Editor's Note: Fried PCs, Computer Sound Studios, Quiet!
Jan 10, 2009, 00:03 (13 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Carla Schroder)
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by Carla Schroder
It's been an interesting week. My main workstation crashed; it
boots to a Busybox prompt, and emits all sorts of interesting "drdy
err, unc" errors. Which sounds like there is a pervert inside my PC
who is related to me. But a quick Web search reveals that this
means either I have a hard disk with bad sectors, or a filesystem
with errors. The second one is repairable with an fsck or two, the
first one is terminal. I'm not sweating it; I have spare PCs and
good backups. Maybe I'll get to it this weekend, maybe not.
Hopefully it's the old 10 GB PATA hard disk (remember when that was
big?) and not the cool new giant SATA disk. It came with a
three-year warranty, but who needs the hassle.
I've been suspicious of the mainboard for some time because both
DVD drives are no longer recognized by the BIOS, and sometimes odd
things happen when I plug something into a front USB port. Like a
reboot or a freeze. But as long as it kept working well enough to
get my work done, why worry? Now that it has attained a state of
no-longer-ignore-able brokenness, I'm going to use this as an
opportunity to build a sleek, powerful, super-quiet PC.
I moved operations to my "studio" PC, which is in a nice little
front room in my house. This is the official music room where we
keep our recording gear and musical instruments, and the
photo/music editing computer. It's nice and bright, and next to the
living room which has the good stereo system. I'm thinking yay, now
I can have good tunes while I work, instead of my ratchety old
boombox way back in the computer cave at the other end of the
house. But there is a flaw in this beautiful scheme, which is the
studio PC is just noisy enough to get in the way of pleasant
listening. Having it quieter in here also means I won't have to
work in headphones so much.
Putting the PC down on the floor under the desk cuts down quite
a bit of noise, but I make a lot of music CDs so that is
inconvenient. Fortunately, thanks to the awesomeness of the USB
protocol, I can buy an external CD/DVD writer. (Lightscribe, of
course.) Sit that on top, computer underneath, quiet fans etc., and
it should be pretty darn tolerable. How did we ever get along
before USB? Remember the grotty days of serial ports and parallel
ports? Nasty hackish parallel-passthrough that sometimes worked?
Dog-slow buses that moved bits like glaciers? This is heaven,
folks, in case you hadn't noticed. With USB 3.0--5Gbps data rate!--
on its way we're going to be flying.
I can use these experiences in my soon-to-be finished Audacity
book, and I never mind a trip to Newegg, so as usual everything
works out. (Who else remembers Egghead
Software? They're not related to Newegg, it just made me think
I should mention the software I use on the studio PC:
Digikam, ImageMagick, and Gimp for photo editing and archive
Audacity, K3B, Sox, LAME, VLC, and dvda-author for audio recording
and editing, and CD/DVD authoring