Welcome Back, Koharu-chan

Let me introduce my Koharu-chan. She’s my low-end camera cellphone, of Sony Ericsson W100i type, bought on November last year. That time, I had two alternatives for my budget: that W100i and a touchscreen Samsung phone. I chose Koharu-chan because I’ve experienced the high quality music playback of older Sony Ericsson types, and it was designed with music in plan. It was the music player feature that pushed me to switch from low-end monochrome screen cellphone. Beside that, I felt more comfortable with conventional numeric keys instead of touchscreen, which was (on low-end devices at that time, IMO) less responsive. W100i’s display was also smoother than many cellphones of the same class, and I fell in love with its cute and comfortable design.

My Koharu-chan looks exactly like this one

Well, turned out that it wasn’t not the best decision (as with my other purchases). The cellphone crashed easily, especially when activating the camera feature. It also sounded like crap, almost unheard bass end and overly loud and harsh treble range. The music player always defaulted to ‘stereo widening’ mode, so that the sound rendered no longer faithful with the original recording with the channel difference exaggerated. And to make it worse, the music player simply ignored track numbers, and ordered the playback alphabetically. This was a big problem if you want to listen to a concept album. The browser sucked big time complaining ‘the page requested is too large to load’, and push-mail feature somehow didn’t appear on the menu (seemed that it is disabled only for products sold in my country since email is not very widespread except for various mailing-lists).

The problems culminated with the damaged flex cable. I could no longer fold my phone unless I wanted to use a blank screen, defunct phone. Luckily the warranty had not expired yet, so I brought it to a service center in Semarang. It was really something since flex cable would cost you an extra $15 here.

When I took it back, I didn’t have much hope other than the repaired flex cable. Then, I tested the phone on service center by doing steps required to reproduce the crash, i.e taking photos, exiting from camera mode, and activating the camera once again. Several tests, and it went fine. No crash. Yet still no push mail menu,

Well, seemed that they had improved the software.

The best surprise was when I tried playing music. I queued some tracks, the first was 花澤香菜 – 優しい夕暮れ (Mayushii – Yasashii Yuugure), one of my staple track. Hmm…. a melodic bass line start playing smoothly.

Wait, bass line? Melodic?!

Haven’t heard of it in that song before.

Yeah, I heard the bass. No more harshly boosted treble. Crystal crisp playback.

My Koharu-chan…. #manlytears

Maybe the push mail feature, browser failed page loading, music player default stereo widening and track-number sorting hasn’t not been fixed. But to have the phone running stable without crash is a nice step forward, and the improved playback quality makes the phone really worth for its ‘Walkman’ label, for it is the very label that gives Ericsson series their good reputation. I think, enabling the access to push mail feature and adding track-sorting for music player is a much smaller, easier task than the aforementioned improvements. I hope the developer team will do it someday (I don’t hope much for the browser, since the cellphone has an extremely small onboard memory of 5MB, the failing browser is just as expected).

P.S: Twinkle Real Star (DTB Ryuusei no Gemini character image song) is a good showcase for the improved playback.

Welcome Back, Koharu-chan

Audio Systems I’ve Used So Far

I like music since I was pretty much a kid. I could vaguely remember that I used to spend one or two hours in front of my tape recorder, playing my favorite cassette (80’s western love songs) again and again. I distanced myself from music when I was in junior high school, because it reminded me of the unpleasant electone course I had to take (more on this later). Again in my high school years, I often drowned myself in loud music (mostly L’arc en Ciel and Coldplay) to quench my uneasy mind, to forget all the unpleasant things I felt from being high school’s outcast. My time spent with music has been slightly reduced again since then, but now I almost always listening to some music when I’m in front of my laptop (well, I spend about half of my awake time with my laptop).

As technology shifted, so did my audio system. Here’s a summary of all audio systems I have, from the oldest to the newest. I also recounted my mistaken decisions, most of them stemmed from my haste when I already want to have something.

Kindergarten and Before

JVC radio cassette recorder (type unknown)

My old man’s. He used it when teaching English class to high school students. Its output was still mono, but it was a high-quality mid-end product manufactured in Japan. I remember its clear and loud voice, and its stout build with thick casing and stainless steel linings. I also remembered that I’ve ever urinated and dumped sh*t on it, once.

Fate: sold as wreck.

Grade School

National mini-compo (type unknown)

This was originally my uncle’s. Unlike its predecessor, it was a stereo mini-compo, and it was a local product – the younger sibling of the famous Gobel radio series. It also had clear output. This is my first audio system with equalizer in it, and I liked to experiment with the equalizer, and this was when I got to know ‘rock’ equalizer setting (one that shapes like ‘V’).

Fate: unknown, perhaps sold as wreck too.

Clarion car speaker

It was a three-way speaker system, mounted with a self-made wooden cabinet. I asked it from my cousin. It had clear output but somewhat lacked kick in low-frequency range. Since I didn’t have stereo amplifier, I just connected it in parallel with one of National mini-compo’s speaker.

Fate: unknown

Sony mini-compo

I asked my Dad to buy me after seeing it at my neighbor’s. It came with a cheap echo microphone. Compared to previous two cassette players, this one was a failed product. Several days after it was bought, a problem occurred with its power cord. Several months later, its motor mechanism malfunctioned, and many of my cassettes got their winding loose, some of them became unplayable because the winding got too big that it filled up the magazine. It was soon fixed, but soon the playback head became corroded (or magnetized, I didn’t know the exact cause), causing sharp attenuation in the high frequency range, rendering the playback output almost unintelligible.

Actually it had a good amplifier, which sounds brighter than my National mini-compo. It is still the best radio receiver I have. I plan to add a 3.5mm input and reuse it as stereo amplifier for my digital music players.

Fate: still functioning, with crackling volume knob and almost-dead playback head

Middle School

Generic walkman

This was my WORST buy ever. That time I wanted a walkman – with built-in recorder, because I really wanted to record Gundam opening theme which I instantly fell for the first time I heard it. I didn’t hear shop owner’s recommendation to buy a Sony walkman instead, without recorder function.

  • It sounded like crap
  • It was mono
  • When I opened it, the PCB was the one of the cheap DIY-with-schematic kit you could cheaply buy from an electronic store.
  • I spent $8 for this junk

Fate: stored somewhere, waiting to be scrapped for its various components.

Jonsa VCD Player (type unknown)

Another bad decision. A cheap Chinese product with weak optics, too weak to play an mp3 data CD. But the worst part is that I bought this player at the end of VCD era. Not long after the purchase, DVD players started appearing and got cheaper day by day. If only I were patient enough.

Fate: stored somewhere, fully functioning.

Spirit Active Speaker (type unknown)

The shop owner cheated me. I already selected a middle-end, small active speaker with standard treble and bass tone control knobs, but the shop owner pushed this crap on me. I fell into his trap, chose this one because ‘it comes with a graphic equalizer’. Well, it turned out that the one I bought has really poor sound reproduction in higher frequencies, and horrible noise problem. The volume knob is also poorly calibrated so that a slight turn in it triggers drastic increase in volume. I suspected that it was actually an unsold product being thrown to me.

Fate: fully functioning, I don’t care

High School

Desktop PC, on-board soundcard

Now this was the transition to fully-digital music. Forget about analog-elitist faggotry, a layman in a developing country like me could never afford an LP player or tube pre-amp. At first a standard 128 kbps mp3 was enough to satisfy me, even I still accepted 96 kbps ones, and FYI, 128 kbps is much better than analog cassettes, so I was really grateful when I found this new audio format. Later on, as I gathered 320 kbps files, I began to acquire some sensitivity. Now my ‘threshold of audio transparency’ is possibly between 224-320 kbps for lossy audio files.

Not much to tell about this PC itself. For the software, I used JetAudio, and Windows Media Player sometimes. Oh, I also began to prefer flat equalizer configuration.

Fate: leased to a cousin, now defunct (possibly total hardware failure)

2.0 + subwoofer PC speaker

Another crap thrown on me, luckily I paid a reasonable price this time, and it was not all that crappy. This is a poorly executed imitation attempt on the  popular Simbadda 2.0 + subwoofer speaker models. It has a really weak subwoofer which gives almost no impact to overall sound output. Well, the manufacturer – in order to cut the production cost – just connected the subwoofer in parallel with left speaker, without any low-pass filter and additional amplification. The amplifier circuit itself is almost as horrible as my cursed walkman. Thanks to its high-quality satellite drivers, I didn’t hate this speaker. In fact, if an average listener didn’t notice the subwoofer’s existence, I’m pretty sure that it would score as perfect low-budget product for them. I planned to build my own amplifier circuitry, with a low pass filter and dedicated amplification stage for the subwoofer.

Fate: defunct (after I took out all the electronics circuitry), waiting for rebuild.

Ooops, seems that my post has grown quite long. ‘Kay, I’ll stop here, and continue on the next post.

Audio Systems I’ve Used So Far

Late Night Note: A Creepy Dream

I’ll start my note tonight with some trivial updates.

On yesterday, a Japanese cultural event was held in Semarang Public High School 3, which luckily, not far away from my rented share-house (derp, I googled several times to get a nice translation of kamar kos-kosan with potential candidates including shared-rented-room, or more familiar term boarding-house).

There are not so many things worth telling on that event. The cosplayers were rather few, compared to similar events I had attended while in Bandung. The bands, with exception of being lacking of innovative and fresh repertoire, were fine. There was a band which got a bit of my attention: the vocalist, almost in the same stature as me, had clean and powerful voice. Wish I could sing as good as him. Outside the official stage shows and competitions, there weren’t so many Japanese impressions. The event got a seemingly random name in gratuitous English: ‘J-Soul Matsuri, Futuristic: Panic in Soul’ with no less gratuitous tagline, ‘Indonesia Soul Japanese Future’. Quite normal considering the language usage trends among native Japanese 🙂

What disappointed me was the absence of a serious Japanese culture stand/event. Yeah, things such as tea ceremony, or calligraphy, or simply Japanese language study stand. And I couldn’t meet any Japanese here. At least the event successfully satisfied gamers, cosplayers or internet graphic artists (DA-ers, pixiv-ers or doujinshi makers), but well, I also want more expositions on more fundamental elements of Japanese culture.

茅原実里 - 覚醒フィラメント
[playing] #11/45 0:42/4:51 (14%)

Ah, seems that Minorin would take over the lead from Kana-tan in my last.fm stats, thanks to her 3-CD Budokan live album I’ve recently downloaded. To be honest, since I joined last.fm, I could never fire up my music player daemon freely anymore. I’ve got a perfectionist trait within me to some extent, and I don’t want my lastfm stats to clutter with incorrect song titles or artist names. I’ve never played quite many tracks since their tags are not compliant with ‘Japanese Artist Unification’ standard, or simply messed up. If I really want to hear them, I use mplayer instead, the one without stats tracking, or stopping my lastfm scrobble daemon first. And I admit that when selecting tracks for my playlist, I consider ‘stats perfectness’ too. Feels like I can’t honestly play anything I want to hear anymore.

It was in that event I could meet my fellow friends from The Otaku Network – a group of Indonesians on Facebook with a heavy air of imageboard memes and mentality (and yeah, they have invented some original memes too) – for the first time. They didn’t look as freak as expected, although their jokes and conversation topics were quite niche. I was happy to find another Japanophile community after being separated from such community (and most likely, being ousted from a Japanese culture club too) for a while. I still lag much behind them on terms of general Japanese popular culture (read: animanga) knowledge, much when I was in other similar circles in Bandung (plus now with crappy modem connection, my anime downloads and watching stats gets lagged too), nevertheless I felt quite comfortable with them. Sadly, about the last 30 minutes of our all-men group date, I got preoccupied with fellow comrade’s laptop and missed much of the conversation. I really hope that my autism in that last 30 minutes didn’t leave much bad impression to them.

A Strange and Creepy Dream

So in present era, there lived a shaman-like healer-priest. Seemed that he ran a, wait… my favorite song….

茅原実里 - Paradise Lost
[playing] #21/41 1:39/5:27 (30%)

the reff is especially catchy ^^ ‘minorin: hanasanai, crowd: hanarenai…’

OK this old priest who ran a small shrine felt that his time was drawing near, and started preparing his son for the priest-shaman position. His son, was an incompetent one, and there were many problems in his personality. I witnessed some serious discussions between the old man and the son, mostly about the woman who will be the son’s wife.

One day the old priest passed away. We (my friends and I were tourists from a distant place, perhaps from foreign country) were there when he spent his final moments. Afterwards, the priest’s body was cremated, and we brought his bone fragments from crematorium back to the shrine.

And the comes the creepy one. I saw the young priest filled pipe bone fragments with snacks, to be given to children. “He was a merry man, he didn’t want his death to be a mourning time, he wanted us all to be happy,” the new priest said to me. I still looked at the snacks with shocked expression.

“No, no, it isn’t what you think. I keep his remains safely somewhere else,” he quickly calmed me down.

Then, the POV switched to the young priest, a flashback. I saw the serious discussions between him and his father in first person’s view. The old man was really concerned about the woman who will bear his son’s children, since they were to be his successors too. It seemed that his son had a bad sexual attitude: he had been having extra-marital sexual affairs with various women, and the old man already knew this.

After the old priest left, the old priest’s son slept. In the midst of his sleep, he felt a terrible sensation somewhere between his crotch, and a heavenly voice spoke to him: “You are condemned, you shall have no offspring, since you had done wrong. And your father’s house shall perish.”

Then I found myself back on my bed, no-pan(tsu).

Maybe the horrible sensation that was felt by the young priest came from me sleeping in no-pan.

But the circumstances between the old priest and his son really left an impression in my mind. A stream of thoughts flashed through my conscience.

My father, is just as old as the senior priest I saw in my dream. I am my father’s only child, just like the young priest.

Am I doing something wrong?

I’ve failed to realize my parents’ expectation, would I fail their expectations forever?

Could I continue my old man’s virtues, and reach what he could never attain in his lifetime? Am I able to be his successor?

Late Night Note: A Creepy Dream

Another Linux Newbie’s Guide, Anyone?

Those who grew up with Windows or Mac, and tried their luck with Linux, should have this experience, at least once in their lifetime: desperately spending hours googling for ‘howto’, ‘error: blablabla’, when they stuck in corner trying to accomplish a certain task, either a complex or a simple one. This especially true for command-line interface utilities. The answer usually comes from a mailing-list archive or internet bulletin board (‘forum’) threads. Or on an unlucky occasion, they may find an unanswered question, where the thread starter desperately ‘bumped’ his own thread with no avail.

To my experience so far, very rarely, or almost never, the answer comes from an online copy of manual page or other kinds of documentation, although most likely the answer is actually there, if I read the documentation carefully.

Mmm…. how about setting up a Linux Howto’s site, covering a wide array of topics? The site can take form of a journal, in which the writer(s) records his/her successful attempts on accomplishing a certain objective, or something like Yahoo Answer or Wikihow. The topics can be anything from a simple task such as renaming file via CLI, to something as complex as setting up a mailserver. The only absolute criteria is that the articles should be a concrete step-by-step guide, with complete configuration file sample and all CLI commands and their arguments. Of course there must be clear explanations about how each commands, parameters and arguments taken will affect the final result. It is not a comprehensive and structured documentation, it is a collection of ‘cheat sheets’, dirty fixes and hacks to deal with certain situations.

As for now, I still feel that many Linux software docs (especially ones with CLI) are too cryptic for average users. It needs a lot of time, and trial-and-errors to slightly understand the usage of a tool. Those documentations are indeed useful, but after a user gains some amount of experience with the software.

An example is x264 help message. The user is presented with a long list of switches, but this list is only really helpful for someone with a considerable experience in digital video encoding. Mplayer’s manual page is better in explaining the options, but it comes as a single manpage instead of html docs or GNU infopage. One needs to press page up/down button many times to skip to the part of his interest.

The ultimate goal of this site is to help all Linux (and other open source OSes) users in getting their jobs done, so that they can fully rely on FOSS software to accomplish their personal or professional tasks. Well, it has been my dream to set up a commercial multimedia service – a distribution company with its own DVD/Blu-Ray mastering and voice over department – that uses FOSS software exclusively (seems to be unlikely since many tools still produces defective results under normal conditions).

The site I’ve described here maybe have already existed for a long time. I just haven’t searched and visited it yet.

Another Linux Newbie’s Guide, Anyone?