New York 08

December 23, 2008



September 8, 2008

Recycle: Join FreeCycle!

September 4, 2008

Seems a lot of folks dispose of perfectly reusable stuff in the rubbish.

And, government subsidised organisations would rather smash to pieces various items to reclaim their component valuable materials.

For things that still can be used, repaired, modified or learnt from, I very much feel that this is a horrible sin 😦

Freecycle Logo

So join Freecycle!

Members freely advertise their WANTEDs & OFFEREDs on an internationally run Yahoogroup email service. Ride over to either the main site or to find out more.

Though I’ve been given some excellent treasures though the huge London FreeCycle list, the service has been good for actually clearing my own space, moving on things I’d never use.

“The pleasure of giving junk should be for life – not just for Christmas!” 🙂

Programming: The Microsoft Script Editor

September 4, 2008

MSE EditorThe ‘Microsoft Script Editor’ (MSE) program is not a very well advertised application out of the suite of programs supplied in MS Office 2003.

Previously before I found about MSE’s existence, I used to code with an application called HTML-Kit to do my HTML and VBS application development. Although not a bad program, it had stability problems when saving files and would often trash the one I was working on.

MSE has got the following useful features;

  • IntelliSense code completion,
  • Good integration with script debugging in IE, Wscript and Cscript.

It unfortunately needs some configuration and registry editing to get the best out of it. Here is a collections of what I’ve found by googling about.

Installing (Finding) the MSE editor application

If you do a full install of MS Office 2003, you should find the application file at the following location. If not, run Office 2003 setup again and add ‘HTML Source Editing’ under the {Office Tools} installation category.

“C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\OFFICE11\MSE7.EXE”

Best to make a short cut to this and place it on your desktop. Microsoft normally expects the user to start this application in MS Word {Tools/Macro/Microsoft Script Editor}. That’s dumb, it deserves its own link.

Enabling Just-In-Time debugging

In Internet Explorer (IE7) under {Tools/Internet Options/Advanced tab}, you can clear the checkbox under {browsing/Disable script debugging (Internet Explorer)}. It’s normally disabled by default to make life easier for web surfing where most users are not into debugging faulty things like:

IE Debug message

Though this may now drive you mad for your own IE web surfing. There is a solution for this – surf with Firefox instead 😉

In the MSE application, set {Tools/Options} as following.
Just-In-Time debugging options in MSE

When your application crashes at a faulting line, or code execution comes across a breakpoint that you have set through MSE, you’ll be placed back into the editor with the line highlighted in yellow. If you have programmed before in VB/VBA or similar, you’ll be familiar in what you can do here – single step, step over, watch variables – it’s a lifesaver 🙂

Debugging WSH and VBS scripts

The environment is set up by default to debug scripts running inside the Internet Explorer process. However, you can choose to use the wscript.exe and cscript.exe interpreters by selecting “view/open with” and adding those alternative choices to use instead.

For instance, add the command line ‘wscript.exe //x’ with a friendly name of ‘wscript (start in debugger)’ – and ‘open’ the application from this dialog rather than clicking the run button on the toolbar (which targets IE).

Finding more information

There are lots of other websites and blogs about this tool. Here is one

Projects: SlimServer ‘Server Power Control’ Plugin

September 4, 2008

The following code is for slimserver 6.5.1 only. The new squeezebox server software is not supported by this code, however there are plugins written by others that provide the same functionality. This post is left here only for reference.

*** 7/10/10 – Check out the plugins section of the slimdevices forum, where Gordon Harris has taken on this project and improved it considerably! ***


Slim logo

My Slimdevices Slimserver runs on a old power hungry Pentium III 800 MHz which I prefer not to left running when I’m not using it. Shutting the thing down was either a trip into the garage, or a terminal server remote login via another networked computer (hopefully still running) to log it off!

the plugin
I have thus written a plugin to avoid this messing about. I know there are similar plugins about based on running batch files, or automated from inactivity timeouts – but I wanted something a little bit more direct 🙂

The Slimserver 6.5.1 code is for Windows machines and force closes other applications except Slimserver which is (hopefully) shutdown correctly. The Linux / Mac talented among you may suggest changes for those platforms.

Once installed, you will find a “Server Power Control” entry in the Squeezebox unit’s displayed plugins list. Clicking right, you have the choice of shutting down or restarting the server. Clicking right from here will do the selected action in 3 seconds (which also blanks the display) unless you navigate back. If a track is playing, it will remain playing from the players buffer – no big issue.

The perl module file ‘’ should be placed in Slimserver’s plugin directory, and Slimserver restarted.

Uses the Win32 API method, Win32::InitiateSystemShutdown

*** 7/10/10 – The following code is here only for reference. It will not work with current releases of Squeezebox Server. Please view the forum link at the top of this post! ***

Download the file here -> (4.5kB, GPL License).

Updated 24th April 2007

Slimserver 7 update / Win32

Here is the PowerCtrl plugin modified by Gordon Harris to work with Slimserver 7. Unzip the file into the server\Slim\Plugin folder. (The files need to end up in server\Slim\Plugin\PowerCtrl)

*** 7/10/10 – The following code is here only for reference. It will not work with current releases of Squeezebox Server. Please view the forum link at the top of this post! ***

Download the file here -> (2.7kB zip, GPL License).

Slimserver 7 update / Linux

And here is Gordon’s modifications which makes this plugin work with Slimserver 7 on linux. This version is linux only and won’t work with Win32.

Install the contents to /usr/local/slimserver/Plugins/PowerCtrl

Manually delete the /usr/local/slimserver/Cache/plugin-data.yaml file.

As root, add the slimserver user to the /etc/shutdown.allow file:
touch /etc/shutdown
echo “slimserver” >>/etc/shutdown

edit the /etc/sudoers file:
Comment out the line with: Defaults requiretty


%slimserver ALL=NOPASSWD:/sbin/shutdown -h now
%slimserver ALL=NOPASSWD:/sbin/shutdown -r now

restart slimserver and voilà!

*** 7/10/10 – The following code is here only for reference. It will not work with current releases of Squeezebox Server. Please view the forum link at the top of this post! ***

Download the file here -> (2.6kB zip, GPL License).

Compact Disc: Rotel RCD-971 (HDCD)

September 4, 2008

This Rotel RCD-971 is a fine performer for a CD player, incorporating a few late nineties features to get just a bit more out of the format including solid bass and the extended volume dynamics of HDCD.

The latter goodie relies on specially mastered CD discs encoded with the Pacific Microsonics (now Microsoft) High Definition Compatible Digital system.

I have a few of these discs from various artists that do seem to give my system a bit of a work out. At the same time they reveal a bit of detail in dry unprocessed instruments and human voices because of the included HDCD decoder.


However, as the most heavily used mechanical thing in my audio system, the RCD-971 has a few moments of misbehaviour.

I’ve found on accidentally placing a blank computer CD in the deck that the poor thing gets confused checking it out and won’t release it on eject. Also if the tray is open a slight tap will very quickly close it, which is reminiscent of the famous cash register scene on Ronnie Barker’s ‘Open all Hours’. Then finally, and I haven’t figured out quite why it’s doing this, track 10 is sometimes the first track to play rather than track 1!

Because the Rotel’s strengths seem to be the 18-bit Burr-Brown DAC and the HDCD decoder, when the time comes that the Sony mechanism used eventually loses its marbles, I may check out using the remains as an outboard digital converter to another deck – possibly a self modded DVD player or even a PC CDROM drive.

Cassette Decks: Marantz SD-460

September 4, 2008

I purchased this autoreverse cassette deck at a secondhand shop in London’s Notting Hill District for something like 40 quid. It looked hardly used but someone had removed the cassette load door. Happily my local HiFi shop managed to order one for me, and it fitted nicely.

The autoreverse feature of these decks are typically scorned at by some cassette users for having a detrimental effect to the sound. There are two possible choices for tape head configuration – either use a 4-track head and switch pairs in-use depending on the direction of the tape, or use a 2-track head and spin it around on a little platform to again match the tape direction. There is also the complication of driving the correct reels, providing twin capstan rollers, sensing tape type and overwrite protection, adding an erase head (or two!) and ultimately maintaining good speed stability and audio fidelity

I’m happy to say my SD-460 performs well in this respect, and is reliable to this day. This is even more remarkable given that the great Dutch Royal firm of Philips was in ownership of Marantz when this deck was built – and their traditional cost cutting which fails other Phillips products hasn’t taken it’s toll with this one 🙂