Category Archives: Technology

MSI Motherboards Are a Bargain

When I began planning for the VCR project, I made a trip to my long-time, brick-and-mortar computer parts purveyor Micro Center to shop for components. The motherboard is obviously one of the most important components you can purchase, since it will determine all the other parts you can install. My biggest determining factor, though, is price.

At roughly $60, the MSI H81ME33 Intel mobo is a fantastic bargain that offers support for the latest Intel Core processors, USB 3.0, 4K UHD video as well as some niceties like a metric fucktonne of USB ports, a simple BIOS screen with mouse support, a one-click overclock function, and a simple BIOS updater all in a space-saving mATX form factor.

The mobo is finicky with Linux, requiring a little jiggery-pokery and breath-holding while it pre-boots, but it works like a champ with Windows. My only real hitch is that it doesn’t enjoy USB peripherals like DVD-ROM drives and some wireless keyboards, but it usually yields to its human overlord after a nominal delay.

Support for MSI motherboards is self-directed, so you’re going to need to have some decent Google ninja skills if you run into a problem. The nice thing, though, is that the website is easy enough to navigate and the basic support documents are quickly located.

There are proprietary drivers available for all the on-board components, and MSI provides a few utilities that one can customise their system with, though I prefer not to use them.

How To Optimize Your WordPress Website

I’ve been on a bit of a cleaning kick the past few days–probably because the new year is always a good excuse to declutter as much as possible. As such, I have taken to cleaning up and optimizing my website here. I’ll be fixing a few things as the year progresses, piecemeal as always. I’ll be cleaning up broken links as much as possible, removing posts that aren’t relevant anymore, and generally working to optimize WordPress as much as I can.

To start to optimize WordPress, I would start with deleting any database tables left behind from plugins that you have since uninstalled. There is a great plugin that will take care of most of the heavy lifting for you in this regard: Plugins Garbage Collector.

Once installed and activated, you’ll find the plugin under the “Tools” menu on the WordPress admin panel. Make sure the “Search none-WP tables” radio button is selected, then click “Scan Database”.

optimize wordpress with plugins garbage collector

The plugin will present a list of all the non-Wordpress database tables, but do exercise caution here. You absolutely should back up your database before proceeding. Check the box by each of the tables you don’t need and click the delete button.

Now that all the unnecessary database tables are cleared up, the next step to optimize WordPress is cleaning up all the ancillary junk that gets bogged down in your website–orphaned metadata, automatic drafts of posts, etc. The WP-Optimize plugin scans the most common sources of junk files in your website and deletes them, speeding up caching, prefetching, and other behind-the-scenes functions that make a WordPress site run smoothly.

Lastly, I need to clean up the unused images that I’ve uploaded. Not only do I have images scattered about that I have not used for any articles, but WordPress make four copies of each image for use in various areas! For this, I’m going to use DNUI (Delete Not Used Images) to scan my site and remove all the unused files. This isn’t so much an optimization, but a way to recover a significant amount of space on my server.

DNUI also lives in the Tools menu on the WordPress admin panel, so you should see it conveniently located next to the Garbage Collector. The first thing to do is click the “Options” tab, then click to create a backup folder and enable backups–just in case. (Un)Check any other options you wish, and click the “Images” tab to run the scan. The plugin will list any unused image files it finds in your library. All you have to do is click to delete them. A word of caution here: DNUI will list images from draft posts as “not used”, so please verify the images before deleting them.

For the interim, until I get all my drafts fleshed-out and posted, I’ll stick to manually deleting unused images. To do this, click the “Library” link under the “Media” menu on the WordPress admin panel. In the drop-down menu where it says “All media items”, click “Unattached” to show all the images that aren’t attached to a post. This is also not foolproof as it will list featured images and header images that are not already attached to a post, so err on the side of caution here. My suggestion would be to make a post with all your featured and header images, then set it to private.

That’s really all there is to easily optimize WordPress! Run these steps every few months and you’ll have a faster, more efficient website!

Swinsian Is The iTunes Killer You’ve Been Looking For

Remember, once upon a time, when iTunes was the end-all, beat-all music library organizer and MP3 player for Macintosh? (Yes, I am solidly in the “WinAmp was the best fucking MP3 player application ever written and don’t you fucking forget it” camp, but we’re not talking about Windows right now). I think it was about the time version 11 came out (maybe 12, I’m not terribly certain) that iTunes just started to feel…stale. Many of the features that I came to know and love just fizzled away for the sake of pushing the store and streaming music.

Now, I’m not against streaming music in the least (I used to while away many, many hours on the road listening to Pandora and Slacker Radio on my Blackberry Storm), but I find it offensive when the mission of a particular piece of software that I have used for years flips from curating and organizing my thousands upon thousands of audio files to selling me a streaming and cloud storage service that I don’t want or need! As Apple has moved more into the streaming game, I have started looking for a suitable alternative to organize and play my local library.

My criteria are as follows:

  • The software must automatically organize the file structure in the library folder based on changes to the ID3 tags.
  • The software must edit universal ID3 tags.
  • The software should look pretty good.
  • The software must catalogue and be searchable.

You would think that these could be simple criteria to fill on any operating system–and on Linux or Windows, you would be right–but it seems that the Coop has a chokehold on media management for MacOS as there are no solid applications that mimic iTunes without the headaches of iTunes. At least, there are no free ones.

James Burton has suffered the same problems with iTunes that I have and took that as an opportunity to develop his own application, Swinsian. Swinsian is classic iTunes, focused on cataloguing and organization, with none of the bloat that has crept into Apple’s application over the past few years. The cool thing about Swinsian (and something sure to impress those FLAC-loving weirdo audiophiles and OGG-hearted die-hard open sourcers) is that it supports almost all major formats! It’ll even play WMA files (good luck doing that natively on a Mac now that Perian is dead)!

I’ve been using Swinsian to manage my library for almost a year now, and I’ve gladly given up the sales-oriented nonsense that is iTunes. I can easily edit my ID3 tags and have those changes reflected in the file structure of the library; I can easily catalogue and search my library; and the application has a great visual aesthetic that emphasizes the album art that I gave up when I moved to digital.

Yes, you will need to pay for Swinsian (at time of writing, it’s $20US), but as Andrew Lewis observed: “If you are not paying for it, you’re not the customer; you’re the product being sold.” While this isn’t a universal truth, it is often the case in walled gardens like post-Jobs Apple. If you’re a collector of digital music (as most audio junkies from the 1990s are), Swinsian is a Jackson well spent!

The Most Annoying Sound In The World

https://soundcloud.com/matt-eargle/the-most-annoying-sound-in-the-world

Remember the 90s, when Intel showed commercials during every available slot? Yeah, that chime got a little overplayed, but the Bunnymen were cool!

She’s Alive! She’s Alive!

This is how I feel when a 3D print comes out correctly.

Introducing LoJack (circa 1992)

Before the 1990s, there was little hope of retrieving a stolen car. Since the introduction of LoJack, there’s a slim hope of retrieving a stolen car.

(Mis)Adventures in 3D Printing, Experiment 2: A Toilet Tree Ornament

IF YOU WANT YOUR OWN 2016 TOILET ORNAMENT, LEAVE A COMMENT! IF THERE IS ENOUGH INTEREST, I’LL MAKE A BATCH AND SELL THEM ON ETSY OR SOMETHING.

Forget everything I said about Fry’s versus Micro Center in the last video. I take it all back. Micro Center, hands-down, is forever the first place I go for anything computer-related. Fry’s still has lots of great test equipment and components and other stuff like that, though.

For this experiment, I picked what I thought was an interesting and more complex model from Thingiverse–a toilet. I printed it, and played around with finishing it to see what kind of results I could get.