Theo Verelst Local Diary Page 23

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Sun Mar 20 23:37     2005

How is it with all these wild ideas about synthesizers I had years ago? Only way out-of-line dreams of a lunatic with delusions of grandure who seeks out of proportion attention and grandure measures?

No, in fact I've found opportunity to make some progress in the area, which is ongoing at the moment, to prepare another working prototype of a digital synthesizer in 19" rack form, based on the Analog Devices blackfin DSP, with additional hardware.

The main logical circuit addition is a Xilinx coolrunnerII board which is use to interface with the DSP external bus and which can drive displays and read switch information and which I've burned a MIDI IN interface into which can be read by the DSP.

I'll update some page or pages with this stuff, the idea is that it will be open source mainly for non-commercial use.

The enclosure has been updated a few times, it contains a number of rotary knobs as yet unassigned except for a clicking counting knob which is read by the Xilinx, two push buttons for data entry and I've put in the LCD display in the opening in the front pannel. Also the back has been updated with a (5 pin DIN) midi socket.

The first tests I've done with a cheap midi keyboard (5 octaves, touch sensitive) which drives the MIDI-IN input and after the midi circuit (with the obligatory opto-coupler, see midi association) had been somewhat tested and found working I made the first sine wave sample repreoduction program for the blackfin to work with it, so monophonic sine wave lines can be played on the keyboard, where the sound neatly comes out the backside jack output.

Now I'm in the process of soldering in some circuits I had put on breadboard, wiring the MIDI-IN connector (it also can give supply to the keyboard) and writing some more synthesis programs for the DSP, assuming all continues to work well.

The machine currently looks like this:


Christians ?

As I was tought long ago, I think it is indeed: people can't make or unmake themselves 'real' christians because the essence of that sort of life is not originating from choice. Not that people can't  chose to go to church or lets say like Jesus or something of the kind, it is about the essential change in a human life which has in that respect to originate from God, and not from human works or action.

I'm sure that that is important as counter doctrine to a lot of catholic thinking and other cults think along simalar errors, that they themselves or some organisation or secret club can accevt the election and calling which is originally from God, as I indeed believe it is.

So the 'real' christians haven't been made by anything human or humanly influencable, to begin with, that game of picking the puppets or motherf* -ing life together is not from the real God and not capable of changing His plans and his characters.

April 19 2005

The above was a starting page which I hadn't finished, so meanwhile I've made the whole synthesizer work, and even demonstrated it in the midi studio of Delft University of Technologies Cultural Centre, see this page about the synthesizer:

So the machine really works and makes really great sounds as it is already, very strong and warm and clean sounding see the page for sound examples in mpeg4 and wav format.

I've made a new page on Rock and Roll music, which interests me, and which I might extend with some recordings of my own, I can do some Fats and Chuch myself, which is of course easier, 50 years later! Also check out this page on work I did while in france last year, with a additive synthesis sound generator with socket connecton and interactive text interface to the sound engine, and a bwise graph to see the signal form from the sample processor.

Mathematics, are they programs?

No, I would not think that the whole beast of software thinking has actually made to 'rule' the history of or contemporary mathematics.Mathematics can be seen as a sort of recepy in the form of a sort of program in various cases, but the building of mathematics is not of a program nature, it is rather a foundation for understanding the physical sciences, and all kinds of abstract prblems than a program or set of programs, which is quite different, no matter what people might think.

I've been into theoretical (nuclear) physics at lets say at least the level of a PhD student in Delft university while I was still working there.and that's about as tough as mathematics can get for anyone in any existing field of mathematics and science in general, so I can say with significant authority that those mathematics are NOT a program, or implementing some program in the sense of comparable with computer programs, really people comparing that don't know what the hell they are talking about.

Those are very complicated buildings of the nature of higher mathematics, integral calculus, multdimensional analysis and such, which have absolutely nothing to do with programmers mind sets, nothing at all.

Out of theoretical interest, and with an interest in various practical applications, such as sampling theory and sound synthesis and other electrical engineering disciplines, I've looked into the mathematical package Maxima, which is a sort of free Mathematica, in open source form, and coming from one of the first computer algebra progams, written long ago (before maple and matlab) at MIT, in the LISP programming language.

The package can be downloaded with a tcl/tk based frontend/user interface

              Example of the Maxima package running some computations with the addition of my BWise package
              showing a neat rendering of a formula via automated latex typesetting and conversions blocks.

As an example of what I've been looking at, lets take the first example integral of the Maxima package for windows or linux, as it appears in the graphical user interface example page, which is this integral:

Telling maxima to symbolically compute this integral, we get:

2 log and one arctan term, which together indeed have as a derivative 1/(1+x^3), but hard to find of course. When simply differentiating, we get back:

and ratsimp (rational simplify) of this equation gives back the original. The DEL(x) stands for an interpretation of dx after differentiation.

The study of electrical engineering

When I was a post first year electrical engineering student (I graduated, too....) it was normal in 3d year or so to start looking for a section to do laboratory or graduation work in, which I found more or less interesting at the time, and without knowing what all badness was going on I was easily drawn to the most theoretically heavy and most ambitious (and probably in certain important senses most succesfull) and also not money poor section of the Delft University Department of Electrical Engineering, called Network Theory.

Currently, after I got sort of kicked out after having worked there for 4 years or sofrom when I gruduated there in about '91 the section has merged or been consumed by 'circuits and systems', which is a disgrace in general, probably because the dreadfullness of certain people.

However at the time I was a second or third year student, I got interested because of this presentation in the 1986 yearbook:

which is followed by big software and chip design examples.

At the time I had spend about a decade with TTL and other chips and electronics, and was an electronics assistent at university, and I had big things in my interest span, like I had teh service manual of my DX-7 synthesizer with schematic diagram and circuit desciptions, so I knew there were two interesting and for that time big chips in there which gave the insturment its power, so I had serious interest in sound algorithms and chip designs to implement them.

My digital signal processing course was a big bummer because of the impossibly bad university teacher, the hillegiable handwritten crappy dictation, and complete lack of content and probablu countless errors, and I never learned much in my own interest field, probably some people were way too affraid of the discrepancy between their talents and mine and their engineering and scientific skills and mine to even let me pass the exam, per definition. I was a very good student, amoung the top 10 percent of certain years, I guess I should have passed the exam.

Well, anyhow I got sidetracked in compute graphics because of an excellent article from to people on sabbatical in Network Theory , one from Hewlett Packard, about ray tracing curved surfaces with a special chip, which became the start of my masters thesis I graduated with, though I never received *any* help on that whole thesis or any of its content, except from reading and researching the literature list of that article. All I ever need, but it was a crying shame, so much ripping of of my drive and vision and charisma and so absolute nothing in return, except after I graduated I got invited to work for the section.

The importance of sampling theory

In my circuits and systems course, I think in my second year, I got parallel knowledge as from information theory and electronics courses, about one of the most neglected subjects in signal processing of certain kinds where heavy mathematical proofs are persued, which probably all belong straight in the dustbin, because their mathematical proof mechanisms deny the existence and authority of sampling theories mathematical bounderies.

With all kinds of computer and microprocessor (/controller) equipment around, many types of analog to digital and digital to analog conversions are part of our daily life, like CD players, computer sound cards, digital phones and radios, etc.

Every time a signal is converted from a 'normal' analog signal to a digital (computer or computer program) signal, or vice versa, we have to do with sampling theory, which tells us how this conversion into bits and bytes and samples and back to continuous electronics signals can take place according to correct theoretical rules.

Evey contemporary CD player or computer sound card is living proof of the fact that this rarely happens decently. Most sound quite horrible with respect to stereo image and high frequency and impulse reproduction. That doesn't mean a CD player necessarily has a bad frequency range and flatness, or jitters (small relatively fast and usually unsteady changes in frequency) or hums, but it doesn't do justice to the way for instance fast changing high notes actually sound.

This has to do with the samplin gtheorem, or maybe better put with the important subject of reconstruction filters,. which are in theory (and therefore also in practice) needed to make the CD players DA converter reproduce the originally recorded music from the CD samples.

From my second year Electrical Engineering 'Circuits and Systems' coursebook, the relevant section (the subject also appears in electronics and information theory):

What does this say? Well we chop a signal up in pieces, and represent these as digital samples, and then proof that those samples contain all the information present in the original signal, under the condition that the signal is bandwidth limited.

Also, it tells us the way to sample, and especially, the way to reconstruct the original signal from the samples, and that that is a complicated filter, of infinte length, which is for sake of simplicity simply forgotton in all kinds of so called digital signal processing proofs and algorithms. Which is theoretically wrong and also explains the noise and practical implementation problems of many signal processing projects.

Reconstruction filtering is an important theoretical concept which can tech us how to perfectly find back what the master signal from a CD looked like when it was still analog, if we are prepared and able to follow the whole recipee, and of course compute on a infinitely long filter....

as is made clear on these pages, the original signal MUST be bandwidth limited, or perfect reconstruction, and proofs which require this, is not possible. A big problem for many people, and also, the perfect orhtogonal filter or lets say the perfect brick wall completely low pass filter, can be proven not to exist with limited electronics or digital filters, and most certainly will also per definition and mathematically provable affect the signal in the pass band, for instance with significant phase errors..

So before you believe half or so of all those complicated looking (which is really not so true compared to long existing theoretical physics) signal processing papers with far fetched mathematical proofs, check out if sampling theory rules are obeyed, or you might be making absolute error into infallable mathematics which proofs things which for a reasonable electronicist would be clearly unprovable to begin with....

Let's look at the definition of band limited in the above pages from the same book:

what are we learning? Well, the frequencies above sigma are supposed to be zero, not Lim-->0 even, certainly not filtered over a n-th order filter of some kind or with some points of the ohmega axis being zero, it is required, to use sample theory according to mathematical defination to BE ZERO. It is never exactly zero for any filtering algorithm of any normally used kind. Never. So all proofs which require sample theory would better be carefully looked at, because by far most 'proofs' are derivations with not even regard for this principle can best be seen as approximating derivations without explicit definition of the type and quanity and quality of the error term. Very mathematically shady.

Sorry guys, frequency modulated sine signal already has infinite spectrum, and therefore cannot be perfectly reconstructed as is needed for many mathematical proofs in fourier theory sense because it can be proven to always violate the Niquist criterion per definition and therefore only aproximating mathematics are possible, no proofs.

And also it would be good for 'guys' who want to get into the obviously popular mobile communicaton business to get at least a first lesson in high frequency electronics, to understand the basics of lets say a pre-second world war super heteredyne receiver circuit and before they start filtering antenna signal in the digital domain wonder where they are going to buy a 32 bit 1GigaHerz well-sampling Analog to Digital converter ?!?!

Those signals, guys, are not processed electronically that way. They are first processed through certain important and very involved electronical signal processing, and then when you are up to dat in the medium frequency part ot the receiver, made into special property digital signals, maybe.

So all those 1GHz digital signals, they mostly don't really exist in mobile phones, so who cares about digital signal procesing algorthims which work on supposed digitized signals which don't even exist?! Have a look at a high frequency Analog to Digital convert chaps, and shiver. When you are up to that, most of those signal processing algorithms which appear to be so appealing are peanuts compared to the advanced electronics designs in fast and accurate AD converters, really, belief me: nobody needs that crap much in that 'real' electronics world.

Most things in europe in that field too, just like in computers is more about who gets patents on ripped off and stolen ideas, which probably were already freely available in the USA a decade before then doing any innovative work themselves or any invention at all or anything that anybody really cares about. Sorry to say, but that is just too true.

Homework ?

Well, when I was 12 or so it was, about similar subject, the constuction of a mixer:

And this works ? Oh yes, its in normal use already a long time, it has no active electronics to distort the signal, though it attenuates the sources, but it works fine. I did the subframe to have no screwholes on the frontpanel (as I also did with a wooden enclosure when I was little) and to be able to take the machine apart easily.

Books in the language library

A Amsterdam park

Probably the only nice picture than can be taken in the whole park, on a not so warm spring day, but anyhow, this looks good as a 1600x1200 screensaver, but I guess you browsing people wouldn't appreciate that here...

Dispensational Truth

That's a christian term meaning how the plans of god are supposed to be covering the ages of human history in distinct biblical periods with their own name and rules according to which God deals with mankind, if you want to belief that.

Rightly dividing the various clear timespans sure makes the bible a whole lot more transparent and clear to oversee. The main dispensational divide is the one between the old and the new testament around before and after the historical existence of Jesus. The last time or dispensation defore the new testament on the historic time line was the time of the law or the prophets, depending on what scale one looks, and after Jesus had arisen from the dead, according to the four gospels, the 'time of the gentiles' started, or or the Dispensation of Grace.

I long ago had a book from Clarence Larking, from the time I used to requent a bible school for a number of years, recommended literature from Dr. Albert Grimes, who wrote a profound course on most christian subjects (for which he received a honorary doctorate in the US I think), in line with lets say the charismatic and serious christian teachings from the 60's and 70's and the name of that book was dispensationa truth. It was a big book, probably about the size of an LP record, and it had big plates in their of this kind:

I got these from the internet, I frankly don't know if there is (still) copyright on them, I downloaded a lot of them, though not all I jused to have in the book I think. As a picture on a web page they are a bit big to keep them legible which looks nice if you have a high resoltion monitor. I view on a 1600x1200 19"(cheap !) monitor, which makes these plates looks just fine, but the average browser will have to scroll a little I guess, even though I made the next image a bit smaller:

For these diary pages it is probably a bit far stretching to explain all the details of these image, though these subjects are profound enough and certainly worth teaching/learning. Look up the scriptural references to get an idea of the meaning, and the origins of the images if you like.

Controlling the computer world

When Kraftwerk wrote their famous song ''computer world" from before the high day of the personal computer, I'm sure they didn't have the dutch dreadfullness in mind.

I recently found this official gouvenrment web site which means Information and Communications Technology directing, which I'm sure is inspired by my being into 'scripting' language Tcl/Tk, which is still open and interfaces with most things on software earth, and not completely messed up by the IT boys with tie and contacts with the dark side of life on earth, and which was chosen by me at some point of my computer graphics project for rapid interface prototyping and was another good contribution which had to be had by the bad guys and put down, I'm sure, which didn't work.

Theres only one word which comes to mind reading this TOC of the main report on the work of this official dutch gouvernment 'organ' about holland 'knowledgeland': fascism. Here's the TOC:

02 ICT 000
2. DE PIJLERS ONDER DE KENNISECONOMIE.............................................................. 5
3. MULTIMEDIA: HET GEZICHT VAN DE TOEKOMST................................................ 6
Opdracht.............................................................................................................................. 6
Visie..................................................................................................................................... 6
Aanbevelingen ....................................................................................................................... 6
4. VOORBEREIDING ICT-AGENDA 2002 EN VERDER................................................... 7
4.1. BOUWSTENENNOTITIE BREEDBAND:.................................................................... 7
4.2. BOUWSTENENNOTITIE ICT IN HET ONDERWIJS................................................ 7
4.3. BOUWSTENENNOTITIE ‘ELEKTRONISCHE OVERHEID’..................................... 8
4.4. BOUWSTENENNOTITIE ICT-ONDERZOEK EN INNOVATIE............................... 8
5. VOORTGANGSRAPPORTAGE WETENSCHAPSBELEID 2002................................... 9
IN TRANSPORT & DISTRIBUTIE IN 2006........................................... 10
CONTRACTEN...................................................................................................................... 11
9. VRIJBAND: EEN BREEDBANDVISIE VOOR NEDERLAND..................................... 13
10. SAMEN, STRATEGISCHER EN STERKER............................................................... 14
11. VERLANGEN NAAR DE EINDELOZE ZEE.............................................................. 15
13. MEDEA+....................................................................................................................... 17
14.1. DE DIGITALE DELTA, NEDERLAND ONLINE.................................................. 18
14.2. DE DIGITALE DELTA, E-EUROPE VOORBIJ...................................................... 19
14.3. INTERNATIONALE ICT-TOETS 2000................................................................... 19
14.4. INTERNATIONALE ICT-TOETS 2000, VIER SECTOR STUDIES...................... 20
02 ICT 000
DE DIGITALE DELTA........................................................................................................... 22

Dreadfull, isn't it?

They think it's all great, but I think it is proposterous to think like the expression "holland: guideland". It's a poststamp size country on the world map, which only happens to have the biggest harbour in the world because they are conveniently situated at the rhine to the german industry area, which has shown no special capabilities for innovation compared to the rest of europe, with maybe the exception of Philips electronics, which are certainly not agreeing in general with that fascist view of ruling everything in IT world and using that to rule all people into hell, it seems.

It's as sick as this official gouvernment organisation promotes in 'normal' computer related life as well.

I've experienced this myself when I wanted to make some money there (the only motivation for most people in the top of IT when it all started when I was a student): nothing can be made to work humanly normal, honorable and with normal respect for personal freedom. I've tried applying for a normal (temporary) job in that world for more than a little while, with as only affect that focus was forced to anything that I wouldn't be trained or knowledgeable enough at (which is ridiculous to try, and that therefore failed) and met only little short of hostility to want to earn my living and some more in IT context, and when I have worked in some short job agency job in IT I was treated so outrageously condescending by some people (certainly not by all, and mostly not by the more technical and knowledgeable people) and was put away after already miserable circumstances that it defies description, and can only be understood by (foreign) people which have studies the actual nature of the dutch of the last decades. Later on I worked (amoung other things) with computers in an (art) gallery, where also my knowledge was abused, lagely unpaid, and I was cast aside and completely unrespected, probably for similar reasons: their I(C)T ideas must be found superiour then mine for them to rule the world.

That of course hasn't happened, I am sure they don't even cover the basics of computer and software architecture or digital (signal) processing for a bit, while thinking they are into theories about how computers work that will make them the greatest big brother rulers of all. Absolutely to laugh at for hard-core computer knowledgeable people.

It's like they belief all people will be subdued to coffee machines because they know all the screws and bolts of certain types of coffee machines, which at some point will have to be accepted by all people, and so they can manipulate all people in the longer run by some incredible association and fuse locker control game or something. Not a chance, if you ask me, luckily. Maybe if the netherlands were germany in '39 they could have made a lot of tanks and really try, but luckily as it is: not a chance to win. But meanwhile it started two decades ago t suck bad, and now it downright fascism. Really evilminded and impossible to see as a democracy, as I witness weakly in the second chamber proceedings. Not the european community at large, I was in germany (Munich, Koeln, Dusseldorf and other places), france (paris, mid-countryside, Les Vosges), switserland (which wasn't exactly fun), luxembourg (shortly), belgium (Brussels, Gent), the last years, and nowhere it was as bad and oppressive and un-free as in holland, for certain: no comparison. Not that I 'love' Europe, if it was for me I'd have emigrated to the US a decade and a half ago (as everybody that knew me in that time knew), but the various western european coutries I visited recently are not in the line holland at all.

I though I'd have a look at which people are in this forum/directing agency (the kremlin of dutch software ?), oh boy oh boy oh boy. Don't forget I know at least personally one of the lets say more well known persons with renown at significant level in the field (probably unfortunately and 'stolen', but anyhow), my graduation professor and the one who invited me to work at the top (at that time still) of the whole of Delft University of Technology (when I was in that section, it was the highest and most esteemed, by far even). I know how these dominican-like types work in the scene I studied/worked myself from personal first hand intelligent experience, and you'll have to be some piece of work bastard to go against this and win in normal life, of be very good at what you do (like I was/am).

One of them is a war guy, going to a american defence conference, where (after checking the public proceedings) he appears to be preaching a perverted version of my struggle for decent interface definitions from when I worked at Delft University, on a computer graphics project. Another appears to be director of a large dutch software company and at te same time (?) is a member of various economical organisations, including the central economical council and a place in the american research bureau Forrester Research. Some guy from a foundation for 'safe and reliable internet use' (?) in holland, policy secretary ICT in the entrepeneurs union, a Philips director of research, a professor in a (not so excellent) physics/mathematics institute, a university professor econometrics/mathematics (2d technical uni of holland) , a member of the board of university coorperation union and  board member of university eindhoven former CEO of IBM holland. A board member of the dutch statistical institute, 'renewer' of dutch social insurance system  for employees, director general of the tax department. Director of exact sciences of the organisation for dutch scientific research. A former director of the centre of mathematics and informatics in amsterdam, currently director of the new TNO (foundation for natural sciences research) division telecom (new after takeover from dutch telcom organisation, which stopped innovating before I spent some time there long ago already). A person from IBM netherlands and the council board of foundation for technical sciences (which I've been supported by in the past). A  mathematics master education coordinator at free university amsterdam (low rated), and Shell. An economics professor in the south. A professor in a remote centre for telematics and IT in the area of distributed information systems (with very vague sounding publications).

The Dead Parrot Sketch

Monty Python

The Pet Shoppe

A customer enters a pet shop.

Customer: 'Ello, I wish to register a complaint.

(The owner does not respond.)

C: 'Ello, Miss?

Owner: What do you mean "miss"?

C: I'm sorry, I have a cold. I wish to make a complaint!

O: We're closin' for lunch.

C: Never mind that, my lad. I wish to complain about this parrot what I purchased not half an hour ago from this very boutique.

O: Oh yes, the, uh, the Norwegian Blue...What's,uh...What's wrong with it?

C: I'll tell you what's wrong with it, my lad. 'E's dead, that's what's wrong with it!

O: No, no, 'e's uh,...he's resting.

C: Look, matey, I know a dead parrot when I see one, and I'm looking at one right now.

O: No no he's not dead, he's, he's restin'! Remarkable bird, the Norwegian Blue, idn'it, ay? Beautiful plumage!

C: The plumage don't enter into it. It's stone dead.

O: Nononono, no, no! 'E's resting!

C: All right then, if he's restin', I'll wake him up!

(shouting at the cage)

'Ello, Mister Polly Parrot! I've got a lovely fresh cuttle fish for you if you show...(owner hits the cage)

O: There, he moved!

C: No, he didn't, that was you hitting the cage!

O: I never!!

C: Yes, you did!

O: I never, never did anything...

C: (yelling and hitting the cage repeatedly) 'ELLO POLLY!!!!!

Testing! Testing! Testing! Testing! This is your nine o'clock alarm call!

(Takes parrot out of the cage and thumps its head on the counter. Throws it up in the air and watches it plummet to the floor.)

C: Now that's what I call a dead parrot.

O: No, no.....No, 'e's stunned!


Or maybe :

"Hilter in England", Monty Python

Well. A jesuit conspiracy to takeover the IT world, to begin with in the netherlands? A buffer to make me rejected from a well paid respectable jobin the area I could manage with both hands tied behind my back and blindfolded? Nice boys who must be left to their 2d rate worldly game? Unserious amatures who mean no harm? A ultra right secret assasination commitee?

Normal dutch mores? You judge.

John Sandford: the Prey series

That's an important contemporary writer, with a website by his son it seems who writes a few different thriller series (mostly), of which the biggest is the Prey series, which is mostly about a police inpector (or something like that) in Mineapolis solving murders of all kinds.

Very good to read, and in spite of the genre (like Sherlock Holmes) most definately literature. I read all prey series novels thus far I think, and 10th of may a new one comes out, you can read first chapters for free on the website.

The biggest Musical Intrument Fair in Europe

Which in german is called 'musikmesse' in frankfurt, where there is indeed a very large complex of fair buildings, about 5 times bigger than the biggest in holland, I'd think, but I wasn't paying attention to that.

I was able to go there (alone) by car, which worked fine, though one has to go from the parking places to the fair by bus, which isn't optimal for people like me, but ok, then you have probably all musical insturment manufacturers of any type of instrument together with a stand and demonstrantion products, flyers, etc.

Note that I was there as visitor, not as exhibitor, which with the latest synth and software might have been possible.

I looked at most electronic instruments and other equipment stands and of course software and pianos and such. I had a good time at the (major) Yamaha exhibition playing guitars and organs and some good grand pianos, and big drums, that was cool enough.

Also I talked a bit and looked around and at their shows of Native Instruments, from Germany.

So what does Theo Verelst do with normal modern consumer computers ?

Well, what I have been able to use lately are mainly two consumer machines, of which one a fairly cheap notebook from a supermarket (hi hi), which is quite a computer beast though: good screen and graphics card (Nvidia Gforce FX 4200 I think) , 512 Megabyte main memory, 2.6 GHz pentium, most interfaces including firewire for digital video, and wireless network (which I have no driver for on linux though), which runs XP (currently SPII), or RedHat Linux 9.0 (chosable at bootup), both with a lot of programs installed, this is an example windows program menu:

Lets see there is wish, which is tcl/tk, media player, in use for anything from the web (video/audio/presentation) and video links over the other computer, winamp for playing CD's (with equalizer) Radio Caroline and some mpeg video SQ01 is the Yamaha audio and midi sequencer which comes with their products which allows good multitrack recordings,
Nero is CD burner of course and also an audio waveform editor with effects (like compression),
Movie maker I've used extensively with a digital camera to make fairly high quality video cuts, gimp is a good drawing and image processing program of which I've the gimp2 version running on Linux and the other machine, which is already comparable with Photoshop (not quite the same, but certainly useable), and on linux I have combined my BWise blockwise graphical programming program with Gimp2 for powerfull automated image processing,
Netscape is the only internet browser and page composer I use (I never use internet explorer, because it probably would give me virusses and problems within minutes of use... while netscape has served me well since the first (mozilla) browser which existed on workstations with no virusses for a long time already, which is especially important on the 24/7 internet connected machine, which has also remained virus free even without scanner and such by switching all unneccessary services off and NEVER using IE...) ,
realplayer is probably the best media player and compressed format (the person paying for the internet connection is also member of for isntance WBGO jazz radio from New York which sounds more than fine enough with realplayer at 44kilobits/sec) below shown with the (free , 150kps) Nasa TV internet channel with live International Space Station video,
Steinberg Cubase SX comes from the free software package with a (very) cheap midi keyboard, and acts as a good midi sequencer, media encoder is shown below with a live audio signal being encoded for transfer over a local network, and also I use media encoder to live (!) encode television or video at 3megabps to view on the other machine, quicktime and winzip are clear, cygwin is a extensive unix emulation for windows, including even open source XWindows for use on windows, as seen below with a local and a remote XTERM, which mixes fine with windows programs, and cygwin has a good (GCC) compiler and tools, too.
Adsl is to connect up a standard USB ADSL modem up easily, so when one machine fails, unplugging the usb plug and plugging it into the other machine gets the 24/7 webserver running again in minutes, even during powerfailure (currently the modem does about 750 kilobits/sec upload and about 2 megabits/sec download, which is cool).
Arturia is a software synthesizer, 3iv is a mpeg4 en/de coder (the encoder expired I'm sure, I used it to compress a conference video for a swedish 'customer'..., well 10 euros only), Analog Devices contains a extensive DSP programming environment for the Blackfin DSP, the audiotester is shareware which expired, I made my own signal generator in its place already, and will do a spectrum analyser too I guess, KDE is a complete KDE implementation on cygwin, running under windows, Hewlett Packard is scanner software and digital camera software, Modelsim is demo (I didn't like it), IRIS is OCR which works well in fact, Atmel is a microcontroller programmer I didn't use,
Maxima is a strong open source mathematics package like mathematica (but existed earlier), Pinnacle TV is a fairly good USB connected TV digitizer box for normal TV and video signals, which does a REALTIME mpeg (1 or 2) Video encoding, also on a notebook, so I could for instance use it to watch and record satellite TV in a car setup (with a voltage convertor).
Sampletank and FM7 are (interesting) software synthesizers (all demo versions which work). The last item is a microcontroller programmer I didn't use yet, the second and third but last are programmers and compiler and IDE for the Analog Devices 7020 ARM 16/32 bits 1 MegaSample/second AD and DA converter fast 'micro'controller which I have a very small size sample board from, which can be perfectly fash programmed (in-circuit, over a serial adapter cable) with the keil ide running (free) gnucc for Arm, as I described on a previous diary page.

These menus don't show all the cygwin progams and projects of my own, because they aren't started by windows menus, and some other programs like a CD ripper and mp3 encoder aren't shown, as well as the mplayer media player which (when preferably run from linux) is probably the highest quality video player, and Open Source!

A screen dump from a number of simulataneously used programs (viva multitasking, but preferably on linux...) showing from upper left to lower right: RealOne player showing live Nasa TV, mplayer showing a satellite channel being encoded life from a (extremely cheap but fine) portable digital satelite receiver through media encoder, and transfered over a 100baseT 30 meter local network to this machine, winamp trying to play Radio Caroline (nice 70's music) but getting server full, the gimp (to do this screen dump for instance) a local and a remote (networked, using cygwin on the remote machine) X window, the task control window showing 71% CPU use and not too much (but no little) memory, media encoder encoding a high quality stereo microphone signal from the high quality USB audio card I made for transfer over the local net for listening on the amplifier setup connected to the other network machine, pcom showing realtime messaging, file tranfer and remote command execution over the network (or when needed internet) and a netscape browser window showing Mars Rover progress. In the right lower corner, audio volume sliders for the builtin AC'97 soundcard and the (hot-pluggable) high quality USB audio AD/DA converter.

So what is the PC setup then? Well that depends on what there is, but I'm using regularly the following 'tricks' to have a bit of fun or work (for instance conference covering, (audio) studio related work, DJ stuff even at times, and of course sound synthesis and such and sometimes I did some computer graphics stuff. Fun is of course as I described:

<>satellite dish --> digital receiver --> video/audio signal --> TV card / usb audio card in/on PC
<>--> software video/audio encoder (media encoder) --> 100baseT ethernet (30 meter)
--> other PC: mplayer or media player to view the signal

Alternatively, one can use the decent pinnacle TV box to record a tv channel on harddisc, which can then be read over ethernet by another machine and fed to mplayer in real good quality (up to 6 or even 12 megabits/sec, which is close to an average quality DVD):

Cable TV signal or video recorder signal or camera signal --> pinnacle TV digitizer box
--> USB connector to PC or notebook --> realtime harddisc recording program for mpegI/II video
--> a tcl script to read the file immedeately (with any delay) and send it over the network
--> it's companion Tcl program on the other machine on the network copying the video signal to 'stdout'
--> mplayer reading the video data from stdin with the - option, running as the second program in a cygwin pipe
That gives real good networked video, at 6Mb/s and D1 quality (720x576 pixels, 30fps) on a good screen its almost as if it mostly better then an ordinary TV, though unfortunately I think some of the media players isn't up to the complete 30fps speed in all cases of the encoded signal, so that one can see slight variations in for instance the speed of the 'running text' on the bottom of CNN news, and also certain camera motions work perfect, and then the mpegII motion estimation seems to make the image sampling better on a fast refresh screen, but some fast camera motions work without hesitation but not perfectly like in a cinema.

The described setup and encoder appear to be relatively free from all the encoding en enhancement sh*t so often seen in all kinds of hardware and software setups. mplayer is fairly cool (especially on Linux, which works for the above setup) and straight, en when necessary mpeg1 can be chosen at 1mbps for the pinnacle real time encoder to get only a sequence of motion effect free jpeg images in the video stream, which is a good comparison, but of course lacks the more refined D1 6Mb/s mpegII view. Room for improvement, but really, the bright and fast enough notebook screen with mplayer on full screen doing the D1 mpegII signal is neater and cooler than any normal TV. If  only all the motions would be *completely* right.

Sigh. Try some digital camera (I've used a fairly good sony consumer camera reasonable extensively for times), and use ANY connection (firewire/analog/even USB) and ANY encoder/recoder (like windows moviemaker or encoder or the above piccacle box, or tmpEnc or whatever of the known software packages) and try to get a cool cinematographic D1 quality film motion of some cool kind. Grrr..

But on the other hand fairly amazing qualities are possible with normal consumer equipment.

So what can these PC's do? Well an example connection diagram:

All this can work simultaneously, so webserving, web connection to local net, audio reproduction / AD conversion, and transfering / recording 2 video signals. But then CPU time is critical.