Remastering tracker modules like S3M oder XM

While going through some old CDs I found some tracker modules I created back in the day. Naturally I wondered how to convert these Scream Tracker 3 and Fast Tracker 2 files to a more easily playable format like ogg or mp3. For starters, this could be done by playing the files in winamp with the wave writer plugin enabled which writes the rendered audio to disc.

A more flexible solution is using the Open ModPlug Tracker, though. The OpenMPT is full featured tracker in the form of an open source windows application. I reads all kinds of tracker module formats including S3M and XM and has the ability to export a whole song as wav file. The real advantage over winamp is the channels option to render each channel to an individual wav file for further editing or mixing.

And that’s what I did with some of my modules. I took the wav files generated from OpenMPT and dropped them in Adobe Audition 2.0 to add some filters and equalizer settings for each channel and finally exported the songs as mp3s. If you don’t want to bother running a multitrack audio editor OpenMPT also has some options to enhance the playback (eg. dynamics correction) which I did not try but may be sufficient.

VmWare Server for free

VmWare released their VmWare Server for free yesterday and I had the opportunity to test it today. I am familiar with the workstation version and the recently released free VmWare viewer which I use for a couple of development VMs but I hadn’t seen any server products yet. As I understand the new free VmWare server covers about the same functionality as the former product GSX Server. It looks like VmWare is trying to secure it’s market share before other opensource virtualization tools like Xen catch which will certainly happen as soon as virtualization support in the latest intel and amd processors can be used.

As for my experiments, I installed a VmWare Server on my debian linux box without any problems. The console installation script let me customize the install paths and vmware modules were compiled against my kernel-headers successfully. As client I installed the VmWare Server Console on Windows XP which looks similar to the workstation version with the ability to connect to a server (user authentication uses PAM against the linux users btw.). I created a new virtual machine with the console but copied the harddisk image from an exisiting virtual machine (using the old workstation virtual machine directly resulted in problems with sound configuration and other stuff). Very useful is the ability to use the cd/dvd drive on the client PC which can be accessed from within the VM running on the server.

I really like the ability to disconnect from the virtual machine which then keeps running on the server and reconnect later, but then again, thats what you expect of a server. As for the performance it’s definately slower than vmware on a standalone workstation but that is understandable considering the network connection. Using the windows remote access to connect to the server seems to be only slightly faster so I suppose it’s the overall speed of the virtual machine that’s limiting. Maybe the performance can be approved by tweaking some server settings, I’ll look into that.

To conclude, the free VmWare Server is a useful tool to have and it’s apparent that it is a mature product but it could be improved performance wise.

New WordPress and Colorful Firefox Tabs

First of all I upgraded to the new wordpress 2.0.1 release which fixes a lot of small bugs (114). I’m curious about the fix for XML-RPC uploading which will hopefully mean that posting images from within flock might actually work – I have to check that out.

Yesterday I found the simple but very useful firefox extension Colorful Tabs in the list of
10 Useful Firefox Extensions That Don’t Get Glamorised. By colorizing all the tabs with different colors it makes it easier to distinguish between tabs. The only thing that was missing was an easily visible highlightening for the active tab. This is why I modified the extension and added a shadow effect for all inactive tabs so that the active tab is sticking out a bit more. Here is how it looks:

Colorful Tabs with shadow effect for inactive tabs

I contacted the author of the Colorful Tabs extension, sent him the changes and I hope he will integrate them. For now you can try the shadow effect by using my experimental modfied version of clrtabs.jar. Just replace the file chrome/clrtabs.jar in the Colorful Tabs extension.