Stuff we've discussed on IRC.
Posted by ats at 2007-04-24 16:04
Back in December 2005, on the anniversary of the release of the Beatles' Rubber Soul, BBC Radio 2 got a load of folk musicians to record covers of the tracks.
The covers vary a bit, but mostly they're very good -- Johnny Dickinson's "The Word" and Cara Dillon/Sam Lakeman's "Wait" being the two standouts for me.
Ben and I went to see John Tams on Saturday. (You'll know who he is if you've seen any of the Sharpe TV adaptations.)
It turns out that there's now a CD of Rubber Folk from Gottdiscs, and he had it on sale with his other albums in the interval, so I bought a copy.
I've just sat down to listen to it, and I'm distinctly not impressed.
It sounds appallingly bad. I dug out my recording of the radio show to compare against -- which is a 128kbps MP3 -- and that sounds significantly better than the CD.
It didn't take a lot of investigation to find the cause. I fired up Meterbridge: the (virtual) needle's hammering the 0dBm stop throughout all but the quietest parts of the songs.
What we have here is an example of Louder Is Better. Also known as completely incompetent mastering.
Let's take a closer look.
Here's Track 13, Show of Hands' cover of "If I Needed Someone".
At the top, we have the original radio broadcast -- which will have been compressed upon transmission, but doesn't look too bad.
In the middle is how the track appears on Show of Hands' "Witness" album. Like the rest of the album it's pretty quiet; the band's audio engineering is generally excellent both live and on albums. No clipping here.
At the bottom is the version from the "Rubber Folk" CD. See all those squared-off edges? That's peak clipping.
No wonder it sounds lousy.
But there's worse.
This is Track 7, Ralph McTell's version of "Michelle".
At the top is the radio version again.
At the bottom is how it appears on the CD.
Nearly every peak in the song is clipped. Whenever there's a bass drum beat, there's strongly audible crunchy distortion.
This is unlistenable.
There really is no excuse here -- we know the original audio was fine, because it sounded all right when it was transmitted in the original show.
It's not a problem with the audio as provided by the BBC to Gottdiscs, because a competent mastering engineer would have spotted the terrible distortion throughout the CD and requested a better copy.
This is the mastering engineer being a complete idiot.
Helpfully, he's credited on the CD. Hello, Andrew Thompson!
WHAT THE HELL WERE YOU THINKING?
Would you like to buy some uranium coated wire? It will fix that.
Depends. Am I allowed to strangle certain record company employees with it?
Only if noone spots you
Posted by David at 2007-04-24 12:59
Why is it that everyone and his dog is releasing text editors for Mac?
OK, so everyone and his dog releases text editors for Linux ...
... but they don't slap £40 price tags on them.
How many £40 text editors can a platform support?
(OK, rant over)
I'm likely moving my main $ork development to a Mac in 6 days time, and I'm probably going to continue using JEdit or Emacs there.
Great products, and FOSS
Posted by ats at 2007-04-24 11:59
""Towards the end of my research I searched the web using the mineral's chemical formula - sodium lithium boron silicate hydroxide - and was amazed to discover that same scientific name, written on a case of rock containing kryptonite stolen by Lex Luther from a museum in the film Superman Returns."
"the coincidence of a lifetime"
To quote Doctor Who, "Humans, always looking for patterns in things that aren't there."
What are the odds that /some/ geologist would find /some/ material that had been referenced in /some/ movie?
It depends; I'm not sure what the chances of making up a rock name and having it be plausibly found in nature are. Although perhaps the writers of Superman Returns asked someone to make up a plausible name for them...
That doesn't stop it being entertaining when it does happen, anyway.
Posted by ats at 2007-04-24 11:39
(Also from Crypto-Gram this week...)
"We were able to extend Klein's attack and optimize it for usage against WEP. Using our version, it is possible to recover a 104 bit WEP key with probability 50% using just 40,000 captured packets. For 60,000 available data packets, the success probability is about 80% and for 85,000 data packets about 95%. Using active techniques like deauth and ARP re-injection, 40,000 packets can be captured in less than one minute under good condition."
Posted by ats at 2007-04-24 11:32
"At the Black Hat Conference in Amsterdam, security experts from India demonstrated a special boot loader that gets around Vista's code signing mechanisms."
Why the hell anyone would use an operating system that has DRM built in -- where you're paying a premium to make your computer less useful -- is beyond me, but, well, it's been cracked now.