Armistice Day (part 2)

Paul Simon
Paul Simon
Capitol/Warner, 1972

On Armistice Day
The Philharmonic will play
But the songs that we sing
Will be sad
Shufflin’ brown tunes
Hanging around

No long drawn blown out excuses
Were made
When I needed a friend she was there
Just like an easy chair

Armistice Day
Armistice Day
That’s all I really wanted to say

Oh I’m weary from waiting
In Washington D.C.
I’m coming to see my Congressman
But he’s avoiding me
Weary from waiting down in Washington D.C.

Oh Congresswoman
Won’t you tell that Congressman
I’ve waited such a long time
I’ve about waited all I can
Oh Congresswoman, won’t you tell that Congressman

Macintosh True Story: Audion

Cabel Sasser at Panic Studios writes about Audion, arguably the first industrial strength MP3 player for the Mac—certainly the coolest—and his decision to retire it. It’s a pretty fascinating story, replete with “interrupt time,” Steve Jobs meetings, near-mergers with giant mega-corporations, and the market forces that led to the retirement of the app.

I downloaded Audion when I went to business school. It was one of the first apps on my first PowerBook (a G3 Pismo), and it was always on. I downloaded a bunch of wild skins before settling on the one that was the smallest possible space, and proceeded to raise eyebrows every time one of my Windows-using colleagues saw my screen. (“What is that? Oh, cool!”) I loved that it was hard to crash, that the music kept playing no matter (well, almost no matter) what I did to it in the foreground, and that it was just so damned cool.

And then… the Mac OS X Preview Release came out. And Audion wasn’t OS X native, but iTunes was. And I agonized over it for a while, but iTunes kept adding more and more stuff. And its library management was frankly a hell of a lot better than Audion’s, which relied on the filesystem. With iTunes, I could sort and search by all kinds of obscure attributes, and it didn’t move around the MP3 files in their folders when I did so. And so Audion shuffled slowly off into obscurity. I just recently got around to deleting the playlist files it left behind.

Cabel’s story is instructive—for small software developers, for Mac developers in particular, for fans of the digital music revolution, and for anyone who wants to work in a small company. It’s exhilarating and heartbreaking and very, very informative.

Blogging in local news

Our very local paper, the Arlington Advocate, just ran an article about local bloggers. I was one of the people profiled, along with Mimi Kirchner, Jane Morgan, and Jen Langley. Thanks to Jenny Brown (whose blog I haven’t plugged before in this space) for writing the article, and thanks to her husband Adam Medros (whose blog seems to have fallen off since his son was born—funny how that goes!) for introducing us.

Delicious Library: second impressions

In my spare time, I’ve been playing quite a bit with Delicious Library, and it remains pretty delicious. As I scanned in 13 books, 71 movies, and 748 761 CDs (to date) I’ve had some time to think about things I would change with the application.

  1. Smart shelves: give me an opportunity to do advanced searches on a bunch of criteria, including signed items, rare items, and other attributes, and save them as persistent “smart shelves”
  2. iTunes integration: There are a ton of opportunities in this area, including:
    • Check the iTunes library to see if the CD has already been ripped to iTunes
    • Smart lists to show albums that have not been ripped
    • If it has, allow playing the CD by double clicking the album cover
    • For music bought in the iTunes store, I’d love to see a way to list them in the inventory, separately from CDs, and using the standard iTunes 99 cent prices, figure out how much I’ve under- or overpaid by using the iTunes store instead of Amazon
  3. Images: I’d love to be able to paste my own cover art in, either for albums that aren’t in Amazon or ones where the cover art isn’t brought back with the rest of the information (um, never mind—apparently you can do this by drag and drop, though I still would like to see paste supported). I’d also like to be able to copy the art out.
  4. Looking up information by keyword: This is probably my biggest gripe. As I mentioned in my original post, I have a lot of CDs with no bar codes as a result of too many years spent in CD clubs. Unfortunately, for classical CDs the search facilities that Delicious Library offers—title and “source”—are completely inadequate. The problem with classical discs is that the title of the disc is often three or four different releases, the “artist” can either be the performers or the composer (or even the conductor), and often there is little or no agreement between two sources about how the release should be filed. This means that I got quite intimate with the search functions on Amazon, trying the advanced classical search but increasingly giving up and using Google to find the album on Amazon.
  5. HTML export of a catalog wouldn’t hurt either.
  6. And how about user definable fields on items? I’d love something to indicate whether I’ve posted an item to my blog already; one or more URL fields for additional info about the item; and even a catalog number (LOC and Dewey Decimal format)
  7. And while I’m asking for silly things, how about skinnability? Normally this isn’t a feature I look for in an application, but the default woodgrain on the library shelves really hurts my eyes.

Traveling around Boston: good week, bad week

First, the good news from the MBTA. Soon the T token is going to pass into history and be replaced by the CharlieCard. As someone whose first subway system only used the little cards, I won’t miss the tokens. A card is a hell of a lot easier to carry in a wallet “just in case” than tokens. And I love the name, having memorized the song at age 8 long before I knew what the M.T.A. was (though I’m grateful I wasn’t there to hear Mitt sing it). Now if they would just bring back Scollay Square Station

Then the bad news from the Big Dig: more leaks, or, as Bill Cosby said, “How long can you tread water?” If I were the state, I’d sue Bechtel for everything they’ve got.


Lisa has an out of town meeting today, and I wanted to do something special for dinner for her last night. So I turned to that old faithful stalwart, roast lamb. We had picked up a boned leg of lamb from Costco (fabulous bargain: tremendously flavorful New Zealand lamb at about $4 a pound) a few days previously, but I didn’t know what I was going to do with it.

Then I remembered: Julie/Julia. I knew I had gone into transports of ecstasy each time I read about Julie’s cooking one of Julia Child’s lamb recipes from MTAOFC. Now it was time for me to investigate the book. With only an hour before I needed to get the lamb in the oven, I knew I couldn’t do anything that required lengthy marinades, but I wanted more flavor than just a plain roast lamb. So it was herb and garlic stuffing. I chopped parsley, plus some fresh rosemary and thyme from our struggling kitchen plants, diced two shallots, and smashed a clove of garlic, then added salt, pepper, and the curiously specified quarter-teaspoon of ginger. I cut the net holding the meat in place, washed it off, unrolled it, spread the “stuffing” over the inside, re-rolled it and tied it with kitchen twine. Then I popped it in the oven (spraying some olive oil over it in lieu of the basting Julia specifies in the recipe) next to a tray of potato wedges covered with some of the same stuffing.

It was later to the table than I would like. I had to turn the oven up a bit to get the lamb cooked before 9 pm. But with the potatoes and some green beans (steamed, then shaken in the steaming water with some olive oil and sea salt and drained) and a glass of Crozes Hermitage—fantastic.

Alas, Joy thought so too. There was an unnoticed drip from the cutting board onto the kitchen floor, and as our little genteel girl puppy investigated, then started cleaning the floor, she got little streaks of lamb juice all over her head. Hence the nickname. At least she’s proof against the Angel of Death now.

Armistice Day, part 1

The 11th of November is one of those overloaded days. It’s Armistice Day, the day on which the treaty ending World War I was signed. It’s Veteran’s Day, dedicated to all those who have served our country in the armed forces.

And for me, it’s also an important anniversary. Ten years ago tonight was my first real date with Lisa. I say “real date” even though we had had several dinners together with Shel and had even gone on a winery tour together—“real date” because on this date I thought of her for the first time as more than just a friend. We went to a concert at George Mason—I think it was Emmanuel Ax and Peter Serkin—and then ran out of gas coming off the interstate onto Route 7. (Thankfully Route 7 goes downhill from the exit ramp to the next gas station.) And you know what? We didn’t even care.

Happy Veteran’s Day, everyone, and happy anniversary, dear.