Pseudo Review: RasPlex + Hifiberry And Some Serious Audio On The Cheap

 

rasplex hifiberry dacpluspro
That little green light is more than go-go, baby!

Can a non-audiophile still hear great audio? Can a music-lover of old music still get some jams through his/her head in these digital times without breaking the bank? Do those guys that spend all that money as “audiophiles” give you the creeps? Indeed. Money. Audio. How much you got?

Because I spend too much money on other expensive stuff, I’ve never really prioritised audio in my life–even though I love listening to music. I learned a long time ago that you don’t have to dish out huge sums of cash to hear good replicated music. That said, I can’t go more than a few days without listening to something that either soothes me, rocks me or moves me. A good drink and some Jazz while cooking is heaven. Am I wrong? And so. Unlike most young folk today, I can’t listen to music through headphones–whether in-ear or over-ear. If you see me out and about with Beckett, the killer pug, and I’ve always got earbuds stuck in my head–I’m listening to podcasts! The problem with headphones and earbuds is the feeling I get with so little space between my ears and what moves air. Headphones make music not only sound weird but feel weird, too. If that makes me old fashion, then get this. I have come to love today’s modern digital music consume-to-survive world. Even though I don’t buy much music anymore–and I can’t stand most all of the music made nowadays, I’m good. Reason? I have a digitised music library that contains everything I need. Whether it’s The Beatles (the greatest album ever is Abby Roads), Beethoven (9th!) or some esoteric Jazz, I’m good. Really good. Seriously. And that’s not all. For all practical purposes, dear worst-reader, I completely missed the CD revolution, too. I couldn’t afford the equipment back then. Since the 70s I have consumed music by borrowing, sharing or trading. In fact, till about fifteen years ago, I had never even owned a sound system with speakers. But I digress.

As digital music took over by the mid 90s–along with the Internetwebs–I was still catching up on the CD revolution. Of course, at least two-thirds of the CDs I have, were all acquired pre-owned or traded. Like in the days with cassettes and albums, digital music was made for sharing. For those who consider sharing piracy, first: fuck you. Second: I still have most of the CDs I ripped in a box in my basement. I never once downloaded anything from Napster–even though I admire greatly what they were trying to do. (Note: I will never buy anything Metallica for what that $hitty band did to young people who just wanted to share music.) I did make a few downloads from BitTorrent, though. (Note: it was all part of research!) Anyhoo. I have a nice digital library of music that spans most of the 20th century. Oh, and I have two version of that library. One version is in FLAC and the other, to appease me wife’s demand for media singularity and simplicity, is iTunes compatible.

Let’s move on to the pseudo-review, shall we?

As you’ll note in the pic above, I am currently using two streaming devices for our home media. For amplification (and in order to avoid those awful sound bars, which my wife wanted after I got rid of our AVR krapp) I’m using a TEAC A-HO1 integrated amp and DAC. Here’s a review of it. I got it last year after selling my hundred pound multi-channel AVR system, 7 speakers, and one 700 watt subwoofer. I’m not even gonna worst-write how little money I got for all that krapp–which says a lot about the state of the audio equipment industry. But get this. I would have almost given it away. If I ever have to wire up five, six or seven speakers again and then try to configure an AVR for a room… I’m gonna shoot myself with your gun.

Amp and sound.

The TEAC is connected to some really, really cool Audioengine P4 speakers (not pictured). We have a fairly small living room and I’ve never once regretted having these “bookshelf” speakers–which are actually in bookshelves that surround my flatscreen TV. They are fantastic speakers and I got them on a über-great-deal from shopping on the Interwebnets. They move the air more than enough to make sound very, very enjoyable.

Streaming boxes.

For iTunes we have the AppleTV(3) connected via HDMI to the TV. The optical-out of the TV is connected to the optical-in of the TEAC. This works fine–except for the fact that one is locked into the Apple world. Which also means no high-end audio and/or limited access to my own higher-end audio files. The ATV can’t play FLAC files.

Also connected to the TV via HDMI is my RaspberryPi 2 Model B+, and connected to that is a Hifiberry DAC+Pro. This is a bit more complicated than the ATV. The HDMI of the RaspberryPi also delivers audio to the TV, and, as with the ATV, the TV converts audio signals to the TEAC’s optical-in. Again, for simplicity, I have chosen not to use the ATV’s optical out–which does produce better audio than the TV. That said, we want something more than any of these optical options, don’t we?

Analogue Audio Galore.

The Hifiberry is where the real magic happens. For less than a hundred Euros–the software, RasPlex, is free btw–the Raspberry Pi is a fantastic DAC. It actually converts and, where applicable, upscales audio and then delivers that as analog right and left stereo to the TEAC’s analog-in cinch ports. The Hifiberry DAC+ and “pro” designation means that it has the same type of chips used in high-end DACs. You can opt for a non “pro” version of the Hifiberry if you prefer to save a buck or three. But I couldn’t resist the gold cinch connectors! Nomatter.

Btw, I’ve had the RaspberryPi+Hifiberry for two years or so. I gave up on it when I first got it because I couldn’t get the drivers to work properly. Even though the HDMI of the Raspberry Pi spits out audio, it’s not half as good as what this thing spits out with the Hifiberry card attached. And so. The other day, while bored out of my early-retirement mind and while fiddling through a junk box of old gadgets, I decided to google whether or not they finally fixed the driver issue. Alas! They did. I re-installed the newest version of RasPlex on a 16GB micros SD card. I also had to fiddle with the config.txt file a bit. Then you have to tell RasPlex, using the UI, to route audio through the Hifiberry daughter card… Boom, baby! That little green light (pic above) lights up bright and shinny.

First test.

From a ripped blu-ray of Guardians of the Galaxy, the Raspberry Pi + Hifiberry streams from my Plex server via LAN crystal clear 1080p video including up (or is it down?) scaled DTS 5.1 audio to stereo and the TEAC releases what will make even an ageing grouch like me smile from ear to ear. Also. I’m really glad those boys at RasPlex got their software to the point that even I can set it up. Cool. Über cool.

Rant on.

-T

 

Is A Skewed Mind Any Worse Than The Mindless?

And it was good, your Lord said. Or maybe not, say worst-writer. Or maybe not.

It’s also good that the world is looking into who/what the people are that can come up with so much mindlessness–especially when being employed at one of the most prominent employers in the world. I mean, that is the purpose of so many currently having a look at the ten page manifesto written by a now former Google employee, James Damore, that kinda, sorta, goes the way so many went way back before liberal minds and freed thought saved the world. Or? Nomatter.

By-the-buy, I had a look and spewed a worst-thought or three about it here.

In that vein…

I mean, if you can get a job at Google, doesn’t that make you, comparatively speaking, a pretty special human being? Then again, what is a prerequisite for acquiring such a position in life? The College degree these days is nothing more than a token one has to acquire, perhaps not unlike fiat-money so that the working classes can think they’re actually achieving. Once you have a certain amount of these tokens then you can manoeuvre in your world of token commoditisation. Of course, let’s not forget that the world is now lead by the first generation of humans that have acquired tokens. The only problem is, the next generation is waiting in the wings with token-vengeance, i.e. the youngsters born of privilege and entitlement that are now working at Google.

And so…

The reality of the lie that is this token world is finally starting to sink in to some of this new generation, especially the likes of James Damore. In their confusion to comprehend the world they’ve been handed and the world they continue to enable and facilitate, the Damore’s will lead on. With that in mind…

A skewed mind is no worse than the mindless.

Good for them; entertaining for the rest of us.

Rant on. -T

Moment You Know Your Gig Is Up And #ConfessYourUnpopularOpinions

burn it down but dont hurt anybody
HDT + fire (but don’t hurt anybody) = burn the whole fcuking thing down. Source of pic: the movie Office Space

I love it. It’s one of those rare moments where there is so much crumbling in the souls of those who thought they $hit roses that I can sit back, for even this brief amount of time, and actually enjoy watching the catastrophic embarrassment of WWE or anything reality-tv. Cause that’s what we’re/you’re in, baby. But here’s the thing, dear worst-reader. There’s been quite a backlash to a recent publication by a Google automaton regarding the genetic deficiencies of females as computer programmers, or something like that. Of course, if one reads what was actually published (which I’ve only partly done), two things should come to mind:

  1. Have you nothing better to do with your expensive San Francisco ruining time?
  2. Convention and status-quo are the enemy of rational thought and the innate human desire to consume too many Jujubes.

This whole shebang is so hi-larry-us regarding this issue that I’m also wondering why rational people–if there actually are any left in my beloved #americant–don’t all get up and finally do what needs to be done. By-the-buy, if you want to know what needs to be done, read HDT and then add fire (or maybe not). As far as my enjoying this moment where others suffer, heed this: when a manifesto from an automaton blows up like this it can only mean one thing. Either there’s something wrong in Kansas (as in that Munchkinland where everything is almost perfect, ‘cept for those menacing witches and what-not) or your time is up at the fun factory–where you’ve been riding on the backs of future generations because of the greed you and your salary has been perpetuating for having done nothing except ruin the #interwebnets. Indeed.

Yeah, to have the time to write and think about what this automaton thought about means you might have a bit too much time on your hands. At a company like Google, that means there has to be a lot more of you that have too much time on their hands, too. Which also means, many, many, many automatons should be made redundant. Either that or switch your major (as in college) to eugenics.

Rant onwards.

-T

Links that motivated this post:

Pseudo Review: MacBook vs Macbook Air

three dollar bill apple logo (low res)

Gallantly playing the role of the über mindless consumer, spending the morning lazying around while on a short vacation, there’s always time to 1) practice typing and 2) blog something before we head out on our last full day around Flensburg’s Fjord. With that in mind, here’s my pseudo review of two Apple MacBooks I’ve had the pleasure of using lately.

MacBook.

First there’s the early 2016 Macbook (1,1 GHz Intel Core M3, 8/256GB). This is actually my better-half’s machine. Since she’s been using iOS more and more, and since we’re on the verge of getting her the new iPad Pro 10″, she’s letting me use it for the week. In fact, I left my MacBook Air at home for this trip and simply set up my own user account on her machine via iCloud and boom–I’m up running in my Apple universe. The thing that’s had me curious about this device since we purchased it last fall has been the M3 CPU performance and that darn skinny keyboard. Seriously. Skinny–and maybe even boney–is the only way I can describe it. But does it work?

The comparison.

My main work device is an early 2015 13″ MacBook Air (Core i7, 2,2 GHz, 8/256GB). I bought it through the Apple refurbish program almost two years ago. It was my second Macbook–the previous one being a mid-2010 13″ MacBook Pro. The Air is simply the best portable computer I’ve ever used. The keyboard is smooth. The screen, even though it’s not a new fangled retina display–is excellent. The Processing power of the i7 is enough to do minor video processing–which is why I opted for the i7. Of course, the Air, compared to the new MacBook, does have all those ports. Needless to say, two USB 3 and one thunderbolt port make a difference in everyday use. In fact, hooking up a second monitor via the thunderbolt port turns the Air into a real desktop machine. Very impressive indeed.

Love?

Get this, dear worst-reader. After a week of use I’ve fallen in love with my wife’s 12″ MacBook. The retina display is nothing less than fabulous. I have it set to the highest display settings, which I always thought would make everything too small for my ageing eyes. Instead, it’s fantastic. Getting 2304 x 1440 pixels on a screen of this physical size–especially in such clarity–is amazing. I actually find myself squinting less with the MacBook display than on my Air. And then there’s that keyboard. Holly smokes! Ever sense I fiddled with this keyboard on the first edition of the MacBook, usually while visiting an Apple Store, I thought I would never be able to type on it. Prove me wrong, Mr. Jonny Ive! The skinny, no travel keys work great. It just takes a bit of getting used to. And before I forget. The newly developed trackpad is cool, too. It’s definitely more precise and sensitive than the trackpad on my Air.

Love can be short lived.

The only negatives I can find with  the MacBook is the M3 processor and the single USB-C port. Although it handles my tasks pretty well, it demands more of the user than my Air does. There’s lag when loading web pages, when moving between virtual desktops, even when activating the dock, which I usually keep hidden. Considering the physical size of the motherboard (pic below), it does make me wonder how long it’ll take for Apple to get this thing up to real world capability. Kinda reminds me of the first MacBook Air that Steve Jobs pulled out of a manilla envelope. What a slow pooper that thing was. But perhaps Apple isn’t even interested in that sort of thing. And I’m sure there are many users like me who don’t need the highest spec machines to get lots of work done. If Apple can make the smallest useable machine they can make–and it turns out like this? I’m good with it.

macbook motherboard
The rest of the space is for batteries. Whaaaa?

Would I trade up?

As mentioned, my wife is in the process of going full iOS. She’s got her iPhone, her Apple Watch, her iPad–which she’ll be upgrading to the new iPad Pro w/ keyboard and pen when iOS 11 is released. Does that mean it was a waste to buy the MacBook? I’ve never seen her as a Mac user anyway–so I guess this was her trial machine. The real question is, would I trade my Air for her MacBook when the times comes? We certainly don’t need both machines. On the other hand, I’ve lost count of how many Macs I have at home right now. (At least four.) My off-the-cuff answer, if I’d take the Macbook after only a week of using it: hell yea! I would give up the power and speed of my Air for this little, skinny, boney MacBook. The screen is that good. And although my Air gets better battery life, the MacBook is not far behind. There’s just something about the whole package, this thing, like so many other Apple products, just fits. The screen, the keyboard, the trackpad, the weight, the screen! Did I mention that the audio it produces is phenomenal, too? Considering what Apple has done with its new MacBook Pros and that stupid touch pad, the MacBook seems like a fine alternative.

Cost?

In case you didn’t know: Macs are stupid expensive. The MacBook is waaaaay stupid (expensive). But allow me to say this as a long-time Mac user. Even though Apple is going to weird places right now, i.e. with pricing, touch bar on MacBook Pros, the Apple Watch, the newly announced iMac Pro (starting at $5k??????), etc., I’ve always found that if you know your needs and spec the machine accordingly, there’s no need to compete with specs and you don’t have to pay out the yin-yang for a more than decent work machine. The only problem is, you have to want to be in the Apple universe to really get the full benefit of these machines. Since I’m already deep in that universe, there’s no turning back now. Thumbs up for the 12″ Macbook.

Rant on.

-T

What Scares More? Who Or How A $140m Was Won In Court?

When I was kid there were two things that scared me. One was the return of my father who abandoned me when he realised the petty jubilee of war-winner’s bounty in the form of young German girls–while fulfilling his commitment to the US military–and how that wasn’t quite what he thought it would be. And the other was the 1972 movie The Poseidon Adventure. Seriously. To this day I complain to my mother about having dragged me to that film. I even remember the filthy floor that I crawled on while hiding behind the backs of movie theatre seats to escape the portrayal of suspense and human suffering on the big, wide Hollywood screen with the aftermath of a capsized ocean liner. It was indeed a dirty, filthy, grimy disgusting floor. Nomatter. I count myself lucky to not have feared what other kids feared when they were young. You know, ghosts, monsters, priests, etc. Of course, fear is something we all must deal with in life–especially in times like these where everything, everyone, The All of Life, is about one thing and one thing only: money. So I guess, as an adult without any money, I’ve had to deal with fear anew. But you know what, dear worst-reader? It doesn’t stop with being a useless eater, one who was meant to be a ditch digger but instead told those with privilege and inheritance to go fcuk themselves thirty-three times over. And with that in mind, there is one other thing that scares the krapp out of me as I start down the path of getting older than I ever thought I’d get. The thing I fear most today is power run amok in the hands of the few. And if you think it hasn’t run amok, give a look at that weird court case a few years back between Hulk Hogan and Gawker. Even though I haven’t seen the documentary discussed in the video above, I’m really looking forward to seeing it asap–as soon as it’s available here in the old country. In the mean time, I’ll utilise the wait-time to psych myself up. For, dear worst-reader, the amount of power that is currently being consolidated into the grimy hands of wealthy assholes who can manipulate the judicial system (of any country) should raise red flags not only across the world but, indeed, #americant. But then again, if those flags were raised, it could cease to be #americant. Or? Oh my. I’m so afraid of the future of the western world having given in to political conservatism and thereby monetising the judiciary of democracy that I’m already looking for movie theatre seats to hide behind. Oh. Wait. I guess I’m also a little afraid of what grime is gonna be on the floor of those movie theatre seats I try to crawl under. Or maybe not.

Rant on.

-T

Links that motivated this post:

Glass Cliff, Glass Ceiling Or How Her Corporate Soul Is Made Of As Much Nothingness As His

glass shattered

I’ve always had a problem with motherhood being on a pedestal. Is it because I was hatched? Procreation is more of a disease than something worth a baby shower and the happy wonderland consequence that is the lie of family life. I suppose that could mean I’m only partly misogynistic or just General Schmuck. Anyone remember Schmuck? He was the undersecretary of the military that served in Patton’s underpants and it is said he was lost behind a tank that made a wrong turn while hunting Rommel in North Africa carrying both a victory flag and roll of red, white and blue toilet paper. Then again, I’ve got no prejudice in my life because loss and Victoria, a grand ole bitch I’ve been fcuking for years, won’t leave me till I’m dead. And you know what they say, eh, dear worst-reader? It takes two to blame one in this game of touch and feel and everything is ok. I mean, come on, would we (men) really go for the family thing if given a choice these days? Trust me. Hatching the future is definitely worth a try. Or would we rather run off to some war-of-choice with the booty of expensive gas to cruise our broken streets in our broken and never-paid-off cars? Oh, isn’t it obvious how we ( men?) have been tricked? Played? Jerked ’round? Obviously males did go for this back in the day. Back in the day when dragging multiple wives into caves by their hair and our knuckles was a worthwhile undertaking. An undertaking that is reflected so clearly in how the world works today for the corporate state. But I’m off subject. Or maybe not.

Oh yea–we were worst-discussing my prejudices.

And so #1a

I simply hate everybody and almost everything. With that in mind, there’s no reason to feel special if I call you out for a having uterus–and a mind incapable of dealing with it–especially considering how the outer part of the feminine sells that uterus.

And so #1b

I do not hate the perfect balance between man and the uterus machine–if it can be achieved–especially in that which is manifested in a perfectly tuned turbo-charged V–8 that when given the gas it presses uterus (Her) so completely to the back of the passenger seat that breasts poke out and beg the driver-male to play another game. Hence youthful if not teenage sexuality aloft in the sky full of your candy clouds. I also find perfection in pistachio ice cream slowly blended into Napoleon ice cream after fcuking the entire day while laying in a field of daffodils and quaker oats mixed in real maple syrup. Beyond that, I gladly and openly live the life of a humble and powerless cartoon-like monarch-god that is angry and bitter and ashamed–for the sake of shame. I only blame part of what I am on the other sex because of Her desire to lock males into the uselessness of romantic love run amok in a world where pornography earns more than (insert your industry of choice here). Pornography, btw, isn’t as profitable as it is just because men want to spank it all the time. Indeed #1.

And so #2

At the behest of my better-half, the Vladimir Putin of my life, I am a man destined, like Russia, to be ruled by two-bit dictators with tits. For that, like many Russians, I am thankful because I have been endowed with

  1. a well-careered wife and
  2. a society that couldn’t save itself from itself–if it had to.

And so #3

This life that has been chosen for me because society (or is it sobriety?) has no choices left. I consider this (life) as an endeavour that is not without career and corporatist leanings. Indeed #2. We are all a slave to something. I see first-hand the unjust behaviorisms that influences not only mine but my better-half’s life–and the life of so many around me that must or are so willingly employed by the man. But enough about alter egos, wishful thinking and the admiration I abhor of those who are have-mores in the corporate world of their have-choice. And so…

I came across a new piece of feminism v emancipation yesterday: Glass Cliff. Would you believe, dear worst-reader, I had never heard of the glass cliff–until yesterday? I’ve heard of the glass ceiling, thanks to you-know-who. But the glass cliff…

The glass cliff is a term that describes the phenomenon of women in leadership roles, such as executives in the corporate world and female political election candidates, being likelier than men to achieve leadership roles during periods of crisis or downturn, when the chance of failure is highest.

As far as the origin of this nonsense?

While reading an article about the demise of Uber the other day, i.e. a corporate tech entity that is nothing if not a smart-ass corporation to join all smart-ass corporations. It’s being said that a female might be picked to help them turn things around. Seriously? Hasn’t the industry learned by now? What? Marissa Mayer not enough? What about Carly Fiorina? Should I even go down the list of female superheroes that save the world and the men around them? No. Defiantly not. So here’s the thing.

Uber should be about connecting people with immediate mobility and thereby utilising the simplicity of modern technology. Instead it is a platform–a middleman, if you will–that tries to take advantage–or as corporate smart-asses like to put it: disrupt–the taxi industry. The platform on which this money is exchanged is the genius of Uber. Yet, like most who make money on a platform, they have forgotten that the platform must also have a purpose–other then their own greed. And I’m really rambling now.

When I discovered the term glass cliff my heart lost two more beats. I’m so sorry that the feminine not only has to deal with my bull$hit but also that of others–who are so much more than worst-moi.

Good luck, ladies.

Rant on.

-T

Links that motivated this post:

This post was created w/ writing software that utilises markdown and then uploaded to this blog; what the hell that means I have no idear. Good luck.

Hey Kids! Your Future Is Being Predicted Right Now. Get It While You Can. #Fascism Game Play Galore

next to last supper from ubisoft far cry
pic is from Ubisoft; it’s called: “next to last supper”; how appropriate

What do you recall from reading Jules Verne and George Orwell, Mr. Worstwriter?

I’m so glad you asked, dear worst-reader.

I remember from both those writers how my future was being predicted. Indeed. Even though I didn’t read much when I was kid, by the time I got out of the waste-of-time that is #americant suburban-hell highschool, I was reading like a mad man. Verne and Orwell were, to me, similar writers–even though they wrote completely different stuff. Both men were writing about worlds that didn’t actually exist but unlike other forms of fiction that I consumed, their worlds were at least based on something that felt as though it could be real. And so. When I started traveling with jet airplanes, Verne’s world came true. When I started getting my ass kicked by corporatists, aka fascists, Orwell’s world came true.

Hop skip and jump to the now.

As far as I’m concerned there hasn’t been much future-telling from generations after Orwell and Verne. Why is that? My worst-guess is, the future that was told and we’re now living in is also an end-game. What Orwell and Verne didn’t or couldn’t know is that when their worlds came true, there was then nothing left after that. Or was/is there? Enter the magic world of virtual game play. Have a playstation, xbox, gamer-PC? How ’bout a nintendo or a sega? Heck, break out that old iphone or even your old zune. Computerised gaming is here, baby. And it’s doing more than competing with movies, turntables, radio-hour and a good fcuking book. In fact, my guess is, computerised gaming is better than reading. How do I worst-guess that? Easy. Where are the kids–like when I was young–who know-it-all?

And no. Millennials don’t know it all. (If they did then books would be more popular than all their krappy pop music!)

Would you believe dear worst-reader that gaming has finally come full circle? I mean, it’s come full-circle like Verne (with his then sci-fi predictions) and Orwell (with his prediction of stupid people voting and faux newz taking over the airwaves) have come full circle. Although their predictions are a bit early for my taste, what the fcuk do I care? I live for convenience–and my highschool wish of being financially independent came true before my mid-40s. And so. At my age I can gladly lean back on my wooden la-z-boy and laugh my ass off as the morons that play the game, suck up to the game, get fcuked by the game. Why? It’s as though we’ve reached a point where reality has been tuned and manipulated by great literature and by those who never read it. On top of that, it’s also been tuned and manipulated by fcuking cartoons. Ha. Ha. Ha. Ha…

Now get this.

The newest addtion to the Far Cry computer game franchise takes place in my beloved #americant. And not just any place in #americant. As though it was a premonition, the recent WWE asskicking of a reporter by a nutjob republican bully running for Congress…. Ha. Ha. Ha. Ha… Far Cry, the computer game, is set in the same place, with the same local mentality, with the same, the same, the same… #americant. Ha. Ha. Ha. Ha. I mean, it’s perfect. Ha. Ha. Ha. Where Orwell’s world could work in Bangkok as well as Moscow, Far Cry’s newest story line can ONLY work in Montana. For that we can thank all those techi a$$holes in the only industry doing anything at any price. Ha. Ha. Ha. Gulp. Sip. Burp.

Short pause.

Not only are we living better through chemicals but consuming to survive seems to be working out pretty well, too. Good luck with your future. And don’t forget, find a way to continue voting conservatives into office because for the last 50 yrs they’ve given you what you’ve got. And now you can even play them in a computer game… Ha. Ha. Ha… It’s certainly better than reading about what predicts your future… Ha. Ha. Ha.

Burp.

Rant on.

-T

Link that motivated this post: