My new PC speakers : M-Audio AV40

3 months ago, I decided to buy a pair of speakers with decent sound quality for my PC and ended up getting the Swans HiVi D1010MKII 08. I wrote in an earlier post that I found the sound quality to be excellent – I had no complaints at all, especially since I got them at a decent price. But unfortunately, the build quality was a lot less impressive: on one fine Sunday morning, the left speaker refused to produce any sound. I called the retailer and apparently the dealer no longer represents Swans here any more. I found out the hard way that I wasn’t going to get any support for this and was not happy at all.

I couldn’t go back to my old Altec Lansing 221 speakers either – they worked alright – but treble and resolution were completely missing and after a few months of using the Swans, it was unbearable. So I ended up buying another pair of speakers, this time I opted for M-Audio’s AV40.

Right out of the box, I found the speakers’ bass overwhelming even without using the bass boost feature. I put this down to speaker placement as the AV40s have a bass port at the back of the speaker and my limited desktop space means the speakers sit close to the wall. I used some foam to stuff up the port and that really helped.

So how do they compare to the Swans? I would say that I still prefer the Swans which sound slightly better (from recollection) and are less fussy with placement (because it has no ports). The AV40s also look and feel more tacky because of the use of plastic despite costing nearly twice as much. BUT, what’s the use of preferring the Swans if they are so unreliable? On the plus side for the M-Audio is the speaker wires are just normal speaker wires, so they are replaceable and upgradable.

Don’t get me wrong, the M-Audio AV40s are nice and are definitely an upgrade on run-of-the-mill PC speakers which really aren’t cheap these days. And they are keeping me happy too.


Swans HiVi D1010MKII 08 is a major upgrade for me

My latest upgrade to my home PC, where I listen to most of my music, is the Swans HiVi D1010MKII 08 powered speakers. I am indeed very happy with my new acquisition as I managed to get them for a very reasonable price and I am now hearing details that my previous pair of Altec Lansing 221 multi-media speakers could not reproduce.

And now I finally have a reason to re-rip my CD collection to FLAC.

TwitterFon best Twitter app on iPhone?


Ever since I started using Twitter, I have wondered what the best Twitter app on iPhone is. Turns out Gizmodo covered this in a great article in late Jan 2009. The article reviews both free and paid apps for iPhone. It seems I am already using the best free Twitter app already as I am using TwitterFon . . .

Click on the link below for the full story.

iPhone Twitter App Battlemodo: Best and Worst Twitter Apps for iPhone.

My first Ubuntu 8.04 Hardy Heron install

Recently, I patched up an abandoned PC sitting in the back of my room and ventured into my first experience of a Linux distro.

Half a year ago, one late night, while surfing the web, my PC beeped, the screen went blank and the computer failed to reboot. After much trouble-shooting, I discovered that the SATA controller on the motherboard was fried. I ended up building a new PC around a more modern dual core CPU, and my old AMD single core system was left abandoned.

Fixing The Hardware
2 weeks ago, a friend of mine threw out an old PC. I promptly took that machine apart and salvaged the PATA hard disk. My guess was that the motherboard in my old PC was still functioning fine apart from the SATA controller, and I could probably get it to work with a older PATA drive connected to one of the IDE controllers. This turned out to be case and I now have a spare PC to play around with – so I decided to install Ubuntu 8.04 Hardy Heron onto this system.

Before installation, my prime worries were whether Ubuntu would recognize all the hardware – which included an AMD 64 3200+ CPU, an ATI X700 series video card, and an Asus A8N-E motherboard – and difficulties in configuring the installation.

Installing Ubuntu 8.04
I am glad to report that my first experience of Ubuntu was a very pleasant one. Installation went without a hitch. Loading the OS via an installation DVD, I was taken through a simple 7 step guided process – all of the onscreen instructions were clear and easy to understand. The installation took about 15 minutes.

Upon completion of installation and a quick re-boot, I entered the Ubuntu desktop. Everything was working smoothly: keyboard and mouse were working, monitor was displaying in correct screen resolution, and broadband connectivity was present. As far as I can tell, all the hardware was working properly.

I was then prompted for 2 items : enabling drivers for the ATI video card (when I agreed, Ubuntu downloaded and installed without any problems) and system updates. A total of over 350 updates totalling 360+ MB were identified and this took roughly 40 minutes to download and install.

Next I launched Firefox 3.0.3 and was checking my mail in no time.

Overall, I am impressed with Ubuntu 8.04 and had decided to delved more into the OS.

My first Ubuntu Desktop : with Cairo Dock and Rainlendar

Ummagumma goes mobile!

Over the last half a year, I have become acquainted with 2D barcode and mobile content technologies. As a result, this blog now has a mobile version that can be conveniently viewed on mobile handsets.

On the top of right sidebar, I have placed a QR code that links to the mobile version of the blog. The first thing users need to do is install a 2D barcode reader onto their handsets. Once they have the reader, all they need to do is scan the QR code with the software, sort of like taking a snapshot of the code. The software interprets the QR code, launches the browser and loads the webpage. This helps bypass the gruesome task of inputing the URL into the handset browser (though of course you can do that too). Most modern handsets come installed with decently capable browsers and newer models with 3G and HSPDA connectivity would be ideal for this purpose.

There are many free 2D barcode readers on the market for mobile handsets, but unfortunately, the number of models they support vary greatly. The 2D barcode readers I would recommend at this moment are i-nigma (which performs incredibly well on Symbian Series 60 handsets) and QuickMark.

Another useful utility, or rather web service, that I rely on to produce a mobile version of the this blog is Mofuse. This web service offers a simple and rather brain-less way to create a mobile handset compatible version of any webpage or blog. Once registered (free), users can create pages from scratch or simply pointed their mobile site to the RSS feed of their blogs. Essentially, Mofuse loads and converts the RSS feed into a mobile friendly format, so once set up this way, users no longer have to maintain or fuss over their mobile blogs. The mobile version of Ummagumma is currently text only as I find this more efficient for viewing on handsets. Mofuse is a brilliant idea executed well. Highly recommended!

P.S.: the link under the QR code offers viewers a preview of what the mobile version of Ummagumma would look like on their handset screens.

My new phone : Nokia E65


I acquired a new handset after using my Nokia 3230 for more than 3 years. Initially, I was considering a few Sony Ericsson W series handsets, but at my new job, I need to be able to install a 2 dimensional barcode reader onto my mobile phone and the client works best on a Symbian phone.

I ended up comparing two phones, the Nokia 6120 Classic and Nokia E65. I actually liked the 6120 slightly more but the salesman said some customers had negative experiences installing software onto the phone. As a result, I ended up buying the E65.

I spent some time transferring my contacts over to my new phone and have been trying to get used to the menu navigation. Despite having used a S60 phone before, the E65’s newer 3rd edition S60 interface is different enough from the 3230 for me to need to refer to the manual.

First impressions of the phone are positive. It has a very nice screen, the menu is significantly nicer to look at and the default screen is indeed much more informative than the older S60 one. On the negative side, because the default screen has quite a few lines of info, using wallpapers makes it difficult to see anything properly – and the text blocks the images anyway.