Grab bag: Specter of change edition

Grab bag: Hacking and other sensible things

  • Interesting if retroactively obvious way to future-proof URL shortener links.
    (tags: twitter)
  • Chris Eng shows how crypto is done. Finishing in the top 3 isn’t too bad and whoever dreamed up the cipher in the cover clearly had a lot of fun with it.
  • The MIT hackers strike again. Too bad they couldn’t get a full-size Red Line car up there though.
    (tags: mit hack mbta)
  • Trenchant as always: “So Bobby Jindal makes fun of “volcano monitoring”, and soon afterwards Mt. Redoubt erupts. Susan Collins makes sure that funds for pandemic protection are stripped from the stimulus bill, and the swine quickly attack.

    What else did the right oppose recently? I just want enough information to take cover.”

    (tags: humor)
  • “For the old country, the benefits would be obvious. A more intimately sized Congress would briskly enact sensible gun control, universal health insurance, and ample support for the arts, the humanities, and the sciences. Although Texas itself has been a net contributor to the Treasury—it gets back ninety-four cents for each dollar it sends to Washington—nearly all the other potential F.S. states, especially the ones whose politicians complain most loudly about the federal jackboot, are on the dole. (South Carolina, for example, receives $1.35 on the dollar, as compared with Illinois’s seventy-five cents.)” A couple other trenchant points in this meditation on the idiocy of secession.

On the charts and on stage

Billboard Top Classical Charts, 2009-05-02
Billboard Top Classical Charts, 2009-05-02. See #3 and #8.

Last Friday’s Billboard classical chart featured the debut of the two BSO CDs on which I performed, the Brahms Requiem and Ravel Daphnis et Chloé. (A third BSO recording in which I participated, Bolcom’s Symphony No. 8, is only available as a download.) The Ravel was at number 8 on the top 10, and the Brahms was at number 3, behind The Priests and Amore Infinito: Songs inspired by the Poetry of John Paul II (Karol Wojtyla) by Placido Domingo.

The recordings are available digitally or physically from the BSO. I am still trying to see where the discs are distributed–they don’t appear to be on Amazon right now, but they are on CD Baby (Brahms, Ravel) and ArkivMusic (Brahms, Ravel) at the moment. That they are getting this kind of sales traction without Amazon’s presence is kind of impressive to me.

The charts are timely, because the Tanglewood Festival Chorus will be on stage again this week with the BSO, performing the Berlioz “Te Deum” along with the PALS children’s chorus. The work is massive, with two choirs (140 voices in our performance) plus the children, and full orchestra and organ. The BSO’s podcast last week gave a good introduction to the work.

For my preparation, I have been sweating the words. One doesn’t get to sing a Te Deum too often, and I haven’t done one with the TFC and didn’t memorize the traditional text when I last performed one (Arvo Pärt’s Te Deum with the Cascadian Chorale in Bellevue, Washington five years ago). But we have a few more rehearsals this week so I have time to get the text into my head, I think. Should be fun.

Grab bag: Reviews and cancellations

Requiem for a dying iPod?

I’ve had three iPod-like devices since 2001, four if you count my iPhone. The first one was the classic iPod 5GB with the mechanical clickwheel (that was a happy Christmas day). The FireWire port famously broke on it, and I picked up a 10GB model in time for my cross-country drive. I bought a 30GB fifth-generation model in late 2006 when the 10GB model stopped taking a battery charge and developed hard disk problems. The iPhone followed in late 2007 (I wasn’t an early adopter, but I did buy before the 3G model came out).

And now? Well, last night I tried to sync the 30GB iPod about four times. The first time it copied 200 songs, then I couldn’t eject it from the OS and had to reboot and grab it and go. And none of the new songs made it over. The second time it synced successfully but the songs still weren’t there. I rebuilt the smart playlist that had the songs in them, resynced, and this time the sync hung iTunes. Finally I restarted both the iPod and the machine, finished syncing–and again the iPod refused to eject because iTunes claimed that it had files that were open from another application. When I finally got it free, the songs still weren’t there.

Based on what I hear on the Apple support boards, I probably have a bad hard disk in the little bugger, which is consistent with the “clunking” sounds I occasionally hear while it’s trying to sync. So, it’s gone. Maybe tomorrow, maybe in a month, but it’s on its last legs, because replacing the hard drive is not a cost effective move.

So the question is, what do I do next? I can only get a fraction of my 475GB music library on it, but that’s more than I could get on the iPhone, so going to the iPhone alone isn’t an appealing option. And paying $399 for a 32GB iPod Touch isn’t going to happen right now, either, as much as I like the form factor. (I’m a big fan of the scroll wheel but would go to the Touch in a second if price weren’t a factor.)  I don’t know if I can swing $249 for the 120GB “classic” model either, but it’s the only model that has a fraction of the capacity I’m looking for. We’ll see what happens.

Meantime, anyone have a good project that involves rebuilding a 5th generation iPod with a bad hard drive?

Grab bag: Remarks taken out of context

Grab bag: The government and pork bellies

Sweating off the gigabytes

Since my budget doesn’t move as fast as the hard disk industry increases capacity, I periodically use OmniDiskSweeper to go through and clean a few gigabytes of dross off my MacBook Pro’s 80 GB drive. It’s necessary, because without going through the exercise, I end up with less than a gig of free drive space and everything grinds to a halt.

I don’t always remember where I find the disk space hogs, so this time I’m writing them down:

  • A mail folder for the Blogcritics mailing list: 899 MB. (This one was a surprise, since I’ve been religiously deleting the mails since I stopped regularly writing for the site, but there was a ton of old mail in there.)
  • Four iPhone software updates—I kept the last two or three there, but didn’t see the need for the 1.x updates or the first 2.0 one—about 800 MB.
  • The ~/Library/Caches/Metadata/Delicious Library Items folder. Appears to date to Delicious Library 1.0, since there’s also a Delicious Library 2 folder: 220.6 MB.
  • ~/Library/Application Support/NetNewsWire/Backups: old subscription lists, 289 of them: 90.9 MB.
  • ~/Library/Application Support/NetNewsWire/SearchIndex: last updated in 2005. 146.3 MB.
  • ~/Music/iTunes/Previous iTunes Libraries: three old copies from last year. About 250 MB.

What’s interesting this time is how little of this was real content as opposed to just old cache files. My free disk space now, even before a reboot (to clean up the VM and flush various other system caches), is up from 80 MB (yeah, I know) to 3.28 GB. Every little bit helps.

Grab bag: Moving on, two ways

Grab bag: Web geekery and bacon torches

Grab bag: All kinds of revolting