thus bloat. I am pretty particular about what goes on my PC as I need all the CPU power and RAM I can get for my weighty development tools. Rather than sticking to the “last good version”, I try to look for alternatives based on the following criteria:

  • Free is good, open source is better.
  • Small footprint, but not at the expense of usability.

Instant Messaging Programs

Miranda IM is the best IM client on Windows. It is very light weight (the new version 0.7 features a new memory management model which makes it more memory efficient compared to the previous versions) and is very extensible, as it supports plugins. It does take some effort to set up so it works exactly the way you want it to, but I do not see that as a bad thing.

Media Players

I use two different applications for audio and video. QMP by Quinnware is my audio player of choice. It is currently in beta, but according to the creator Paul Quinn, it is very close to release now. The memory usage might be a little on the high side (compared to svelte players like foobar2000 and XMPlay)but in my opinion its usability trumps that.

I use Media Player Classic for video playback. It looks like the old Windows Media Player 6.4 but that’s the point. I do not need my video player to have some incredibly slick interface. Just make it simple and sensible, and then stay the hell out of the way when a video is playing. I usually install the Combined Community Codec Pack (still the best codec pack) which features MPC as one of the installation options.

Image and Video Software

No idea about video editing software unfortunately, not one of my interests. For image editing, Paint.NET is the tool for quick and simple jobs. I find it to be very light weight and very functional.

For image viewing and management, XnView seems the best I have tried. Very quick, and the interface is a clone of early ACDSee. Only minus is that it has no Unicode support, but I can live with that… usually.

I also have CDisplayEx installed. It is an open source clone of CDisplay which is sadly very outdated. These are really niche applications for viewing scanned comics, but are capable and very fast image viewers.

And Two More Previous Favorites

For PDF viewers, Foxit Reader is very, very fast. There’s a bit of feature creep in the latest version 2.2, but its still fast. No way am I going back to Adobe Reader without some major re-architecturing efforts on Adobe’s end.

As for email, I have used Mozilla Thunderbird for years now. It is not light weight by any stretch of the imagination but I cannot do without the extensions nowadays. Lightning needs to mature before I can consider recommending it for most of my clients though.

Stuff Missed Out

The PC World editors missed one application, the Nero suite. Versions 7 and 8 clock in at a ridiculously massive 170+ megs. I just want to burn some CDs and some DVDs… There are free alternatives: InfraRecorder (open source) and CDBurnerXP (free as in beer). Both of these are very easy to use and will be more than adequate for normal burning tasks.

Other Database Drivers not provided by Microsoft

Nice post by Joseph Guadagno about database drivers not provided by Microsoft. He missed a few though, so here they are:

PostgreSQL

PostgreSQL needs no introductions. Probably my favourite open source DBMS. Npgsql is de facto the ADO.NET provider. Performance and stability seems alright.

PostgreSQLDirect .NET is a commercial provider, and its supposed to out-perform Npgsql while providing more features. I have never used it so don’t take my word for it.

Firebird

Firebird was forked from the open source release of Borland’s InterBase. Most of you tech-oriented folk might know of it due to the name dispute with Mozilla Firefox (a.k.a. Firebird a.k.a.Phoenix) back in 2003. Its a pretty sweet product, easy to work with. I have not implemented very large projects with it, but the word is that it scales well, and has a small footprint both on disk (downloads are ~5 megs) and in memory. The only features I miss are temporary tables (coming in 2.1 which is in beta now) and materialised views.

In any case, the .NET data provider is available for download. as well as a DDEX provider.

SubSonic

Probably the MVP in my .NET development toolbox at the moment. SubSonic generates a full DAL based on an existing database, provides Rails-like scaffolds and provides other helpful controls and utilities. Supports SQL Server 2000 or 2005, MySQL, or Oracle (with SQLLite, SQLCE, and PostGres coming soon!).

ActiveRecord

An implementation of the ActiveRecord pattern by the Castle Project, built on top of NHibernate.

Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex CD-BOX

Yes, got mine in the mail. Thanks YesAsia! I highly recommend them. Free international shipping (conditions apply)!

The package design is exquisite, very classy. All transparent and white.

GitS:SAC front
A shot of the front
GitS:SAC back
Of the back
GitS:SAC opened
Opened up

The styrofoam block to hold the Tachikoma USB thumb drive is a little out of place though… am I supposed to toss it out and keep the drive elsewhere? Tsk…

GitS:SAC complaint
Only complaint

Making the booklet white on white is just… ass backwards. It looks very cool and everything, but come on! The print is actually more legible in the photo compared to Real Life due to the camera flash.

GitS: SAC Tachikoma drive
The Tachikoma thumb drive and instructions

Isn’t it just the cutest thing?

One thing I noticed is that the music was beautifully mastered. There is a remarkable clarity to even the densest passages; I could hear each instrument distinctly. The music by the incomparable Kanno Yoko is fantastic, of course.

There have been complaints that the new O.S.T. 4 “Smooth in the Shell” is only available in this set, forcing fans who have already bought the other albums separately to shell out for the whole set if they want that. Pretty bad form by the record company, but for the few fans of Kanno Yoko who don’t already own any of the previously released albums (like myself, luckily), this is a great set to own.

Ramoans

Duh Magnet
Ex-Ramone Wants to Sedate Digital Sales
More Reverse Reznor news, as I like to dub such these days.

loser-x
Hunh? Richie Ramone? The Ramone NOBODY GIVES A SHIT ABOUT?

Duh Magnet
THAT Ramone. [:)]

It’s hard, but like the comments say, crack isn’t getting any cheaper.

loser-x

Dressed all formal for the lawsuit…

Duh Magnet
WAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!

Fuck, look at him, looks completely like a down and out insurance agent.

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