Minisforum UM250 Thermals

Stock picture of a Minisforum UM250 small form factor PC

About a month ago, as I wrote at the time, I stopped using my 2012-vintage PC and once again started using the Minisforum UM250 small form factor PC you see at the left as my main PC. I had tried once before (back in May), but had been put off by the tendency of the Minisforum to crash or have strange graphical glitches. Second time was mostly a charm, however: the use of Kubuntu, rather than Arch or Manjaro, seems to have calmed the beast down to the point where it didn’t crash and didn’t do weird things with screen drawing.

I’ve accordingly been using the Minisforum UM250 very happily for a month or so. It doesn’t have the memory heft of my old PC (that had 96GB of ECC RAM; this only has 16GB of ordinary stuff!) and its CPU, though a shiny (but not-so-new) AMD Ryzen 5 PRO 2500U, doesn’t seem to have the raw power of my former Intel Xeon CPU E5-2680 v2: despite dating from 2013, its 20 threads seem to easily outpace the Minisforum’s mere 8. [...] 

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CPU Shenannigans

Fresh from my war with a new mini PC (which I lost, you’ll recall), I remained determined to do something to upgrade my old workstation-class desktop PC. I bought it second-hand a few years ago: it’s a Dell Precision T3610, which is a bit of a monster, and was originally constructed (I think) in around 2012 or 2013: its warranty says it started in February 2014 and expired in February 2017, so it’s somewhere in that ball-park.

It shipped with a Xeon E5-1620 v2 CPU CPU, which was launched in the third quarter of 2013, so that also helps date the machine. That CPU has (inevitably, as far as Intel was concerned back then!) 4 cores and thus 8 threads when hyperthreading was enabled. Nothing too remarkable, but not exactly shabby, either. I think when I bought it, it came with 16GB of RAM: I soon bumped that up to 96GB. So, it’s not memory constrained either! It also shipped with an Nvidia Quadro K4000, which was cutting edge at the time, but has long since been eclipsed by newer graphics cards: since I don’t play games beyond Solitaire, however, I don’t particularly care how out-of-date my graphics capabilities are! [...] 

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SACD ISO: Knifing a Fork!

The world of open source software can sometimes be confusing, because if someone likes your code, they can take it and ‘fork’ it -that is, essentially, copy it and declare it to be a new piece of software altogether. As a mere user, it can then be difficult to know if you’re supposed to use the original, or the copy (which, potentially, might be better than the original).

This is precisely what has happened to me and the utility needed to unpack/convert SACD ISO music files. [...] 

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A correspondent from the west coast of the USA recently got in touch to say that whilst he enjoyed using some of my music-related software, he regretted having to point out that the code didn’t run properly on his Raspberry Pi running the Raspbian Linux distro …but that he’d hacked a way to get it to work anyway.

A couple of thoughts came to mind when I read that. First, the grumpy-me thought that it was no wonder that the software didn’t work on Raspbian, because I go to the effort of listing the distros I’ve actually tested my stuff on… and Raspbian isn’t listed there! [...] 

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AMP Doing Its Job

It’s been a little over a fortnight since I modified my AMP player to work with a database -and, when it does so, to record every ‘play’ it decides on in a database table of its own.

So now, 15 days later, I can analyze that ‘plays’ table to determine if AMP has been doing the job I designed it for: picking a wide variety of composers and music genres, at random, and thus not creating any ‘favourites’! [...] 

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Birthday Presents

It soon being my birthday (and Christmas having just been and gone), it seemed appropriate to buy myself some presents.

The results are as you see them on the left (which you can click on, to make bigger), which encapsulates the current state of my study’s approach to things audio-visual. [...] 

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The Absolutely Minimal Media Player…

I suppose it had to come sooner or later: since all my media manipulation is done by scripts I’ve written myself (and which are freely available to download for anyone capable of installing ffmpeg and one or two other packages), it seemed appropriate to consider creating a scripted, minimally-functional media player.

The Absolutely Baching Media Player (AMP, to its friends) is the result. [...] 

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Distinguishing Artists

In the post-pudding Christmas after-glow, I have come to the conclusion that if I am going to put the recording year into the ALBUM tag (because only by including it there do we properly and completely use recorded classical music’s primary key), we might as well not fear duplicating data in another important matter: namely, the business of declaring who is the “distinguishing artist” for a recording.

It should already be common practice to have this data already present in the ALBUM tag (it’s why I own Symphony No. 5 (Karajan – 1970) for example). [...] 

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Turning up the volume…

Before I accidentally wiped the web server that runs this site, I had been blogging about the problem of SACDs and the fact that they are often mastered with absolute peak volumes set to about 6dB quieter than they really should be (for technical reasons). I thus modified by AUAC audio converter program to automatically boost SACD rips by whatever it took to get the loudest track on a CD to be as loud as it could reasonably go without becoming distorted.

Which is fine for SACDs… but there are times you think to yourself (especially with some recordings on really old CDs) that the volume levels on even ordinary CDs aren’t entirely what they should be. Whilst incorporating a volume boost into an SACD extraction tool is a good idea, a standalone volume boosting utility sounded like it might be quite useful, too! [...] 

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Down for Maintenance – Advanced Notice

This weekend, I hope to move this website from its current virtual machine host onto a dedicated physical server. The aim is to improve the speed and responsiveness of the site: though the virtual machine it’s currently running on is generously provisioned with RAM and virtual CPUs, I think the site ‘sticks’ for longer intervals than I’m entirely comfortable with. Hopefully, on a reasonably powerful physical server that is also generously provisioned, things should be more fluid and performant.

Unfortunately, transferring to a new machine means there will be an interval when the old virtual machine goes down before the new physical server can take its place. Potentially, that interval could be in the order of a few hours. The site will be completely inaccessible for those hours. My apologies for that in advance. Hopefully, it’s a one-off and normal service will be resumed (and stay resumed) fairly swiftly thereafter! [...] 

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Coming Home

If you’re reading this, it means that my move to self-hosting my website has gone more-or-less according to plan!

I’ve been paying a reasonable amount to Linode for many years now to run a server in New York on which to host this site. It’s not a lot of money (US$12 a month, if you’re really interested), but since this site is now merely a hobby and nothing at all to do with earning an income, it didn’t seem to be a good idea to keep shelling out the dollars for it when I have a loft full of spare PCs, servers and laptops (most definitely in the geriatric category, but all capable of running a decent 64-bit Linux distro in 8GB RAM) that could be tasked to do the job for free instead. [...] 

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