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2008/10/31 Repeated Seagate 500GB Failures
π 2008-10-31 00:00 in Linux
So, I have some raid sets at home, and one of them is using Seagate Barracuda 7200RPM 500GB drives (ST3750641AS, now mostly replaced by ST3750630AS). Well, over 2 years I had nothing less than 7 drives out of 5 that failed and were replaced, and 2 of those failed drives were replacement remanufactured drives.
Seagate usually has good stuff, but those drives have been horrible, especially considering that I paid $300 per drive or $1500 for them.
I'm now waiting for yet another replacement for a drive that died 10 days ago and was replaced by another drive that was bad out of the box. This has already cost me around $150 in shipping fees so far, not counting the many hours to fix to raid array each time. Luckily I have yet to lose all my data, but it's pure luck at this point.

I guess I just have to bear this for a little bit longer (3 months?), and I'll be able to replace the array with 5 2TB drives...

2008/10/28 Digitizing Old Videos
π 2008-10-28 00:00 in Public
I've been sitting on 4 old VHS tapes I filmed in 1992-1993 when I was an exchange student in Missouri. It was about 14-15 hours of footage in PAL, which was a problem since I had nothing to read those tapes here.
I ended up asking coworkers if someone had a tri-standard VCR lying around, and sure enough someone did and nicely offered to lend it to me (those things used to cost $500, considering that they were triple head VCRs with built in digitizers and digital converters, something that is trivial to do today, but cost a lot of CPU and money back then).

As a result, I've been spending the last 10 days or so trying to re-read those old tapes and encode them to mpeg2 and then divx. It's been a painful process because the tapes are obviously not in pristine condition and each time the picture skipped, the encoder on my mpeg2 card in my mythtv got out of sync and the rest of the recording was crap. As a result, I've had to watch the recordings, stop when bad, rewind and digitize in a new file until I got to the end, and do this again until I was done with all the tapes (I ended up with around 35 chunks that I had to hand paste together).

If you are curious, the magic incantations are:

  • To capture an mpeg2 file
    v4l2-ctl --set-input 2	# composite
    v4l2-ctl -s 2		# switch card input to 625 line PAL-I (not 525 line NTSC-M)
    v4l2-ctl --set-ctrl=video_peak_bitrate=8000000
    v4l2-ctl --set-ctrl=video_bitrate=6000000
    
  • Look at each piece with mplayer, find out which sub-piece to cut, and cut it like so:
    mencoder -ss 0:10:20 -endpos 0:0:13 -oac copy -ovc copy -of mpeg yfu6.mpeg -o YFU6.mpeg
    
  • When all the pieces are ready, paste them all together like so
    mencoder -oac copy -ovc copy -of mpeg YFU?.mpeg -o YFU-all.mpeg
    
  • And if the output is good, you can then encode it (I use a script that effectively runs this):
    # $1 => infile, $2 => outfile
    br=800
    vf='-vf scale=540:405,crop=512:384'
    
        pass="$2".pass
        for i in 1 2
        do
            echo "DOING PASS $i"
            echo "-------------"
            # Trellis searched quantization
            nice -19 mencoder -passlogfile "$pass" $demux -oac mp3lame -lameopts mode=3:abr:br=128 $time $aspect $vf -ovc lavc -lavcopts vcodec=mpeg4:vhq:trell=yes:v4mv=yes:vbitrate=$br:vpass=$i -ffourcc DX50 -o "$2" "$1" || die "multipass failed on pass $i"
        done
        /bin/rm $pass &>/dev/null
    
  • or if mencoder mpeg merge doesn't work (sometimes, merging mpegs failed for me):
    avimerge -o big.avi -i my_file1.avi my_file2.avi my_file3.avi
    
2008/10/19 Joyeux Noel
π 2008-10-19 00:00 in Public
I just forgot to give a heads up for a good french movie: Joyeux Noël, it's about how the French, the Germans and the Scottish who were supposed to fight during the first world war eventually said what the fuck, and celebrated christmas together, helped one another out, and eventually refused to fight against one another.
It's a really good movie documenting a known event, well worth watching.
2008/10/04 LoveFest 2008 Spundae AfterParty
π 2008-10-04 00:00 in Clubbing
While last year, I had been fairly disappointed with the weaker lineup and the fact that the organizers couldn't be bother to indicate the time at which each DJ was going to play, nor could you tell who was playing at any given time.
Well this year they addressed both problems, with a great lineup, and announcing beforehand who was going to play (although their website was overengineered with the silly butterfly replacing the mouse cursor). While I missed the first few hours, they had 7 hours of non stop trance, and good trance at that.

Quite frankly, Spundae did a good job organizing the event: I got in in less than 5mn with a prepaid ticket, which is what I expect (in comparison, Monster Massive took over an hour with VIP tickets no less, and walking several miles from your paid parking spot to the mandatory ticket pickup place with a long line to the pretty far VIP entrance with another long line).
Of course, another reason for the lack of stupidly long lines was that they didn't have to search you with more gusto that an DHS FAA employee would at an airport. Spundae did the minimal search they had to do, and let people in quickly. Thankfully the crowd is intelligent enough not to require anything else (compared to LA where they have to worry aobut knifes and guns). Just for that reason, LoveFest in SF wins tenfold over Monster Massive in LA.
And the end result was that the place was packed: the dance floor was pretty full and so were the rows of benches all around the floor. It was definitely a well run event which was successful as a result.

If I had to knit pick, I'd mention that they could have spent a little more effort on the decors (not a single hanging sculpture that could be lit up with lasers and spotlights), and the VJ seemed to think that it was a good thing to leave those top DJs mostly in the dark. WTF, seriously? You could barely see the poor guys and they had a night vision camera to film them and broadcast them on a screen. That was a bit silly, just light them up a bit more, it's not that hard...

But seriously: Spunday SF Lovefest: 1, Go Ventures LA Monster Massive: 0 (they have a decent lineup, but I'm not going to bother this year. If I hear they fixed the strip searches, I might consider it again, let me know by sending me Email).

Anyway, going to the event: This year, we skipped the afternoon march across SF and used the time to rest so as to be bright and awake for the whole party
We got there just before ATB took the decks around 23:00. It had been almost 4 years since I last and first saw him, and he did a great job. He even managed to pull yet another 9PM 'till I come remix I had never heard (and I have a lot of them).







Next, by 00:30, Paavo and Tony from Above and Beyond were back for a very nice set.





And last, but not least, by 02:00 Armin took the crowd and played it until 04:00. It was the 3rd of a great set to finish up the evening.











>

All the DJs played a great set which was quite enjoyable, it was definitely a Trance evening not to miss, which also saves me from having to deal with the monster massive crap.

And here are a few videos from the evening

  • ATB - 9PM 'till I come
  • Armin - It ain't over 'till it's over
  • Armin - I can't sleep
  • Armin - Nice Video of old tapes
  • See more images for LoveFest 2008 Spundae AfterParty
    2008/10/03 Squirrels
    π 2008-10-03 00:00 in Public
    It's not spring, but squirrels still seem to be getting busy :)
    (seen in a google parking lot)

    I wonder what color the babies will be :)


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