Monthly Archives: December 2007

Open source software in 2007

Over the past couple of years, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the open source software available for the many websites I operate. For many years, I looked around the internet for ready-made applications, written either in Perl or PHP. And more often than not, was highly disappointed by what I’d found. In the past couple of years, though, I’ve come across many good applications that have proven to be attractive, professional, usable, flexible (easily modified) and relatively easy to install. Some have proven to be better than others, but overall, there has been a big leap forward in quality and popularity.

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The Time

I got hip to The Time back in 1981, back when I was just starting to explore more of Prince’s music. I didn’t know it at first, but it didn’t take long to figure out that The Time was part of Prince’s organization. Here, we’ll take a quick look at The Time’s four albums, a bit of a rewind through the past.

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Compressed MP3 file shortcomings hit the mainstream press…

It’s nice to see compressed file formats getting a comparison every now and then, and even better when it’s in the mainstream press:

Rolling Stone : Alternate Takes: The MP3 Challenge

The author puts a 128kbps MP3 file up against vinyl.  And of course, after listening for a bit, the vinyl version won out.  While it’s no secret to a lot of music listeners and collectors, it might just wake up the rest of the iPod generation to the fact that digitally compressed music isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.  Carrying thousands of songs around in a single device certainly is convenient, but you do need to make a sacrifice.  At least there is a bright side: you can carry fewer tunes around if you use a lossless format, but in a disk-based system like the iPod, battery life suffers and storage space is not used as efficiently.  Still, to hear the music unaltered is well worth it.  And even if you have the CD equivalent, or better yet a vinyl version at home, you still have something to fall back on.

Even better, read this recent post by Steve Hoffman on his forum, where he compared a vinyl acetate cutting to CD, SACD and a 15ips open reel tape copy of the master tape.   How did the vinyl fare?  Not bad for a 100 year old format!  Steve explains it better than I ever could.  Even having said that, I still hear “something” on CDs that isn’t there on the LP, including a bit of listener fatigue after a few hours, which I never got with vinyl.  I’ll hang onto my records for quite awhile, thank you…

Zombie Nation 2007

Here’s a rather disturbing article found in the Detroit News today:

TV shopping carts capture kids’ attention

Shopping during the holidays is stressful enough without tired kids in tow. But this season, colorful plastic carts with TVs screens are the latest incarnation of a trend toward providing entertainment for captive customers, joining TVs at checkout lines, gas station pumps and hair salon stations.

The TV Karts show videos of Bob the Builder, Barney or the Wiggles for as long as parents shop. After rolling the carts out last year, Meijer now has them stocked in most of its 181 Midwestern stores, including nearly every store in Michigan.

So, is anyone as disturbed by this as I am?

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