Friday listen: In My Tribe, 10,000 Maniacs

I wrote a long time ago about getting my Denon DP-45F turntable fixed up, and shortly thereafter hinted that I was about to start ripping my records en masse. Then… well, life intruded. I ripped some Beowulf, early and not-so-early Virginia Glee Club records, and not a whole lot else.

Why? A few reasons. First, time. Where ripping a CD can be done in much less than the time to listen to it, and in the comfort of an armchair, an LP requires at least as much time to rip as to listen to it. Then there’s taking the file, leveling it, splitting the tracks, importing them to iTunes, and then (because of a bug in Amadeus Pro’s lossless AAC files) reimporting them as AAC. So for one record, it takes the evening. And one unsuccessful rip–there was a lot of surface noise on my copy of Peter Gabriel II–put me off the project for a good long while.

And now? I finally got around to ripping my vinyl of 10,000 Maniacs’ early hit In My Tribe, and it was a revelation. The sound from the ripped vinyl was superb, and the music was superb…er. The opening chords of “What’s the Matter Here” were as gripping as the lyrics are depressing; “Hey Jack Kerouac” and “Like the Weather” were similarly moving and dynamic. Listening to the record took me back to when R.E.M. played a lot of 12 string and when indie meant Guadalcanal Diary and the Connells. The second half of the record lags a bit, but the final song, the unpromisingly named “Verdi Cries,” was moving and insightful.

In these recessionary times, there’s something to be said for rediscovering music through vinyl instead of paying to download it again. Even if it takes an evening to get the music on one’s iPod.

Grab bag: HTML 5 and other phenomena

Fixing a hole: Migrating a site structure with the Redirection plugin

Over the weekend, as previously noted, my hosting provider redirected two old versions of my blog to the new WordPress blog. When that change kicked in, it unleashed a storm of 404s as links pointing into the old site structure hit the new site structure.

There are a number of systematic changes from the old site to the new site:

  • Daily pages from my static site. These URLs look like /yyyy/mm/dd.html, and for whatever reason they weren’t redirecting to /yyyy/mm/dd/.
  • Category links from my dynamic site. This one was a mess, because there were at least two main ways of accessing my old category pages: /newsItems/department/n and /newsItems/viewDepartment$n.
  • RSS links. My old RSS link was at a different location, and apparently a lot of feed readers are still polling there.
  • Print-friendly links. Manila used to have a text-only print-friendly format; URLs with the ?print-friendly=true option were failing.
  • Differing site structures. Some of the changes were simply because I set up the new site differently.

Fortunately, most of the problems are easily solved with the help of regular expressions and the Redirection plug-in for WordPress. The redirect rules for the static date pages and the news item department pages were rewritten as follows:

  • ​/(d*)​/(d*)​/(d*).html –>/$1/$2/$3
  • ​/newsItems​/departments​/([a-zA-Z0-9]*) –> /category/$1/
  • ​/newsItems​/viewDepartment$([a-zA-Z0-9]*) –> /category/$1/

All made nice and straightforward, once you grok the syntax.

Of course, I could have used Apache’s .htaccess and these regex rules, but the big advantage of the Redirection plugin is that it counts how many times each rule is used, and links the 404 log into the rules writing engine in a very clever way. It’s very simple to find a 404, write a rule, test the rule to verify that the filter is working, and then go on your merry way.

I did have to make a decision to turn off some functionality. I don’t have mailto any more, my old sitemap is gone and not coming back, and some other odds & ends are not to return. I’ve enumerated those in my Blog Feature Graveyard.

Grab bag: Dusty tunes, infinite startups

Consolidation time

Just a quick housekeeping note–over the weekend my hosting provider finally consolidated my www, discuss, and sites onto one machine. You can go ahead and head over to now.

With this consolidation, my Manila blog is finally no more. I cut my blogging teeth on Edit This Page and the other features which at the time were state of the art, but which didn’t move as fast as the revolution they spawned.

Jarrett House North became a WordPress site last year, but the old version of the site lived on at two different web addresses — which didn’t help my Google presence at all. Now, though, you can find me at www, discuss, or and it will all be the same site.

I have a few broken links to fix, so bear with me. I have to mention in passing that I highly recommend the superb Redirection plugin for finding and fixing 404s on a WordPress site.

Grab bag: Hacks and cracks

Grab bag: iPhone rumors, Wikipedia goes CC

Grab bag: Negotiations of various kinds.

Grab bag: Hacking copyright

Virginia Glee Club history: Harrison Randolph

harrisonrandolphExploring some of Google’s new search options a week ago bore surprising fruit, as I discovered enough about the first named conductor of the Virginia Glee Club, Harrison Randolph, to write a Wikipedia article about him. There has long been little publicly available information about Randolph, aside from a mention in Philip Bruce’s 1921 five volume history of the University of Virginia and his presence in the archival 1893 Glee Club photo that also features the author of the “Good Old Song.” The liner notes to the Club’s 1972 recording A Shadow’s on the Sundial place him as the organist at the University Chapel, but otherwise he seemed doomed to fade into obscurity.

However, when I did a news timeline search for “virginia glee club”, I turned up some hits in the 1890s that I hadn’t seen before. In particular, one 1894 report in the Atlanta Constitution gave me quite a bit more information about Randolph and the boys of the Glee Club than I had seen previously. In this case, the description of Randolph as an “instructor of mathematics” made me go back and look deeper into his biography, and I turned up a fuller biography of him in a 1920-era volume that says that he left Virginia in 1895 to go to the University of Arkansas, and then in 1897 to the presidency of the College of Charleston, where he spent nearly the next 50 years.

It appears, despite his accomplishments, that the directorship of the Glee Club was not then without its perils; the Constitution gives a glowing description of his intellect, then drily notes, “To him has been allotted the awful task of directing the Glee Club.” Even allowing for the “amazing,” “awe-inspiring” sense of the word, one still feels the pressure of the world on Randolph’s young shoulders, particularly looking back at his 1893 photograph. Born the same year as the Glee Club itself, he looks at the age of 22 smaller and more exhausted than those around him in the publicity photo. Is it any wonder that only two short years later he fled to the relatively safer world of academia?

For those with patience, I’ve added the text of the original 1894 concert review article; it provides a rare glimpse at the mechanics of how the Glee, Banjo, and Mandolin clubs worked together and gives thumbnail biographies of each member.