Our CD library has been ripped to MP3s.
The process took about 4 days. I ripped on two computers at night and Michele helped out during the day ripping a stack of CDs, even though she thinks I'm a data hog.
The end result:
Over 5000 songs taking up just over 30 gigs of space. Not bad for a library.
Here are the bags of ripped CDs before I put them away. Out of the almost 400 we ripped, only 5 had problems that wouldn't let the CD-ROM read them. I'll probably pick up a CD polisher and see if I can fix them. The girls' game CDs could use a little polishing.
In other news, Zoe entered her first Science Fair.
She won the 'Most Fun' award for her investigation. I'm so proud.
Some listeners to Indie 103.1, the new radio station in Los Angeles, have been having a discussion in the comments of one of my post about the station.
To make things a little simpler, I've made a forum of Indie 103.1 listeners to use.
Introducing the Indie 103.1 Forum.
Please enjoy responsibly.
Rather than sending my CDs off to be ripped, I've decided to rip my CDs myself.
I played around the last two days and finally got going in earnest tonight. Due to a little tweaking and unsing Musicmatch Jukebox Plus, I can rip most CDs at 30x speed. That means that most CDs are done in 2-3 minutes.
I've got two computers going and the CDs are going in and out about as fast as I can spin around in the chair. I can't really do much else, even read since I'm getting interrupted every few minutes.
It's suprising to me how fast it is going, several hundred CDs have been ripped already.
SXSWBlog is back in action. Huzzah!
Register before February 13th to save some money.
I am shocked to find that the discussion never ran into Godwin's Law.
Hopefully now we can move forward and get to what I have hoping to help organize for a while, an all-LA blogger get-together or mini-conference.
Anyone care to shake hands over dinner at IHOP? I'm buying. (Just think of the blogging & picture possibilities from that dinner...)
Update your anti-virus software and keep it running.
Yes, I'm talking to YOU!
Browsing around my blogroll, I see even my wife has updated.
She mocks my current plans to rip our CD library and calls me a 'data hog'.
Martin posts our recent evening out with the Gen[M]ay crew.
The blogging.la peeps are in a bit of a spat with the LA.com people. IMHO, LA.com looks like any other generic portal on the web. I mean really, do we need a "Who is LA's hottest entertainment reporter?". I think not.
Sonny Parlin who's new blog I discussed a bit ago, has got a kick ass design going. I dig how he did his Top Picks section. I don't know if it's Sonny or his wife, Kara, who did the design, but it is the roxxor.
Matt says that Best Western hotels are all going to provide free wifi. I have an new favorite hotel.
Lastly, here's some scoopage for you low carb folks. During the Superbowl, Coca Cola will reveal their new low carb version. Using Splenda (aka Sucralose), Coca Cola Ultra will have 12 grams of carbs and 45 calories.
You read it here first...
I spent a large part of the weekend cleaning things. While Michele cleaned the girls room, I cleaned the linen closet on Saturday. On Sunday I cleaned the garage and finally go a chance to sort out our CD collection in hopes of getting them all ripped.
After sorting out things that didn't need to get ripped, putting scattered CDs back in the jewel cases, I got a final total of what I want to rip. 376 CDs. There are three rows of 100 and the rest add up to 76. Much bigger than I thought.
I began to wonder if the cost was really worth it and considered what it would take to do it myself. I did a few tests and found that it takes about 10 minutes to rip a CD and that if you do 6 an hour, you are doing good.
Doing the math 376 CD / 6 CD/hr = 62.66 hrs to rip them all.
Let's say I can spend 4 hrs/night doing ripping, it will take 62.66 hrs / 4hrs/night = 16 nights to rip them.
Half a month? Geez. At $6/hr this is quite a low paying job.
So I'm still torn. I want all the CDs ripped, but the cost to send it to RipDigital is high. On the other hand, spending more than two weeks ripping CDs for hours at a time is a pain as well.
What do you, loyal Cruft readers, think I should do?
A week or so ago, I read about the new company RipDigital in a Metafilter thread. RipDigital takes your audio CD collection and rips them to MP3s for you en masse. 100, 200, 500 CDs? RipDigital says they get is done in a couple days.
Michele and I would really like to have our music available in this form. Most of our CDs live in a cabinet up front and we rarely dig through it. Converting these one at time is quite unappealing.
I had a few questions about the way they tagged the MP3s and I wrote off an email to RipDigital. I recieved a reply from Dick Adams, the founder, offering to send me a sample disc so I could see for myself. Kick ass.
The CD arrived today with 5 clips encoded at various bitrates. The RipDigital site says they encode at 224Kb/s, but the sample disc had a wide range.
I don't have a 'golden ear' so the 224Kb/s MP3 sounds great to me. AAC is a good format that Apple uses in iTunes, FLAC is a lossless codec, MP3 is the de facto standard for digital music, and WMA is Windows Media Audio. I'm guessing that RipDigital could encode to any of the standards, but I'd ask them rather than make an assumption.
I opened up the MP3s in an ID3 tag editor and took a look. The filename is the way I like it: Band - Album - Track # - Song. Too me, this is one of the most important things. A sucky filename would kill the deal.
The basic ID3 tags are loaded. It appears to be ID3 v2, for those that worry about such things. There were no extraneous entries or any info in the extended fields.
Each MP3 did have a small image of the album cover included. When playing in Windows Media Player or JetAudio, the image appears. Pretty neat actually.
Overall, it all looks great.
There is one issue though that remains of concern. RipDigital says that in each file, they "include a unique identifying mark with each file to encourage responsible use of digital music". It's not an ID3 tag, so it's probably an audio water mark that their encoder includes. I work with audio watermarks at the office and they aren't hard to add. They don't affect the audio in any perceptible way.
I don't plan to upload my library to the net or P2P systems, but it is a bit strange to have an ID stuck in my MP3s. I'm not sure of the exact type of watermarking they do, but it's possible it could move to the WAVs if I make the MP3s into a CD for a mix.
But since I don't plan on sharing my MP3s on the P2P networks, it's not a such a huge deal. I do wish that RipDigital was explicitly clear on what exactly is going on and in what cases they would release the information.
So I'm going to go count our CDs and place an order with RipDigital. I'll report back when it's all done and how it turned out.
After hearing the President's address last night, I'm glad to hear that we are working hard on two hugely important issues, steroid use by professional athletes and stoping sex between high schoolers. Well, we must have solved the sex tourism issue already.
George Bush is truly a disgrace to those that believe in fiscal responsiblity and personal liberties.
I love my mother, but she's crazy.
Yesterday we were over at my parent's house for the big surprise party for my father. My Dad turned 65 and we had a big party for him.
I was looking my mother's freezer for ice when I spied this:
Yes, it says: "Lasagna Sauce 12-21-98"
It's January 2004. That sauce has been in her fridge for over FIVE YEARS.
Now I'm not one to make comments on the peculiarity of other's, but this has got to be crazy by everyone's standards.
I love you Mom, but you are nuts!
At Christmas I recieved this wonderful shirt. My brother Matt found it and thought I would like it.
Can you read it?
I thought that most computer & tech people would get he joke. Yesterday I wore it ot work and everyone kept asking 'what is 3l337'? Now, I work with an IT and an engineering department and I expected most people to get it.
Only two people, Nathan & Yoshi, read the patch at first glance. Are hacker-knowledgeable people really so rare?
In any case, if you don't understand it, 3l337 translates to elite in hacker-speak aka leet-speak.
Until later, j00 r 411 l4m3rz! I 0\/\/nz0r j00!!!
The weekend is almost here. My brother arrives tomorrow and we will spend the weekend celebrating my Dad's birthday. This has been a long week.
The time at court gave me some time to get into my latest book, Perdido Street Station. The book came highly recommended and I picked it up after Christmas.
After the first hundred pages I began to wonder if I was going to like the book. It got off to a slow start and didn't throw out a lot of goodies for me to think about. I kept asking questions in my mind and the book wasn't answering them.
Around page 250, the author finally kicks the story into overdrive and the story launches full force with a host of neat ideas and concepts. Much more of a fantasy novel than sci-fi, the book leaves reality far behind and drags you into a wierd alternate plane were there is no electricity, but there is magic.
I look forward to the second half of the book.
Other good stuff:
I spent my second day on the jury during voir dire and I thought I would end up on the final jury panel. Out of the blue, the defense attorney said "Juror #12, thank you for your time." With that I completed my duty. Being on the trial would have been interesting, but I must admit some relief.
In other news, I order a new Toyota Prius today with all the options. The trusty Oldsmobile Intrigue is well past it's prime. I am looking forward to the GPS navigation system with audible directions.
That's all for now. Back to your regularly scheduled web surfing.
I'm on Jury Duty. I've been placed in a Jury Panel and unless I get taken out via a preemptory challenge, I'm going to be on the trial jury for a SEVEN day trial.
One of the great things about America is trial by jury and I respect our legal system, but even I am wincing at the thought of seven days on a jury. The court operates from 10:30 to Noon and then 1:30 to 3:30. Three and a half hours in the courtroom per day max. I wish it could be a little more, but the judge says it's due to budget constraints and overtime.
Who knows, maybe I can spend my lengthy lunch hour war driving downtown LA.
Now for a lot of the big thinking in the blogosphere, I am a bit disconnected. I'm not really into the 'power laws' or the 'fairness' issues. But when it comes to weblogs in business, I think I know enough to discuss things.
The entry is about the Blogging the Market essay by George N. Dafermos. Mr. Dafermos deals with several issues, marketing blogging, employee external blogging, and internal company blogging.
Several times in the essay he claims things like "massive productivity gains through far more efficient communication, collaboration, and knowledge management." with no real justification. In my day job, I deal with this kinda stuff all the time. The idea that business processes are so horribly inefficient that there are huge amounts of productivity to be gained is anecdotal and unproven.
Mr. Dafermos comes close to the real benefit of weblogs inside a company but misses it. The benefit is not found in Knowledge Management, the search and retrieval of information, the benefit is found in workflow.
In any business, information and ideas FLOW though the organization up and down the hierarchy. The flow happens via email, paper, conversations, specialized software and a multitude of other means.
This flow of ideas, approvals, and comments is key to a business's success. It is not simple search and retrieval, it is directed flow of information to the right places to allow people to do their part.
It is in this area of workflow where weblogs can play a vital role. Weblogs alone are not the 'killer app', they are simply part of the new wave of information flow such as RSS, ATOM, media encapsulation, commenting, and other blogosphere friendly technologies.
The information must flow from weblogs in the right direction. It is not enough that a weblog shows a new post, the groups down the workflow chain must know that new information is available. It is nonsensical that the write people, randomly surfing internal weblogs would stumble on all the right information at the right time. You might be able to pull it off in a 50 person company but in a 500 or 5,000 person company it would be madness.
As companies remake their workflow processes away from the traditional paper and email chains into application based systems, they will be faced with a choice. Customized niche workflow applications built by high priced consultants or weblogs tied to simple routing and approval systems. For those that choose the weblog path, they are likely to find the productivity gains without spending millions.
But the key to success is keeping the weblogs focus on the task at hand and using some method to keep the information flowing through the business. Business weblogs cannot be passive like more personal weblogs, they must actively push their content along the line.
There is definitely some side benefit to employee weblogs about ideas and feelings, but the real driver of weblogs in business will not be an unstructured free-for-all.
Businesses are structured by necessity, unlike the internet where chaos fuels innovation. For weblogs to help businesses, there must be structure and purpose.
I recently finished reading The Golden Transcendence by John C. Wright. A great novel that serious science fiction readers should pick up.
The book are firmly in the space opera genre with a dash of Heinlein libertarianism tossed in for good measure. The story takes place in the far future when artificial intelligences (known as sophotechs) and humans live immortal lives in a libertarian society of near unlimited technology. The experience of real physical interaction is replaced in many cases by remote bodies, recorded experiences of others, and complete control of what a person perceives. Humanity has moved beyond the one body - one brain system and has adopted many different systems of thought and even physical form.
Mr. Wright puts forth a brilliant vision of technology and society in the far future where wealth is measured in seconds of computer time and physical labor is non-existent. In this future, there is are still wealthy and poor people but in a different way. In a good interview, Mr. Wright explains:
"There would still be rich and poor, even if the poorest of the poor were absurdly well off by our standards. No advancements can eliminate differences in the abilities of men, or the differences in how men value the abilities of their fellow man (which is what causes inequality of prices and hence of incomes). If only by comparison, there will be poverty, even in Arcadia. My characters Ironjoy, Oshenkyo, and the Afloats [...] are meant to represent this idea of future poverty; the Seven Peers represent wealth."
As an example as just one of the concepts presented, we can look at the idea of 'sensefilters'. Perception is no longer what organic senses directly tell the mind. The signals received by the body or remote bodies are processed to be acceptable to the person's particular preferences. If a person doesn't like to see advertising, their mind eliminates the advertising from their vision and fills in the scene with what would be there if the advertisement wasn't there. Consciously, the person isn't aware of this, only that they have requested not to see advertisements. Sensefiltering can be used to remove (or add) objects, people, and even ideas from an individual's perception. The plot devices are interesting stuff that Mr. Wright explores in just enough detail to keep you wanting more throughout the trilogy.
The protagonist, Phaethon, is the son of one of the most important people in the society (known as the Golden Oecumene). In the first two books, Phaethon struggles against first the realization that he is missing parts of his memory, his struggle against society, his fall into exile, and his return to strength.
The third book finds Phaethon poised to fight against the true enemy that has been revealed to him. Without spoiling too much, Phaethon is forced to fight for the very survival of his society (which tossed him out) or allow it to be destroyed.
The author, John C. Wright, obviously has a libertarian heart and embodies the attributes of individuality, resourcefulness, ingenuity and desire for progress in Phaethon, the hero. In the opening novel, we find a society content with things how they are, willing to simply stop progress to prevent anything from changing their utopia in any meaningful way. Phaethon is a man of action in opposition to the statist Golden Oecumene. The underlying theme is that without mankind's strive for exploration and new goals, it is doomed.
Overall, an excellent book and series for the science fiction reader looking for something more than blasters and evil six-legged aliens. Getting used to the terminology and concepts is slow at first but well worth the effort.
The author, John C. Wright, is a retired attorney and is working on the upcoming novel, Orphans of Chaos.
My good friend Len wrote a good post about Indie 103.1. I go back with KROQ much farther.
In Los Angeles in the 70s and 80s, young people tended to choose a radio station to identify with. Sure, people had specific bands they liked, but it was important that you had a cool radio station sticker on your notebook.
Back in 1981 I was in Junior High School and my station was KIQQ 100.3, a general Top 40 station. I decided that I wanted a new station. I wasn't much liking the Top 40 stuff anymore and now that I was 14, I needed a new image. At the time, the cool stations in my thoughts were KMET (rock with a metal edge), KLOS (mainstream rock), KNAC (heavy metal), and KROQ (new wave).
I listened to them all and the new wave synth pop of Duran Duran, Devo & Blondie and the punk of X & the Sex Pistols drew me into KROQ. I became an avid listener of KROQ and got the requisite stickers from my notebook and locker. Since then, KROQ has been my primary music radio station. (Wow. 23 years of listening to the station...)
The lineup I would hear back then can be seen here. You could call up, talk to the DJ and they would actually play your song. Or sometimes they would yell at you if they thought the song sucked. We felt quite connected to the station and they were always playing new music and asking for comments.
The next 5-6 years, IMHO, was the golden age of KROQ, the 'ROQ of the Eighties' era much fabled. The DJs were all on drugs, the music was fresh, and the station was something you could play at parties and not hear the same thing twice in a night.
Like most good things, this didn't last. Grunge rock arrived in the early 90s with Nirvana and New Wave died a painful death. KROQ has continued to change with the times in the direction of maximum ratings. 'Modern Rock' is the new genre of KROQ and they absolutley dominate this on the national level.
If you told KROQ DJs or listeners in 1985 that KROQ would ever play Metallica they would have pissed their pants laughing. Yet today, Metallica and slew of basically metal rock bands are passed off as 'alternative'. Gone are DJs deciding what to play or new artists stoping by the studio to chat and play a new record. It's all carefully managed with iron-clad rotations and firm rules on band appearances. To get heavy airplay on KROQ these days, you pretty much HAVE TO appear at the summer Weenie Roast and the winter Acoustic Christmas concerts. Just like Clearchannel, the behemoth of America radio.
The music that Indie 103.1 is playing is in the 'style' of what KROQ played and would be playing today if things had not changed. Soon the wacky DJs, commercials and promos will appear on-air and we'll get the full version of what this new station will or won't be.
For now, I'm in heaven. I've got 100% pure good music.
The eternal optimist, I'm hoping for the best.
The new alt/indie/rock station in LA, Indie 103.1 is now streaming audio to the net.
LA peeps, get your groove on!!
Any station that plays X regularly has my loyalty.
To make things a little simpler, I've made a forum of Indie 103.1 listeners to use.
Introducing the Indie 103.1 Forum.
Please enjoy responsibly.
I checked my referrer log today and saw I was getting barraged by people coming from Dan's Data to look at my USB Coffee Warmer post.
I don't know who Dan is, but he sure has a lot of readers. Look at what one day of his traffic did.
So thanks for the traffic Dan, you are a popular guy down in Australia.
Today I got an email from Sonny. He asked me the following:
My name is Theron Parlin (or just Sonny for short) – I’m very new to weblogging, (I just put my site up two days ago) and I was wondering if you could tell me how to get my site “out there” so other webloggers can check it out and such? I saw your tutorial on trackbacks and found it to be very helpful! Also, if you know of any good weblogging resources that would be great as well.
Go check out Sonny's site. He's a computer programmer and a fireman, what a combo.
The first suggestion I would give is to read a few books. Rebecca Blood wrote The Weblog Handbook and it's great. Paul Bausch, Matt Haughey, & Meg Hourihan wrote We Blog and it has lots of good advice as well. They've thought about this a lot more than I have. Best bet is to buy a copy and read what they have to say.
That being said, here's my advice on getting your weblog known.
1) Make good content - This is absolutely the most important thing. People read weblogs for good content. While 'what I had for breakfast' and 'friday five' are fun, they don't do a lot to interest people in coming back. Write entries that you know something about. People appreciate learning new things and if you provide them, they will come. Most people found my site by reading one of my stories like the USB Cup Warmer or the Tivo Extraction HowTo.
2) Write regularly - I'm not saying post every 2 hours, but if you go a week or two without posting, people will stop checking in with you. Every 2 or 3 days is fine if you are posting good stuff. Delivering regular content is what makes people come back again.
3) Link to other people - Links are the currency of bloggers. When you find something interesting you want to share when reading someone else's site, be sure to link back to the person you found it from. Use trackbacks as well. Almost all bloggers check there referrer logs and know when someone is linking to them. They then go check you is linking to them and find you.
4) Leave comments on other weblogs - Bloggers like comments and appreciate getting them. If you leave comments on other weblogs, people will link back to your site to see who you are. This doesn't mean comment everywhere for this purpose alone. Try to add good, valuable comments and people will look to see who you are.
5) Keep your blog design simple - Many bloggers fall for the temptation to add all kinds of bells and whistles to their site when they start. My suggestion is to keep things simple in the beginning and focus on the content. Make a good design and look, but avoid the addition of every possible feature. New visitors should find it simple to read and locate info on your page.
These are my main suggestions on getting a new weblog going. Your mileage may vary. The world could be full of people that like flashing weblogs about breakfast.
Good luck Sonny and welcome to the Blogosphere.
Looks like my brother, Matt (a.k.a. Crookdimwit) has quit blogging.
At least for a little while.
A friend of mine started a new page about Digital SLRs.
If you are interesting in Digital Photography, go check it out. And be sure to click on the ads too, Michael's got a family to support. :)
Nothing big this weekend since the Auto Show.
Looks like Len is starting to get his blog on... Congrats to him as part of the MER team!
Speaking of MER take a look at Susan's site, she's at the JPL discussions about the mission and is blogging the speakers. Great work.
Also, the Mass Digital Gallery has great animations of the whole mission. Truly impressive.
Thanks to Andy at Waxy.org, I heard that there's a new radio station in LA at 103.1. I need to give it a listen on the way to work tomorrow. Hopefully, there is no witty morning DJ.
Funny coincidence: Squidly writes about trying Abelour a'bunadh scotch. Guess what I bought last week? Yep.
Lastly, check out the Videolan VLC media player. The thing rocks. It plays all kinds of media and even DVDs. It can even handle AC3 audio.
James, Joseph, and I went to the LA Car Show today. Thanks to the tip from Moxie, we picked up $2 off coupons and headed to downtown LA.
I'm not a huge car fanatic, but the Show was a good time. I got to look at, sit in, and touch almost every car made.
Here are a few pictures...
Every year people ask why I don't take the family to the Rose Parade. Well, the Rose Parade is not some quaint little town fun, that's the Doo Dah parade. The Rose Parade is an industry.
Going to the parade is an all night affair, even if you buy tickets for seats. Dragging my two daughters out for an all night campout surrounded by booze & coffee drinking freaks may be OK in about 10 years, but not now.
Just like in football, the best place to watch the Rose Parade is on my couch with the Tivo remote in hand to fast forward through the boring stuff.
Last night I went out to see a movie with James & Joseph (Paycheck, which was neither great nor bad, but a good movie.) in Old Town Pasadena, at ground zero of the parade. Besides the fact that most of the storefronts were boarded up like a hurricane was about to blow through town, here was the sight everywhere.
So if your living room looks worse than that, you'll feel right at home on the parade route.
Happy New Year!
The blogosphere is awash in New Years greetings and resolutions. While I wish you all the best things in 2004, I am not going engage in the public resolutions thing.
I am gunna talk about Poker. Thanks to Brad, I got to play some poker on New Year's Eve Eve. The games at Brad's house are friendly affairs with a $20 buy-in and a $2 raise limit. Enough to make it interesting, but not enough for hard feelings.
I have a great time everytime I go. This session was no exception, even though I left $20 lighter than I arrived. :)
A few nice scenes from the gameplay...
Here are a few lessons I learned:
1) Even when you have a full house, someone else may have four queens.
2) A flush is a good hand, but not a great hand, when playing Anaconda.
3) Don't let the newest player sit to the right of the most experienced player.
4) Luck plays a big part of poker, don't forget it.