Sonar 2007


Sonar 2007

So there was I at the Sonar. Actually it reminded me a lot of Energy 2006, Sonic 7 or Infinity 2006 except it was even bigger and there was an open air area, which is great. The organization was good except you had to take silly tickets instead of being able to pay directly to bars.. well perhaps it’s quicker that way, I don’t know but it seems lot of events are doing it that way now.

Very good set by Damian Schwartz vs Tadeo, which are DJs I didn’t know. But afterwards the music style completely changed in all rooms. Instead of separating the rooms by music style it seems artists are randomly showing up in all of them. Well, so no music I liked during 1.5 hour. Later on, started Jeff Mills in the biggest room, which unfortunatly had no lasers! There must be something wrong in Spain regarding lasers and is one of the few reason I might go back to Switzerland a few times. They add so much to the visual effects, I’ll probably get one for my flat 🙂

Then there was Dave Clarke and.. wow. His set was perfect technically. There was no single glitch or anything, wonderful. That made me last until the end where he left quite abruptly.

There was a bus service to reach the center of the city. Very useful and pretty fast too. All in all a pretty good event but it misses some more music style separation between rooms, and lasers !

Armin van Buuren at She Discoteca

Armin van Buuren

On the 1st of June, Armin van Buuren was announced at the She Discoteca so I thought it would be a good idea to go there.

The She Discoteca is located in Vilassar de Mar, which is about 30 km away from the Barcelona city. The only way to go there, other than using a car, is by train, which is an awfully painful process. Not only it’s a mess to find which one is the proper train (basically you have to ask around) but they also have some silly schedules (where you also have to ask around). The trip takes about 30 minutes as the train stops every 3 minutes.

I met some people in the train who were going to the same place and asked around where the club was. Turns out we still had to walk a little bit more. Finally, there I was and I took an entry ticket (18 € including a drink). The club wasn’t too crowded yet and a DJ was trying to warm up the room with an average set, quite boring.

The She Discoteca, despite its silly name, is a good place and reminds me a lot of the clubs in Ibiza. The lights were good but unfortunately no lasers to be seen. Dammit! There was a VIP area above which was empty. When will they understand that such area is not needed for trance events?

Armin arrived at 3:00 and started to warm up the room with some progressive sets. I found it a bit slow.. took about one hour to really become trancy. The area was pretty crowded by then. While going to the bathroom I noticed an “hip hop” room with about 10 people in it, funny.

The party ended at 6:00. All in all, it was good. Damn, and the train again on the way back.

Barcelona Clubbing

By popular demand, here’s some recommendation about clubs in Barcelona.


Located near the Ramblas, it’s actually okish with a few dancefloor with different styles and one chill out area. The club isn’t too big though so expect it to get crowded during busy hours. You can get in for free before 2:00 if you find the proper flyers.


This one is in Poble Nou, take the L1 line, exit at Marina and follow the people around 🙂 I think this is the biggest club I ever saw, because unlike some (like Ibiza’s Privilege), they actually open most rooms. There’s the main hall with most concerts taking place here, a chill out area, a terrace, 2 electro rooms, and probably more. Definitely worth checking out.


This is the kind of club to go to if you like Ibiza-style dancefloors. There’s only 2 rooms but they’re big enough. The price is a little bit higher though but most of the time there’s famous DJs mixing there. Recommended if you like house sessions. Lot of tourists too.


This club is located near the Ramblas. The entry is quite cheap (8 €) but you don’t get a drink. The place is small and there’s 2 rooms. This is not the place to go if you don’t like crowded areas.


Located in parallel. This club is great. There are 2 rooms but you can’t change once you get in so chose carefully. I recommend the ‘A’ room which has electro music. There are 2 floors so you can always chill out upstairs. There’s no place to sit down though. Entry is 13 € with a drink included.

Ok, that was just a small sample of what’s available. Have fun!

New website

Ok, the old website is gone. It was all custom and I don’t have time for this anymore. The new one is running wordpress which allows to concentrate more on the content. Let’s see if I update that blog more often as a result 🙂

X-Arcade. The not-so-joy stick

Why the X-Arcade sucks donkey balls


So there is the X-Arcade. A “high end” joystick which is supposed to bring arcade quality control to most computers or consoles. The stick is great, the buttons are fine, the construction is robust and well done, but the electronic sucks beyond anything imaginable. Here’s the problems one can have with an X-Arcade:

PS/2 connection not working with all motherboards

Actually it’s quite difficult to find a motherboard which allows both the X-Arcade and the keyboard to work in PS/2 mode. Usually you get the following: the X-Arcade works but the keyboard (which passes through the X-Arcade) either hangs frequently or dumps duplicate characters rendering it completely unusable. The answer to that problem would be to use an USB adapter for the X-Arcade, but let’s see the next point.

The USB adapter manufactured by X-Gaming doesn’t work

That’s true. Actually it almost works but every now and then the direction stops responding for 1 second. I won’t mention how great this is when playing a game and you lose a life because your ship got stuck during a crucial moment. After a few mail exchanges with X-Gaming, they sort of acknowledge that problem and suggest buying an “Y-mouse” (some PS/2 -> USB adapter manufactured by someone else) which acording to them is “the only PS/2 to USB adapter working with the X-Arcade”. Then why the hell do they manufacture and sell their own one? To waste people’s time and money? Seems so.

Generic USB adapters have troubles working as well

It seems their statement about the “Y-mouse” is true (I don’t have one to test though). Because most random PS/2 to USB adapters which do work fine with PS/2 keyboards fail to work with the X-Arcade. Update: it seems it works better if there’s a keyboard plugged into the X-Arcade (which is really annoying). A friend of mine found a working adapter and mailed one to me (thanks!). It’s a ‘Maxxtro’ adapter.

The X-Arcade prevents the memory card to be used with a PlayStation

Plug an X-Arcade to a PlayStation and you can only access half of the memory card. I really don’t know how they managed to produce that wonderful side effect but it effectively renders the joystick unusable with a PlayStation.

The X-Arcade doesn’t work with all PlayStation 2 models

That’s in their FAQ on their homepage. I’m lucky enough and it works with my PlayStation2! Wohoo! I found a usage for that joystick!

In any case I’ll never buy a product from X-Gaming again.

On 2006-07-11 I received a mail from Shawn Walters who apparently is the owner/founder of X-Gaming. Here’s his view on the subject:

I’d like to respond to the comments posted about my company’s products on your site.

The issues you raise are EXCEPTIONS, not the rule. Our PS/2 connection works with 99% of motherboards produced, although it’s impossible to ensure compatibility with 100% of the chipset manufactures due to specific amount of power needed for our multi-mode programming functionality and input speed.

However, All X-Arcade units shipping after August 1st include a standard USB connection out of the box, eliminating your complaints about PS2/keyboard connectivity. Customers can now connect their USB or PS/2 keyboard directly to computer.

I’d kindly request you correct or remove your aggressive comments; I’m not sure what end you believe they achieve as we’ve had reviews of these products in nearly every single gaming publication in the US and Western Europe–although your bio says you don’t like to talk about negative, that seems to be only thing you are focusing on.



Good to see that they corrected the problem.

How to change the date display to international format


On an Ubuntu system:

  • cd /usr/share/i18n/locales
  • sudo cp en_US en_INTL
  • sudo vi en_INTL
  • change the d_fmt line to: “<U0025><U0059><U002D><U0025><U006d><U002D><U0025><U0064>”
  • sudo vi /var/lib/locales/supported.d/local
  • add the following line: en_INTL.UTF-8 UTF-8
  • sudo dpkg-reconfigure locales
  • sudo vi /etc/environment
  • add the following line: LC_TIME=”en_INTL.UTF-8″

Reboot/relogin. Now you should have dates displayed like this: 2007-01-18.

Who says Linux is not ready for the desktop? Er.. right.

Windows Media codecs released

Windows Media

I’m happy to tell that the Windows Media codecs that I have been working on have just been released today on the Fluendo Webshop. And here is the announcement.

Currently there is:

  • an ASF demuxer
  • a Windows Media Video decoder
  • a Windows Media Audio decoder

The demuxer is used to extract the audio/video streams from the ASF files (that is, files commonly ending in .wmv, .wma or sometimes also .asf) and sends them to the respective decoders. The demuxer was written from scratch and the decoders are adapted from the sources provided by Microsoft. This is the first time one can play those files legaly on Linux because with those codecs comes the license to do so.

The platforms supported are:

  • Linux x86
  • Linux x86_64
  • Solaris SPARC
  • Solaris x86
  • Linux PowerPC

And more to come but I cannot disclose them yet. The media framework used is GStreamer which means all your applications using it automatically can play Windows Media files.

Ubuntu Linux on a Dell Inspiron 9400/E1705

Dell Inspiron 9400

So there is my brand new laptop. Interesting specs:

  • CPU Intel Core 2 Duo T7200 at 2 GHz, 4MB L2 per core, 667 MHz FSB
  • 2 GB of DDR2 RAM at 667 MHz
  • 120 GB SATA HD
  • 17″ LCD screen, 1920×1200
  • ATI Mobility Radeon X1400 128 MB
  • DVD burner, Bluetooth 2.0, 6 (!) USB 2 ports, WiFi 802.11abg, Firewire, DVI output, Subwoofer, etc..

I briefly tried the preinstalled Windows 2005 Media Edition which seems to be a special version of Windows XP with a media player featuring an interface designed to be used with a remote control. There’s also a MediaDirect button that boots into a custom partition with Windows Media Center and allows to quickly watch movies, pictures and play music. Contrary to popular belief, MediaDirect does not use Linux.

Installing Ubuntu Edgy Eft

Installation was pretty easy, using the alternate CD. Then on the next reboot I could, of course, deal with most of the nonsense Linux users have to deal with setups less than 5 years old. The first problem was that the keyboard didn’t wooorkkk proooperrllly. Turns out one has to add the option ‘notsc’ to the booting parameters. We’ll see how kernel hackers will solve that issue. I can now fully use both CPU cores but the side effect is that I cannot close the laptop’s lid without suffering a complete system freeze. Not nice.

Now for the graphics part, which is always a problem when one owns an ATI or NVidia card (which means, most of the cards in the market). One has to install the restricted drivers and reconfigure Xorg to use the ‘fglrx’ driver in that case. Why this is not done automatically is beyond me..

Apparently the Radeon X1400 doesn’t provide an XVideo adapter with the current version of fglrx. But worse, the driver doesn’t seem to have any concept of syncing to vertical retrace which means that not only you get tearing in all 3D games, but also when watching movies (yes, I do know about Capabilities 0x00000800 and .drirc’s swap_on_vblank, both don’t work). This is really annoying as watching movies on that marvelous screen is definitely awesome.
The wireless card works good enough. Still no support for injecting packets while in rfmon but who cares 🙂

Bluetooth works. But it’s slow. I wonder when the BlueZ developers will finally notice that their stack is ten times slower than the one on Windows. I don’t manage to send files from Gnome, though. But gnome-bluetooth is not that good so that doesn’t surprise me much.

Audio works but there’s no support for the “subwoofer”. I mailed Richard Fish who told me he’d add a workaround because the BIOS isn’t supplying proper data.

Touchpad works. Horizontal scrolling is disabled by default though. Why?

The memory card slot doesn’t seem to work with MMC cards. I didn’t test it with other card formats.

Hibernation works, disable SAVE_VBE_STATE and POST_VIDEO in /etc/default/acpi-support.

There are a countless number of other things I had to tweak, like adding ‘noatime’ to /etc/fstab, enabling hashed b-trees directory indexes on ext3, removing all the superblock backups I don’t need, reserving less than 5% for root, enabling laptop-mode to spin off the HD when not using for long (not 5 seconds like their default silly config), making my Bluetooth mouse work by setting HIDD_ENABLED=1 in /etc/default/bluetooth (why isn’t this default? sigh), and so on. I didn’t test the firewire and the modem yet.

So, all in all. Yes, the Ubuntu guys did fix some stuff but there are still some braindead defaults that should be different. A good example is that fsck check that kicks in each time when you boot 30 times. Imagine you’re about to do a presentation on your laptop, you fire it up and.. “erm, sorry we have to wait a bit”. Why don’t they simply allow to skip the check?

Ibiza 2006

So there, I’m back from Ibiza again (went twice this year) and as the plane’s cabin chief member said: “Welcome back to Geneva and to reality” it’s time to get back to reality.

As usual it was wonderful, if one likes clubbing I guess.. So which were the coolest parties to go to?

meganite by Mauro Picotto each wednesday in Privilege which is supposed to be the biggest club in the world. Actually it can hold about 10000 people but most of the time they make it smaller by closing extra areas which don’t really make it the biggest club in the end. Who cares, the meganite sessions by Mauro Picotto and the other DJs was great and that’s what count. The club also has a cool outdoor area when you can chill out and meet people. They should just add a bit more seats. Entry price was decent.

Next there was Armin van Buuren and its Armada crew each tuesday at Amnesia. Those were wonderful and Armin was doing great sets as usual. Entry price was decent as well. The only problem in the Amnesia is that the chill out zone is quite small so you might not be able to sit down, and the main hall is smaller than the “terrace” one which is weird. They definitely should extend the main hall. Thankfully the Armada nights weren’t overcrowded.

Also at the Amnesia there were the Cream parties each thursday. Great stuff too but quite clearly overcrowded, especially the last one were I ended up leaving the main hall for a while. Far too many people..

Had 2 parties at Space, one of which sucked (Gorgeous). We were 3 people dancing in the electro room! And the main room had sucky music. I think it was the first time I left before the closure. The other party (We Love Space) was much better. Starts at 8 in the morning and continues until the next night, 7 in the morning or so (I forgot :)). The club is huge but one area still managed to get overcrowded. At least you can still chill out upstairs and on the entry room. Definitely one of the best club around, it could do with a few lasers which are lacking (only Amnesia has one I think).

Next is El Divino and the Azuli party which was okish. The club could be much better if they would shut down that silly “VIP” zone with 5 people in them. They have a great location with a beautiful view of the sea and the inside is good albeit a bit small. The music was great even though the DJs seemed to have problems with the Scratch live software crashing. Good that I use Final Scratch myself 🙂

Finally went to Eden which is a smaller club that I quite like nevertheless. There’s a great chill out area upstairs with beds and one of the room features the astonishing ElectricSex theme with Andy G and Ryan O’Gorman.

Oh and of course there was Bora Bora in Playa d’En Bossa. Great stuff.

I also managed to go a few times to the beaches and even enjoy the sun a bit, and not from only watching the sun rising as I was coming back from clubbing to crash into bed 🙂

The food sucked bigtime. I only know of 2 good restaurants in San Antonio (one in front of the Escalo Playa and the other being Kanya). We completely failed to find a descent one in Playa d’En Bossa. Why do they all cater for that silly kind of premade food? I just don’t get it.

I’m more tired now than I was when I flew there, strange isn’t it? Not really, this is Ibiza after all. Definitely going there again next year.