Monthly Archives: August 2009

More Cassette Ripping

I had the vinyl of this, but all my vinyl disappeared when I joined the Army – it either ended up thrown away or in my brother’s house, and there’s no expectation I’ll see the licorice pizzas ever again.  But, the song is one I’ve been hoping to find digitally for years, and now I’m just giving up. It’s a 12 minute megamix of a crazy assortment of hip hop and rap from 1985, which was called (if I remember correctly) LA Beats Megamix or something like that. Not only is this classic of the era completely missing from any online store, it’s even missing from many people’s memories. Many of the songs which are part of the mix don’t seem to have been preserved even as lyrics on the web today.

The Knights of the Turntable section, from their classic Techno Scratch, is remembered fondly. But what about the section in vocoder that says, “don’t be afraid of these vicious beats” – where is the tribute to that band, whose name even I forget?  Let me up freak, get me some juice, indeed! You only came to the party to rock shock and dance… Ah, memories.

If you’re reading this anywhere but at my actual blog, the little streaming player won’t show up for you.


Download File

Rap Superstar

Inspired by the recent news article on Roxanne Shante, I got all old skool and looked at my stack of tapes, hunting for those obscure bits that I’ve not found on digital media yet. I was reminded of the strange and jarring hiccup in “La Di Da Di” at the 2:38 mark, which was not present in the original and kind of obscures the next phrase in complete non sequitur. Seriously, they didn’t try to record an alternate version of the song when they got smacked by the lawyers, they just clipped 10 seconds of expository story out of it. The listener ends up wondering why this girl is crying over Rick and feeling blue. Sure, you’d like to tell her not to cry and dry her eyes, but why in the world is she crying in the first place? So, I grabbed my trusty patch cord, and now I have the original, found only on cassette, full version of the classic Doug E Fresh song on my computer. Take that, sampling copyright violations!

Now, to see what else I’ve got hiding out. Ooh, the LA Beats megamix…

BSG was right?

The intro to the original Battlestar Galactica said, “There are those who believe that life here began out there…”

OK, so this discovery is not in any way going to support the rather outre hypothesis of panspermia, but it’s interesting nonetheless, to see that perhaps amino acid creation is not as rare as some would have us believe. Unless, of course, this comet was once part of our planet, and then somehow achieved escape velocity without destroying all the delicate biological bits stuck in it? I’ll take Occam’s Razor for $1000, Alex.

Science is cool.

Confusing Issues

I’m not sure why so many people on the Right seem to confuse issues and conflate things which are separate and completely unrelated to one another. For instance, during our local Tea Party II this July (Tea Party II, Electric Boogaloo?), instead of sticking to the point of the group (Taxed Enough Already), and only discussing tax-related issues, they wandered off into the fringe areas of Birthers and illegal aliens and any number of other things. The birthers are insane, and the other issues, even if legitimate points to discuss, are just clouding the waters of their own rally. Want to protest high taxes, ignoring the lower taxes on all but the very rich?  Go for it. Bring up birth certificates and migrant workers and NAFTA and every other John Birch Society conspiracy theory?  Not helping your case, buddy.

Now, we have the 2nd Amendment folks coming to protest health care reform. Huh? I’m a great fan of the Constitution, with all its amendments. It is the supreme law of the land, and is able to be modified through force of great will by the citizenry, so reflects the ideals of the country to a great degree. Those ideals include the government not infringing on our rights in the areas of speech, religion, gathering, trials, and yes even bearing arms. I spent 12 years defending the Constitution; good for anyone who follows its guidelines. When a photographer gets treated as a terrorist for taking a picture of a public structure from a public place, I am thrilled to see people rise up and proclaim that photographer’s rights – defending others keeps our own rights intact as well.

But, why are these people bringing weapons to a health care reform protest (leaving aside why anyone not employed by insurance companies or already on government-subsidized health care would protest the minor and remarkably toothless reforms that will likely get passed)? Are these just normal citizens, who normally take their weapons wherever they go? That seems unlikely. I doubt the fellow in the tie with an AR-15 slung over his shoulder will be taking that rifle to work with him. He deliberately brought it to this event. If it’s not an implicit threat of violence, what is it? I may be looking at things rather simplistically, but this sure looks like someone saying, “if you don’t do what I say, I’ll shoot someone.”

Surfing with Dolphins

We’re spending a long weekend in Corpus Christi, concentrating on kayaking activities, but doing other touristy things as well. This morning was our introduction to kayak surfing, in an area known for relatively low surf because we’re big wimps. As I’m paddling out to hit some nice swells after a half hour or so, Kat yells, “FIN!” I turned to see a nice fin surfacing about 20 yards away. Fortunately, we recognized the fin as a dolphin relatively quickly (the constant diving and surfacing was another indicator), and then we watched and hoped there were other pod members nearby to entertain us, but to no avail.

This afternoon we watched some other dolphins at the aquarium, but even though we were quite amused by the near-constant pooing those critters were doing, they were not anywhere as memorable as the close encounter in the ocean off Padre Island.

Tomorrow is a paddling trail excursion at Port Aransas; wish us luck – there is a common recomendation to take a waterproof GPS with you. 🙂

Software Patents are Stupid

Microsoft, which recently applied for a patent on XML documents (how one can patent an open standard that was written by others remains a mystery), has lost a $200 million lawsuit for violating someone’s patent on XML documents. Now, MS is ordered to cease selling any copies of Microsoft Word that work with XML. That would be Office 2007 and the upcoming Office 2010 or Word V13 or whatever they’re calling it.

Software patents are good why?

Gary Contradictory

How do I reconcile not trusting the cloud with using Gmail as a universal inbox? I’m a complicated man. As Lewis Carroll said, sometimes I’ve believed six impossible things before breakfast.

I consider email to be essentially ephemeral to begin with, so if Gmail were to suddenly disappear, it wouldn’t really kill me. Also, it seems that webmail is one cloud service that has staying power, as contrasted with the vast litany of failed and gone sites I listed previously. Basically, I consider the convenience of having my email easily accessible everywhere to be more important than the slight possibility of an outage.

Of course, I’m also a paranoid geek. I copy all my email from Gmail and put it into an Mbox file in Eudora, then back that up. So, if Gmail were to die, I’d still be able to bring my email into Thunderbird or the seemingly-mythical Eudora 8 or Pegasus or Mutt or any number of Mbox-based email clients. This seems to be a decent compromise – I don’t trust the cloud, but email isn’t really permanent anyway. It is quite funky to see email from 1998 in my Gmail listing, though.  🙂

New Mail Home

After a few hours of deciding which email messages I wanted to have available online and which were unlikely to be referenced in the future, I think I’m done with my transition to Gmail as my universal inbox. I even turned off the Spamassassin feature on, just so I don’t have to check two places for false positives.  We’ll see how this goes.  And, if I decide to go back to Eudora, I can just drag all the messages back across the IMAP barrier.  Yay for geekery!

Giving up on Eudora

After 15 years of mostly-loyal use, I’m considering curing myself of my Eudora addiction. I love Eudora, no matter how odd it may seem to the unitiated. It’s certainly less odd than Mutt. Anyway, I’ve been watching the “new and improved” Eudora plan for three years now, and it’s still not out of beta. The last announcement was some time ago, and it sure doesn’t look like anyone cares about it anyway. Converting one of the most venerable email clients on the Windows platform (it was once the primary email client all ISPs gave to their uses, along with Netscape 0.9) into an extension of Thunderbird seems almost sad to me. I’ve been using Gmail regularly since 2005, and more frequently of late. Their spam filters beat anything my host’s SpamAssassin configuration has shown me so far, and it’s convenient to look up old messages no matter what computer I’m using.

What has kept me from giving up on Eudora was that I have a stupendous amount of email stored in it. I tried to use the Gmail Loader program a couple years ago, and it kept timing out on me and otherwise made me feel like it was not working right. Since it was actually re-sending each message via SMTP, it screwed up the dates besides, making it more challenging to figure out how old messages were. Seeing email from 1997 suddenly show up as being from 2006 was surprising, to say the least. Stumbling around the internet, I came across a great idea to move my old messages into Gmail – IMAP. If I turn on Gmail’s IMAP, move my archived email from the mboxes into the IMAP folder within Eudora, then exit Eudora, open the IMAP folders in Gmail and move the email into non-IMAP folders in Gmail, I should preserve the headers and dates and all that jazz, while getting my email all on one platform.

Wish me luck…