You can listen to the newest Born Ruffians track, With Her Shadow, right now via SoundCloud. I am eagerly awaiting the release of their next album which could drop as early as March.
It seems like a lot of people have freaked out since NZBMatrix shut down. If you want something with the community aspect of NZBMatrix that you can sign up for right now you should check out nzbX.co. It’s brand new, and already has over 100,000 users. It has a robust API and currently can be used as a source in CouchPotato. It isn’t supported by SickBeard yet, but you can get a modified version of SickBeard at https://github.com/LemonadeDev/SickBeard that does support nzbX.co as a source.
Maybe you don’t care about the community aspect and just want a dependable index. If so, you should consider rolling your own. It’s not too hard to do with newznab. In fact, most of the indexes popping up in the wake of the NZBMatrix shutdown run on newznab.
So you’ve been hearing a lot about Usenet and want to find out what all the fuss is about. Here’s how to get started. There are just two requirements for Usenet, a Usenet Provider and a Newsreader.
Usenet content is stored on a distributed, decentralized network of servers and you have to pay for access. Fortunately, this is cheap and the speeds are incredibly fast. It’s so fast, I can max out my 30Mbps internet connection. I recommend UsenetServer, which is what I use. For $10 a month you can get unlimited access to Usenet and encrypted SSL access. Trust me, it’s worth paying for.
You need a newsreader to get content from Usenet. Personally, I use SABnzbd+. It’s a fully automatic and very powerful newsreader. It’s become a bit of a standard. It runs equally well on Linux, Mac, and Windows. News? I just wanted to be able to download stuff. This may make a bit more sense if you understand how Usenet a bit more about Usenet. Usenet has been around since the beginning of the internet, and it was intended to be used for communication. Basically, Usenet was the precursor to forums.
While newsgroups were not created with the intention of distributing binary files, they have proven to be quite effective for this. Because of the way they work, a file uploaded once will be spread and can then be downloaded by an unlimited number of users.
So the file sharing bit should make a bit more since, and you should now that SABnzbd+ is only useful as a binary newsreader. Think download client.
So if this is all sounding a bit complicated this next part should make you feel better. Newsreaders like SABnzbd+ are smart enough to do all the heavy lifting for you. You make a visit to an NZB Index, just a website, and download an NZB file. SABnzbd+ opens it and starts downloading. It’s as simple as that. I know what you are thinking, this sounds an awful lot like BitTorrent except it costs money. Let’s take another look at Wikipedia.
More useful is that every user is drawing on the bandwidth of his or her own news server. This means that unlike P2P technology, the user’s download speed is under his or her own control, as opposed to under the willingness of other people to share files. In fact, this is another benefit of newsgroups: it is usually not expected that users share. If every user makes uploads then the servers would be flooded; thus it is acceptable and often encouraged for users to just leech.
No seeding, no sharing, no swarms, no IP address exposed for anyone and everyone to see. Just you downloading a file from a server.
Want more? Check out this post on setting up SickBeard to automate even more.
I’m getting pretty tired of reading headphones and speaker reviews since most of what’s out there is no more than a bunch of condescending bullshit. Sound quality is pretty subjective, period. It wouldn’t make sense to compare the lap time of a Ferrari around Leguna Seca to the lap time of a Lamborghini around the Nurumberg Ring, it doesn’t really make sense to compare to sets of headphones or speakers when you don’t talk about what you are listening to through them. Reviews rarely discuss this and it’s pretty important. Before we proceed and further I want to talk a bit about headphones and from there we’ll talk about sound quality as it relates.
In Ear Monitors
Right now in ear monitors, or IEMs, seem to be all the rage. You know the ones, they’re the ones that go inside your ear and are basically earplugs. You’ve seen them and you probably own a two. They typically sound pretty good and isolate a lot of external noise, and tend to run from about $50 up to stratospheric, “I could buy a used car for that amount”, kind of prices. Maybe I’m exaggerating a bit, but you get what I mean. Most of them offer pretty great sound but the all come with a pretty major flaw. Since they are basically earplugs, they go deep inside your ears, and they form a pretty tight seal, you end up with a lot of cable noise. To most reviewer’s credit, this is usually mentioned, at the very least, in passing. Cable noise is a sound that you could hear in pretty loudly made just from the cable moving around. Similar to if you put your ear against a wall and then tap on that same wall. When you are sitting still at your desk this isn’t that noticeable, but use a pair of IEMs while you are running and it becomes overbearing. What I’m getting at is that the subtleties of one set of headphones over another are irrelevant when you have some weird noise generated by the movement of the headphone cable distracting you from what you are listening to.
Earbuds are basically like the kind of headphones that probably came with your iPod. Basically a pretty cheap style of headphones that are small and go inside your ears, just not nearly as deeply as IEMs or with anywhere near that type of seal. This is probably the style of headphones that you want to use while exercising because they still let inside outside noise. It’s not too smart to run down the side of the road with earplugs in. Because they don’t actually go inside your ear canal and they don’t isolate outside noise like IEMs or earplugs do, they don’t tend to sound as good as IEMs. That being said, they tend to be affordable, fairly durable, and a heck of a lot better than the cheap over the head style headphones that used to come with everything.
Over the ear headphones, on ear headphones, and the like make up the rest but what makes these better? The bigger size means bigger speakers and bigger sound, but they’re usually a lot heavier, make you look more dorky, and are a lot less portable than the other styles. They tend to run from sub $100 to outer space, “I could buy a NEW car for that amount”, kind of prices for a good pair. When you are sitting down and want to really listen to some music they can’t really be beat. Once you stand up and start walking around they become pretty awful. Heavy and cumbersome, you won’t want to use a pair of these while exercising.
Lossy Compression and Bit rates
When I first started ripping my CDs to the computer about 10 years ago I only used a particular ripping program, a particular encoder, and I ripped everything to lossless formats. I looked down on those “idiots” all around me listening with cheap earbuds to the 128Kbps songs they downloaded from the internet. How could they stand listening to that low quality crap? Then someone challenged me to ABX test myself to see if I could discern the difference between lossy and lossless. I downloaded Foobar and picked a song that I knew well and I was totally put in my place. With constant bit rate(CBR) MP3 it was pretty easy to determine the differences between the MP3 and the original up to 160Kbps, at which point it became difficult but not impossible to tell at 192Kbps. Above that it mostly felt let guessing unless the song had any sort of high hat or cymbal. Then it was pretty easy. Lossy codecs tend to suffer from something called Pre-echo. Basically, you’d hear the falloff of a cymbal crash before you hear the crash itself. It’s pretty jarring, and something that you’ll probably notice now that you’ve read about it. Sorry for that. Anyway, I found out about it after trying to Google what the heck I was hearing. For most songs this doesn’t really matter and at 320Kbps it was pretty much impossible to detect. AAC is even better, at 192Kbps I couldn’t tell the difference unless it was a killer sample. From that point forward I chose to encode everything in 256Kbps VBR AAC, which just so happens to be the way that music sold in the iTunes store is encoded. Needless to say, it was a pretty humbling experience. So why does all that matter? Most of what people listen to today is lossy compressed music from their phone or MP3 player.
Accuracy vs Warmth
I used to own a pair of Sony MDR-V6s. They are studio monitors that have been made since the 1980s and they are the consumer version of the MDR-7506, a set of cans that has been a standard in the recording industry for decades. Some of your music was mixed by somebody wearing these headphones. The next logical assumption to make would be that the album was made to listen to on those exact headphones. Which makes sense, but would probably be wrong. The engineer mixing the album wants to hear every detail and every flaw without any modification so that it can sound as good as possible. When I listen to music, I do so to enjoy it, not to be able to pick out the flaws. So back into the subjective. Studio Monitors tend to make music sound harsh and clinical because that’s what they are designed to do, but accurately produce lows, mids, and highs. If you like that, then buy a pair of studio monitors.
I ended up trading them in for a pair of Grado SR-60s. They have a pretty warm sound. Meaning that it’s not a very accurate reproduction of what the guy in the sound booth probably heard but it sounds a lot less harsh. Warmth is probably the main reason people like Vinyl still. Digital audio tends to sound pretty harsh, compressed digital audio is even harsher.
What Really Matters
So which headphones are better? Neither really, it really just depends on what you are looking for. I just got tired of analyzing the music and instead wanted to start enjoying it. So what do I look for in a pair of headphones?
- Comfort If it hurts to wear then who cares how it sounds? Especially if you can’t leave them in or on for very long.
- Sound I don’t like the bass or the treble to be overbearing and I want to be able to hear both. It’s all about feel. If it feels good I’m happy. Screw the rest. Like bass, try to find some that have more low end. Again, it’s all about feel. It’s all subjective anyway.
- Affordability Headphones are all about portability and you aren’t going to take something with you if it costs more than anything else you own. The best headphones are the ones you have with you. I try to stick to sub $100 prices.
Who cares what I write? Stop worrying about audio quality and start enjoying your music. If you like how something sounds then that’s all that matters. Pretty much everyone that writes about this sort of thing is full of crap. If you’ve read this far thank you, and to deserve to know what headphones I have and use. Here they are from cheapest to most expensive: Apple Headset, Apple EarPods, Sennheiser CX300, InCase Capsule, Grado SR60. If you disagree with me then you should check out Head-Fi.org.
TextMate 2 still does not have any replace action. It’s replace all or copy and paste. I really want to get back to using TextMate as my main text editor, but it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen any time soon with glaring omissions like this.
There will be a Replace action at some point. For now you can put the replace string on the regular clipboard and alternate between ⌘G (Find Next) and ⌘V (replace match)
There are two main categories for NAS devices. Prebuilt devices (think Drobo or a Synology boxes) and custom built hardware (usually a full fledged dedicated computer). The easier option by far is to just shell out the dough for a Drobo FS, but at $700 without any drives it’s a bit pricy. Here I’m going to be talking about the build your own option.
Why you probably don’t want to use RAID for a home NAS
RAID provides increased performance and some redundancy. That’s all well and good, but there are some caveats. RAID requires disks of exactly the same size, so you can’t mix and match drives. RAID also requires all disks to be spinning at all times, not so good. Finally, the RAID array has to be intact to retrieve data. Which is fine until multiple drives fail at once, and even though you still have some good drives you lose all of your data. Really bad. With a non-RAID based solution you only lose what was on the drives that failed.
Unraid is a fairly simple to setup NAS solution. My favorite thing about Unraid is that it doesn’t use RAID. Instead, it uses one of the drives as a parity drive. This means that any one drive can fail and you can replace the bad drive and Unraid will automatically rebuild it. Unlike RAID based solutions, if more than one drive fails then you will only lose the data that was on the failed drives. All the data on the other drives will still be intact. It also means that drives can be mixed and matched, they don’t all have to be the same size.
Also, since Unraid is not based on RAID it is not necessary for all the drives to be spinning all the time. Meaning that depending on the number of drives in your machine it can save you a lot on your electricity bill. It also means that your drives should last longer.
The only real issue with Unraid is that since it is constantly recalculating the parity information as data is written to the drives write speeds tend to be on the slow side. This can be remedied by using a “cache” drive. Unraid can use one drive as a temporary cache and automatically move things off and onto the Unraid array nightly. The problem with this is that it changes the system from one with realtime parity to one with daily snapshots. In other words, if a drive were to fail before data is moved over to the array from the cache drive then that data would be lost.
Bottom line, Want an easy setup that reliably stores your data and don’t mind spending $69 for software? Go with Unraid.
Lot’s of people recommend FreeNAS and depending on your use case it may be great, but it doesn’t fit the bill for me. It’s got a lot, I mean a lot, of features and it uses ZFS. That being said the interface can feel a bit bloated and it’s overkill for most home purposes. You have to setup storage pools in advance so it’s more difficult to just add drives willy nilly and ZFS is pretty resource intensive. Bottom line, it’s fancy NAS built on a nicer implementation of RAID.
If you want good performance, you’re planning on running it on decent hardware, and you don’t expect the drive configuration to change then you can’t really do better than FreeNAS. If that’s not you than look elsewhere.
This is currently what I use. I felt a little too limited my Unraid and since I’m a tinkerer by nature this way suits me pretty well. Basically, pick any flavor of Linux and then setup mhddfs for spanning your drives. All the drives in the machine can be viewed as one volume. When new files are written to the mhddfs volume they are placed on the drive with the most available space. With mhddfs taking care of combining the storage into one pool, now we need to take a look at the redundancy part. For that we’ll use SnapRAID. SnapRAID let’s you use one drive as a parity drive for the rest, similar to how Unraid works. Therefore, if you have 3 2TB drives then you will have 4TB of usable storage. And any one drive can fail without losing any data. If more than one drive fails then you will just lose the data on those drives. The snap in SnapRAID is for snapshots. This is not a real time parity. The nice thing about this is your write speeds are still good. Parity can be calculated as often or as seldom as you want. Might calculates daily. At the very worst, I only lose a day’s worth of data. From there you can set up SMB, NFS, AFP, FTP, and whatever other file protocols you like. Want it to do something else? Great, it’s completely custom so you can easily bend it to your will.
If you like to geek out, don’t care about real time parity, and want to have a NAS that has all the features you need and none you don’t this may be the way to go.
I just bought a base model 13” MacBook Air replace my 20” iMac (Early 2008) and 13” MacBook Pro (Mid 2009). I wanted to get away from having to worry about keeping things in sync between multiple machines and simplify things a bit. To keep the new single machine setup similar to my old one I bought a Rain Design mStand and a Thunderbolt Display.
I’m hooked up to my gigabit LAN via the display so I can quickly read and write to my file server, and I’m using a Logitech Performance MX Mouse and Apple Wireless Keyboard as input devices. In case you’re wondering, yes, that is an Ikea lamp in the background, and everything is sitting on an Ikea desk. I’m loving my new setup.
Mountain Dew Wallpaper - taken with my iPhone at Wrightsville Beach
Configuring the SABnzbd+ side of things
So now that you have installed SickBeard you’ll need to set it up and get it talking to SABnzbd+. Haven’t installed SickBeard yet? Read this first. Before going any further with SickBeard we need to get things setup properly on the SABnzbd+ side of things. Open up SABnzbd+ in a new tab (it’s probably at http://localhost:8081) and click Config and then Folders.
Find Post-Processing Scripts Folder. We need to tell SABnzbd+ where to find SickBeard’s scripts. There is a folder inside the Sick-Beard folder called autoProcessTV. If you just installed it to your home folder the path will probably be the same as in the picture below. Set the folder and then make sure to his Save Changes.
In the left column, click Categories. Make sure you have a category called sickbeard. If you don’t have it, you’ll need to create one with that name. You can use any folder you want. This will just be a temporary location for SickBeard downloads to be stored in before SickBeard sorts them. You’ll also need to change the Script from Default to sabToSickBeard.py. If you don’t see that script you need to double check that you completed the previous step properly. It should look something like this:
The last thing we need to do in SABnzbd+ is get the API key. We can find it on the Config -> General page. You probably want to copy this to your clipboard so you can just paste it into SickBeard.
Now for the SickBeard side of things
We’ll be going though each page one by one. Click Config -> Search Settings.
Before going any further, we need to change one setting on this page. Change NZB Method from Black Hole to SABnzbd. Hit the Save Changes button. You’ll see some more options.
First enter the SABnzbd URL. It’s probably http://localhost:8080. You only need to enter a username and password if you have one setup in SABnzbd+. Paste in the SABnzbd API key that you should still have in your clipboard and set the Category to sickbeard Then hit Test SABnzbd. If you get a Success message go ahead and hit Save Changes. Otherwise, check your settings and try again.
Now let’s move on to the Search Providers page. Womble’s Index should be checked already, and go ahead and check Sick Beard Index. The more providers you have setup here, the better, but for all the others you will need to sign up for accounts first. Then enter your account information on this page. Make sure you click Save Changes when you are done.
Next, let’s take a look at the Post-Processing Page. Since we are using SABnzbd+ post processing we don’t need to set a Download directory and we don’t need to check Scan and Process. I also recommend unchecking Keep Original and Move Associated Files.
If you don’t use an app like XBMC then this section isn’t really useful to you. Pick the app you are using from the drop down. I check everything so that SickBeard downloads all this for me making things easier for XBMC.
The last section determines the name and organization scheme. Read through the options and set this to suit your preferences (or just leave as is).
One final step. Using Finder, navigate to your Sick-Beard folder. Inside that, open the autoProcessTV folder. Rename autoProcessTV.cfg.sample to autoProcessTV.cfg and then open the file with your favorite text editor. You probably won’t have to change anything. If you aren’t using the default port or you’ve set up a username and password make sure to set that here. Otherwise, you are good to go as is.
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That’s it, now you can start using SickBeard. The first time you add something it’ll ask you where you want to keep it and what quality you want. Hit me up in the comments if you have any questions.
SickBeard only has two real requirements to run on your Mac. The first being Python, which comes with Mountain Lion, and the second is Cheetah, which will need to be installed.
However, for SickBeard to be useful you’ll also need SABnzbd+ and a Usenet provider like UsenetServer. They have a fast and reliable service and offer a 14 day free trial with 10 GB of downloads to test it out.
To install Cheetah, we’ll need to install the Command Line tools.
Installing Command Line tools
Command Line Tools are needed because Cheetah has to be built and compiled from source code. First you will need to have Xcode installed. If you don’t have it already it is available as a free download from the Mac App Store. Open Xcode and open Preferences. Choose Downloads and then select Command Line Tools and click the Install button. Once this finishes you can close Xcode.
So now that the requirements for Cheetah have been set we need to download and install Cheetah from source. Open Terminal and run the following commands.
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To make sure that we are installing the latest and greatest version of SickBeard and to make it easier to keep the software up to date we will be using git. So first you need to install git if you don’t have it already. You can get the OS X binary here. If you have still have Terminal open cmd+q out of it and then reopen. cd to the directory you want to install SickBeard in. Then type and run the following:
git clone git://github.com/midgetspy/Sick-Beard.git
Once this finishes downloading you will have a folder called Sick-Beard. cd int the new folder and then type the following:
python sickbeard.py -d
The -d tell SickBeard to run as a daemon. This way when you close terminal it won’t close the app. At this point you should be looking at a browser window opened to SickBeard. If you don’t see this then just fire up your favorite browser and navigate to http://localhost:8081.
Autostarting SickBeard on Login and Keeping it Running
Starting from the command line every time can be a bit of a pain, so let’s make it easier. Currently SickBeard has an issue with running in daemon mode under Mountain Lion that causes the app to spontaneously close. I’ve made a simple AppleScript app that gets around this bug. It starts SickBeard in non-daemon mode but still works pretty much the same way.
Since daemon mode is what’s not working all that’s necessary to get around the bug is to not use daemon mode. Here it is:
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Download the app and open it in AppleScript Editor. You’ll probably have to open AppleScript Editor and open the app through the File -> Open. Set the path of your SickBeard folder and then set the loopTime to the frequency of which you want it to check to make sure SickBeard is running. The default is to check every minute. I have already edited the plist file for this app so that it will not show an icon in dock.
Once you are done, save the AppleScript app and move it to your Applications folder. Now you just need to add it as a Login Item. Open System Preferences -> Users & Groups and click the Login Items tab. Click the plus icon and add the SickBeardHB app. The app is configured so that it will not show in your dock.
SickBeard is installed, now what?
SickBeard is now installed on your machine but it still needs to be configured. Lucky for you, I happen to have written a guide for just that, getting SickBeard configured and working with SABnzbd+.
Not all of the documents that I read on my Kindle are from Amazon, but even for the ones that are, I want to be able to see all my saved highlights without having to go to kindle.amazon.com. Which by the way, does not work for any document not purchase from Amazon.
For this to work, you need Calibre, an awesome free ebook management tool. If you don’t have it you’ll need to download and install it before going any further. Open Calibre and connect your Kindle to your computer. Once your Kindle is visible in Calibre, find the Send to Device and then select Fetch Annotations. Depending on the content currently on your Kindle, this could take some time.
Once it finishes you’ll just be dumped back to the main Calibre window. You will need to navigate to your Calibre library folder (this was set when you first setup Calibre). From here go to Kindle -> My Clippings -> My Clippings - Kindle.txt.
That’s it. Now you have a flat text file with all of your highlights and bookmarks.