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September 24, 2004

What I bought on eBay

I finally found the Sissy Bar CD, Statutory Grape, which I had been looking for over the past few months. Rare, out of print CD, $2.95 + $3 for S&H.

The case was busted up (can just transplant all the cover art to a good case) but the CD inside is flawless. CDEx is ripping it to LAME MP3 right now, then onto the iPod it will go. I can’t wait. I’ve only had the two songs I downloaded as single tracks through iTunes to hold me over until I managed to find the CD.

Nothing like a screaming punk girl band to start the weekend off right!

October 5, 2004

Burn responsibly

I’m up looking at the weekly iTunes free download and I see an ad for Green Day Collectible CD-R’s.

I’m not a huge Green Day fan, but I admire the band for putting together something like this. I mean, how cool? Professionally silkscreened artwork, perfect for your “Best of Green Day” collection.

My old boss, Jim, used to buy those Verbatim “Vinyl” CD-R’s at a premium for creating his compilation CDs for all the bands he used to listen to back in college. Neat, I thought, but at the premium they were priced over standard CD-R’s I didn’t necessarily think they were worth it.

But, combining the two options, wouldn’t it be kinda neat to go hit a website, browse a catalog of CD-R silkscreens and then order a bunch in quantity? I use my iPod most of the time, but it would be neat to burn some of my favorite mixes off to a neat themed CD-R. Not necessarily artist-themed, but more generic. I could imagine, for example, burning one of my workout soundtracks to a CD with a bike on it…or burning my “August Joy” CD to a CD-R with a big crayon drawing of the sun.

October 7, 2004

iTunes/iPod Trending

So, now that the new website is running I thought it would be cool to do something with all the metadata which sits on my iPod and in iTunes. I could do something like a “Currently listening to…” in a sidebar on the website, but something which would be even cooler would be to do some trending of usage.

iTunes has fields for play count, last played date, date added. Therefore, my thought was that a simple routine could be run periodically against the library which would pick out the current play count for each track and store it in another database with a timestamp.

Then I could run reports…which tracks were the most popular in the last week? Which ones had fallen from favor? Then to complete the cycle, it could use the iTunes API to create a playlist with the results.

The problem with this whole setup - there’s no unique ID which one can use to match between iTunes sessions. All of the Apple documentation I’ve been able to find reiterates over and over again that the trackDatabaseID, which one would think would be what I was looking for, is only guaranteed to be static during an iTunes session.

Now, I suppose I could try and create a unique ID by storing something in an ID3 tag or using a combination of other attributes, and I may just do that. But it still is kinda a pain.

October 10, 2004

A Life Less Ordinary

Last night I had the pleasure of going to the 400 Bar to see a performance by Carbon Leaf.

Who’s Carbon Leaf may you ask?

Continue reading "A Life Less Ordinary" »

October 16, 2004

Barenaked For The Holidays

Managed to pick up tickets this morning for the BNL Holiday show on December 13th, 7:30 pm at the Orpheum Theatre in Minneapolis. Also picked up the CD at Target today, too. (I couldn’t find it at Best Buy for some reason…dunno if they were sold out or not carrying it?)

I’m not sure how I feel about the CD yet. Maybe it is just too early to really get into holiday music…maybe I expected more vocal work. We’ll see how it grows on me as the holidays get nearer. As of right now, all of my holiday music is currently in my “Never play” playlist on iTunes so I can avoid it whenever I play “All Songs” randomly. Its exile will end come November 15th or so, which should give me plenty of time to get into the holiday music swing before the concert.

October 20, 2004

Playlist: Fall Colors 2004

As fall turns into winter, I thought I’d put together a playlist of the memorable songs of the fall. I’ve done this in the past, kinda cool to see how things change over time.

This year’s fall playlist is heavily slanted towards Carbon Leaf. It’s been 2-3 months since I first ran across the band on AudioLunchbox and I just attended their concert here in town a couple of weeks ago. I love the great variety of sounds they produce - the lyrics are great, too. Lots there to identify with, regardless of mood.

Other “new” tracks come from a variety of sources. iTunes and its browsing/suggestion capabilities have yielded such gems as “Way You Walk” by Papas Fritas and Weezer’s “Island in the Sun”. “New Slang” by The Shins was something I really didn’t consider purchasing from iTunes until I heard it in Garden State, which is by far my favorite movie of the fall.

The second half of the list is dominated by a bunch of “classic” Damon tracks. Soul Coughing makes a big splash in this part of the list, not only because I picked up a bunch of their live shows on CD, but I’ve run into a few old fans of their music over the course of the fall. Similar reasoning behind the inclusion of such hits as Jeff Buckley’s “Hallelujah” and “Righteously” by Lucinda Williams.

I’ve attached the playlist to the remainder of this message…

Continue reading "Playlist: Fall Colors 2004" »

October 28, 2004

BoDeans Pre-Sale

Anybody want to go see the BoDeans perform at First Avenue on December 26th or 27th?

I’ve never seen them in concert, but over the past year or so I’ve discovered many great songs they’ve recorded over the years:

  • Closer To Free
  • Fadeaway
  • Good Things
  • Dreams
  • Pick up the Pieces
  • Only Love
  • If It Makes You

There’s a pre-sale tomorrow starting at 10am.

November 2, 2004

First Ave Closing?

As I heard on the radio today, and mentioned in this Star & Tribune article, First Avenue closed its doors today.

For those of us who have been paying attention to the saga it comes as little or no surprise. I’ve been reading for months all of the bickering back and forth between all the parties involved. It seems that Fingerhut finally let go of the tug of war rope and everyone is trying to negotiate their new positions now that he’s taken his action.

This club needs to remain in operation. Its name and location have been connected to so many music legends and events it is impossible to imagine it can go away due to contract and ownership disputes.

Considering all the efforts Minneapolis has put forth to salvage the Hennipen Avenue Theatre District, one would think they would consider putting together some kind of package to keep the First Avenue we all know and love open and contributing to the local arts scene. While First Avenue certainly didn’t make its mark in the same way the theatres did, it most definitely has made a huge impact on the music environment here in Minneapolis (and the entire state) and deserves to be valued by the city of Minneapolis in the same way the theatres have been over the years.

November 9, 2004

The Joys of iPodding

I had one another one of those joyful iPod moments last night.

I read this post, saw the lyrical reference to Maggie May and was reminded of Suzanne Vega. I hadn’t listened to her in months, prbly years.

I was the biggest fan years ago, saw her in concert numerous times, but when she took off from performing to raise her child she faded into a background interest. Reading the post I was immediately struck by a desire to hear her wonderful voice again.

iPod to the rescue! I scrolled through my library, selected “All Songs” under her Artist entry and set it on shuffle. Spent the rest of the night (and today outside of meetings) listening to many of my old favorites.

Immediate gratification is great!

November 30, 2004

Smorgasbord of iTunes Downloads

Ever since iTunes allowed you to save 30 second snippets into local playlists, I’ve maintained a “AAA Store Wanted” playlist. This is a dumping ground; a set of bookmarks which I use to keep track of songs which intrigue me, songs I may want to pick up in the future or tracks from albums I may want to pick up in a physical store.

Today I went bonkers, went through the list and downloaded a bunch of tracks I’ve been saving up:

  • Mr. XCitement - They Might Be Giants w/Mike Doughty
  • Countdown - Lindsey Buckingham
  • Homemade Bombs In The Afternoon - A. C. Newman
  • Against All Odds - The Postal Service
  • Naked As We Came - Iron & Wine
  • In the Waiting Line - Zero 7
  • Carol of the Meows - Guster
  • Lebanese Blonde - Thievery Corporation
  • Dreaming of You - The Coral
  • Skittish / Rockity Roll EP (5 Tracks of Goodness!) - Mike Doughty

Yummy! 99¢ is a wonderful thing!

December 1, 2004

Geek Love

As mentioned in 28 Things, number 24, my geekiness is aged like a fine wine. It is only fitting that the first trace of me on the Internet was in regards to my first major geek purchase (paid with my own funds), my Apple Newton. I’ve since moved on…Newton 2000, Ecosphere, OfficeCam, BeetleCam, Libretto, Rio PMP300, Rio Receiver, Series 1 Tivo, iPod.

Tonight I saw the next thing on my geek horizon.

Sonos

Sonos mixes up a few of the previous geekly gadgets (Rio Receiver, iPod) and adds in a dash of wireless to the mix.

It streams your music library from a central server to a remotely connected unit, which then powers speakers, much like the Rio Receiver. However, the Rio Receiver was plagued by a very small screen, controls attached to the remote unit and the inability to create “whole-house audio” by streaming to all of the Rio Receivers at the same time. Sonos splits up all of the components, which creates a far better experience in the end.

  • You connect one Sonos ZonePlayer to your “server” computer, which has the Sonos server software loaded. Each Sonos ZonePlayer has a mute button and volume controls, along with the following ports on the back:
    • Standard AC Power
    • Speaker Outputs
    • RCA In/Out w/Subwoofer
    • 4-port Ethernet Switch
  • You connect each ZonePlayer (including the one connected to the computer, if you desire) to speakers or an audio system of some sort. The stations can be connected via Ethernet, but you can just connect them wirelessly as well.
  • You control Sonos through a handheld wireless remote. It’s about the size of a Gameboy Advance, a bit heavier, but still comfortable to hold in one hand. The remote has the iPod interface - a scroll wheel with limited, yet effective buttonage. A 3.5 inch color backlit screen makes it a breeze to read and control, and the queueing functionality is leagues ahead of the iPod.

I spent about 45 minutes tonight playing with Sonos. I was excited about the product before I got a chance to use it - now I can’t stop thinking about how exciting it will be once I get my hands on one for my own use! Everything works the way you expect it to in a well-designed audio system. The audio is excellent. Unless you’re a zealot, you’re sending audio generated from lossy files anyway; the lack of optical outputs isn’t a dealbreaker for me. The ZonePlayers take a minimalist approach from a control perspective, providing only volume controls, but the real power is in the remote.

The remote is a work of art, pure and simple. The screen is easily read; the control displays and menus intuitively laid out and a fine example of usability design. Within a minute I was manipulating the “live” queue, adding and removing songs with absolutely no thought. A few minutes more I had already started streaming a live Internet radio feed to the Sonos ZonePlayer in the other room while moving to a more upbeat song on the Sonos ZonePlayer which I was listening to right next to me. I could instruct the server to rescan the server’s music library, which was a nice touch for those of us who sometimes add music to the library without wanting to or having the ability to fire off a scan at the time. iTunes intergration was supurb - all of the iTunes tracks (minus protected AAC files from the iTunes Music Store - but we’ve all got hymn now anyways) and playlists showed up in the Sonos interface.

The price tag is a bit spendy - for two ZonePlayers and the controlling wireless remote you’re looking to be set back about $1200. But it sure beats the systems I use now - either a long cord running from the top of my iPod over to the my stereo across the room or a staticy iTrip-enabled FM modulated signal. Even more so, it whips the Rio Receiver’s bootay with its far superior usability and portability.

Sonos has an answer for everything I’ve always wished for from a audio delivery system. I can’t wait to get my hands on one for myself!

December 6, 2004

Holiday Music Season Opener

Today is officially the start of the Damon Durand Holiday Music Season. The long relegated iTunes playlist, “Holiday Tunes” has been playing most of the day today.

Throughout most of the year, “Holiday Tunes” is only referenced so that its songs can be excluded from my other smart playlists in iTunes. Any holiday-esque music is added to this list; almost all playlists exclude any songs appearing on this list. This works out great for playlists like “Played > 10”, which as you might guess, lists any songs which have been played more than 10 times. Many of the holiday songs would normally fall into this playlist…but most of the year I don’t really care to hear them when I’m shuffle-playing.

(Actually, for those interested…I have two playlists: a regular old playlist “Holiday Tunes (Manual)” which I can add individual holiday tunes to, then a second “Holiday Tunes” smart playlist which includes anything in the genre of “Holiday” and includes any songs which are in the “Holiday Tunes (Manual)” list. I then use the “Holiday Tunes” list as an exclusion criteria for almost all of the smart playlists which may encounter frequently played music.)

December 13, 2004

Barenaked Glee

I just got back from the Twin Cities performance of the Barenaked Ladies Holiday Tour down at the Orpheum Theatre. I had purchased tickets for my parents to come along as well, since they got such a kick out of seeing them the last time they came to town. (Last time I had two spare tickets, since I had gotten closer seats nearly the date of the performance, so I let them take my original two) We met for dinner and then drove down there together.

The seats I picked up turned out great (Main Floor Section 4, row N). We had two guys in front of us with a seat between them for a little 3-year-old boy. A family of four (two teenagers, the mom and dad) were seated to the right of them. To our right we had another family of four; immediately to my right (I was on the right end of our seats) there was a couple who came in after the concert started smelling of booze. On our left we had, what appeared to be, a group of four college friends who had come together to attend the show. Behind us, we had more families. Overall, this certainly was a “family” show. (I’m used to all ages at a BNL show, but this was obviously something many families attended together)

The beginning of the show started off with the Shakopee Junior High School Choir singing a few Christmas carols. (I captured one of them with my smuggled-in iTalk and iPod; I’ll link to it tomorrow HERE [Updated 12/14 11:15am] after I get a chance to convert it. I listened to it on the way home, it didn’t turn out half bad!) Then the band came on stage and did a wonderful group sing-a-long with the choir. As the choir left the stage, the guys launched into another holiday tune. Just when I got to thinking it was going to be a strictly holiday concert, they played one of their non-holiday songs and the audience just rocked out. Everyone was moving, shaking, bouncing, doing whatever one can do in the foot-by-foot space provided by the chair boundaries.

About halfway through the concert Steve introduced Sean Cullen and gave him the stage instead of doing an intermission. I thought this was a neat touch…Sean ended up telling us the “untold Christmas story” about how upon Jesus’ birth (named coincidentally after Joseph and Mary’s Mexican gardener) a big robot came down and engaged Jesus in a battle to the death. Wacky beyond belief!

After the came back on stage the band played a bunch more songs, including one where the audience chose who was going to play the drums for the next song. We chose Kevin; he hopped behind the drums while Tyler came out and sang Feliz Navdidad. It was a lot of fun seeing them mix it up a little.

There were two encores, and then the venue lights came up and we all shuffled out like good little cattle.

<rant> Seriously, I wonder where and when the whole “encore” thing became so manufactured that after the concert the audience goes wild (while being kept in the dark) until the band comes out. When they leave the second time, either the lights come up or they stay dark - that’s your hint if it is time to throw on the jacket and sprint for the door or you should continue to scream for more. Not like you’re really demanding anything…since they control the lights, the control how much you get to hear. </rant>

It was wonderful to see my parents so into an act that I appreciate so much. Hearing my mom shout out the “A llama…or an emu!” line from “If I Had $1,000,000” in that BNL-style of mispronunciation was awesome. So was the way they leaned into each other and swayed back and forth to “Call And Answer”. At the end of the performance, my mom exclaimed so happily, “They played EVERY one of my favorite songs!” Even my dad was energized by it, even tho his favorite, “Be My Yoko Ono”, wasn’t played.

An excellent concert, as always. I’m planning to pick up the live recording of the show through the band’s website. The last time they came to town it was right before they made all their shows available online - should be an interesting way to support the band as directly as possible. And while, at times, the holiday music was a bit distracting, I certainly would love to sit through that concert again and again :)

December 14, 2004

OfficeMax's Holiday Gift

I don’t see many ads with the Tivo, but during one of the holiday shows (I think it was “A Charlie Brown Christmas”) I saw the OfficeMax Holiday Rubberband Man Ad. I hadn’t seen any of the previous “Rubberband Man” ads OfficeMax had produced, but the holiday one was slick. They filmed it in that stop-motion animation style made popular in all those holiday TV specials. Even the Rubberband Man had been modeled!

The thing I fell in love with the most was the choral version of Rubberband Man featured in the ad. JManDoo used his black voodoo and isolated the track for me (and you, coincidentally)! Enjoy!

Holiday Choral Rubberband Man Ad Soundtrack

December 18, 2004

I Would Walk 4000 Songs...

Well, last night I sat down and started rebuilding my iTunes library. Just finished a few minutes ago. (Yes, I did sleep during that time, too!)

Why did I need to do this, you might ask?

Continue reading "I Would Walk 4000 Songs..." »

Baby it's cold outside...

Last night my parents called…they wanted me to drive Twinkie up to their house sometime before Christmas. They were otherwise silent as to the purpose, but it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out some kind of Christmas-related activity requiring either A) Twinkie itself or B) Twinkie-style transportation. I explained that Saturday I could come up sometime in the early afternoon, not only for this über-secret activity, but also to give my Dad a little in-service on his newly received iPod.

Now, the other thought through my head was…um, Twinkie isn’t exactly a cold-weather vehicle. Not only should it not be driven in the winter (salt, sand, etc all work to ruin its finish) but we never completed getting the heater hooked up this summer. Why rush it, since I don’t drive Twinkie in the winter anyway? Considering that my parents were the people who helped me fix up Twinkie this summer - so certainly they understand the situation. If they are still asking me to bring Twinkie up, it must be for something good.

I woke up this morning and saw the weather forecast. BRRR! I took a nice warm shower before leaving, put on a few extra layers, zipped up the jacket and drove up to my parents’ house. I didn’t get really cold until a few minutes before I got up there. When I arrived, I drove up to the spot where Twinkie had been parked for all those years, turned off the car and proceeded to grab my stuff to walk up to the door.

Continue reading "Baby it's cold outside..." »

December 28, 2004

Yamaha the Hydra

So, finally, after much teeth gnashing and a few cramps in my fingers my new Yamaha YHT-450 is finally installed, sans the rear center speaker. (I’ll have to hook up the remaining speaker after I get a mount for it, but the wiring is already run so it should be nearly mount ‘n play!)

Took me about 6 hours in total, from 3pm in the afternoon Sunday to 9pm that night. All six speakers needed to have their speaker wires cut, split and stripped from one gigantic spool provided with the system. The rear three speakers caused a bit of head scratching, until I realized that I could run the wires on top of the blind valences over my two patio doors. That hid the speaker wires quite well, and kept them out of the way, and as it worked out the provided spool gave me almost the exact amount of wire to accomplish this setup.

As I hooked up my components, I decided to switch back to my previous DVD player, my old reliable Toshiba SD-3109. I had purchased a new Samsung DVD player a few years ago, since I wanted to be able to read burned CDs and the Toshiba is unable to handle any burned CDs. Over the years I haven’t amassed the large number of burned DVDs I thought I would have - and the annoying layer transition pause on the newer DVD player is around a quarter second. The old Toshiba accomplished its layer transition almost instantaneously.

Because I wanted to “experience” the cool Dolby/DTS sound with my new system, I picked up an optical cable for my DVD player from Target. A word to the wise - I managed to get a 12 ft optical cable from Target for 40% less than Best Buy was going to charge me for a 6ft cable! (And that’s the non-Monster cable versions!)

After getting everything hooked up, I was pleased to find out that the Yamaha remote had all of my components covered but one - the Tivo. No problem, I thought to myself, since the Tivo remote could be programmed to support controlling the A/V system. The “supported” solution allows you to control the mute and volume controls through the A/V system. There is also an “undocumented” solution that SHOULD allow you to power on/off the A/V system with the TV. Unluckily, due to either the specific Yamaha codes necessary or the fact that I’ve got a Sony-made Series 1 SVR-2000 Tivo I can’t get this trick to work with my setup. Luckily the volume and mute still work, at least.

After going through the setup, I “initiated” the system with Fantasia 2000. A perfect disc to highlight the new audio setup, and boy, did it make a huge difference! It really makes a huge difference in the soundtrack! Yay!

Last night I watched the Matrix, my first DVD and the reason I got my first player back in ‘99, in the full surround sound setup. Absolutely wonderful! It was almost as big of a change as when I saw my first DVD after watching VHS the rest of my life.

December 30, 2004

Songs of 2004

It is about this time of year that people start putting together lists of things from the previous year. Since I don’t have time for such trivial things, I spent about an hour and a half going through my iTunes library, picking out the songs which “made” 2004. These may not be my favorite (indeed, some of the songs suck big donkey balls) but even if years go by before I hear them again they will, indoubtedly, remind me of occasions and occurances in the year 2004.

TitleArtist
Such Great HeightsThe Postal Service
You’re the Only OneMaria Mena
The ReasonHoobastank
Light & Day/Reach for the SunThe Polyphonic Spree
“Been Missing Work Lately?”Office Space
ChemistrySemisonic
Life Less OrdinaryCarbon Leaf
Hey Ya!OutKast
SlowlyMax Sedgley
I Miss YouBlink-182
HallelujahJeff Buckley
This LoveMaroon 5
Good ThingsThe BoDeans
Mad World (Theme to Donnie Darko)Gary Jules
She Will Be LovedMaroon 5
Homer Simpson “SMRT”The Simpsons
Way You WalkPapas Fritas
Accidentally In LoveCounting Crows
Geek LoveFan_3
PalomaCarbon Leaf
Be Bad for MePaul Westerberg
What About Everything?Carbon Leaf
See A Little LightBob Mould
RighteouslyLucinda Williams
Float OnModest Mouse
Either WayGuster
Eyes Like SparksGrandpa Boy
Cinnamon ParkJill Sobule
Can’t Let GoLucinda Williams
Mary MacCarbon Leaf
BoomboxMosquitos
In the Shadows (Radio Edit)The Rasmus
The BoxerCarbon Leaf
HomesickKings of Convenience
DianeGuster
The MermaidMark De Gli Antoni
Where Do They Make Balloons?They Might Be Giants
Gin And JuiceSissy Bar
Staring At the SunSimple Kid
Pear Shaped GirlSissy Bar
I Met A GirlWheat
Happy Holidays (Beef Wellington Remix)Bing Crosby
Any Day NowJustincase
We Like to PartyVengaboys
Milkshake (Radio Edit)Kelis
Deck the HallsThe Roches
Maybe KatieBarenaked Ladies
Against All OddsThe Postal Service
Hot ChocolateTom Hanks
(Don’t Fear) The ReaperBlue �yster Cult
Spoken Word BanaphoneUnknown
Minnesota BusinessThe Brave New Workshop
EndOfTheWorld.swf SoundtrackUnknown
Elf’s Lament (with Michael Bulb�)Barenaked Ladies
AmsterdamGuster
Lebanese BlondeThievery Corporation

January 24, 2005

89.3 / The Current's Launch

With the playing of “Music By Beethoven” WCAL, from Saint Olaf College, went off the air after 84 years…to be replaced by The Current, brought to us by MPR.

The first song was MOST excellent. Sure, some people had ideas what they wanted…Left of the Dial, Dave Matthews Band, etc. But what the staff chose was perfect. A great song, I had never heard brfore, but totally fit. This is why I’ll tune in and others will as well. That’s what radio is supposed to be about. Being exposed to new music that’s familiar but that you’ve never heard before. A DJ should MIX the tracks, one leading to another almost as if they were giving a speech.

I’m excited. I first got “into” music when KJJO was still on the air spinning some up some of the great early “Alternative” tracks. REV 105.1 came around after that and filled the void. I tried Radio K for a while, but it was too young and unpolished. Cities 97 was too old and too predictable. Drive 105 tried, and honestly was all I had to turn to, but it didn’t seem “right”. Too much repetition…and not enough variety.

I’ve heard four tracks so far. The first was awesome, a hidden track by “Atmosphere” off of their “Seven’s Travels” album. The second I didn’t like too much…but the most recent two were great. That’s what it is supposed to be about, tho. I won’t like everything…but even what I don’t like will be somehow familiar, fit with the songs played around it.

Here’s the lyrics from that first Atmosphere song…

Continue reading "89.3 / The Current's Launch" »

January 26, 2005

Gimme A Break

I got 3.5 hours of sleep last night ‘cause of work-related issues.

Gimme a break, k?

In other news, I’m very happy that 89.3 / The Current / KCMP has been continuing its strong performance. My iPod use has been cut dramatically while driving, for sure. (I may even be able to part with it long enough in order to get its battery replaced) Not all of the music is my favorite, but the variety is perfect. I actually get the feeling that a higher intelligence (rather than computer) is mixing up the tracks. Last night I heard a Soul Coughing tune (a live Casiontone Nation) spun right before a Madvillain track (Money Folder). The two worked perfectly together…woot!

March 3, 2005

I Finally Get Podcasting...

OK, so I’m guessing I’m the last person in the world to hop on the podcasting bandwagon.

That might not be true, I guess, considering I first installed it months ago. At the time, tho, I didn’t really find anything interesting…but another look after reading this month’s Wired article on Adam Curry and I’m finally excited about it.

Not only can I get one of my favorite NPR programs, “On The Media” via a podcast, but there’s also a fascinating podcast called “open source sex” which is wildly entertaining. Nothing like listening to a quick reading of some erotica on my 5 minute drive into work in the morning. *laughs*

Those of you without iPods, don’t fret. Just because it is called podcasting doesn’t mean you need to get an iPod to listen. Just download iPodder or one of the other podcast clients and give it a try! I’ll be here enjoying my podcasts and holding out hope that “Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me” or “Marketplace” will be podcast soon. I end up missing both of those on a regular basis ‘cause they are aired at crappy time slots on MPR.

March 7, 2005

Once Again, I'm The Last In Line

As I continue the struggle to emerge from the month-long hiatus from all things cultural, I came across this wonderful new Burger King TV commercial for their Tendercrisp Bacon Cheddar Ranch chicken sandwich.

I can’t stop laughing. It has Hootie singin’ this promotional song about the new chicken sandwich to the tune of Harry McClintock’s goofy hobo song, “Big Rock Candy Mountain”. (Here’s a link to my favorite version, by Country Dick Montana of the Beat Farmers)

Quite catchy…and the sexual innuendo is subtle in a very obvious way. Watch it. Enjoy it.

Celebrations of the Day

  1. I finally got my book, “The Road To Reality: A Complete Guide to the Laws of the Universe
  2. From 43 Folders’s feature on rules of thumb, If you dont know what you want, its probably sleep.
  3. Cheap generic lemon sandwich cookies totally hit the spot
  4. Mailinator has been my friend for a while now…and it deserves your friendship as well
  5. There is and always will be a 5…or, rather, “5ves” by the Heiruspecs, my #1 chart-gainer in the month of February in the iPod playcount list!

Continue reading "Celebrations of the Day" »

March 8, 2005

New iPod Firmware

So, I applied the new iPod Updater 2005-02-22 firmware a few days ago to my old trusty 3G iPod. I read about Apple putting the Shuffle Songs option in the main menu, just like it was in the 4G iPods, but it wasn’t until this morning when I wanted to create an “On-The-Go” playlist that the firmware basically upgraded my 3G completely to a 4G!

This means that not only do I now get Shuffle Songs on the main menu, but I can now put the Clock option on the main menu, too! Makes setting the Sleep timer much more convienient. I also get the ability (finally!) to delete songs from the “On-The-Go” playlist, and I can save the playlist directly on the iPod rather than having to wait for a sync event to save it.

‘course, one wonders if keeping the 3G and 4G feature sets apart this whole time was just an Apple ploy to get people to upgrade to the 4G. Now that everyone who would upgrade has, they collapse the feature sets together so they only have to manage one firmware?

I’m not complaining. I learned a long time ago when I bought my Newton that when you buy an Apple “consumer electronic product” you are buying the exact feature you see at the time of purchase. That’s the consumer electronics mentality, and just because Apple is also a computer company doesn’t mean your electronic device is/will be upgradable. ‘course, it is wonderful when they do (I do love my On-The-Go playlist editing!) but ‘tis nothing to be expected.

March 19, 2005

Wow, What a Logjam!

The previous post sat in draft state since Monday, jamming up the portion of my brain responsible for blog updates. I knew I had to get it out there, and nothing else pending wasprocessed until I got that status toggled to “Publish”. So, an update on the previous week:

  • I found my digital camera. There was much rejoicing amongst fans around the world when I found my digital camera in a pile of holiday decorations here at home. I had thought it lost for the past few months while I searched hi and low for the elusive camera. You know they say you miss things the most when you don’t have them…well, over the past few months I’ve time and time again been bitten by the desire to snap a photo of something. Now that I’ve found the camera, of course, I expect all photo desires shall immediately cease.
  • The 2.6 GB bittorrent download of the free MP3 collection from artists appearing at the South by Southwest Music Festival finally completed. Get it while its hot, there are some great gems in there.
  • I got my premier issue of Make. I meant to sign up well before the initial issue hit the streets, but it wasn’t until it did that I finally got up the courage to sign up for a year. So far, I’m nothing but pleased. It is a tinkerer’s dream - tons of projects and neat tricks to keep the curious entertained.
  • Booked tickets to fly down to Dallas to help my Sister and Bro-In-Law move into their new home. I expect a lot of work…but I also expect a lot of Chick-fil-a!
  • Speaking of Chick-fil-a, if you examine the container from an 8-piece order of nuggets you’ll notice there are punch-out holes for “N”, “S” and “K”. While all participants of our visit to the U of M - Twin Cities campus (the only Minnesota Chick-fil-a location!) on Monday for lunch agreed that the “S” stood for “Strips” and “N” for “Nuggets”, JManDoo hypothesized that the “K” stood for “Knuggets”. (Neither the “K” nor the following “n” are silent, according to JManDoo). Research later revealed the “K” must have stood for “Kids”, since the kids meal at Chick-fil-a has a 4 or 6-piece nugget option. JManDoo is still sticking to his theory, tho.
  • My review was due yesterday at work…so I sent it in at precisely 11:59pm last night. Double-B (the boss) did say I had until midnight to send it in. I hope I’m not the only one who sees humor in it, tho!

That’s not everything (my life isn’t THAT dull and boring!), but it is the stuff I found blogworthy over the past week.

March 23, 2005

Album Sorting In The Age of iPod

I like having my CDs out for visitors to peruse through - or for the occasional listen without the aid of my iPod.

A curious thing struck me this evening. Months ago, I sorted most of the CDs in library order: artist’s last name, then first name, then album name. This has worked out well…until tonight.

Continue reading "Album Sorting In The Age of iPod" »

May 27, 2005

Janine is FULL

A few months ago, I audited the contents of my iPod, Janine, against my collection of CDs and pulled out all of the CDs that needed to be reripped to complete the complete digitization of my CD library. I finally got down a few weeks ago to working my way through the CDs yet to be imported and watched my music library grow in size as I imported them into iTunes.

I knew it was going to be close…but with 50+ CDs left to go, Janine finally complained she had all that she could handle. The entire 40GB had been filled up at 8399 MP3s. (I rip my tunes using LAME with —alt-present standard which usually yields a 170kbps to 210kbps VBR file)

I managed to fit everything I had my using the “Only update checked songs” option in iTunes and unchecking the Holiday music and old podcasts. However, if I’m gonna squeeze in the remainder of my collection I’ll need to get the ratings in order so that I can sync based on ratings, which to me seems the best option at this point. I’ve already got a headstart on this…I’ve rated most of the music I’ve ever listened to, but there are many, many tracks I imported in my mass ripping efforts that hadn’t been listened to yet, and thus, doesn’t have a rating.

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June 15, 2005

89.3 (The Current) Founding Member CD

Cover Art from the KCMP 89. The Current Founding Member Vinyl CD I went down to my post box yesterday, pulled out the mail and felt something rather stiff and substantial. Upon closer inspection, after noticing the Minnesota Public Radio sticker on the packaging I realized it was my Founding Member CD. A note inside explained that the matching vinyl was taking longer to produce than they anticipated, so they thought they would send us out the CD to satiate our hunger.

The tracklist was already announced here, so there’s no need to repeat it here. All of them are live in-studio performances - it really is kinda fun to hear some of the songs that first graced the 89.3 frequency. Gives you that heartwarming feeling inside, too, knowing that you were there and supporting the station since the first sounds of Atmosphere were broadcast that cold February morning.

June 28, 2005

iPodcasts

I’m not sure what prompted me to get up early this morning, but I did. I followed my usual Tuesday morning ritual - startup iTunes and download the weekly free songs. Only today, I was greeted by an ad embedded in the iTunes music store bragging, “Podcasts are here!”

I’ve written about my love of Podcasts before, but up until today I had been (unhappily) using iPodder. iPodder is always fussy about its connection to iTunes…sometimes songs wouldn’t get imported properly, and they almost never got labeled properly as a “Podcast” for integration into my assortment of Smart Playlists. Just as these things were getting on my nerves Jobs announced the integration of podcast support in iTunes 4.9…I had been eagerly awaiting the upgrade ever since.

Apple sure didn’t disappoint…while things are still a bit rough here and there, and the lack of “enhanced Podcast support” on my 3G iPod is somewhat disappointing, I think Apple has scored another win. Within minutes, I had moved over all my subscriptions into the iTunes interface, synced up the iPod and I was ready to go. All of the podcasts are organized efficiently in a separate view with collapsible headings and a slightly different UI. The modified UI allows you to download manually anything you might have skipped over or otherwise excluded in the Podcast preferences section. The only thing I’m missing is per-feed aging and syncing preferences…but overall, this is a limitation I can live with considering how clean the rest of it is.

July 13, 2005

San Francisco Nights

I’ve been listening to San Francisco Nights by The Animals for the past few days…I remember listening to this tune back while I was in high school one summer.

My dad and I were installing some new carpeting and tile for a local high school at night. In the heat (the high school didn’t run the air conditioning in the summer…especially at night!) all we had were our knee pads, fans, flooring products and this old cassette player to get us through the night. The Animals were one of the tapes my dad had on heavy rotation, mixed in with a smattering of old 60’s and 70’s tunes. (I was really into both decades around that age) I hadn’t heard the song for years, until I stumbled across it in iTunes one morning.

So, in honor of this, one of my favorite songs, I’ve included the opening of the song below…cause, well, it is my favorite part of the song. The rest of the song has this beautiful folksy sound…but this passage is read at the beginning of the song in a sort of “radio announcer” style…

“This following program is dedicated to the city and people of San Francisco.
Who may not know it, but they are beautiful. And so is their city.
This is a very personal song, so if the viewer cannot understand it, particularly those of you who are of European residence, save up all your bread and fly Trans-love airways to San Francisco, USA. Then maybe you’ll understand the song. It will be worth it. If not for the sake of this song, but for the sake of your own peace of mind.”

August 22, 2005

Pandora's [Streaming?] Box

OK, I love my iPod. I love my iTunes, which will stream to my Airport Express/stereo, all controlled by iSee iTunes on my Tivo. I love my 400+ CDs, all lovingly displayed in my living room, ready to be played. (Why would I do that considering almost everything is ripped to iTunes and is a remote click away now I don’t know, but whateva!)

However, in less than 12 hours, Pandora has rocked my world. Run, don’t walk, to this service. (I have invites if anyone wants to try it!)

The idea is straightforward, although not simple in the slightest. A bunch of music geeks got together and classified, on a song-by-song basis, their huge libraries of music. (Least that’s the story…) For example, here’s the description of Soul Coughing’s “True Dreams of Wichita” as provided by the service:

“featuring electronica influences, mild rhythmic syncopation, major key tonality, groove-based composition and mixed acoustic and electric instrumentation”

What do they do with all this data? You login to the service and you can create 100 streaming “radio stations”, each seeded with either an artist or song title. From the seed, the service automagically creates a stream that closely matches your chosen seed artist/song. You can emphasize songs you particularly like in your stream, or you can eliminate songs from ever being played again. Everything is streamed via Flash applet (cross-platform yumminess) at 128kbps to your web browser, out your soundcard and into your ears. Album cover art is displayed for the vast majority of songs, and each song/artist is merely a click away with the built-in Amazon and/or iTunes store integration. You can also share your “channels” with others, so once you find your perfect stream you can share it with others.

I’ve already created a Carbon Leaf channel, a Beulah channel, a Soul Coughing channel, a Ben Folds Five channel and a Barenaked Ladies channel. Each one of the channels does accurately match the seed so far…and by nudging the “Soul Coughing” channel a bit I’ve slanted it a bit closer to Ruby Vroom Soul Coughing instead of their later stuff. Who knew how great “Derelict Organ” by Lenola went with Soul Coughing, let along some Talking Heads thrown in next? I’d never even heard of Lenola before today…now I’ve got them on my list of CDs to pick up!

I’ve used some of the other “customizable” streaming services before. I’ve always been disappointed with their selection (not nearly deep enough) and their lackluster DJ algorithms, but so far Pandora seems to have all of them beat. It will be interesting to see if I’m this excited about it a week from now…if so, the $36/year they plan to charge (after the beta period is over) will seem like a small price to pay for the service.

October 12, 2005

Happy Days Are Here Again

Life’s been busy, sorry I don’t write. Good things are happening, tho.

Today, of all days! Tonight I go see M. Doughty.

Happy M. Doughty Day!

October 13, 2005

I Felt Like Bustin' Up Somethin' Alright...

I spent the last week purposely avoiding all M. Doughty-related music. (Standard operating procedure for me before a live show - I like to go into the show ready to hear the performance, not involuntary spending my brain cycles comparing it to the recorded versions!) I looked forward to tonight’s concert at First Ave ever since I snagged a ticket. It was going to be great. I’ve been a fan of M. Doughty since Ruby Vroom. He could play anything from his catalog and I’d not only recognize it, but also know every last lyrical line of goodness.

I regret to say that, nevertheless, I was disappointed.

Continue reading "I Felt Like Bustin' Up Somethin' Alright..." »

October 27, 2005

New Janine

I’ve been checking CompUSA every day for the past week or so, waiting for them to receive their first shipment of 60GB iPod with Video units.

See, Janine, my 40GB 3G iPod, filled up about 6 months ago. Since then, I’ve had about 8 GB of my music library ripped from CD, yet kept outside of iTunes ‘cause I didn’t want to turn off auto-syncing. As I’ve unchecked the songs I didn’t care to carry around with me, most of that space has been filled up with new CD purchases, podcasts and other miscellaneous MP3’s. Couple that with a slowly decaying battery (still under warranty, but who wants to do without their iPod for the days it takes to have the battery replaced by some Oompla-Loompa’s in Cupertino) and I knew I was ripe for an upgrade.

I was tempted to pick up a 60GB 4G iPod, but I kept on putting it off. The rumor sites kept on foretelling that a new, revised iPod was just around the corner. Would it have video? Built-in wireless? I honestly didn’t care…I had pretty much decided to pick up the biggest 5G when it came out.

As luck would have it, they did include video, a much nicer screen, improved battery life, doubled the cache RAM and made the package even smaller. I could have ordered it right away, but I love taking advantage of CompUSA’s 6 months no-interest plan.

So, now I’ve got it. A brand new white 60GB iPod with Video. Yay! I can’t wait to play with it, run it through its paces. And, with the new arrival, the old Janine will get a chance to get a new battery without leaving me without tunage.

December 31, 2005

Songs of 2005

One of the best things about the music setup I have, with my iPod, the Tivo/AudioFaucet/Airport Express and my JBL On Stage is that iTunes automatically tracks all of the songs I listen to for playcount stats. Of course, it only counts it as “played” if I listen to it all the way through, but analyzing the data can still yield some meaningful information on my listening habits.

I’ve listed my top played tracks from 2005 below. The track I listened to the most this year, “The Boxer” by Carbon Leaf, had 64 recorded plays, but the most listened to track in my library of all time remains “Such Great Heights” by The Postal Service at 104 plays.

At the end of last year, I had 7861 total plays across 2084 unique tracks out of a total of 6505 tracks. This year that number rose to 17996 total plays across 4703 unique tracks out of a total of 10322 tracks. (With the addition of Podcast support in iTunes, I probably should add that I have 838 podcast tracks in my library, responsible for 186 total plays)

Compare it to my list Songs of 2004 from last year.

Continue reading "Songs of 2005" »

January 5, 2006

Overlooked Songs of 2005

I’ve been reflecting on the Songs of 2005 list I put together based on the automated iTunes libary data. The thing is, while using the new year as a measuring point is useful, it completely overlooks a number of great songs I listened to over time. Sometimes, I only obtained the song near the end of the year, so whle it was on heavy rotation it didn’t have a chance to build up a high enough play count to appear on the list. Other songs get penalized because they are a non-workout song released during the summer months, when I’m mostly listening to upbeat groovy music.

Regardless of the reason, I put together another playlist this year called “Overlooked Songs of 2005”. There’s a number of great tracks in this list…and very little fat, as this play list was hand-selected by a team of specially trained monkeys. (OK, so there was only one monkey, me, and I have very little training in this regard!)

Enjoy!

Continue reading "Overlooked Songs of 2005" »

March 6, 2006

We Bicyclists Do Our Spring Cleaning Early

A wonderfully productive weekend.

  • Did a bunch of reading
  • Brought order to vast portions of my apartment
    • (still have the kitchen and bathroom to clean/organize, but these are traditionally the two rooms that get cleaned the most frequently, so I doubt they will remain messy for long)
  • Went down to the Bike Expo
    • (Registered for the Ironman at a discount, met the representative from the Tour of Saints who commented on my blog here, got some information about “sprint triathalons” from a representative of the Twin Cities Triathalon Club and saw a crazy six-person bike!)
  • Still found time to put together a bunch of new playlists on the iPod and listen, listen, listen!

Just what I needed, for sure. Felt so good to wake up and not worry about parrying around items littering the floor in order to make it to the bathroom! Now I just have to get training…less than 8 weeks until the Ironman ride…and this year I’m going for 62 miles _(over last year’s 30 miles).

December 31, 2006

Songs of 2006

As I’ve done at the end of both 2004 and 2005, I present my list of my most frequently listened to songs across 2006. As always, since I use my central iTunes library to keep track of my statistics, the playcount of a song is only increased if I listen to it in its entirety.

For the second year in a row, “The Boxer” by Carbon Leaf is the top played in my library, at 36 recorded plays over the past year. “Such Great Heights” by The Postal Service slipped to 2nd place for all-time plays, falling one play short of “Life Less Ordinary” by Carbon Leaf at 134 plays, the new leader.

iTunes Library Growth Over Time:

YearTotal TracksTotal PlaysTracks Played >0
2004650578612084
20059484178104703
200610524254645317

This year’s stats (and my listening habits) might have suffered from a few more repeats than previous years since I put playlists on my iPod representing the Songs of 2005 and Overlooked Songs of 2005. These were often my “goto” playlists when I wanted to listen to something familiar and comfortable. This meant I was shuffling my entire library less frequently, meaning playcounts were concentrated on previous top placers. Also, podcasts really came around this year, so a good deal of my time was spent listening to non-music.

Continue reading "Songs of 2006" »

January 3, 2007

Overlooked Songs of 2006

Like the Overlooked Songs of 2005 list I put together last year, I thought it appropriate to once again highlight a number of tracks that didn’t get up in the playcount for one reason or another, and as such didn’t make it on the main Songs of 2006 list. Maybe they got added to my library really late in the year. Maybe I fell in love with the album instead of the tracks, resulting in much lower playcounts for all involved.

Whatever the reason, there are a number of songs that should have been highlighted for the year that didn’t, so I will list ‘em here. Not all of these songs were released this year… in fact, more than a few of them are songs that I rediscovered or finally picked up the long-put-off CD. They were all, however, added to my iTunes library in 2006.

Continue reading "Overlooked Songs of 2006" »

January 15, 2007

I Need a Muse Like Suzanne Verdal

How did I get through life this far without encountering “Suzanne” by Leonard Cohen before now?

Thankfully the DJs at 89.3 The Current got my back. This is one amazing poem/song. The only words that come to mind… “Haunting Love”

…You can spend the night beside her
And you know that she’s half crazy
But that’s why you want to be there…

January 25, 2007

The Department of DUH!

I realize now, looking back, that I forgot to mention back in November that I finally bought my iMac. A beautiful 20” iMac. I had survived on hand-me-downs from work for my home computer for quite some time now, years in fact. I finally realized that between my iTunes, video and photo libraries I was in need of a home media management workstation.

Tonight I finally completed the final transition, moving my PC’s iTunes Library over to the Mac. I had moved over my photos and video files earlier, figured out how to get my PasswordSafe and OpenSSH keys moved over. NeoOffice installed for any necessary MS Office work, Safari setup the way I wanted. Adium configured for all my IM accounts. BootCamp installed so I can switch back to Windows if need be, such as to load maps on my Garmin GPS.

However, I had been putting off cutting over iTunes. Not only was I not looking forward to the >100GB file copy, but I’m very sensitive about losing any of the metadata iTunes had collected since I started using it on November 2nd, 2003. I had attempted to move over my iTunes library file once right after getting my iMac and lost all of my “Date Added” information, valuable when you’ve got Smart Playlists setup to use that field for filtering/collection purposes.

As it was, I found out I had been overcomplicating the whole thing. I had read a procedure online for moving iTunes libraries from PC to Mac that involved copying the “iTunes Library.XML” file from the PC to the Mac, zero-ing out the binary “iTunes Library” file on the Mac and then letting iTunes rebuild the binary file from the XML file.

Come to find out, that’s not necessary in the slightest. Simply copy the iTunes folder from the PC’s My Music folder into the Mac’s Music folder. iTunes will try to fix the file locations to match their Mac equivalents, but if all else fails it looks for the file in the /Music/iTunes/iTunes Music folder on the Mac. Simply move your PC’s iTunes library into their and viola!, you’re good to go.

So, yeah, lesson? Don’t overcomplicate things. Someone’s already thought about your problem.

First song played on the iMac? “Awoo” by The Hidden Cameras.

February 4, 2007

Why I *Heart* The Electric Fetus

Serving the Minneapolis music hunter since 1968, The Electric Fetus has been my preferred location to pick up CDs since I was 18, working downtown and just discovering the joys of music. I’ve prbly purchased 60 CDs over the years from that great store…I continue to do so, to this day, even tho it often means I’m making a special trip downtown just to CD shop.

As I was ripping my newest purchases for iPod transfer this evening, I thought I’d take this moment to outline the reasons for my love of this fine establishment:

  • Selection, selection, selection. The Electric Fetus has everything you’d ever need or want: CDs from all genres, local groups, rarities, imports, concert tickets and gifts.
  • 10% Off each regularly-priced CD when you purchase 3 or more.
  • Not only does the store smell of incense, but your CD does when you get it home, too!

February 5, 2007

120 Minutes Love

Relive your adolescence.

Collected Playlists from MTV’s 120 Minutes

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