Mine the Harvest

Archive for March, 2014

Ditto X2 Track Import Failure

by on Mar.23, 2014, under Linux, Music

TC Electronic recently released the Ditto X2 guitar looping pedal. Building on the success of the previous version, the X2 allows you to import backing tracks and export / import your own loops. However, getting this feature to actually work is another matter. There are a few show stopping pitfalls to be aware of which I’ll try to clarify here in the hopes other users might benefit.

First, some good news: Linux support. Though not officially supported the import / export functions work fine under Linux. When connected via USB the pedal is recognized as a USB storage device. Simply open it using your file manager and drag and drop into the Track folder. I have found no Linux specific issues with it. The issue below affect all operating systems I have tested: Windows, OS X and Linux.

The following summarizes the issues I have experienced:

Track Source Issue Solution
Own Ditto Exported Loops Re-importing TRACK.WAV fails – despite being 44.1K   Convert tracks  
StarJam Downloads Importing fails as some are in 48K format.  Convert tracks
JamTrack Central Fee Tracks    Provided mp3’s import fine N/A

Details for each issue and solution are below.

Exporting / Re-importing Own Tracks

I encountered this rather show stopping issue: I could export my own loop and it would appear in the Track folder when connected via USB. I could copy off the exported TRACK.WAV and TRACK.AIF file just fine. However, I could not get any .wav loop I created to import, though .mp3 files would import and convert fine.  It was so weird:

(continue reading…)

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Linux CPU Microcode Updates

by on Mar.08, 2014, under Linux

Ever notice boot messages like:

perf_event_intel: PEBS disabled due to CPU errata, please upgrade microcode

Linux supports applying CPU microcode updates at runtime.

Should you do so? Have microcode updates already been applied? How do you apply them?

Intel does not issue release notes with microcode, thus they are a black box. Despite not knowing precisely what fixes they contain, it seems to me applying the manufacturers intended update is likely to do more good than harm. Fortunately this is quite easy to do, especially with a 3.4 or newer kernel.

Granted, a microcode update is not going to magically grow new circuitry and upgrade your i7 to support AVX, but I’ve been interested in how all this worked for a while and so decided to dive in.

Microcode is distributed in ACSII encoded cryptographically signed binary files which are available for Download from Intel. A variety of tools exist to extract and apply updates from this file.

The following article on my wiki contains information on Intel and AMD microcode updates applicable to any Linux distribution.


Happy patching.

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Guitar Scratch Remover

by on Mar.08, 2014, under Music, My Life

A couple weeks back my guitar received a healthy buckle rash during a jam session. It happens.

The back had about an 8″ diameter area that was scratched pretty badly. While none of the scratches were deep enough to go all the way through the finish they were cringingly bad.

The sad state of affairs was remedied completely by a miracle product to which I give a resoundingly awesome, five star review: Guitar Scratch Remover

Before and after pictures were very challenging given the high gloss, dark color of my guitar, available lighting and a cheesy camera. The pictures did neither justice to the agony of the scratches nor the brilliance of the result. Suffice it to say it was like this:

Before: Oh man. Cringe. That sucks. Buddhistic thoughts of the transient nature of life, impermanence and perils of attachment. I should just accept them with pride as battle scars on the axe – which might be easier had I been the one to scratch it. I wonder if there is any scratch remover that would work (huge doubt). Walk away.

After: OMFG! This stuff is magic, alien reverse engineered, nanotechnology marvel of materials science. The scratches are GONE. Not better. You can’ tell – at all. Hell, I can’t tell. Holy cow.

Of course Google and Amazon reviews lead me instantly to Guitar Scratch Remover, but my skeptical nature did not leave much room for hope. Sure, it looked good. Silicon free. Great reviews. Still, every “scratch remover” I’ve used has been little more that a polish and hardly removed anything. And given the finish and depth of these clearly there was no hope. But hey – why not risk $20? Everyone seems to rave about this stuff.

And rightly so. I started right off with the blue compound and applied some pretty serious elbow grease. After the first application there were immediate and excellent results, I’d say an 80% improvement. If that had been it, I would have considered it a success. I could not expect more. Three more applications and the scratches were utterly gone. Amazing. I then used one application of the red compound which restored the high gloss shine and blended everything out. You could not have asked for a better end result.

This stuff really works. Read and apply the directions exactly and put some force into buffing it. Also note that while safe for nearly all high gloss finishes there are some guitars (Rickenbacker, etc.) you should contact them about first to be sure.  The $20 players kit contains plenty of both compounds, you will have lots left for future scratch maintenance.



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