Rebuilding the old tape collection

07/22/09 | by Adam | Categories: Music

When I first started buying music I had a choice of cassette tape or vinyl. For reasons mostly involving the availability of singles, I tended to buy on vinyl. After a while I'd accumulated a pretty good stock and found it was rather non-portable. A single record is relatively light; a bunch are both unwieldy and extremely heavy. Oh, and surprisingly fragile. As I was at school at the time and the proud possessor of a Walkman knockoff, I proceeded to copy most of it to cassette. Yes, I have a lot of white inner sleeves with a logo of large skull and crossbones over a cassette tape with text stating "Home taping is killing music". Plus ca change.

Over the years since, I've accumulated a pretty good collection of music. Certainly far, far more than I did when I bought music on vinyl. With all of my CDs converted to MP3 I thought it might be fun to try to recreate my old tape collection with the newer higher quality versions. The gotcha is that I wanted to try to match the originals: the cuts had to be the appropriate single version where possible rather than just the album edit.

I can't do it.

The culprits are for the most part the old 12" singles which I was quite partial to. Take for example New Order's "Blue Monday '88". I own the original 12" version on vinyl but it's never been transferred over to CD. You can find the original 1983 12" easily enough, and the 1988 7" release turns up at least once on a compilation. The 1988 12"? Not on your life. How about the Ben Liebrand "Sunshine" 12" mix of Bill Withers' "Lovely Day?" Yeah, you guessed it. Paul Hardcastle's "19" was released in two different versions depending on the market; the US version has a very different voice from the British one and sounds a lot weaker. Guess which version always shows up. Now try to find the a nice remaster of the UK 12".

However, they're not the only ones. Trying to find the charting 7" version of a lot of songs is pretty hard too. There are a number of compilations that do include obscure mixes but too often it's just the album version again. Unfortunately there's no way to find that out before it arrives, fully paid for, on your doorstep.

Then there are the utterly wacky obscurities although still pressed by mainstream studios. Try finding "The Young Ones" cover of Traffic's "Hole In My Shoe" (bummer, man) or perhaps the Steve Harley vocal of "Phantom Of the Opera" (Michael Crawford sure spoiled that one.) Perhaps PhD's "I Won't Let You Down" (that would be the Scottish band, not the American one)? Even something as mainstream as Sly Fox's "Let's Go All The Way" was surprisingly difficult to find. On the other hand, I expected Guru Josh's "Infinity 1990" to be impossible to find and promptly discovered a CD single of it.

And the B sides? Oh. The flip side of the single with the theme tune to "Dr Who" during the Peter Davidson years is a great little synthesizer number called "The Astronauts". See this link to get an idea of how hard that one is to find, even on vinyl. Hefti's "Batusi A-Go Go (I Shouldn't Wish To Attract Attention)"? Yeah.

Fortunately I still -- even after all these years -- have the original vinyl. I've converted it all onto CDs so at least it'll now remain accessible and not degrade further. All the same, the sound quality just isn't as good as a properly remastered release. The hunt continues.

 

iPhone notepad

07/16/09 | by Adam | Categories: iPhone

Link: http://daringfireball.net/2009/07/simplenote

Daring Fireball has an interesting take on why the iPhone's note application is the pinnacle of the breed, with one of two minor niggles.

I still can't agree: the time-based flat access system that John Gruber considers to be the appropriate design drives me nuts. Perhaps it's because I used the Palm notes for so long but I absolutely have to have a category to allow me to distinguish between notes for different purposes. Without that, and even with just a few notes, the whole lot becomes an unmanageable mess.

That said, the addition of syncing with OSX's Mail.app and the iPhone's new "Find" tool does go a long way to making it valuable again. And he's absolutely right on the poor font choice and the lack of internet/MobileMe syncing. It's horrible.

 

Refuting Evolution by Jonathan Sarfati, Part I

06/18/09 | by Nimble | Categories: Books, Religion, Science

[Other parts of the review]

I picked up this book at a charity book sale for the SPCA out in Cochrane. It is morbidly fascinating to see books that purport to take down an entire scientific edifice. I took a pencil with me when I first started reading it, because I thought I might have a note or two to make about it.

Well, it's thoroughly annotated now.

Note that this is the 1999 edition. I understand that there is a later edition out there. However, unless it is an otherwise blank page that simply says "I'm sorry", its contribution is unlikely to be better than that of this edition....

Full story »

 

Passing By Reference To SQL Server Stored Procedures

06/15/09 | by Nimble | Categories: Programming

This is pretty simple to accomplish, though how exactly to do it can be hard to find.

Quite simply, you add OUTPUT to your parameter lists, on both your procedure definition and your actual call, like so:

Defining:

CREATE PROCEDURE dbo.TestValue
@Value int OUTPUT
AS
SET @Value = @Value + 1
GO

Calling:

DECLARE @Banana int
SET @Banana = 1
PRINT @Banana
EXEC dbo.TestValue @Banana OUTPUT
PRINT @Banana
EXEC dbo.TestValue @Banana OUTPUT
PRINT @Banana
GO

If you run this in SQL Server Management Studio, this will give you the output:

1
2
3

If you miss the OUTPUT on the calling side, your value will simply be unaffected, and will output instead:

1
1
1

If you miss the OUTPUT on the defining side, the OUTPUT on the calling side will generate an error:

Msg 8162, Level 16, State 2, Procedure TestValue, Line 0
The formal parameter "@Value" was not declared as an OUTPUT parameter, but the actual parameter passed in requested output.

 

Cool baby furniture

06/08/09 | by Adam | Categories: Silly

Link: http://i.gizmodo.com/5276024/blade+covered-baby-equipment-perfect-shower-gifts-for-the-antichrist

I'm not really a baby person, but this crèche furniture is quite appealing.

 

Bill 44 Passes Second Reading

05/21/09 | by Nimble | Categories: Common Sense, Politics, Religion, Science

This bill has been causing some stir in Alberta.

Essentially, the bill modifies the Human Rights, Citizenship and Multiculturalism Act RSA-2000 cH-14 here with modifications that, for the most part, add sexual orientation to these protected categories:

race, religious beliefs, colour, gender, physical disability, mental disability, ancestry, place of origin, marital status, source of income or family status of that person or class of persons or of any other person or class of persons.

So why all the big fuss? Well, a couple of reasons: one, there's an addition to the act that, seemingly out of the blue, protects students from educational exposure or testing of:

subject-matter that deals explicitly with religion, sexuality or sexual orientation

Two: a comment by the premier of the province, Ed Stelmach. From a CBC article:

Although Stelmach has confirmed the bill will give parents the authority to exclude their kids from classes if the topic of evolution comes up, Education Minister Dave Hancock said it won't change anything.

I have my own few thoughts about the act...

Full story »

 

Metered internet

05/17/09 | by Adam | Categories: Technology

Did you know that it's really easy to get through a gigabyte of data in two days without using torrents or streamed video and audio (albeit with a little bit of Skyping)?

Neither did I up until a few hours ago.

Major contributors: Windows update, Outlook syncing, VMWare Fusion dmg download.

 

iPhones and roaming wifi

05/16/09 | by Adam | Categories: iPhone

Apropos of not much:

- Trying to sync over wifi when your laptop is already connected to a pay-to-play wifi hub doesn't work. Apple really needs to open up their iTunes sync API so that third party apps can piggyback on it.
- Pay-to-play wifi just doesn't seem to be iPhone friendly, what with the need of most of them to display an active window counting your connection time.

 

Things iPhoto thinks are faces

04/30/09 | by Adam | Categories: Macintosh

Link: http://www.flickr.com/groups/977532@N24/

I don't have a copy of iPhoto'09 with the feature that tries to automatically recognise people's faces and tag them. I'm looking forward to trying it out eventually.

In the meantime, I'm enjoying the Flickr group where people post some of iPhoto's near (and quite wide) misses.

 

On contracts and unlocking cellphones

04/29/09 | by Adam | Categories: iPhone

Link: http://emperor.tidbits.com/TidBITS/Talk/2606

TidBITS, an Apple-centred news/discussion site, had a very brief discussion on unlocking cellphones after the contract is up.

I have to say I'm unsure why cellphone companies are not obliged to do this. The rationale -- as I understand it -- is that the cost of the phone is subsidised by the contract and the longer the contract, the more the subsidy (i.e. the cheaper the phone is.) Once that contract is complete, the subsidy should be fully paid back and therefore the cellphone should be entirely yours. However, on a locked phone this is not the case as it's still limited to use on only that particular cell network. I can see why the cell companies don't want to do it as it's an extra impediment to switching, and if the phone was free with a contract I could even accept it, but when you're spending several hundred dollars on a more sophisticated device like the iPhone the device should be yours free and clear.

Imagine buying a house where the mortgage company said (after being paid back in full) "Ok, it's all yours, but you're still going to need to pay us to live in it."

It's a bit absurd.

 

On "magic"

04/28/09 | by Adam | Categories: Technology

Link: http://www.wired.com/science/discoveries/magazine/17-05/ff_neuroscienceofmagic?currentPage=all

Wired has a nice writeup on magic tricks and the shortcomings of the human perceptual system that allow them to work.

 

Hack Attack

04/28/09 | by Nimble | Categories: Internet, Spamming

A hearty thank you to the folks who do my hosting for catching this.

A hacker or script kiddie managed to upload a somewhat nasty-looking package into my cgi-bin directory. I haven't thoroughly investigated the code yet, but from the looks of it, the intention was either that any time the system tried to run an automated backup, it would send atrocious amounts of spam, or if someone typed in the url plus backup.cgi, it would give a direct-mailing interface, which would allow someone to send atrocious amounts of spam.

I'm leaning towards the latter possibility, because there is a "flood" mode in the script.

The script itself self-identifies as being made by "YellSOFT" and perhaps being called "GoldeR". (I can't seem to get the text to show up in Russian to get it translated)

The package also contains text files filled with alternative greetings (e.g. HI, Dear, Sorry if you not us), declarations of you-like-nudism (e.g. The favourite a nudism site of your friend invites you.), lists of unsubscribe messages, spamvertised redirection web sites (often using a /video or /private directory on someone else's web site), and a giant list, in a file called f.txt, of faked From: e-mail addresses.

Thank you oh so very much, you bottom-feeders.

As for my part, off I go to inform each and every one of those sites of the presence of the redirection page. I don't know how much I can hope for, but maybe I can help knock off a few. As I write this, all nine sites have the redirector page.

 

Progress ain't everything

04/26/09 | by Adam | Categories: Technology

Link: http://www.bogost.com/games/a_television_simulator.shtml

When I moved off the Amiga to other platforms, I left behind a number of interesting hardware tricks required for producing the sterling graphics the platform was known for. When trying to use the Amiga file formats on other platforms, the results were never as good due to those features being absent.

The linked to article discusses something very similar with the even older games consoles that took advantage of the behaviour of the low end technology available at that time -- specifically artefacting from cheap televisions -- and how never technology doesn't represent the appearance or behaviour correctly, often making it look a whole lot worse than it was.

(Via BoingBoing)

 

Good news for meat-eating hangover sufferers

04/24/09 | by Adam | Categories: Silly

Link: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/scienceandtechnology/science/sciencenews/5118283/Bacon-sandwich-really-does-cure-a-hangover.html

Who knew? A fry up really does help to cure hangovers. According to an article in Britain's Torygraph:

Elin Roberts, of Newcastle University's Centre for Life said: "Food doesn't soak up the alcohol but it does increase your metabolism helping you deal with the after-effects of over indulgence. So food will often help you feel better.

"Bread is high in carbohydrates and bacon is full of protein, which breaks down into amino acids. Your body needs these amino acids, so eating them will make you feel good."

Ms Roberts told The Mirror: "Bingeing on alcohol depletes neurotransmitters too, but bacon contains a high level of aminos which tops these up, giving you a clearer head."

 

Pseudo-random changes to iTunes Store application pricing

04/23/09 | by Adam | Categories: iPhone

Link: http://appshopper.com/navigation/mygps

I keep tabs on applications in the iTunes Store that drop to free as it's a chance to try out an application that otherwise I wouldn't bother with.

Sometimes when looking at the apps, you see some very odd behaviour. At the link is a program called "MyGPS". Since its introduction in mid-February this year, it's changed price just under 40 times, typically dropping to free and then back up, usually on the same day.

The main reason this price volatility caught my eye is probably the same reason that the author does this: I downloaded it thinking it was free when in fact it had just gone back up in price. I wasn't paying enough attention as I should have been (caveat emptor and all that) but this isn't what I would have called upstanding ethical behaviour on the part of the author. I've not spent much time seeing how many others do this, but I frankly wouldn't be too surprised to see that it's widespread.

 

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