RockBox

A few days ago, I got fed up with the firmware of my MP3 player (Sansa e250) acting all quirky and refusing to mount under Linux 90% of the time. I searched the Web for an alternative solution, stumbled on RockBox and promptly installed it. There are plenty of RockBox reviews around the web so it would be pointless to give my own or get into writing a tutorial, but I must say that if you even feel slightly dissatisfied of your MP3 player firmware or just want more, then you ought to give RockBox a try. Its obscenely easy to install and uninstall and using it for the first time felt like a breath of fresh air and even got me that strange empowering feeling I always get whenever I install Linux on a computer that did not know any better. It’s too bad there its not more publicized, people should be aware that alternatives exist even for their MP3 player firmware. RockBox comes with all options you could ever think of and supports a huge amount of formats. As an example, the speaker in my right ear bud is damaged and does not play as strong as the other side. I could just have thrown away the headset but for reasons I hope are becoming obvious to everyone nowadays, I had to find a way to save it and figured out RockBox would allow me to balance the sound in both ears; it did. It did also provide me with a complete five-band equalizer, faster boot time, better sound quality, better battery life, faster UI, Doom (the game) and a plethora of other options on top of being capable of everything the default firmware on the Sansa e250 is. Well, all of those features do come with a few downsides and I will admit that the main one would be that which arises from RockBox’s customizability: your MP3 player just got a lot more complicated. In my case, it’s a trade off I am willing to make , but for those that have a hard time finding their way around the Ipod interface, stay clear of RockBox. Did I mention its open-source software? Give it a try, if you do not like it, uninstall it.

Positivism

Positivism is an euphemism for denial. Whenever something sucks and someone advise you to adopt a more positive oultook, they are actually saying that you should find ways to not think too much about the situation you are in. It undoubtebly has its uses because sometimes, shifting your thoughts around to see the big picture or in the long run can truly help one realize that the whole issue is not that bad. However, I believe that it is nowaday overused to hide away problems that we are too lazy to act upon or too scared to tackle. Let’s face it: when something sucks, the course of action should not be positivism but rather to ask ourselves the following question: can it be acted upon? Most of the time yes but when the answer is no, then it becomes advantageous to adopt a positive attitude.

I recently came about hearing in a radio program of a couple whose last child was mentally deficient and I was amazed by the mechanisms they had devised to not think too much about it. They lived on planet “Kelly”, which is a planet full of adventures and where every day was different. To make a long story short, they had over the years tricked themselves into believing that this child was actually a blessing and one of the best things that had hapenned to them. Sure, but you know what? A mentally retarded child is probably one of the worst things that could occur in anyone’s life (with exceptions of course). There is absolutely nothing good about having a retarded kid; it genuinly sucks. Does this mean these people should stop the lie now and come back from that crazy planet? No, simply because there is nothing (ethical) they can do about this situation and it is much better to live in that sort of denial than to be unhappy for the rest of your life. After a while, it also tranforms you. This also holds true for cancer and other afflictions for which wishing them away simply does not work and no action except that of time can cure the problem. It has been medically proven that keeping a good spirit significally increases your chances of survival.

However, most troubles in life can be sorted out with a little bit of action, decision and audacity and the first step towards resolution is to actually get rid of this mask of denial so we can see with our own eyes that the situation is indeed awful. Put differently, an effort has to be deployed in order to let the incomfort necessary for an action to occur take over. Humans are naturally undecisive creatures, especially when it comes to issues that will affect the status quo of our confortable lives; positivism is just another way of hiding this fact.

So true…

However, I don’t think it’s any coincidence that Microsoft achieved dominance in the American market during the same period that bottled water became omnipresent. In both instances, clever marketing convinced the general public that something that was clean, safe and free was inferior to a product encased in plastic.

Source: A comment on a linuxtoday article.

Ajaxterm

Finally, I can have ssh access from pretty much any computer on the planet! With *nix workstations, this usually was not a problem, but given the fact that the vast majority of personnal computers are running Windows and that their owners do not like you installing strange tools on them (putty), I was in need of finding a simple way to remotely log in to my server (without using telnet). After some searching, I found Ajaxterm, a simple python deamon that enables you to remotely login from a web browser using ajax. Its not ssh, but once I am in, I have the convenience of a fully working console from which I can use ssh.

Installation was easy as it was part of the Ubuntu package repository, but getting it to work securely over the Web was a bit more tricky as I had to cook up my own security certificates for an SSL access through apache.

As for the actual comfort of use, its limited in screen size and nowhere as fast as an actual ssh session but its convenience more than makes up for those downsides.

Is the web threatening other forms of media?

Yes, big time. I even suspect that within our lifetime, TV, radio, newspaper and magazine as we conceive them will be superceded by a web equivalent. But why do people keep mourning over this logical change? My theory is that they have mistakenly associated the service with its media. From a different perspective, if you come to think of it, what’s coming is just a change in the mean of delivery, not service. Paper, TV, radio are only physical mediums over which a service can be provided, and as a matter of fact, they are all interchangeable, albeit with many practical limitations: TV could be broadcasted on paper, where every page is a frame, newspapers could be carved on rock and so on. Thankfully, these services have all found a media that best represent the experience they want to convey, but to me TV on paper would still be TV ( in which case the word my need to be changed); simply because TV is script, strory, and images, newspaper is litterature and journalism and radio is music and discussion. In the future, the web might very well replace all those medias, but script, images, literature, journalism and discussions will always exist.