computers

Video Arcade: Build Log

The video arcade is complete! To be fair, it was complete when I posted the introduction article on the 28th… Anyway.

There it stands, in all its glory.

Read on for the whole build story.

Ooh… that was clever.

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Sunday, December 5th, 2010 arcade, computers, electronics, projects No Comments

Video Arcade: Intro

The youth entertainment business has always been a matter of evolution. They get bored easily, and what was fun last week is obsolete the next. But what about for the older crowd? Their attention spans are higher, and some of these obsolete, youth-targetted trends become timeless classics and passtimes; hobbies and business.

You’ve seen me post before about pinball machines, the collection, the reparation, of these machines that long ago lived in arcades, abused and unmaintained. When technology began to evolve, and interest declined, there was a successor that pushed the bounds of existing entertainment, that captivated the youth, helped children reach bankruptcy hundreds of times before the age of 16. This phenomenon, ladies and gentlemen, was the video arcade.

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Sunday, November 28th, 2010 arcade, computers, electronics, projects No Comments

Domain name!

Well, I finally did it: this website has moved from BIGBLUE to a dedicated host, and along with that, it has its own domain name! http://blog.danjoannis.com. Feels good to say it. I have signed up for 6 months, so we’ll see how it goes. If I like it, I’ll keep it here (the site is so much more responsive now).

Any comments or problems with the site? Let me know!

Edit: The link was updated to reflect the final, official address.

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Tuesday, November 23rd, 2010 computers, life No Comments

Upgrades to BIGBLUE (server)

Sorry to anyone who’s been trying to access the server the last 24 hours, I’ve had to take it down a couple times. I’ve just installed two new 1TB hard drives (RAID 1), and split the previous 750GB RAID 1 into two separate drives, giving me a total usable capacity of… 2.5TB! Seems like lots of storage now… but in a year I am quite certain it will be almost full, yet again.

I ordered the 750GB (x2) drives last November, and in a year I managed to almost fill them.

Of course, here is a lovely photo of the server, filled to the brim with hard drives! Beautiful, and awful at the same time.

6 drives, and not enough plastic rails to slide them securely in place (the bottom drive is just sitting there upside down). I’m out of SATA ports, but there’s still connections for IDE RAID!

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Thursday, November 4th, 2010 computers No Comments

Moved, new song!!!

The move is now complete. The server is back up and running, and hopefully there won’t be any issues for the next long while, thought if I move the server around in the room it may go down for a couple minutes. Good news: the internet here is faster than the last neighbourhood! Upload is around 540kbps, vs. the 280kbps I got at the last place. Upload is now 4.5mbps, vs. 1.8mbps. Nice!

I recently began a new song, and it has evolved into something of intricate instrumental interaction that is enjoyable to listen to. It is long, however I have always been a fan of long songs with many faces. My music, being instrumental, does not follow a pattern such as radio-bound music. A pattern of intro/verse/chorus/verse/chorus/bridge/chorus simply becomes too boring in an instrumental. Therefore, the music I write often does not have such defined sections, and instead takes advantage of multiple alterations of notes and instruments in order to keep it interesting and enjoyable.

Head on down to the music section to hear the new song!

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Wednesday, February 24th, 2010 computers, music No Comments

Note: Server Downtime

Just a note: the server will be down, likely beginning sometime Saturday afternoon, though possibly either sooner, or later, than that. Once down, it will not be back until AT LEAST Tuesday, Feb 22. Reason: I’m moving, and as such, so is the server. The Internet connection will need to be transferred to the new house, and though we’ve notified them already in advance, well, I will never be one to vouch for quick response time from any of the involved companies…

Thanks in advanced for the patience, and hopefully the connection will be faster at the new place!

Update: it is.

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Wednesday, February 17th, 2010 computers No Comments

Nostalgia: Windows 98

Last weekend I tried to install Windows 98 on the oldest laptop of mine. It didn’t work, it gave an error, “Insufficient system memory”. Funny, I had 2GB of RAM…

Windows 98 Setup

Drivers

Computer Type

After all, it is a laptop. Why doesn’t Windows XP ask these questions? Maybe it just knows.

Web TV for Windows

I wonder if it’s any better than Justin TV?

Dial-up Server

Dial-up server!!!

Country Selection

Time Remaining

23 minutes remaining, no, I mean, 14 minutes, no, I mean, 3 hours 27 minutes!

NOSTALGIA

I miss this… Sort of, not really. It’s so much nicer to have it all shut down on its own.

I’ve got a video of it trying, and failing, to boot, however, bad quality, and not all that important.

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Saturday, January 9th, 2010 computers, software 3 Comments

Server upgrades, exams

Hello all! This evening I upgraded the server a little bit. Last Saturday I ordered two 750GB drives, on sale for $69.97 at TigerDirect.ca, and tonight I set them up in mirrored RAID. Now there are five hard drives in the server: amazing. (By the way, for those who don’t know why the hell I’d do this, the server is my back up device, so I can access my files from anywhere, and in case drive failure occurs on my already RAIDed desktop. As well, I store all my media on the server to share within the whole house.)

I’m only waiting for the power supply to die, but Thermaltake power supplies are incredible: they don’t die. This one is rated for 420 watts, and the one in my desktop is rated for 430 watts, and for my desktop, I’ve got three hard drives, two optical drives, and a 9800GT graphics card. Anyway, enough product placement, here are the innards of the server:

Side view of server with 5 hard drives

Awesome. So now there are: two 750GBs, a 200GB, a 320GB, and finally, a 20GB Quantum Fireball, which has Windows installed on it, along with all software. Amazing. This drive has got to be about 9 or 10 years old, but I don’t see it dying any time soon, and its running 24/7. They don’t make ’em like they used to. Here is a last beauty shot:

Front of Big Blue

Now, as for exams. They begin for me next week, on Thursday. Wednesday is a day off, a “study day”. My last exam is December 17th, after which I get exactly a month off, from the 18th of December to the 18th of January. 🙂

In terms of class projects, I have only had one since the last posts: the AM/FM radio. I’ve finished mine, and I plan on providing a detailed overview of it quite soon. I should cover the phone as well. Perhaps over the break I shall! Here again is a shot of the radio. Expect an update soon!

Back of half-ass(embl)ed AM/FM radio

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Friday, December 4th, 2009 computers, electronics, projects, school No Comments

Rockband Drums with Reason

The other day, I figured I should try to hook up my playstation 2 Rockband drums to my computer, to use with Reason, so that when I record my drum tracks, I can use something that actually looks similar to a drum set, instead of a keyboard. The keyboard is good for certain off-beat timed riffs, but the real drums are better for rhythm, and are more satisfying to play.

I spent plenty of time on the internet, and tried out one other method before finding this one that works the best so far. The first one I tried was something like this: Using Joy2Key, I converted the Drum Kit’s button presses to keyboard keys. Then, because Reason doesn’t support using a computer keyboard to play notes, I used another program, Live Midi Keyboard which then interpreted computer keyboard presses as not presses on an onscreen piano. Then, using MidiYokeNT, I created a virtual MIDI interface, allowing Live MIDI Keyboard to output to a virtual MIDI cable, and I set Reason to accept input from this virtual input. This worked, but with two major flaws:

  1. Major latency issues (too many conversion steps, keyboard repeat delay problems).
  2. Cannot hit two notes at the same time. Probably has to do with keyboard limitations.

Now, I have a solution that actually works, and though there still is a bit of lag, it is much better than the last setup. Unfortunately, real time playing is very difficult, requiring you to play the note before it is supposed to be heard. But, when I record music, just lowering the BPM does the trick.

The post that showed me this setup is here. It uses two pieces of software, one, MIDI Yoke NT, and another, called Rejoice. Rejoice converts the joystick signals to midi, allowing assignable notes, volumes, delays, and velocities (however, I don’t believe the program is velocity sensitive, as the controller doesn’t seem to be either).

I have it hooked up, and it makes recording music so much more fun and intuitive. Playing the music on an instrument that resembles the real thing makes coming up with a new riff a lot easier, and it requires pushing yourself to actually make it sound good. Does anyone else have a better setup, with no latency, for Windows? I found one for Mac OS X with no latency, but, that’s Mac, not PC.

Comments about Windows 7

I received a comment below from someone who installed Rejoice on his Windows 7 machine. I wrote this article while using Windows XP, but when I switched to 7 I noticed the same issue he is having – missing ocx files. You can fix this by locating the missing files, and copying them into your Program Files\Rejoice folder. I am hosting a zip with all the files here.

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Saturday, November 14th, 2009 computers, music, projects, software 4 Comments