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APC BX1000

Got a new UPS: the APC BX1000 Back-UPS RS 1000VA. The BX models aren't on APC's site, but they're comparable to the BR models minus a couple of features.

It's big & heavy and offers good protection. With a total of 8 outlets (6 with battery backup, 2 with surge protection), it handles my two computers, two LCD monitors, an 50W integrated amplifier, and more without a hiccup.



Movie Purchase


Finally found one of my Skinemax faves at And what a delightful surprise that it was new and offered by, of all places, my favorite local music store, Newbury Comics.



Film Review: Return of the Living Dead: Rave to the Grave (2005)


Return of the Living Dead: Rave to the Grave (2005)

Go to the review






Recording Stern & Sirius sound quality


With Howard Stern's premiere on Sirius today, I've been looking for the right software to record the show for the past week. I downloaded High Criteria Total Recorder 5.3 Standard Edition and it seems to be exactly what I'm looking for.

I want to maintain high sound quality, but I don't want to deal with large WAV files. The show airs from 6am to 11am Monday thru Friday with a 1-hour wrap-up show, so that's 6 hours per day and 30 hours per week. Although recording in the WAV format would produce the best quality, it'd be impractical for my needs and difficult to backup all those GBs of audio bits. So I settled on recording to MP3.

Total Recorder can output to MP3 using the LAME encoder, so I set it to output an MP3 with a 320kbps bit rate (which I believe should be more than sufficient). A 6-hour recording produces a file size of ~875MB. 875MB * 5 = 4,375MB (4.375GB) and that will fit on a single DVD±R, i.e. I can fit a week's worth of shows on one recordable DVD.

For daily listening I use my 60GB iPod, however the iPod doesn't support 320k MP3s. So I use Audacity to trim the file and then re-encode it to 96k, which produces a file size of ~275MB. Yes it takes an additional step and produces two files, but the smaller file size is easier to manage and transfers take less time. So far, it's worked perfectly.

I've had Sirius for almost a month and I can say it's sound quality is good, not great. Sirius employs compression, which is most easily heard on the music channels, resulting in sound quality below that of CDs. The dynamic range and punch you'd hear from a CD is missing on Sirius. It's far better than the static-filled hiss of FM, but it could be much improved. In fact, people who have both Sirius and XM report the latter's sound quality to be far superior.

The other important issue with satellite radio is reception. Weak reception can result in dropouts and a loss of signal will simply result in silence. The antenna should be placed by a window (or outdoors) where it has a good line of sight to a satellite or terrestrial repeater. However, other factors such as bad weather can still wreak havoc on reception regardless of antenna placement. On the first rainy day since getting Sirius, I found reception to be hit or miss and ended up turning off the Starmate Replay altogether.

My main reason for subscribing to Sirius was for the Howard Stern show. The other channels and programs are almost a bonus. Overall, I am extremely pleased with the improved sound quality of the show compared to when it was on FM radio. The difference is night and day when listening through in-ear headphones like the Etymotic Research ER6i. Hopefully, Sirius will improve the sound quality of all channels by using better and/or less compression. As it stands now, Sirius makes sense for me because Howard brings me hours of entertainment every day.



Film Review: Welcome to the Dollhouse (1995)


Welcome to the Dollhouse (1995)

Go to the review












January 2006

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