Monday, March 3, 2008

Gotchas, gotchas, gotchas

I've learned a lot of hard cold facts on how to deal with multimedia systems. Here are the examples:

  • White fungi can grow on a CD medium surface and even often render the media unreadable, though in most cases the medium can be rescued by wiping out the fungi. (Be careful not to damage the acrylic surface!)
  • Windows XP goes into an infinite loop (100% usage of a CPU core) to try to read an unreadable CD medium. If you don't have a multi-core machine, you'll be getting into a trouble. Why the CD/DVD drive cannot tell you that the media seems to have a problem, rather than just simply retry and wait for the timeout periods?
  • iPod 5G firmware Version 1.2.3 can crash and reboot forever, just because the album title field of an MP3 file contains an unreadable/irregular character. The iTunes 7.6.1 for Windows is running smoothly without any error message even with the MP3 file, so you can't tell what's really wrong until you try-and-fail the whole possible cases.
  • You cannot easily attach still pictures to an audio file without external software. And I realize that's the meaning of the word authoring of a streaming video.
  • You have to make a set of still pictures into motion pictures or a video stream first first, before syncing with an audio stream and make them a video stream, to be broadcast on the Internet, such as on YouTube. (A good news is that you can do this by a set of the open source software, such as mjpegtools and Avidemux.)
  • Gracenote CDDB has been broken for WinAmp, so I have to migrate into iTunes, just to pick up the metadata of each song I'm going to put into my lovely iPod. I like my iPod very much, but iTunes for Windows is really a big slow program and I hope it was a bit smaller and faster.

And I even learned some security and systems administration tips:

  • Many of PCI Serial-ATA cards cannot be used for operating systems other than Windows.
  • A 13-year old hard disk can spin up and is readable even if you once put it in your closet and left it unplugged for 10 years.
  • As of 2008, you can hardly find a SCSI interface card for a PC, at least in Osaka.

Then I remember the truth: your computer could be the number one device to consume your time and kill your productivity. So how many gotchas do you get every day? Ten? Or a hundred? And how many hours or even days do you lose?