The joke that is the Windows Image File (WIM)

September 16th, 2007

First, let me start with the obligatory, and oh-so-appropriate, ROTFLMAO!!! Oh, man, Microsoft has /really/ outdone themselves with this one. A few months ago I attended a Windows Vista training session where an overzealous trainer eagerly relayed the many benefits of using Windows Vista to a skeptical audience.

I felt bad for the guy. From what I could tell, the audience wasn’t buying it. His presentation started with a 30 minute long AERO sales pitch, as though that was the best reason to upgrade…transparent effects on windows. Geez.

It didn’t get much better when he tried to delete a file he accidently created while right-clicking on the desktop. He had to confirm the delete and /then/ provide his password. Wow.

But the icing on the cake that day was the introduction of the Windows Image File (WIM) format. I don’t want to get ahead of myself, but let me just start by saying that WIM is a flaming pile of dog crap. I can’t believe that Microsoft is including this in Windows Vista. Contrary to its description, it is actually a glorified “tar” program.

Ok. So as many advanced computer users know, image files come in many different formats: ISO, DMG, IMG, BIN, etc. And when one of these image files is mounted by the operating system (OS), it becomes a virtual file system. As I understand it, once mounted, the OS treats it like any other file system. Depending on the permissions, you can read, write, etc, straight to the image file. Any changes you make are immediately reflected in the image file itself.

You get the idea. You mount an image file, make a change to its contents, then unmount it. Done.

Well, I should have known that something was very wrong with WIM when “mounting” it prompts the user for the directory where the user wants it “mounted.” This is so wrong on so many levels. I don’t know where to start. Yes, that’s right…Windows Vista doesn’t treat WIM files as virtual file systems.

What it does when you “mount” a WIM file is actually /extract/ the contents of the WIM into a directory of your specification. You aren’t mounting ANYTHING. For Microsoft to misuse terminology in this way seems irresponsible.

I bit my tongue when the trainer “mounted” a 2GB WIM. It took about 1-2 minutes to “mount” it, as it really just extracted the contents to a directory on the C: drive. He then made a change to some configuration file that was “in” the WIM. But I /lost it/ when he said “…and then with that change made you simply unmount the WIM….but we will skip that step because it would take about 30-40 minutes to do that with a 2GB WIM.” HAHAHAHAHAHAHA ROTFLMFAO!!!!!!! HAHAHAHANO NO NO NO SERIOUSLY??? HA… heh. heh. For real, though. You’re not serious, right? Wrong. He was dead serious. Dear God.

Obviously, “unmounting” the WIM was simply repacking the contents (at a snails pace). I find it hard to believe that competent Windows admins will be fooled by this. From every interaction with these WIM files, it should be obvious that this feature is in no way, shape, or form an “image” tool. One could question why Microsoft is labeling it as a disk “image” technology at all. And why not just allow Vista to mount WIM files as virtual file systems? Surely their OS could do /that/. Couldn’t it? What a joke.

Apple iChat Multiperson Video Conference not working

March 16th, 2007

Last night, I had the chance to participate in a 3-way (multiperson) video conference in iChat. In the past, 2-way, or one-on-one videoconferencing worked just fine. But I was unable to get the 3-way conference working!

My MacBook and internet connection met Apple’s minimum specifications for participating in, and even hosting, a multiperson videoconference. But users in my buddy list only had the single “video camera” icon next to their names, and not the “multi-video camera” icon, which would indicate that they could participate in a multiperson video conference in iChat.

I suspected my software firewall, and found that it was not allowing iChat to determine the speed of my internet connection. In that case, iChat defaults to the Streaming Speed setting in Quicktime. So, I went into the Quicktime Player preferences, and changed the Streaming Speed from Automatic (to which it was set) to 1.5 Mbps. Once I did that, I quit iChat, started it back up, and my buddies had “multi-video camera” icons next to their names. Then I started a video chat with one of them, and the previously-grayed-out “plus” button was no longer grayed out, meaning I could add more buddies to the video chat.

I did that and everything worked flawlessly. It was pretty difficult to find the solution on-line, so I’m posting this solution on my blog, hoping that others can find it and get their multiperson video chats in iChat working as well! Good luck!

Broken hammer pins in my Rhodes Mark V

March 9th, 2007

Last night I was doing my weekly checkup on my Rhodes. I gig with it relatively frequently, so I like to check it out before I take it to a gig. During my check up, I noticed that two of my hammer arms have broken pins!!

Here is a post on the Fender Rhodes Supersite that details someone reshaping Mark I and II hammers to mirror the Mark V standard. It would be nice to come up with a robust method of fixing this problem.

Here is an image of the pivot pin on a reshaped Mark I hammer arm:

rhodes hammer pivot pin

I’ll be fixing it somehow soon, and posting pictures as well. I’ll keep you posted.

Movie clip of the Rhodes Mark 7

January 23rd, 2007

I found a great (but short) video of the Rhodes Mark 7 at NAMM:

Also, if you are interested, there are great conversations regarding the Rhodes Mark 7 on The Super Site Forums:

Even more pictures of the Rhodes Mark 7 from NAMM

January 20th, 2007

As I find new pictures on the web, I’ll make sure to link to them here:

rhodes mark 7 suitcase 73

rhodes mark 7 suitcase 73

rhodes mark 7 suitcase 73

rhodes mark 7 interior

rhodes mark 7 61

rhodes mark 7 stage 88

More photos of the Rhodes Mark 7 trickling in

January 19th, 2007

Found some more photos on the web of the Rhodes Mark 7. Shows the pitch bend and mod wheels, speaker cabinet, and (of interest to me) the 61 key passive electronics model (the one in red).

rhodes mark 7

rhodes mark 7

rhodes mark 7

First impressions of the Rhodes Mark 7 electric piano

January 19th, 2007

(also see the Rhodes Mark 7 NAMM 2008 Product Release post for the latest information)

UPDATE: It seems that popular enthusiast sites, including, are being pressured into deleting all information critical of the new Rhodes Mark 7. And even stranger, any critical remarks regarding the new Rhodes Music Corporation website are being pulled as well.

I’ve written about many of the deleted posts here on my site:

Fender Rhodes Super Site bowing down to the new Rhodes Music Corporation
Rhodes Mark 7 endorsement from Jeff Lorber?
The weight of the Rhodes Mark 7 electric piano
Mark V action technology mysteriously vanishes from the Rhodes Mark 7
Rhodes Music Corporation benefiting from vintage Rhodes forum

Sorry for that interruption. On with my first impressions of the Rhodes Mark 7:

Let me start, first, by saying that I have not seen one of these in person. However, from the following pictures it is possible to make some distinct observations. Overall, the Rhodes Mark 7 piano shown at NAMM looks a little rough. Almost as though it was thrown together: a frankenstein of modern electronics and the guts from vintage (70’s/80’s) Rhodes pianos.

And I mean that literally. The guts of these things could come only from old Rhodes pianos. Given the production facilities the original Rhodes pianos demanded, I find it impossible to believe that the electromechanical parts in the Mark 7 come from a source other than old Rhodes pianos or New-Old-Stock (NOS) parts.

However, recently a person at Major Key built the Major Key 54. A Rhodes that is comprised of “65% new parts, 30% new/old stock [leftover from when the factory closed], and 5% whatever [i.e., the Harmonic Clarifier]”. This, perhaps, shows that the Mark 7 could be built without using parts from old Rhodes pianos. Perhaps the Mark 7, like the Major Key 54, used only new parts, NOS parts, and new electronics (MIDI/USB/PRE).

But wait! Making that scenario even less likely is the fact that the new Rhodes corporation claims the Mark 7 is based off of Mark V technology. For those unaware, the Mark V included some significant differences from previous models. Most notable was the increased hammer throw, resulting in a more expressive piano. You can read about the Mark V at the Fender Rhodes Super Site.

Possibly because there were relatively few Mark V pianos made (estimates range between 2,000-4,000), many Mark V owners find it difficult, if not impossible, to acquire replacement parts. Specifically, the plastic hammer assemblies in the Mark V are unique to that model. Some claim that the increased hammer throw causes long-term fatigue in the hammer arm pin area, ultimately resulting in the failure of that part. Stories of Mark V owners with this problem say that they have had to find creative solutions, because the only known source for this particular replacement part is other, used, Mark V pianos. As Mark V pianos can sell for $5,000 on on-line auctions sites such as eBay, buying a Mark V for spare parts can be economically unfeasible.

Why all of this history? Because I believe that unless the new Rhodes corporation bought a number of Mark V pianos, to use for supplying the guts of the Mark 7, then the pianos they demoed at NAMM could not have contained “Mark 5 action design”, as they claim on their website.

So, let’s assume that the models at NAMM did have the Mark V action design and in order to achieve that, they cannibalized a number of Mark V pianos.

Well, if you look closely in the pictures from NAMM, they show a 88-key version of the Mark 7 (it’s the white one). Now, I think that I may have used the word “frankenstein” too soon. In fact, I should have saved it to describe what I think about the 88-key Mark 7 they unveiled at NAMM. If the new Rhodes corporation had used vintage Mark V pianos to supply the guts of their Mark 7’s, they would have had some unique challenges while constructing their 88-key model. This is because the Mark V only came in a 73-key model.

I can imagine that they took parts from an 88-key Mark I and Mark II, and combined them with parts from 2 Mark V’s to create this beast. That’s a thought!

For now, let’s forget the gruesome method they employed in creating these monsters, and focus more on the product that they ended up with: the Rhodes Mark 7.

Here is another picture of the Mark 7. Let’s see what we can find. Looks like we can see the “Ventilated humidity system”, which looks like some speaker slits in the top of the case, and of course the I/O panel is visible. Not sure why they thought they needed a moisture vent. The vintage Rhodes pianos do not have them, and they have been working fine for over 20 years.

rhodes mark 7

And now, let’s take a look at the quality (or lack thereof) of the I/O panel. Hmmm. Aside from the lack of labeling, crooked XLR inputs, and MIDI jacks that aren’t properly aligned (the number 3 MIDI pin should be at the top, as is standard procedure in all other MIDI equipment), it doesn’t look /that/ bad. It should be nice to have those available. However, take a look at the scratching on the gloss finish. Looks like a Mark 7 wouldn’t look nice for long if you gigged with it. Also, what’s with the dust around the edges of the panel?

rhodes mark 7 i/o panel

Next, we see the font panel. Some rhodes owners have commented that the controls are not very well defined, and that the layout could improve. The first thing I noticed in this picture was the interior wooden harp showing at the top left between the front panel and the lid of the instrument. These pianos don’t seem to be very refined. Are they /hoping/ to make these in quantity with any amount of quality, or are they just showing what they can assemble in their garage over the weekend?

rhodes mark 7 front panel

Finally we see the other half of the front panel. Obviously, the keys at the right end are not level, and any number of things can cause this. Again, strange for that problem to be apparent on a floor model for the piano’s introduction to the world. And in this picture, and the last, I almost missed something. It was pointed out to me in an on-line forum, and I hadn’t seen it, I think, because it’s the last place I would want them to be. On the front panel there are 2 USB ports, clumsily located on each end. I can’t think of an argument for that placement. They almost seem to be in the way there. Finally, the wooden harp can be seen between the gap in the front panel and the lid running the length of the piano.

rhodes mark 7 front panel

In conclusion, given that a vintage Rhodes piano can be purchased under $1,000US, I’m not sure how they are going to sell these for a profit. The additional electronics can be added to a vintage Rhodes: $200 for a preamp and $1,000 for a MIDI strip installed (in fact you can install the same optical MIDI strip used in the Mark 7, if you want). It seems like the Mark 7 will sell if it is priced under $2500 with MIDI and preamp. Pricing should be available in February from the new Rhodes corporation.

First image of the Rhodes Mark 7

January 18th, 2007

Ok…..getting my first look at the Rhodes Mark 7 electromechanical piano, and boy! I’m not sure what to think yet. I need to see more pictures….inside and out! I’m sure more will come.

fender rhodes mark 7

You can keep up-to-date on it by visiting The Super Site forum:

The soon-to-be-announed Rhodes Mark 7 electromechanical piano

January 17th, 2007

Wow. Well tomorrow at NAMM, I hear that the Rhodes Mark 7 piano will be released. Apparently, as many die-hard Rhodes fans had hoped, the Mark 7 will be a true electromechanical piano. From what I have read, it will have the “guts” of the Mark V; the previous model last built in 1984. One side note: as a Mark V owner this excites me knowing that I may be able to buy new parts for my aging piano!

The Mark 7 will come in 3 sizes, 88/73/61 keys, each with 3 “trim” levels: passive electronics (like the original Rhodes), active electronics (on-board powered preamp), and MIDI with active electronics.

I’m not sure what the pricing will be, or what they look like. But by February this information should be readily available!

Yamaha CP-80 (CP-70) owner’s manual

January 12th, 2007

Wow. So I just found a great owner’s manual site from Yamaha. I searched for ‘CP-80’ and easily found the owner’s manual for my Yamaha CP-80.

Go get ’em!