Christmas Survived

Christmas here had the usual assortment of stress and, well, more stress, but we survived the ordeal relatively intact.

So now that that’s over, we’re moving on to bigger and better things… 6 AM tomorrow we’ll be boarding a train for New York and we won’t be back until Friday! Yay!

Crayola History Added

You’ve probably noticed this already, especially if you get email updates about the site, but I’m adding the Crayola History to a blog section. This will make it much easier to update in the future.

Weekend Notes

– We picked up our train tickets to New York yesterday!

– While surfing the web (for something completely unrelated), I came across something that I found most highly entertaining. If you go to the URL, you will find a list of resources and links on the “history of the crayola crayon.” Now if you scroll about 3/4 of the way down this list, you will find a link to a site called “Crayola Clan history.” This links to the very same Crayola Clan history found on this site! Har-har. Hee-hee. Anyway, I think it’s the funniest thing ever. Imagine all the young impressionable kids looking for information about crayola crayons and finding the Crayola Clan history. “Mommy, what’s a frag? Why did the nice crayons shoot all those other people?”

– This is somewhat old news, but I haven’t posted it here yet. Crayola Clan (the real Crayola Clan, that is) used to own the domain name but Binney & Smith, the owners of the Crayola Crayon trademark, sent us a lovely cease and desist order back in like 1999 to stop using it because our page would come up before their page in search engines (hardy-har-har!). So anyway, we decided not to fight da man and gave it up in favor of the much more political correct domain name (which is now defunct too). But now, believe it or not, another Crayola Clan has taken over the domain name and is using it for their nefarious purposes. This imposter Crayola Clan has been around for a while, but rest assured that our Crayola Clan is the only one that has been around since 1997. So eat my wax, Crayola posers.

History of Crayola Crayons

Menu Fixed

I’m not precisely sure what happened, but tonight I discovered my main menu was all messed up. I think maybe my web host upgraded or downgraded their version of PHP, because all of a sudden some of my code wasn’t working any more. Yay for open source development!

Napster Reborn

So after listening to EnergyX for a while I collected a list of cool songs I wanted.

First I tried the time-tested method of pirated MP3s. Well, since the demise of the original Napster, I’ve found that it’s hard as hell to find find pirated MP3s. I tried that Kazza thing but I ended up with two defective MP3s–one was not the right song and the other was just 15 minutes of silence. I won’t even go into all the adware/spyware/who-knows-what-ware that thing installs. (I installed it on my software testing computer, which I can easily rebuild by cloning over the hard drive.)

In the old days I might turn to the alt.binaries.sounds.mp3 newsgroup or whatever it was called, but of course Comcast doesn’t carry it. At least it didn’t last time I looked, which admittedly was probably over a year ago. And even if it did, you can’t really choose what to download; you’re stuck with whatever people decide to upload. I would have to subscribe to an unfiltered newsgroup service, which would probably run me $10-$20/month. That’s pretty ridiculous just to get a handful of songs.

So I figured it was time to check out the state of legitimate Internet music. So I downloaded Napster and grabbed a handful of 99 cent songs.

It was pretty easy to find the songs I wanted, which was a big plus. But the amount of protection built into the song media is just crazy. You can’t play the songs except in Napster, which kind of blows. You can, however, burn the songs to CDs which is pretty cool.

I was keenly interested in the quality of the audio. I’d characterize the sound quality as somewhere around “FM Radio” quality on my own personal scale. I think they are roughly 128kbps quality MP3 quality, which is okay for playing on my computer speakers, but is noticably inferior to CDs in my truck. The compression basically wipes out all the hard transients in the audio, so everything sounds kind of muddled and mushed up.

But I guess you can’t expect too much for 99 cents.

Addendum: I found this article which talks a little bit about the sound quality of online music.

Napster Home

New York, Here We Come!

I actually got the week between Christmas and New Year’s off from work, so Cynthia and I are packing up and heading to New York for a well-deserved vacation from this backwater ‘burg.

Christmas Grumpiness

Well, it’s Christmas time again (ahem, at least for the uninformed) and you know what that means: Let’s play shame the neighborhood with enough lights you can probably see them from orbit! Yes, our neighbors have once again installed more lights per square foot than you can find in downtown Las Vegas. And even more importantly, they are all perfectly aligned and symmetrically organized. It’s actually a little embarrassing to live next to them.

I would take a picture of the place to post here, but it would probably burn out the CCD in my camera.

Personally, I want to install one single Christmas light somewhere in the front yard in protest, but Cynthia seems to think that would make me a “Christmas grump.” Bah.

In other news, yesterday I shuttled my Taylor guitar from Guitar Center to Guitar Works, where they have a Taylor-authorized luthier. They seemed to indicate that fixing the “bad sensor” would be a breeze, making me feel like a schlep for not taking it to them in the first place.

Weekend News

I don’t recall if I’ve mentioned this here yet, but Cynthia is now playing at Emmanuel Church at Brook Hill, so she is happy to be back in an Episcopal church. (Last year was Lutheran church hell.) This is her first church job with a real pipe organ, too!

Today I played my first accompaniest “gig” in quite a while. As the music director’s husband, I enjoy some slight preferential treatment in terms of being selected as a guest guitarist, so I played for the choir on an anthem. This is a somewhat conservative church, so it’s quite possible that many of the congregation had never heard a guitar in chuch before. (I got some puzzled looks as I was taking my guitar up to the balcony before the service.)

I had to use my Ovation today because my new Taylor is in the shop. I discovered a few weeks ago that the output from the pickup is quite distorted, thus rendering it useless for anything but Jimi Hendrix songs. I’m not quite sure if it was like that when I bought it, or if it’s developed the problem since then. I’m a bit embarrassed to say I don’t recall plugging it into an amp or anything in the past year, although I’m pretty sure it was plugged into an amp at the store when I was test driving it. Anyway, the luthier at Guitar Center said that it is beyond his skills and might be a “bad sensor.” This would probably be a major deal to fix since I believe on this model of Taylor some of the pickups are built into the neck. He suggested I contact the tech guy at Guitar Works, who may have more experience with Taylor guitars. Otherwise it would need to go back to Taylor. Kind of sucks, anyway you look at it.

In other news, I’ve spent a fair amount of time submitting my software to various Shareware sites this weekend.

Old Times

Just so you know, the time on any article that I posted before moving to the new server (around the end of November) will be off by about 5 or 6 hours. That is, you have to (I think) add 5 or 6 hours to the times listed. This is because the times on the old server were stored as central time zone, but since moving I’ve been storing them in Greenwich mean time to avoid any similar problems in the future.

Threaded Discussions

Today I have extended the capabilities of the news engine to support “threaded” discussions. That is, a heirarchical structure where you can reply to any article, and reply to the replies, and so on. This is the basis of the proverbial “discussion group” found on so many web sites these days. Personally I don’t particularly like web-based discussion groups, but hey, who am I to judge.

Anyway, the gist of this in layman terms is that the “commenting” feature is gone, and is replaced with a more robust “replying” feature.