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Welcome to our Computers page, with articles on computer hardware and software, networking, programming, digital music technology, and more.

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Mac & Windows Notes

I continue to enjoy my Mac Pro (under Snow Leopard) and my PC (with newly installed Windows 7-64). Following are some collected notes & observations.

  • Music: for years I’ve been careful to select PC motherboards with the best onboard sound processors (DAC’s). I knew I would be interested in finding the results of A/B sound comparisons between Mac and PC playing the same iTunes tracks in synch.
  • iTunes: “PC music” is a hot topic in the high-end audio magazines these days. The thinking is that you have to get an external DAC to wring true “hi-fi” stereo sound out of your PC – and the pros are often as not using iTunes to create their own state of the art music servers – something I’ve been doing for years, using just the onboard digital-to-analog logic.
  • And the audio quality winner is: Continue reading

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Jalbum

Jalbum - photo slideshow software

Jalbum - photo slideshow software

 This review is a no-brainer. Jalbum, the photo slideshow builder app, gets our 5-star rating for:

  • being very easy to use
  • producing stunning results
  • truly professional presentation and cool display
  • advanced features
  • freeware (donations accepted)
  • low bug rate from version to version

And more:
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Edmund Scientifics

Edmund Scientifics has been around almost as long as I have. They offer kid-centric scientific toys, experiments and instruments that really work. They have an astronomy department now too, with Celestron and some pretty respectable other models in the smaller, young-adult aperture sizes. I wish my parents would have gotten me a telescope. But, after my little brothers got into my chemistry set, I don’t think they’d have had a lot of interest in spending good money or more gadgets. I would have to wait until I had my own hard-earned money. Somehow, Edmund caught up with me again after 50 years, and I am getting their catalogs. I haven’t ordered anything. And here’s an item that suggests my parents had the right idea (below). What I want to know: maybe it’s cool, but why does it need 100MB hard disk space?
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Build a Music Server “on the cheap”

Respected audio guru Wes Phillips reviews the Linn Klimax DS network music player in the current March Stereophile magazine. It streams 124KHz 24 bit music to a hardwired home music network. If you can afford the $20,000 price tag (even money, no $19,999.99 bait-and-switch here) then you can probably also afford to hire an outside shop to rip your entire CD library to proprietary FLAC digital audio files, which you can then route through the whole house on a state of the art proprietary software platform.
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25 Year Mark for PC’s

This month’s PC World magazine is celebrating their 25th anniversary, which pretty much coincides with the rollout of the IBM PC. Holy cow, has it been that long?

I bought my first personal computer, an Apple II with two 5-1/4 inch floppy drives and 48KB of RAM, in 1979. By 1982 PC Magazine was launched to cover the new IBM PC. (PC World was a spin-off startup after the earlier PC Magazine was sold to new owners, in the same year).
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PC in a Drum

L Series enclosuresNo, it’s not a drum, it’s a custom PC enclosure made of maple, and accepts the standard build-it-yourself PC hardware.

I’ve got to admit this is way cool. I’m not a musician, but if I were a drummer, or just the music lover that I am with lots of room to display nice things, I would have to have one of these. In my apartment I can always plead, “but where would I put it?”
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Streaming Radio Stations

After years of futzing with things like the dreadfully in-your-face RealPlayer, I didn’t think it would work. A newsletter from KDFC, my favorite classical station, prompted me to visit their KDFC website. I noticed a “Click to Listen” link in the upper left corner of the page, and clicked it. (You will have to do the same, as the link is done in Flash and can’t be copied and pasted here).

The “Listen Online” page provides links to the free online streams that best matches Windows Media Player, WinAmp or iTunes, RealPlayer (broadband), or Windows Media Player or WinAmp or iTunes (dialup). I use iTunes as my default player. I was invited to open or save a file named “broadband.m3u”. I saved it to the desktop. I double-clicked it.
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DataDesk Keyboard Fans

Five years ago I posted a review on the DataDesk 101E keyboard. I went out to the DataDesk website today and it is still there; it looks much like what I can remember from the year 2001. Not many people know about this excellent but obscure keyboard. Still, I’ve received a trickle of mail on the topic. The latest round was just a lot of plain fun; with the author’s permission I’ve copied it below.
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New Browsers

Within the last week I’ve installed Internet Explorer 7 on two machines: my newly built dual core ASUS/AMD 3800+ up north in California, and an old Soyo/AMD 1800+ down here in Phoenix.

There were no thrills or surprises. I like IE7 just fine. I’m getting used to multi-tab browsing and I like it. I do not see huge functional or visual differences – everything is a little harder to find, but I’ll get used to it. My main motivation was security, in the hopeful belief that the new IE7 core should be more bullet-proof even before all the expected periodic patches and updates.
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