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

In 2008, I joined 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 and

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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Multi-version Slackware upgrades don't work so well
#21 Henry, Wednesday, 09 December 2009 3:51 PM (Category: Linux)
(Tags: slackware)

I decided to experiment with the new (to me) slackpkg way of keeping Slackware up to date. My home server was Slackware 12.2. I decided to see if slackpkg could get it up to Slackware 13.0. I tried it. It was a dismal failure.

Once I determined that I had rendered the server unusable, I installed Slackware 13.0 on it, configured it and got it all working again, and then used slackpkg to get it up to date. It worked fine.

So I have learnt an important lesson. Don't try and jump versions with slackpkg. I'll opt for the safer upgrade path in future.

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LPs with Audacity
#20 Henry, Wednesday, 09 December 2009 3:47 PM (Category: Linux)
(Tags: music lp audacity)

So now I have Audacity installed on my Linux boxes and I can do my audio editing again. I have nothing against running Audacity on my Macs, but it works better on my Linux boxes.

I had a whole bunch of files to edit. Several weeks ago, I attached my Technics turntable to my old RadioShack mixer, pushed that through a USB device I got from a few years ago that doesn't appear to be on sale any more, and then fed that into my MacBook. I used the Audio Record program included with Roxio Toast, and I played my LPs and singles and created AIFF files.

These are LPs that did not make it to CD, otherwise I would have just bought the CD. Australian music from Ignatius Jones - Like a Ghost single and maxi-single, Pardon Me Boys LP, and Peter Scriven's Original Tintookies Soundtrack from the 1960s. Gaye Bykers On Acid's first LP Drill Your Own Hole. Leather Nun's single Prime Mover, so I get the foul B side F.F.A. The double LP An Evening With Groucho. And Jethro Tull's Living In The Past. This did appear on CD, but the original 2CD set is unavailable except for huge amounts of money on eBay, and all that's left is the single CD version that has some tracks chopped out.

I transferred the AIFF files to my Linux desktop and used Audacity to chop them into tracks and save them as WAV files. Then they were folded into my music collection, stored permanently as flacs, and the mp3 versions loaded onto my devices for playing.

And now I can enjoy the music again.

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