What is the best digital voice recorder (DVR)?

Posted in Wed, 05 Sep 2007 06:37:00 GMT

I just recently picked up a digital voice recorder (aka DVR, not to be confused with digital video recorders) for recording conference calls and meetings. In three short meetings I have become a true believer. I always taken detailed meeting notes but that was because I would write notes during the meeting. With a DVR, I can concentrate on running the call and going back to catch the details later.

For my first DVR I picked up the Olympus DS-30 from FRYs. The benefits that I keyed in on where the large-looking stereo speakers and the noise reduction. Since this is my first DVR I was easily impressed by the utility of it. So far I've recorded and played back on the device, copied the WMA files off using it as a USB storage device on Win XP and converted the WMA to OGG Vorbis using dbPowerAmp. The only thing that doesn't seem to work is the CD that it came with. XP would not recognize it at all but at least I don't need since it doubles as a USB device.

Although it meets my current notetaking requirements easily, I've been thinking about whether it'd be good to use for recording podcasts. My current issue is that it records in WMA and not a FOSS standard. After looking over a number of DVRs, it seems that the higher end ones use WMA, LPEC, DSS, etc. but not common music formats such as MP3 and OGG. What native format do you think is the best for DVRs? Is it fine to record as WMA and convert to OGG Vorbis or are there better options?

I don't know too much about voice recorders at the moment so I'm easy to please. Which ones do you like and what are important features for you?

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Database Abstraction - code vs infrastructure

Posted in , , , , , , Wed, 05 Sep 2007 04:38:00 GMT

I've worked on a number of database-driven projects and no matter how much people want database abstraction, it was always difficult to code and maintain. I was recently reminded of this when I read this Drupal article on dropping PostgreSQL support. Not only can it be difficult to maintain support for multiple databases, but it may be difficult to find developers.

One solution of modern programming is to move database abstraction from the code to the infrastructure using a ORM (Object-Relational Mapper) or Data Mapper. A ORM and Data Mapper abstracts the database for you so you no longer have to do tie db abstraction to each app. Not only does it let you code once for multiple databases it lets your users migrate their data from one database to another. This blog runs Typo which is based on Ruby on Rails and ActiveRecord. I've been contemplating migrating Typo from MySQL to PostgreSQL and I've been told that it would be as simple as exporting the data with YAML, updating the database.yml file and importing the data. I haven't gotten around to doing it yet but it is a powerful idea. ActiveRecord is a data mapper and isn't as flexible as a full blown ORM but it gets the job done for the most part. For a full-blown ORM, I think of Perl's DBIx::Class which provides a full OO interface to the RDBMS allowing you to code just once for multiple DBs without limiting you when you want to use some esoteric database-specific SQL. DBIx::Class is often used with the Catalyst Framework but is also used by itself.

There are PHP frameworks out there like Symfony and Cake but do any of them have stand-alone ORMs? If so, could Drupal move to something like that and solve their maintainership problems once and for all? Drupal is part of the Go PHP5 effort so there should be no issue using PHP 5 OO. Something to think about for the Drupal folks if a PHP ORM is available.

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