Converting FLAC to MP3

by fwhagen Thu, 12 February 2009

FLAC may be the perfect format for music storage with its far superior quality, hardly any players support it.  Especially my OEM in-dash player in the car.  So it is necessary to convert.  The batch file below will convert the FLAC to MP3 via WAV and tag from the original, assuming the correct pieces are installed as demonstrated.  I have it loaded into a batch file which I have placed in my Send-To folder for easy right-click/convert use.

"C:\Program Files\FLAC\flac.exe" -d %1 -o temp.wav
"c:\program files\lame\lame.exe" -V2 temp.wav %1.mp3
del temp.wav
"C:\Program Files\Lame\Tag\tag.exe" %1.mp3 --fromfile %1     
pause

By the way, do go out of your way to find the version of LAME that is compiled for your specific CPU.  My Q6600 does VBR2 at 28x.  I literally cannot rip as fast as it encodes from CDs.  (Note: while there is a multi-threaded version, mp3 encoding is really a single-threaded operation, so quad-core just means I can encode 4 streams at once.)

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Filed Under: Programming

I've Been Wondering...

by fwhagen Tue, 10 February 2009

Why are Unicorns hollow?

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Filed Under: Life

Book Review: Beyond the Blue Event Horizon - Frederick Pohl (1980)

by fwhagen Wed, 28 January 2009

Sometimes I think this site is turning into a Book Review site instead of a technical site.  And in support of that concern is Beyond the Blue Event Horizon, book 2 of the classic Heechee Saga of Frederick Pohl.  While Gateway is a very different read, the second of the saga promises to be a bit odd, but more mainstream than its predecessor.  And is just so.

We join Robinette Broadhead again, but only as one of the primary players in the story.  More closely we follow the expedition to another artifact dubbed the Food Factory located in the Oort Cloud.  The expedition indeed finds a food processing facility but cannot get it to move closer to inhabited space.  They also find a surprising inhabitant:  A teenaged boy stranded there since birth.  Or rather stranded there and at another location they call Heechee Heaven.  And there the surprises are even greater.

The Heechee Saga is nearly as important to Science Fiction as the Foundation Trilogy and 2001 and its sequels.  If you read Dune and the Ringworld stories, you should read these.  But having said that, the books really are not that great to read.  The stories and the ideas in them certainly are, however, and has shaped much of modern SciFi.  At least in my mind.  Even 30 years later, I still think the AI entities in the books as pretty accurately modeled.  And his treatment of the vast distances within our own solar system is very refreshing.  I am really enjoying re-reading the series, although, I don't believe I have ever read the remaining books.  I am doing so now, but have also picked up some other material as well, so it may be awhile.

UPDATE: When writing up the sequel, I noticed I posted the wrong title for this book. It is now corrected.

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Filed Under: Books

DateTime in IIS Logs Using LogParser

by fwhagen Fri, 23 January 2009

Everytime I need to render date and time to a DateTime field, I have to scour the Internet to figure out how.  Well, here is how:

If you need to get hourly statistics on your website, select and group by the following metric:

TO_LOCALTIME(QUANTIZE(TO_TIMESTAMP(date, time),3600)) AS Hour

This will properly combine date and time and offset by the correct timezone to a single datetime field recognized by most data parsers.  And it will look like this:

2009-01-21 12:00:00

It shouldn't be too difficult to change that to minutes, seconds, periods, whatever you need.

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Filed Under: LogParser

Inauguration Day 2009

by fwhagen Wed, 21 January 2009

And so, today we begin the four years of our Great Nation's biggest electoral mistake.

I truly hope I am wrong.

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Filed Under: Politics

C# Business Objects and CSLA.NET

by fwhagen Thu, 11 December 2008

I am learning and working with a Business Objects framework at work called CSLA.NET (Component-based Scalable, Logical Architecture).  It is built heavily using the best of OOP especially polymorphism and abstraction.  You build your objects all based on a handful of base classes that provide a huge variability of useful features.  It also abstracts out data and .NET remoting layers to make the developers life easier.  If you are building large, scalable n-tier applications, you should definitely look this one up. 

Also check out the book Expert C# 2005 Business Objects, which is the companion to the framework.  If nothing else, it contains a great description of n-tier architecture and why to use it.

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Filed Under: .NET

Book Review: Gateway - Frederick Pohl (1977)

by fwhagen Thu, 11 December 2008

Ah, the classics.  Occasionally, I will go back and re-read a book I haven't picked up in decades.  Gateway is such a book.  It has been so long, I couldn't even remember the plot.  Oh, I remembered the premise alright, but the details of the plot were lost to me.  This classic of Sci/Fi has spawned sequels, imitations and a pretty decent (1992) computer game. 

Gateway is the story of a reluctant explorer in the hunt for Heechee artifacts.  The Heechee were a race of ancients that left a space station, dubbed Gateway, complete with several hundred FTL ships.  Once discovered, they were quickly experimented with to find that although no one could figure out how to program them, random combinations of the controls would send a ship out and return to Gateway automatically.  Untold riches awaited volunteers who could ride the ships and return with more artifacts, if any are to be found.  Of course, many dangerous and fatal things were on the other end of the trips, and chnaging the controls mid-flight meant certain death.  Our hero is one of the volunteers who must overcome his very reasonable fears and make some trips out.

Gateway is told from a split perspective.  We know that the protagonist is ultimately successful, as he is very wealthy and undergoing therapy, the primary vehicle of the plot.  However, the therapy hints at horrible trauma and the deaths on his conscience.  The well executed plot leads to a suspected, yet surprising ending that is very satisfying.  There are many reasons why this is a classic, and well justified.

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Filed Under: Books

Book Review: Head Games - Thomas B. Cavanagh (2007)

by fwhagen Sat, 29 November 2008

Book 2 from the infamous Tom Cavanagh.  Tom is an old friend that I discovered recently is also an author, and a good one at that.  It is no surprise that I picked up this one as soon as I finished Zoe's Tale

Mike Garrity has a brain tumor.  He calls it Bob.  And so we meet the main character of Tom's darkly humorous crime novel set in the Central Florida that I grew up in.  Mike is asked by an old colleague from the police force to find a missing member of a up and coming boy band.  With nothing better to do than feel sorry for himself and his mortality, he takes the challenge.  Mike finds himself deep in the middle of a dangerous manhunt as well as surrounded by people who truly care for his well-being.

Head Games is better than Tom's first book, which shows that he is definitely growing as an author.  His dark humor shows in more subtle ways this time around, and again, his locals view of Orlando is very amusing to me.  I am glad that Tom is doing well, and hope that this is just the beginning, if the least reason is for my own amusement.  Great job once again, Tom!

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Book Review: Zoe's Tale - John Scalzi (2008)

by fwhagen Fri, 14 November 2008

This is a novel approach:  Take your last book, which was really quite good, and retell it from the perspective of a supporting character.  Scalzi's latest book, Zoe's Tale, does just that.  What's more, the supporting character is the sarcastic teenaged daughter of the protagonists in The Last Colony.  Of course, being Scalzi, I ordered and read it in hardcover.

This is the parallel of the last book in the John Perry storyline.  Zoe is the adopted teenaged daughter of John Perry and his ex-SpecialOps wife Jane Sagan who are asked to be the administrators of a new colony.  She must leave behind everything she has known, again, because the colony, named Roanoke, will be hidden, or lost, from everyone.  She must survive with the rest of the colony as the Conclave of Worlds comes after the colonists to destroy them for violating their non-compete edicts.  Oh, and also needs to deal with an entire race of aliens who hold her in the highest reverence for the acts of her biological father.

If you have not read The Lost Colony, do not read this book.  I could only imagine what it must seem like to a non-fan.  It does stand alone, but is not the voice of John Scalzi at his best.  It is, however, extremely entertaining to one familiar with the storyline.  Zoe is sarcastic, cynical, cruel in a teenage-girl way, and very funny.  She is a very endearing character to someone who appreciates some of those qualities.  This may be a fan-service book, but I am very happy to have it in my collection.

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Filed Under: Books

Breaking the Rules

by fwhagen Fri, 14 November 2008

Ok, I broke my own cardinal rule of weblogging:  I removed content from this site.  Or rather, suppressed it.  But since it is *my* rule, and I had good reason, I can do that. 

Three weeks ago, I was laid off from my job and needed suddenly to find gainful employment.  Fortunately, I was already on the market anyway, but I wanted the FWHagen.com domain to reflect professionalism as much as possible.  The Subversion/VS.NET article I posted was great for that, however, the two entries above it were book reviews.  So I hid them.  DasBlog makes that very easy in the way that it stores content.  I merely moved the days entries and they were gone.

Today, I started my new job and I have moved the entries back.  Ironically, I have one more book to review tonight, and another this weekend, so it gets worse.  BUT, I am excited about my potentials at the new gig, and anticipate much more technical stuff later.  I am actually going to get to write Real Code!

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Filed Under: Blog

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