Review: C64 Orchestra audio CD

Credits for supplying the info quoted in this review:
Wilfred Bos, Mano Scherpbier and Jeroen Tel.

For ordering info and table of contents check my previous post here.

First let’s start with the history of the CD. According to Mano, the producer of the double CD:

“the C64 orchestra started with Jeroen Tel. Jeroen Tel had chosen Rob Hubbard as arranger for this project.
Rob Hubbard wanted to arrange the music of Jeroen Tel but he only wanted
to this when his own music also were performed by the orchestra.”

Which was a good choice, I think! Rob Hubard and Jeroen Tel are both sound masters. Maybe somwhen they are doing a second round also including Chris Huelsbeck and Richard Joseph (Couldron II anyone? =) ).

The first CD starts off with one of my all-time-faves: Cybernoid II! It’s wonderful and after a while they speed it up! The Ricciotti Ensemble is really amazing and Rob Hubbard did the sheet music just perfect!

One Man And His Droid is of course a classic on the C64 which can be seen at the many remixes available of this tune in the C64 remix scene!

Supremecy is just perfect aswell, but the fact that at the beginning you hear the flut player breathing, I find confusing. I am not an expert regarding classical musisc, so maybe it should be this way.

For some reason I always remember the Delta music as something fast and fancy, however this version from the orchestra is slow but nice. But it’s something you might have to listen to a couple of times till you start to dig it (at least this was the case for me).

Let’s go to Myth (I have nothing special to say regarding Hawkeye), the C64 original is known for being silent and slow and somewhat muystical at the beginning but then it becomes loud, melodic and very agressive! How to play something agressive with an orcheastra? Use loud trumpets and a stomach shaking bass!

International Karate is one of Rob Hubbard’s masterpieces again! I like the original but somehow I find the middle part not very exciting. It misses the flair of the original. It should sound more asian and less chaotic in my opinion.

Let’s skip Master of Magic since I know it too litte to be able to really judge it.

Now you have got the commando! Right! Commando ahead! My all-time-fave of Rob Hubbard! It’s very fast for a classical interpretation and it’s sounding indeed pretty military like, exacly like intended for a “war game”. It also has the silent part in it till it continues being pretty fast and agressive again!

And Monty On the Run is just great, too! πŸ™‚

All in all, a very good CD, just wished International Karate was a bit more like it should be in my eyes.

Up to the 2nd CD: the one with the originals, and here interesting is, that the recordings sound 100% original like on a C64 but without noise. A point in which some C64 audio CDs failed, many used emulation instead of a real SID, the wrong SID model or one with bad filters.

So, how did they assure that it sounds the way it should?

Here is what they say:

“everything is recorded at the 6581 sid chip. – Jeroen Tel

“Wilfred Bos and Jason
Mackenzie did the recordings. – Mano Scherpbier

the recordings of the tunes of Rob Hubbard are done by Jason on a real C64.
As far as I remember Jason made some hardware modification on his C64 to
reduce noise on the output of the SID.

I made all the recordings on a HardSID card. I did several recordings on a
6581R3 and a 6581R4 chip so Jeroen could compare which SID chip he used to
make music on. Jeroen used all the recordings of the 6581R3 chip. He wrote
to me that he probably had a 6581R3 since the recordings of the 6581R3
sounds exactly like when he composed the music.

The recordings I’ve made are not mastered. Jeroen wanted to put the music on
the CD exactly as it sounds on a 6581. – Wilfred Bos

Interesting I find that there is no noise on the Jeroen Tel’s recordings despite not mastered. The reason is the HardSID doing the job. I experienced the same when using mine.

I find it great that so much effort has been put into the recording of the originals aswell! Of course some may say they miss the white noise of the SID but this is an audio CD and I am sure Mano also wanted that it sounds perfectly “CD like” so perfectly compareable to any other audio CD around.

You get a lot for 35€! Well done!

Now my final words about the extras: You can find those videos, etc also on the internet, but the coolest thing is the casing, however it didn’t fit that well as you can see on the photo. And also the booklet had marks right from the start. This is a common problem of certain DVD/CD jewel cases, too and most known from Electronic Arts game packages.

However the idea is sweet and lovely and very very cool I would even buy the whole product for more if neccessary. It’s supposed to imitate a C64 keyboard which it does it in a very unique way, well done!

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Review: Jakks Pacific’s Pac-Man Gold TV Game (Direct-To-TV)

Since the review of the original Pac-Man DTV in the magazine GO64!, I decided I want my hands on this one. But despite looking and asking around, I found no source that would send it to abroad USA.

Finally, I found a store on Ebay that would ship to everywhere – Thank you!

This version is the the gold version of the Pac-Man stick which means they are 8 games included instead of just one which gives you more value for your money!

Included are Pac-Man, Pac-Man PLUS, Super Pac-Man, Pac & Pal, Galaxian, Dig Dug, New Rally-X and Bosconian.

I don’t think I have to explain the games, most people will know them, especially Pac-Man. anway, the best thing of this gold edition is the casing which looks in the final retail version pretty different compared to the pics you see everywhere around the American online shops.

The most important for me is a 100% rebuild of the original arcades hardware wise.

I have compared the music of New Rally-X with a recording and I have to confess, they sound equal to me, so the hardware appears pretty much re-build.

It uses an AV-connector to your TV. (That’s why it is Direct-To-TV…). Since these Jakks Pacific TV Games are not released over here, you cannot get them in PAL, only NTSC. However most newer TVs can handle NTSC on the AV (or if you have none, on the scart connector with an adapter) connector.

According to Wikipedia, the joystick’s games are:

“… the games appear to be custom hardware but most are based on the original with modified or re-written Roms.”

Looks like they have done a nice job! With one exception: Bosconion, which is a 8-way game but the stick only goes 4 ways!

The games were also released seperately (each game in 1 stick) and with Bosconian they made the error actually twice πŸ™

But the quality of the stick is pretty nice, it steers accurately and it’s rock solid (it’s a metal stick, try to break it, you probably won’t succeed!).

Typical for USA products is, that you only get 3 months (90 days) warranty.

Also special is, that this gold edition here even features a battery for buffering your highscores for future reference, it also has a reset switch which allows you to pause the game or leave it (they call it “Menu” button).

Enclosed is also an extensive manual for covering all eventualities you could have when trying to connect your stick to the TV. (pretty outstanding try, very nice of them!), also instructions for each game are enclosed.

Compared to other DTVs, this one here has a crystal clear sound and a brilliant video output on the TV, guess this stands for good quality control and pretty skilled hardware engineers.

I want to thank Jakks Pacific, especially Joy who just told me after my purchase that they now know a guy to handle purchases from abroad USA. You may contact me or them if you wanna know who to get in touch with.

Special thanks also to Mirla who did the shipping promptly and wrapped it nicely!

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One of the best (& most expensive) USB Sticks: A-DATA BC2 (Show Me Disk)

One of the best (& most expensive) USB Sticks: A-DATA BC2 (Show Me Disk). I do not know why they (at least I found none…) removed the link from the site, but this thing is cool (and expensive) because it shows the drive name and the MBs left in numbers and as a pie graphic. The display is not powered by solar cells or batteries but by something else they describe like this:

“most unique technology–Bi-stable Cholesteric Liquid Crystal Display, showing up to 11 Characters and the remaining capacity by graph and digits”

It even received some awards.

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Fonaso manuals – German translation by me online

AmperorDirect asked me a while ago whether I would translate 2 Skype USB phone manuals into German – and so I did. These are the official translations for the Fonaso Versatil and the Fonaso Ice.

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Windows Vista X64 & Ipevo Trio: probably not fixed before Service Pack 1

I asked Ipevo again regarding the problems I experienced with Vista X64 back in September.

Here is their reply:

“As Windows Vista still contains some compabibility issues which cause recording malfunctions on Vista X64bit. If Microsoft will solve these issues, we can also upgrade and correct this function in the future.”

So doesn’t look like it will work before the release of Windows Vista Service Pack 1 which is aimed for the 1st quarter of 2008.

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Now you can rate my posts!

A friend suggested it should be possible to rate my posts, so I have added this possibility now.

The code for this I found here.

I just had to exchange the permalink code and add a script closing tag at teh end, otherwise it would deface the blog if viewed in IE7!

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internet party

I found this today, totally stunning.

Imagine PayPal, MapQuest, AskJeves, Ebay, Amazon, MySpace, Facebook, Wikipedia, Google and many othrs invited to a party. This is how they would look like most likely.

The characters are great and fit perfectly and very nice actor skills, well done and VERY funny, do not miss it!

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Product Review: Ipevo SOLO

Everybody who has read my erlier reviews knows what to exspect here. πŸ™‚

I have read a couple of reviews before and felt like some things got missing.

First of all, what do we have infront of here? A desktop phone which looks pretty pretty – except it has a huge (for this kind of phone at least) display of 2.4 inch of very good quality compareable to the SPH101!

It seems like the IPEVO marketing guys and technicans had a closer look on the failures of previews Skype on Devices products like the masses of Skype wi-fi phones.

The phone is a 24/7 phone so never pull the plug on it and just connect it to your system’s router (if you have no router you can also connect it directly to your DSL/cable modem since the phone features an internal 1 port network switch so your phone acts like pass-through devices to your PC).

Since I am having a port free on my router, I decided to directly connect it on PORT 4 to my router.

DHCP is default factory setting, so my router attached automagically an IP address to my phone. But you can also change the network settings so it’s even compatible to weird proxy settings.

You can even setup a static IP inside the phone’s network settings, which is probably only useful if you do not have a router since the DHCP service of the router will do the same if I enter the mac address of the phone.

Ipevo PR claims that the SOLO is so intiuitve to use that even your grandmother can use this phone and they meant it serious – Well, if your grandmother knows English of course – because this is a requirement since the phone only knows Chinese simplied, traditonal and English of course. We have seen this with the SPH101 in past, so another firmware update will probably fix this. It’s about time Ipevo, noticing that the release date of this beast was June 2007 already.

Also the phone came pre-installed with the US receptacle plug. Well, hope your granny will manage to exchange it with the EU plug which is also included in the package.

Anyway, once placed nicely on the desk to my left, time to switch it on.
First, I got to choose the language I want (English), then time and then Date, then country and then city code, which is great because I always find it uncompfortable with the Skype wi-fi phones I have seen that I always had to enter the country code and the city code infront. Then you also have to agree on the Skype terms which are this time just links instead of scrollable text.

Second thing you will notice if the blue LED that is lightening up. First you think it indicates that it is powered, but after youz have searched 30 minutes for the power switch (manuals are boring anyway so why reading? =) ), you end up with the result that there is none. SO this one is for something else. Indeed it means that thet phone is “ready” (Ipevo calls it standby mode).

Anyway, we were speaking about the ease of use so back to this. Once the contacts are downloaded (which will take quite a while but your phone will do this only once in a lifetime so relax), time to take up the receiver and what do I hear? A dialing tone! Yep, Skype has no dialing tone but the phone generates a fake one to signal that the phone is ready to receive a number you dial.

With the softkey on the right you can open your contact list. Noticing this is a speaker phone, there is one thing that is important: If you select a contact and press the speaker phone, it will start calling your contact already!

Now ready for the first call. Result: The call quality is perfect, doesn’t matter if you use the handset or the speaker which you can switch between pressing the speaker button. It also has a volume + – key and a mute key. And last but not least, re-dial key-pressing will result in opening the list of outgoing calls you have made.
Indeed the call quality is so perfect that people tend to forget that you are using a desktop phone and not a computer and ask you to start up your webcam for Skype video πŸ˜€

If you are used to a round and curvey handset that attaches nincely to your ear you will be disappointed as the IPEVO SOLO’s one is uncompfortable and blocky. However after a couple of calls you will get used to it, finding the right angle and position for your ear. Anyway, the handset appears so much 80’s like with a hyper modern 2.4″ coloured LCD display that you can adjust the angle of to your needs.

If you are trying to add MySpaceIM users to your contact list, you will not find any myspace users in the SOLO’s Skype people search.

“What is the USB port for?” is a question we have read in many reviews in past and the answer is simple. It has 2 uses:

1) You can attach it to a PC and so do firmware updates (but an USB cable is not included so you will have to buy one with a standard A plug on both ends) or you can make the phone wireless with a wi-fi adapter (minus the AC cable of course which you need for the 220-240 v/50hz – battery pack anyone? =) ).

According to Skype’s Garage blog

“the new wireless adapter for the phone will be available soon”

which is not entirely correct. According to Ipevo it is available but yet only to USA or Taiwan:

“IPEVO provides specific wifi adapter which proforms the best with SOLO. Please be acknowledged that the other wifi adapters may not function well on SOLO. Moreover, except Taiwan and the USA, we do not have to sell this SOLO accessory overseas.”

my inquiry whether one could order it from thus offices even from abroad stood unreplied as of yet.

How well does the phone perform when its unattended? Pretty well! If you want to use it like your normal home phone you should never go offline on Skype or logout since you will not be notified about missed calls or voicemails, on the other hand common for Skype is (since it is an IM client after all) that people will straight call you if they cannot send you text messages since the phone will tell them that they can “call instead”. Solution is here to switch to DND mode which will make the phone stop ringing.

Now the things that has this phone in comon with other Skype on Devices gadgeds:

-The same 3 ringing tones. Skype modern, Skype classic, and bubbly

-You can participate in conference calls but you cannot host them (would require probably too much CPU power)

-Since Skype is based on multi-login accounts, you can keep Windows clients, Mac clients, Linux clients, wi-fi phones and what not running and once an incoming call is noticed all will ring

-You can’t send SMS from the phone

-You can define a stwich-off period of time for the display – however the SOLO will first go darker before it toally switches off the display.

What I miss is a backlight for the keys so you can also perfectly use it in darkness.

Instead Ipevo included a nice paper manual which is full of pictures and easy instructions and fully in colour!

And since you have the LED flashing on missed events you no longer have to press a key to reactivate the phone to see wether you have missed something while you have been away!

In my pros and cons I will only include the pros and cons of the phone, not the Skype client that is included in the phone since all the other phones have the same “problems”.

+Very easy to use and feels like a real desktop phone
+speaker phone function is perfect, no echos, no nothing – better than the SPH101!
+Ecellent 2.4 inch display and LED plus flexibility in the network configuration.

-Wi-Fi adapter only availble for Taiwan and USA as of now.
-Handsets design requires time to get used to it depending on users requirements.
-Only 3 speed-dial keys, I would have prefered 6
-A B-Type USB jack would have been better since many users have spare USB cables flying around.

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It’s Wikipedia’s 7th birthday!

It’s Wikipedia’s 7th birthday as reported by the Propeller Blog!

I am wishing you all the best for now and the next 7 years to! Thanks for so many referals and info you have supplied to the humankind πŸ™‚

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Installing a XBOX360 Controller in Windows Vista X64 can be painful!

Well, I like to learn from mistakes others did and so I decided when I wanted a Xbox360 controller, don’t get the wireless one as others have problems with it.

You know there is this golden rule: Never use the old drivers coming with a product on a CD since those drivers are old and obsolete. Download from their homepage instead and so I did.

However what I noticed was, as soon as I plugged in the controller, the USB Sound card / USB headset would stop playing properly. All was overamped and shaked, a really awful sound experience!

Yes, the driver seemed to conflict with the C-Media sound codecs that are coming with Vista. I have tried several USB ports of course, until I just decided to put it into my 2nd USB hub and uninstall the driver and the driver file from the Device Manager and let it reinstall by letting it searching for the drivers online which obviously downloaded and installed some old drivers, since If I would run Windows Update now it will tell me that there is an update from November 2007 containing the latest drivers from August 2007!

I decided to hide it from the selection since it works now!

How to see whether I have successfuly installed the stock driver?

Here is how to see it:

Go to the Device Manager and check the driver details of the “XBOX 360 Controller” in the device class “Microsoft Common Controllers”

If yours reads the same like mine you should be fine:

“Driver Date: 21.06.2006
Driver Version: 6.0.6000.16386″

Also the XBOX Guide button won’t work which is a sign that you won the battle.

I have informed the XBOX 360 Hardware support about this, too.

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