Records and Music

I got a record player for my birthday. It’s not a huge system, just something to listen to records on and transfer them to my computer if I want to. A Crosley.

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It’s not perfect and it’s not huge and it has mixed reviews, but it allows me to wander the aisles at the 2nd and Charles near my apartment and not be limited to what media I can pick up and listen to (CDs and records instead of just CDs).

I found Carole King’s Tapestry, Nat King Cole’s L-O-V-E, and The Monkees self-titled album. These are three albums that I’ve always wanted but could never find in CD form.

I got them home last week Wednesday and the first one I put on was Tapestry. Now, I love Carole King and James Taylor, but I’ve not heard a ton of her own work; I’ve mostly heard it through James’ voice or her King-Goffin hits sung by others. I sat on the floor and listened to the whole thing through, and then since I was interrupted, I played the second side a second time.

Wow. Just a great album. The sound would be better with a better speaker, but hey, I live in an apartment, so I don’t need powerful speakers. The small one on the player gets the sound across. Anyway, if I want it louder, I can hook up a pair of headphones to the jack on the front.

That night, I also listened to L-O-V-E. I love Nat King Cole’s work and this is one of his most famous records, so I knew I needed to listen to it. And listen I did! The arrangement is a bit faster than I remember from what I’ve heard before, but I like it. It sounds beautiful.

I listened to The Monkees self-titled the following night and it was super fun.

The other thing I love about records are the covers. They’re huge and they’re art!

I like this format and will be listening to it for a long time coming, I think.

 

Spotify

So, I booted into Windows7 yesterday to install TF2, and since I have the free Spotify account, I decided to evaluate it.

Holy damn.

This service is awesome.  I set up a playlist of all Classic Hollywood songs (Gene Kelly, Judy Garland, etc) and I love it.

I’m “this close” to buying 3 months of premium so I can evaluate it in Ubuntu.  I’d really prefer an unlimited account since I don’t have a mobile phone that plays Spotify.

It’s better than Pandora because I can search for what I want and get exactly what I want in the playlist.  For instance, on Pandora, I search for “Gene Kelly” and it plays everything but Gene Kelly.  I’d like some of his music mixed in with the Bing, Dino, and The Voice, please.

We’ll see.  I might get myself a gift sub to it.  I’m not keen on having a recurring subscription right now.

I Got a Free Spotify Account!!!

But I can’t use it.

Unless I’m willing to use Wine (I don’t want that cruft on my machine) and I can’t use the native Linux application.

I started it up today and got this error: “Use of this device is not enabled for your account”.

Exactly what the everloving fuck does that mean?  Well, it means that you have to buy a subscription to the service before you can use it.  It means I have to fork over money before I can figure out if this will have the music I want to listen to.  It means I have to buy something sight unseen (or rather, unheard) so I can test it out.

There are a bunch of Linux users on Get Satisfaction here that are expressing their frustration and downright anger that they can’t use something without paying for it.  Yes, yes, you can argue that you need to pay for the program and the service, but they offer a free tier that is supported by ads.  This is fine and I’d use it, but I want something that’s native to my desktop.

There are plenty of good programs and services that are worth paying for; I just want to test out Spotify before I pay for it… I want to see if it’ll work for my needs.

In the meantime, you can find me on Pandora and Last.fm.

Podcast Review: Rathole Radio

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I’d like to have a regular (read: weekly) review of podcasts that I listen to regularly.  Well, at least until I run out of podcasts…

So, I’ll start with Rathole Radio.

I started listening to Rathole Radio after it was mentioned on Linux Outlaws (review pending).

Rathole Radio is a podcast hosted by Dan Lynch every two weeks.  It’s broadcast out of Liverpool England and is a showcase for eclectic creative commons music.

Dan plays a little bit of everything; from rap and hip-hop to folk, country, electro, rock and roll, and nerdcore.  It’s very eclectic and I’ve found lots of good music through this show.  I don’t necessarily like absolutely everything he plays, but I don’t necessarily like everything that the regular radio or NPR plays.  As long as you’re getting exposed to the new stuff that’s out there, it’s all good in my book.  You never know what you’ll like til you listen to it.

He gets a lot of his music from Jamendo, which is a host for creative commons music.

Every week it’s something different.  He’s had interviews with both Jono Bacon’s metal project Severed Fifth, and MC Frontalot.

Recently, Rathole Radio has been hosting a live show called “Rathole Radio Roadshow“.  This year it’s going to be held at the Zanzibar in Liverpool.

So, if you’re into eclectic music, check this podcast out.  He also broadcasts live every two weeks on Sunday at 4 PM Eastern Time.  You can find the fun at the last link, and also in the IRC room: #ratholeradio on irc.freenode.net.  There’s a link on the live page to use a web-based IRC client, so you don’t have to know how to set up IRC on your computer if you want to participate.

Quick Review, Partition36’s “Inside the Beat”

I’ve been listening to Partition36‘s Inside the Beat on and off since I recieved it in the mail several weeks ago.

This album is great on many levels.  I’m no musician, but I guess I know good music when I hear it, and this is complex.  I like the way everything is layered.  Anyway, that’s the way things sound to me; the sound seems layered, one on top of the other, with a really nice build.  I’ll pick out a few of my favorite tracks to highlight…

The first track, Crystallis, is a nice introduction to the sound on the whole album.  While listening, if you close your eyes and relax, you’re almost taken away to a different place.  The beat can be sort of repetitive, but it is relaxing in a way.

The third track, Inside the Beat, is my favorite off of the CD.  I love how the song is about being inside the music and now nothing bad can happen when Partition36 is inside the beat.  The beat is almost like a safe house where the evils of the world can’t hurt anyone.  Also, it’s about concentration and working on something that you want to.  Great song, great message.

After track two and three being upbeat, Hirakatashi (track 4) is kind of relaxing and puts you in a neat trance.  I don’t know exactly how to describe it, but I really like it.

Cyberpunks (track 8) is my second favorite song.  Kind of political, and very relevant to today’s laws regarding the digital world.

The whole album is one of those that really flows together.  It’s almost like Partition36 created this to be a whole experience.  If you listen to each track on it’s own, they’re great.  If you listen to the whole album together and take it as a continuous piece of art, then it’s incredible.

For the record, Partition36 is the artist that got me into electronic music.  I wouldn’t think I’d like it, but I’ve listened to several different albums, and it’s a genre I’ve really gotten into recently.

This album can be downloaded via the website, or you can purchase the album.  I really recommend purchasing a physical CD.  The album art is great too.

Folk Music Festival

Wow.

Had an amazing day today.

Hung out in the morning and relaxed and had a late lunch.

Then my mom and I went to the Folk Music Society of Midland’s Dulcimer Festival at the Midland fairgrounds.

Wow.  We saw lots of different acts.  There were only a couple of duds but you kind of have to take it in stride.  I like listening to different folk music, and I especially love dulcimer music.  The hammered dulcimer is a precursor to the piano and played with little hammers that you hit the strings with, and the mountain dulcimer is strummed.

I love Muzyka, the Jolly Hammers and Strings, Doug Berch, and Off the Wall.  Amazing music and fun.  We left about 8:30 pm because we were tired and our posteriors were getting sore from sitting on our lawn chairs.  I can only sit in one spot for so long and we’d been sitting there since about 2:30 pm or so, with a brief break at 5 for dinner at Applebees (within walking distance).

I picked up a CD by Mustard’s Retreat called The Wind and the Crickets.  It’s country, folk, and Celtic music.  Very nice blend of music.  I also picked up a CD for my mom for her birthday.  :)  I’m sure she’ll love it.

The only bad thing was that it was incredibly hot.  About 86F, but with a decent breeze.  The sun was on my back through the early evening and made me kind of too warm.  It felt nice to come home in the air conditioning though!  :)

I had fun today, and if you’re in Michigan the last weekend in August, make sure you check out the Dulcimer Festival.  Oh, bring your own lawn chair, even if you stop by Home Depot beforehand and pick up a $10 one.  There are metal folding chairs there, but they are very uncomfortable to sit on for an extended period of time!  My mom and I forgot to bring lawn chairs the first year we went, and every year since, we’ve remembered our folding lawn chairs.  We can sit for a much longer time.  Oh, another thing you need to remember is an umbrella and a sweatshirt.  Seriously; it’s been rainy and cold before.  One year it was just cold  (we had a strange cold snap in late August) and last year it poured with a massive thunderstorm.  It’s all inside, but you want to be prepared to go from your car to the building.  Downpours in latesummer in Michigan can be wicked!

Edited to include some links to the bands we saw.

Podcasts and Podcast Software

I listen to a bunch of podcasts; thirty-two to be exact.

You can find them here if you want to see a whole list.

Some update more frequently than others, and you’ll see my notes on status.net related to what I’m listening to through the !Listening group on identi.ca.

You’ll notice if you go to the gpodder.org link above, that I listen to a lot of tech podcasts (GeekSpeak, LinuxOutlaws, Ubuntu Podcast, Diggnation, Linux Journal, LoCoCast), music podcasts (Canada Live, Liverpool Acoustic Spotlight, All Songs Considered, World Cafe Words and Music, World Cafe Next, The Clockwork Caberet, Rathole Radio, Triple J TV, TheCerebralRift, All Songs Considered Live Concerts, Hype Machine), humor (Car Talk, Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me, Vinyl Cafe, Life as a Comic, Dilbert, The Gloomers), science (Discovery Channel, TedTalks), gaming (Good Game, Good Game SP), and a general TV show (East of Everything).

I love podcasts because I can listen to shows when I want and how I want (on the computer or on my mobile device/mp3 player) and I can listen to shows from other countries (like the Canadian shows, the Australian shows, and shows from the UK). It’s a great way to get information that regular radio doesn’t cover. I listen to NPR a lot, but my local station doesn’t play GeekSpeak or have much in the way of computer shows. I get my "fix" through these podcasts.

Now on to software…

  • iTunes: Available for Mac and Windows, but seems to be a memory hog on Windows. I don’t use this software, as I prefer different podcast catchers, and I run Ubuntu.
  • Rhythmbox: Gnome’s kitchen-sink media player. I’ve used it for podcasts, but things get all mixed up in my regular music. I just use it for my music.
  • Amarok: I don’t use this personally. It’s KDE’s kitchen-sink medial player. I know there are peole who use Amarok for podcasting, but I’m not sure how well it works.
  • Mirro: I used Miro for a very long time, and loved it. It’s like a podcast catcher/listener/watcher and browser, as it has the ability to find podcasts you’re interested in, especially if you have a Miro account. You can rate podcasts, and you can also use Miro as a bittorrent catcher. It’s almost like an all-in-one computer-based TV solution. Great project.
  • gPodder: A great podcast catcher. This program works with the my.gpodder.org website and allows you to share what podcasts you’re listening to.

I use gPodder now as my main podcast catcher. I still have Miro, but I really like gPodder and how it stays out of my way.

Do check out what I’m listening to and post what you listen to in the comments. Podcast sharing is the best way to discover new ones.

Renaissance Fair

We went to the Michigan Renaissance Fair this Sunday.  I wanted to see the musical acts (I love all manner of folk and world music) as well as pick up some CDs to some of my favorite musicians.  This I did, in full force.

First, we stopped at a setup in front of some of the food vendors and listened to the group Wine and Alchemy.  They play a selection of world music.  I would classify it as “Gypsy” and it’s wonderful to listen to.  Takes you to another place and time, filled with spices, mysterious women and men, and camels.  It has a very Middle-Eastern flair.  I picked up their “Turning of the Seasons” CD.

Next, we hit up the Guinness Pub to take in Equinox.  I’d seen Equinox before at the White Crow.  They are awesome, with a great mix of Celtic music.  I love bagpipes, so listening to a piper is something I enjoy.  The music was lively, with great pipes, fiddle, flutes/whistle, drums and even some dancing!  We ate lunch at the pub and had some beers whilst the music played.  I picked up “Lothain Sky”, which I love.

We wandered around some more and headed toward the “World Market” area of the Fair.  They had a huge stage set up (and hay bales for people to sit on) to watch various shows.  We ended up seeing a Czech dance group perform traditional dance.  It was very interesting.  I was captivated by the music.

Next (after wandering around in the shops and seeing our favorite Crystal/Scrimshaw vendor), my brother had us watch a Birds of Prey show at the joust field.  All I can say is “WOW”.  That was awesome.  The birds flew all around (falcons and hawks) going after decoys he’d set up and swing.  I guess he uses the birds not only for demos like at Fairs, but also for hunting.  That’s what the birds were used for.  He explained the equipment (hoods, bells, jesses [like short leashes], bait, etc) and how one hunts with falcons.  It was really neat how he explained it all, and very interesting.  I don’t hunt, but I wouldn’t mind going out on a hunt and watching this done.

We ended up being late for the New World Renaissance Band performance.  Wow.  Owain Phyfe is an awesome singer.  I love the stories he tells with the songs.  I’ve seen him a couple of times at the Jewel Stage (which is ALWAYS packed; arriving late, we were lucky to get benches in the back) and vowed that this year I was going to get a CD.  I did.  I ended up with “Live the Legend: The New World Renaissance Band, Love Songs of the Renaissance”.  All I can say is wow.  He truly is a master of music.

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Renaissance Fair

We went to the Michigan Renaissance Fair this Sunday.  I wanted to see the musical acts (I love all manner of folk and world music) as well as pick up some CDs to some of my favorite musicians.  This I did, in full force.

First, we stopped at a setup in front of some of the food vendors and listened to the group Wine and Alchemy.  They play a selection of world music.  I would classify it as “Gypsy” and it’s wonderful to listen to.  Takes you to another place and time, filled with spices, mysterious women and men, and camels.  It has a very Middle-Eastern flair.  I picked up their “Turning of the Seasons” CD.

Next, we hit up the Guinness Pub to take in Equinox.  I’d seen Equinox before at the White Crow.  They are awesome, with a great mix of Celtic music.  I love bagpipes, so listening to a piper is something I enjoy.  The music was lively, with great pipes, fiddle, flutes/whistle, drums and even some dancing!  We ate lunch at the pub and had some beers whilst the music played.  I picked up “Lothain Sky”, which I love.

We wandered around some more and headed toward the “World Market” area of the Fair.  They had a huge stage set up (and hay bales for people to sit on) to watch various shows.  We ended up seeing a Czech dance group perform traditional dance.  It was very interesting.  I was captivated by the music.

Next (after wandering around in the shops and seeing our favorite Crystal/Scrimshaw vendor), my brother had us watch a Birds of Prey show at the joust field.  All I can say is “WOW”.  That was awesome.  The birds flew all around (falcons and hawks) going after decoys he’d set up and swing.  I guess he uses the birds not only for demos like at Fairs, but also for hunting.  That’s what the birds were used for.  He explained the equipment (hoods, bells, jesses [like short leashes], bait, etc) and how one hunts with falcons.  It was really neat how he explained it all, and very interesting.  I don’t hunt, but I wouldn’t mind going out on a hunt and watching this done.

We ended up being late for the New World Renaissance Band performance.  Wow.  Owain Phyfe is an awesome singer.  I love the stories he tells with the songs.  I’ve seen him a couple of times at the Jewel Stage (which is ALWAYS packed; arriving late, we were lucky to get benches in the back) and vowed that this year I was going to get a CD.  I did.  I ended up with “Live the Legend: The New World Renaissance Band, Love Songs of the Renaissance”.  All I can say is wow.  He truly is a master of music.

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D’oh! (Also known as importing radio stations to a different music player)

Well, I had a d’oh moment today.  I’ve been trying to figure an easy way to transfer my radio stations from Banshee to Rhythmbox.  I searched in my config files, I looked over the web, I even looked into commands on how to do it.

Until I got a brilliant idea to try: Why not create a playlist of all my internet radio stations, and then export the playlist, then import it to the player I want to use?

I did that, and it worked!  All this time, spent searching for a how-to… It’s that easy.

If you want to do the same, open your media player with your radio stations.  Create a new playlist, highlight all the stations you want to be in the playlist, and save it.  Go up to your menu, click “export” and save to the desktop (good for creating a backup anyway).

Now, go to your other player, click on where you want to put your stations (a radio folder or some such), click on your menus, click “import” and *viola!* you have your radio stations transferred. Awesome!

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Traditional Media

Traditional media is the combination of radio, newspapers and television.

They have all seen a decrease in users recently because of the internet (and the lagging economy), but newspapers especially have seen decreases.  I’ll address them each separately.

Newspapers

Newspapers are some of the easiest news sources around.  What other news source is completely portable and doesn’t use electricity?  Other than a town crier, I don’t see any.

Newspapers have seen a decrease in readership because of the rise in internet connectivity.  People don’t see a reason to pay for news they can get on the internet.  I’m one of them, I readily admit, but I do see the value in having a newspaper.  There’s something about being able to hold the paper in your hands and mark something you want to read later.

But, newspapers haven’t “kept up with the times” so to speak.  Readership has decreased, prices have increased (I cite the Saginaw News as an example; prices have risen to $0.75 a daily issue from $0.35 when I was a kid, and the content has dropped) and content has decreased as well.  Many young people don’t see the need to subscribe to a newspaper when they can get the same (and more) news from the internet.  They can run an RSS reader and have their news delivered to them on the computer, without even going to the sites to get their news.

I think that newspapers have to start using the internet to supplement their print edition.  This does not include charging for RSS feeds or charging for access to a news site.  In my opinion, if the newspaper would have — here’s the key — ORIGINAL content and news, people would be willing to pay for it.

Much like my This is True email newsletter.  I pay for this email newsletter (about $24 a year) and content is delivered to my email-box once a week.  There’s a free version, but the paid version has more stories in it, has more commentary, and also has some other perks.  I enjoy it.

If newspaper sites did something like this, they would be able to make money as well as deliver news to people who are willing to read it.

Radio

Radio is convenient.  It’s available in most all markets, free, informative (usually) and entertaining.

Well, all of that is changing.  I don’t find commercial radio informative or entertaining (one out of three ain’t bad, right?).  The commercial radio is awful; filled with commercials, no news (if there is news it’s either non-news or partisan bullshit [left AND right]), and no new music.  I haven’t heard anything “new” on the radio since the mid-eighties.  The mid-eighties was about the time Clear Channel started buying up radio stations and formatting them to certain markets (country, oldies, pop, etc).

This has created a rather “boring” radio dial (at least where I’m located, in mid-Michigan).

I make the exception for Public Radio.  I listen to NPR/PRI almost exclusively, and find it informative, interesting, and fun.  NPR/PRI makes no bones about their syndicated shows and airs them at regular times (unlike some of the CC stations which masquarade as “live n local”).

For new music, I love World Cafe with David Dye, Jazz Set with Dee Dee Bridgewater, The Thistle and Shamrock, and Riverwalk Jazz.

I like the news in the morning with Morning Edition and Weekend Edition (a little leftist slant, but nothing to be worried about),

i like the humor of A Prarie Home Companion.

Television

My television view will be a little skewed since I don’t pay for it, and only have braodcast TV (over the air digital).

CBS, NBC, ABC, FOX and PBS are the major stations we get on our rabbit ears.  The other stations (My5, CW, Worldview, Create, PBS Kids) are all on the digital feed.

Most of the programming is decent.  I’m a fan of police dramas, medical mysteries, and the like.  These are the shows that seem to be in vogue for the time being, so I’m a happy camper.  :)

Still, many people (especially young people) are using the internet to watch their TV.  From youtube to hulu to netflix, there are many choices for television.  I’m not even counting cable or satelitte options.

~~~~~

There are reasons why traditional media can’t become part of the new media.  If newspapers, radio and televiosn would expand into the internet (many stations have already) they would expand to a larger and more diverse reading, listening, and viewing audience.

Just a little rant for the weekend.  This bit of thought has been rolling around in my brain for awhile.  I’m not sure if it’s all true, but it’s all my opinion.

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Sony Walkman

No, not the cassette version, but I had one of those for a long time… I finally had to retire it, as the radio didn’t work anymore, and the cassette motor burned out.  Poor walkman…

Some background:

I was getting sick of my Sansa View (If you recall, I talked about it here).  It was freezing on shuffle (a regular problem, not being fixed by any sort of firmware; see here and here).  I’d have issues with it connecting as a USB device so I could transfer music to it.  I decided to get this

Picture:

It’s easy to use… It was detected by Songbird in Windows… I have yet to muck about with it in Ubuntu yet.  It uses MTP, so I should be able to install some stuff and it should work.  A report will forthcoming.

The radio is also much better on this than it ever was on the View.  I get stations I never could dream of getting on the View.

A very simple interface (just what I want), a good radio, lightweight, fast and good case design… It’s a recommend, but we’ll see after a year and a couple firmware updates…

Edit: Drag ‘n drop works with this player in Linux by opening the player in Nautilus and dragging what you want to it. It doesn’t work in amaroK, Rhythmbox or Banshee right now.

Edit 2: Works with Rhythmbox… I had to add an empty file named “.is_audio_player” to the root directory of the player. This makes the player all sorts of awesome.

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Pirating?

Is copying your CDs for use in the car considered pirating?

I ask this question because I’ve been making copies of my CDs for the car for awhile now, and decided I wanted some different music in the car.  So I grabbed some of my fav new albums and started to copy.

Some of them won’t copy using Nautilus… I just open up Brasero and tell it to go at it.  I only had a problem with one CD, and I had to rip that one to my desktop, then send it to a CD.  I have no problem with this…

Granted, I’m not making copies of the CDs to sell or whatever… I just want to use them more effectively in my car.  I figure, I make copies, and if my car gets broken into and they get stolen, it’s not much of a loss.  I’m out all the time I spent burning the CDs, but I’m not out the actual CDs.

I’m sure the RIAA would prefer me to buy disks for the car and disks for my CD player in the house, as well as disks to rip onto my MP3 player.

But, the funny thing is, I don’t have that much money.  I’ve been a good music buyer… in that I BUY my music.  I don’t steal it off of the web (unless it says “FREE DOWNLOAD”; I’ve found some awesome stuff that way, and I’d buy it if there was a CD available). 

Just my $0.02.

Pandora

Pandora is my newest internet radio obsession.  First it was last.fm, then it was iTunes, now it’s the aforementioned Pandora.

This free internet radio service is quite cool.  It runs through flash, so there’s an Adobe AIR app that will allow you to control it right from your desktop.

I have yet to get AIR working on Ubuntu (I hear it’s buggy).  I’d like to give it a try, but if it’s buggy and crashy, I don’t think I want to use it.

Anyway Pandora has many different stations all ready for you to listen to.  You can set them up in your “queue” and listen to them on a “shuffle” mode.  That sounds really cool.  I haven’t tried it yet, but if I ever get a chance to sit and code or whatever, I’ll definitely put my stations on shuffle and see what it comes up with.

Anyway, I like this program for different reasons than last.fm.  Don’t get me wrong, I like last.fm (and always will) but this is different and I’ll give it a test drive for the next couple of weeks.  I might end up going back to last.fm, but who knows?  Last.fm seems to have more indie stuff.  I like indie stuff.  :)

I guess the concensis is that I’m still undecided.  I won’t limit myself to one or the other, but last.fm is more integrated into other applications: Banshee, iTunes, Rhythmbox and others.  If Pandora becomes more integrated into these other applications, I might use it more.

Like I said, we’ll see.

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