Well, I went out and got myself the top-of-the-line SoundBlaster card. Now I just have to figure out if I'll ever use much of it. Upside: audio decoding is now a non-issue. It's amazing how much processing time can be taken up just waiting for the ISA bus. No more scratchy sounds when I scroll a window while music is playing. Bonus: this card appears to have much better shielding (far less line noise), too.
Anyway, my SoundBlaster Live! Platinum 5.1 with the Live!Drive IR (IR=infraraed -- it comes with a remote ;-) is pretty cool. All sorts of damn connectors. I looked around the web for software (there's hardly anything out there for it, other than the generic SB Live drivers). Anyway, with this, I'm basically ready for anything. It can be connected to/from MiniDisc systems (and others that use the optical connection), and it has other S/P-DIF connections. Midi is easily accessible on the front, along with an extra headphone jack and two line inputs (well, one can also work as a mic input).
One piece of software I did find was a bare-bones utility for setting up the `routing' of audio. I'm not sure if it works at all, but with all of these connectors, you have to worry about where everything is actually going! Anyway, all sorts of fun will probably be had, once there is actually some software out there that works ;-)
Fortunately, I had predicted that I would be getting a Live! card of some kind, so I had compiled the drivers in my last kernel upgrade. Not so good was that at least one of my hard drives appeared to be failing. When I attempted to power-up again, the system started choking dramatically. In the end, though, it appears that everything worked out. I've decided to get rid of ReiserFS on my /home partition -- it's just too unstable to use on my important files. I am using it on my /usr and /media (where I put all of my music and videos) partitions. If I lose that stuff, it's just a re-install or a matter of re-ripping a lot of CDs.. I just don't want to lose my mail, writings, code, etc.
I played around with RIMPS the other day. Someone decided that it was a 1.0 release. Still has a few bugs to work out. Non-numeric characters in the `Year' field in any ID3 tags cause it to break, for instance. It also doesn't produce a nice stream like I want. I want to have an interface that makes a playlist that I can click on and get a continuously-running stream. Hook it in to IceCast or something. I guess I may still have to build something on my own.
Just saw Gladiator last night. Very good movie, though we only got to see it on VHS. Still, I'm not sure how I feel about DVDs. They usually look good, but sometimes the video quality is not so hot -- especially when you're looking at a field of color with only small variations.. The DeCSS mess still makes me stay away from buying them, though I will watch them. Good audio and widescreen encoding are two very good things.
Anyway, I liked the soundtrack, too, so I snarfed the files off the 'net. I kind of hate doing that, though, since many people do not encode things very well. I had to re-download a few files, but what I have sounds pretty good. I may still go out and buy the CD, though. One problem is that it is a score which doesn't quite seem to be the same as a soundtrack. One song blends right into the next, which means that it seems that you start in the middle of a song, even if it's the beginning of a track. I wonder if I can do something with Ogg Vorbis and concatenate the files together in any good way. It might be good to make a trivial stream format (ie, a special stream consisting of just one frame) that is put at the beginning of a file, telling where each track begins and ends. That way, the entire disc is in one big file, but you can easily find each track. Putting each track into a separate file causes blips between each one, which isn't good in this case (I also have the same problem with a Paul Oakenfold CD I bought).
I was bored enough to dig through all of my MP3s and fix much of what was wrong with the filenames and ID3 tags. I just put `a', `an', and `the' at the end, rather than the beginning, of song titles and band names. I also made sure that prepositions (words like `of', `on', `in', etc.) were not capitalized (except in a few cases). Deciding who the actual artist is, though, remains a challenge. I wish I could just say ``These three people are all the artists that made this song,'' rather than just saying one of them, and then putting in a comment or something. Also, I really need to pick up some good ID3v2 utilities and anything that can handle the info in Vorbis files. Then, I need to whip up a decent database that can read all of that, detect errors in filenames and tags (fix the case of letters, move `a', `an', and `the' off the front, correctly handle numbers in names, etc). Ugh. I'll never manage to do it... I already have a simple database system that I could extend, but I don't know if I ever will..