Quintessential Music Player

5 years ago today, the last version of Quintessential Music Player was released. It was, in my opinion, the best available audio player on Windows at the time.

That was unfortunately the last gasp of a lineage going back to 1997, when in an earlier incarnation as Quintessential CD it was the best audio CD player software available. QMP together with the early P2P protocols such as Naspter and AudioGalaxy expanded my musical horizons to a breadth that would have been unimaginable without this technology.

I stuck with it till probably 2011 or so, when I picked up a Squeezebox Touch (what is it with me and music tech?). It was also around that time I assembled a new desktop PC running Windows 7 64 bit which QMP didn’t play very well with, and so ends a short but significant phase of my life.

Finally Replacing µTorrent

I was one of the early adopters of µTorrent, having started used the first public beta 1.1 all the way back in 2005. When Bittorrent acquired it in 2006 I was concerned but decided to stick with it as it was still the best Bittorrent client available.

I even tolerated the ads added in the August 2012 build of µTorrent which I needed to update to thanks to the write cache bug uncovered by Pleasuredome users (of which I am one). However, recent bullshit has prompted me to look elsewhere post-haste.

After evaluating my options (namely Halite which I’ve looked at before, Deluge, Tixati, qBittorrent, and Transmission), I decided to set myself a few criteria:

  1. must be open source
  2. updated regularly

1. eliminated Tixati unfortunately, which I like the look of. 2. did away with Halite, which I really wanted to succeed, but it seems a bit of a dormant project.

I was down to 3: Deluge, qBittorrent and Transmission. I tried all three, but they didn’t really suit my workflow. And then, the client-daemon architecture of Transmission to the rescue. I found Transmission Remote GUI, which I found suits me just fine (i.e. it works like old µTorrent!) and now I have my new BT client.

Transmission BT

So, I guess this is goodbye µT. It has been great, thanks.

RIP Squeezebox

One of my favourite gadgets is the Squeezebox Touch. And then Logitech went and killed the brand.

At least there is no shortage of alternatives should my Touch give up the ghost. We have:

  • The main competitor Sonos (pricey)
  • The crowdfunded upstart Olive ONE (DAT INDUSTRIAL DESIGN, pretty pricey too, lots of ex-Squeezebox users involved)
  • The lesser known cocktailAudio X10 (nice but pricey, again, and going by reviews the sound quality is lacking)

And perhaps others too.

There is one that stands out, the VortexBox replacement for the Squeezebox (under USD70!).

Hell, at these prices I might build 3 and give 2 away.

looks decent too, and tiny
looks decent too, and tiny

MAME Starter Guide 2012

Years ago I did a simple MAME starter guide which 1) wasn’t all that useful 2) is now terribly outdated. Thus, this update, now with pictures! This only covers getting MAME running on Windows. Please leave any feedback or request for clarifications in the comments.

Step 1: Download MAME

Grab the latest stable release from the official MAME site. At the time of writing, it is MAME 0.147.

Click on the big shiny button.

You’ll want one of the Official Windows Binary Packages. You have a few choices:


Most of the time you’ll want the 64 bit binaries if you are running a 64 bit version of Windows. If unsure, grab the i686 binaries. The i686 label should apply to any CPU released after the Pentium II. One should never require the debug binaries.

These are all self-extracting archives, so place the file you’ve downloaded into a directory where you want MAME to go the double click on it. After it’s done extracting, you can delete the file you’ve just downloaded.

Next, you’ll need some ROMs. Note that there are a few ROMs which have been released for free, non-commercial use. These are available on the MAME website. Look for the ROMs link in the navigation bar.

Pick any one to test. It should go into the roms folder.

Move the Zip file you’ve downloaded into it. There’s no need to extract the Zip file. Now execute mame64.exe. You should see the game you’ve downloaded listed. Just highlight the game and press enter, and the game should start.

You can also launch the game from the command line: <MAME executable> <ROM name>

So to start Teeter Torture from my example, I type in the command line: mame64 teetert

For more ROMs, from my older post:

To obtain more, Pleasuredome is the best way if you can work BitTorrent. The total size of the ROMs stand at almost 16 30 gigs currently, and so might take a while. The MAME ROM torrents are ratio-free, but please do not abuse the ratio. Some games require CHDs which are compressed hard drive images, but these are generally not worth it as most PCs are too slow to emulate these games properly (modern PCs can easily handle these games).

Or if you prefer, you can request for one of the Laz­arus guys to burn you a copy. Read the instruc­tions carefully, and note that I have never used their services.

Note, of course, that it is illegal to download and use ROMs in most cases, so it’s all at your own risk. Note also that MAME updates ROM definitions as better dumps become available, so some older copies of ROMs may not work.

PCSX2 1.0 released!

After more than a decade of development, the best PlayStation 2 emulator PCSX2 is finally at the level where the team deems it stable and fast enough to release version 1.0.

Congratulations to all involved!

Check out the screenshots and videos, especially ÅŒkami in full HD.

Okami Full HD gameplay on PCSX2

Beautiful. I’ve never been much of a console gamer, but classic PS2 games in full HD on my PC? Tempting.

Worst Phone Ever

Tonino Lamborghini is launching a series of luxury phones in Russia this coming August “which includes two gold-plated feature phones, a tablet, and an Android smartphone”. Pictured here is the Android smartphone. Ugly even as a gauche status symbol. Add to that anemic specs and very, very outdated Android 2.3 (Gingerbread). Never mind it costs almost USD3,000.

Makes the Nokia ORO an exercise in taste and restraint.

Source: Mail, via The Verge

State of the MAME

mame logo

MAME, for the uninitiated, is the Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator, a project to preserve the inner workings of arcade machines of the past. A curious side-effect is that the games are (mostly) playable.

I’ve been a fan since the late 90s and have almost continuously kept my ROM collection up to date, recently with the help of Pleasuredome, but I’ve not actually been playing any games in a long while, neither have I been keeping up with new developments.

Recently though, I find myself tired of HD gaming (I’ll get back to you Skyrim, when the DLC is here) and found myself wanting to get some MAMEing done, so I went to grab my old go-to MAME variant MAME32 (been using the official builds in conjunction with clrmamepro) and… turns out it has been renamed MAMEUI, and that it has been EOLed.

It still works, but with the explosion of the number of games by MAME supported the ancient controls it uses just cannot cut it anymore. UI refresh is annoyingly slow.

Despite working with and liking the command line for most other things, I just don’t like using MAME from the command line. So, the search for a front end goes on.

IV/Play is a minimalist front end commissioned by John Hardy IV (long associated with MAME32/MAMEUI) and it is not quite what I’m looking for. A tad too minimalist, maybe.

Next I found QMC2, successor to the venerable QMamecat. QT4, so it’s cross-platform. It also supports MAME, MESS and UME*. Plus, it looks like the old MAME32 which I’m immediately comfortable with. Great.

I also found Emu Loader which looks fantastic, plus it supports multiple emulators (Demul, Daphne, ZiNc etc, apart from MAME). Together with its sister app EmuCon which handles console emulators, you’ll just need two front ends to rule them all.

I’m leaning a little towards QMC2 at the moment, since I really only dabble with other emulators, but both should be great choices.

* UME is an effort by David Haywood (maintainer of MAME from 2003 to 2005) to combine the code bases of MAME and MESS, without stripping any functionality out.