Trying out Songbird
#26 Henry, Monday, 14 December 2009 5:29 PM (Category: Music)
(Tags: atunes songbird)

I listen to music a lot when I'm working on the computer. That's many hours each day. I once used XMMS, but found being able to see and select all my music a better proposition. I used Amarok for a long time, but the latest release took away the parts I used the most and slowed it down to an almost unusable state. I've been experimenting with other music players, and I've been using aTunes, a Java music player. It's been good in lots of ways - fast, responsive, doesn't bog down with 90,000 tracks - but searching for music is difficult.

So today I tried out Songbird. It loaded my music, it played my music, it showed it in new ways. I really like the display, easily allowing me to find it and play it. Yes, I really like the display.

Then I decided to look at the options, so I chose Tools -> Options and it immediately started doing something, don't know what, and it chewed up 99% of the CPU. I killed it, and restarted it with nice. Went into Tools -> Options again and it started doing something very intensive again. I have no idea what it did, but it took about 6 minutes and then it finished doing whatever it was doing and it showed me the configuration dialog box. Not good. Not good at all.

On the other hand, the next time I went into the Options, it came straight up. So maybe that only happens the first time.

It looks good, and I really like the way I can look at the music. I'll try it for a while and see if I like it.

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Reading List
#25 Henry, Friday, 11 December 2009 4:19 PM (Category: Books)
(Tags: book)

I have a book list that I have collected from various sources. Almost all of these I have, and I have read. These are the ones I recommend.

Developers - General

Developers - Unix

Developers - C

Developers - Database

Developers - Perl

Developers - Python, Ruby and PHP

I need to expand this.

Developers - Tools

Design

For managers

For managing your life

For starting a business

For navel-gazing

Miscellaneous

History & Insider looks at businesses

(You can overdose on these, so I get them only if I can get them for a dollar or two.)

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The passing of Lala trading
#24 Henry, Thursday, 10 December 2009 12:57 AM (Category: Music)
(Tags: lala apple)

In 2008, I joined lala.com. It was a CD trading site. I traded out about 800 CDs that I often wondered why I had bought, and I got in about 800 CDs that I wanted, or was willing to experiment with. I listened to a lot of music that was new to me.

Early 2009, Lala started to change focus and pushed the CD trading back a bit while they built up the music streaming business. CD trading pretty much dried up. I shifted my CD trading to SwapCD.com and MusicBoomerang.com.

After that, I got about 5 cds through Lala for the rest of 2009, while I got several hundred through the other two sites. Lala was not so good for trading any more.

Two days ago, Apple announced they had bought Lala.

I went to the Lala site to check if I had any trading credits left. It was pretty hard to check that, as Lala always kept your trading status pretty secret. (That was one thing I really liked about SwapaCD and MusicBoomerang - your trading status was transparent.) When I went to the trading section of Lala, there was an announcement that trading was gone. They had made the final transition to an all streaming business and the trading was done. One thing they did do was make our have and wants lists available for download. That was very good of them.

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Trying Amarok again
#23 Henry, Wednesday, 09 December 2009 11:38 PM (Category: Music)
(Tags: amarok)

Now that my Slackware installations are up to date, and I saw a new version of Amarok come through, I thought I would check out Amarok again. I started it up, and it brought my whole system to a crawl while it looked for music to play. I couldn't even change focus away from Amarok for a while. Eventually it found all the music, and it stopped hogging my system and I could do things again. Let's see, what's new?

Nope, it's still the same. Still no dynamic playlists the way they used to have them. and every now and then it just hogs the whole computer, everything else stops while it looks at the hard disk.

That's a shame. It used to be a great music player, and now it's awful. It hogs the system, and has lost all the things that made it so good. I'll go back to aTunes again.

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Recommending computers to people
#22 Henry, Wednesday, 09 December 2009 4:13 PM (Category: Apple)
(Tags: mac recommend)

I recently got asked by a rowing buddy what computer he should buy. I have written about this earlier. There have been more developments.

When asked this question, I asked him questions back. "What software do you use on your computer?" And I was told repeatedly that he only used a mailing list program to generate printing labels. After I had asked this question several times and quizzed him in different ways, and I always got the same answer, I recommended a Mac. He bought a Mac.

I have already described the saga of getting his mailing list moved to his Mac, and getting his email changed over to the Mac. I thought it was all over and he could get on with a new life in Mac-world. Then I got a phone call. He ordered the UPS program for his mailing that goes with the printed labels, and it's Windows only. And the UPS guy said that all businesses only use Windows and it's surprising to hear that he has a Mac and wants to do business stuff with it. In all his years, he's never heard of anyone who wants to do business on a Mac or wants the UPS software on a Mac. So now my friend asks how can he get the UPS software running on his Mac?

Now I have a lot of problems with this. After asking more questions, I discover that my friend installs the latest version of the UPS software on his computer each year about this time. He remembers every year to phone up and order the latest version. Yet when I asked repeatedly if he uses any other software on his computer, he couldn't remember the UPS software. If he had told me this when I asked, and I had found that it was Windows only, it would have been a no-brainer. I would have told him to buy a new Windows PC, and I would have whistled while I walked away from the mess because I don't do Windows. But no, he forget to mention it so I recommended Mac, and now, somehow, it's my responsibility to solve his problems.

Oh, and he's got a lot of names and addresses stored in the old UPS software, and he would like to NOT lose them.

I'm not going to fuss with dual boot and all the other crap you can do to get Windows running on Mac. My friend has enough trouble running one single computer, and I am not going to open up a can of worms that requires my lifetime support of his system. I suggested he keep his old Windows PC and install the UPS software on it. He agreed, sadly. But that involves me going round again and attempting to do the installation. So there goes another Saturday morning. I tried to install the UPS software on his old PC, but the installation refused to take place because something was wrong with the PC. It appeared to not be running Microsoft SQL Something. So I tried to run the older already-installed version of the UPS software and it very specifically told us that it could not find Microsoft SQL Something. I know nothing about this. I recommended he take the PC to a Microsoft specialist and get them to either fix the missing SQL Something, or do a reinstall in the hope that the SQL Something magically reappear.

My friend did this and the people at BestBuy said it would take 3 days and $200 and it wasn't worth doing. He would be better off buying a new PC. My friend did not want to spend that much money. The BestBuy geeks suggested he install the UPS software somewhere else, like his PC at work. My friend thought this was a great idea because it cost no money, and he did it, and it all worked fine and he was happy. Problem solved.

Here's my problem with this. Because I suggested a Mac, I have spent about 8 hours working on my friend's Mac and PC, finishing his upgrades and trying to get his data over. If I charged $50 an hour for this, my friend would not have gone down this route. He would have found someone else to do it for him for free, I would have had an extra eight hours of my life to spend on things that benefit me, and I would have had a lot less aggravation. There would have been one less Mac convert, but he's a reluctant Mac convert now because he's finding more stuff that is Windows only that he relies on. He should have remembered this when I asked him, many times, before I recommended a Mac.

So here's what is in my future. Anytime anyone asks me to recommend a computer, I am going to pretend I did not hear the question and I will walk away. If anyone asks if I can help with their installations or conversions, unless it involves only Slackware Linux, I will have to refuse because "that's all I know". I am not going to recommend anything or help with anything. I don't have many hours left to me, and I am not going to waste them dealing with Windows. Or Mac. And especially not for free.

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