Wednesday, 8:53 am
Ooh, I just found a BBC Radio 2 rebroadcast of a Bruce Springsteen and the Seeger Sessions Band concert - the music from his newest album and a few other fine folk tunes. Free listening and toe tappin’ good. I found it on the Readings page—lots of other good stuff there, too. Or here’s the direct link to the concert page and BBC radio player. I’m listening to it now and it’s really, really good. I think the rebroadcast is only available until Saturday evening, so catch it while you can.
We Shall Overcome
Thursday, 7:53 am
I bought Bruce Springsteen’s We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions yesterday. It’s Springsteen like I’ve never heard him. I love the music, the old American folk tunes, and he does them wonderfully. There’s also a Preservation Hall flavor in there at times and more than a hint of zydeco here and there. I think it’s one of those albums you have to hear for yourself because it seems to defy any uniform description. But really surprising. And fun. And strangely heart cheering. I’m impressed with Bruce Springsteen all over again. Great music! You can hear clips of the album’s tunes at Amazon. Jacob’s Ladder and Pay Me My Money Down are worth special notice.
Monday, 9:49 am
What is the one thing that a traveler doesn’t want to hear?
“Your flight has been canceled.”
After a whirlwind Saturday—which included tons of laundry, packing, taking the lad out to buy some new summer duds, and ferrying him to the closing performance of his play—we were finally ready to head out to his Dad’s house at 10:30 PM. That’s just about my bed time. And I was tired. But off we went. And hour later we pulled into the driveway and he came rushing out with a funny look on his face.
“I tried to call you,” he said, “but you’d already left. The airline called about 10:40 and said our morning flight is canceled. They said they couldn’t get a crew. I have no idea.”
Well, heck. The lad could have gone to his cast party and I could have gone to bed. We should have dallied around the house for another 10 minutes. The vacation flight was postponed until this morning. As far as I know, the airline managed to scrape together a flight crew this morning. I believe that’s the first time I’ve heard that excuse used on anyone I actually know. It must have been a rough weekend for flight crews. Presuming that they all got off the ground at the appointed hour, this morning, they should be well on their way to PR at this moment. But that’s one less day of vacation and that’s irritating for all concerned, on both ends of the flight.
Yesterday morning dawned sunny and bright. I didn’t have anything pressing going on other than cleaning up the carnage from the previous day’s whirlwind. The house is pretty much put back to rights. And then my vacation began. Nothing exciting, mind you, but I have projects lined up. It’s always easier to do projects when there isn’t a teenager running in and out, dropping stuff by the front door and leaving a trail behind him.
But before major projects could get started, I needed tunes and a new vehicle for delivering them. Via computer. I’m tired of Windows Media and Real Player. What I wanted was a radio player. A very simple one that I could program with my local public radio stations and a few of my other favorites. One with little preset push buttons would be nice, I thought.
After hunting around for a while, I found Viddi Radio Player. It didn’t have little push buttons, but I could easily program it. It’s uncomplicated. And it had a few nice radio stations already built in. It’s a stand alone player and it’s very small. It hardly takes any RAM and, so far as I’ve been able to determine, it doesn’t conflict with anything or cause trouble. I like it.
But I never leave well enough alone and looked around for other radio players. Live 365.com had a nice one with buttons! And their radio station selection is massive. I downloaded it and thus began a world of woe.
I love Live365. I really do. I want it. I want to use it. I love the radio stations. However, the software comes with some miserable little bit of adware that cause a sea of popups and sent my firewall software into an absolute tizzy. When I closed the Live365 radio player, the player’s software turned into a little hijacking engine and my firewall kept popping up messages asking for permission to let the Live365 program contact just about everyone in the known universe—including my bank! Now, if my bank was a large nationally known bank, I might not be as suspicious, but my bank is a tiny little community bank without any national presence. They also don’t advertise online very much, if at all. Why would the Live365 software be contacting my bank??!
I told my firewall software to deny all hijacking attempts coming from the Live365 program and it did. And that shut everything else off, too. I couldn’t open one single web page. It was as if my internet connection was totally blocked.
So, I uninstalled the Live365 radio player and spent considerable time with various spyware and adware cleaners to get all vestiges of the program off my computer. And it seemed as if it was all gone. The firewall software piped down and I couldn’t find anything related to Live365 on the computer after all the cleansing.
But, later, when I turned on my Viddi Radio and paused it, a Live365 radio station came pouring out of my speakers. It was one of those surreal moments, sort of like hearing about those people who swear they get radio transmissions through the fillings in their teeth. I think I even looked under my desk. When I un-paused the Viddi Radio player, the Live365 radio station stopped. I tried it again and it happened again. Several times. Obviously there is still something left over from Live365, but at least it doesn’t seem to be causing too much trouble. Still.
I wouldn’t recommend Live365 for anyone after my experience. Even though I loved the radio player and all the stations. Really. I’m so annoyed. Why on God’s green earth would a company do something like that if they hope to entice you into actually subscribing to their expanded services? I wouldn’t subscribe now if they were the last media outlet left. And that really makes me mad because I LIKE their product! Idjits.
BUT. That’s not all. I still looked around for radio players and whaddya know, I finally ended up with WinAmp. Good old reliable WinAmp in all of its new and improved glory. Of course, one of the selling points was this: “Fixed critical security vulnerability!!” *Sigh* I haven’t had WinAmp on my computer in at least 4 years. It has changed. I like it. And it’s easily programmable. No, push buttons, but I’ll survive the small inconvenience. (Still really like the Viddi Radio player, though, and would unreservedly recommend it.)
During the course of hunting for radio stations that I like, I re-discovered Hearts of Space. They have had an hour long radio program on Public Radio for the last 20 something years. It’s usually broadcast late Saturday night around here, so I rarely hear it. But I’ve always really liked it. Hearts of Space promotes what they call electronic space music. Or ambient music. It’s not something I could actually describe other than relaxing and contemplative and serene. Alternative music, certainly. As the company’s founder says, there is excellent quality out there and then there are a lot of wannabes. He focuses on the best of the best each week and it really is good stuff. Indie musicians. Now, the company offers a free registration on their site (just email address and user name and password), after which you can play the current week’s program as often as you please. Until the next program goes up. (They also broadcast seven nights a week on XM Satellite Radio, Channel 77.) Or you can subscribe to the website (several different inexpensive packages) that permit you to listen to the current program plus any of the archived programs from the past 20 years. Sometime in the next couple of months, they’ll also offer a download service of the albums on their label. I haven’t subscribed, but I’ve been thoroughly enjoying the current program. Recommended. Highly.
Now I have oodles of tunes to do projects by. Cleaning closets was never this much fun.
SONY's bad PR
Sunday, 5:58 pm
The latest edition of Stars and Stripes carries an article concerning SONY’s nasty practice of requiring a download of SONY’s CD player, which also includes anti-piracy software, on your computer when you want to play one of the new SONY CDs. It’s buggy software that provides a back door for hackers to break into a computer and it’s software that can’t be deleted from a computer without damaging the operating system. And that, of course, isn’t something that warms the cockles of the DoD’s heart. So military personnel aren’t allowed to download the SONY player software on the military’s computers. The software download is blocked as soon as the CD is popped into the disk drive.
As a result, The Army and Air Force Exchange Service, which runs the Power Zone stores (and others), have offered to refund the purchase price of the CDs, whether they are opened or unopened, to military personnel.
I’m sure this is not a happy public relations moment for SONY, but they deserve every uncomfortable second of it.
This sort of idiocy is the primary reason why the lad and I no longer buy CDs. We don’t have stand alone CD players in the house any more. We use our computers for music. I have a pair of nice BOSE speakers hooked into my computer and that does quite an admirable job of providing my tunes. The lad has a pretty good set of speakers hooked into his computer along with a good set of headphones. But we still don’t use CDs in this age of mp3s.
I have a subscription to Napster, which the lad and I both share. He will use the service to listen to new music (or browse older classics) and then he goes to iTunes to purchase and download tunes to his iPod. I don’t purchase much music usually. I’m pretty satisfied with the Napster service—I can create individualized playlists to my heart’s content and play them whenever I want. If there is something I want to take on the road with me, it’s easy enough to purchase favorite tunes and burn a CD.
In all, it’s probably more expensive than just buying CDs, but by doing things this way, I don’t have to worry about a dozen different sets of proprietary software or sneaky, buggy software or buying entire CDs if there are only a couple of tunes on one that I like.
Someday, maybe, the music industry will get back to the idea that when customers buy a CD, they just want to play it when and where they like and maintain total ownership of it without a bunch of high-handed rules that limit true ownership. The way it looks now is that buying a CD only gives me rental rights with increasingly limiting lease agreements. Until that changes, I’m not buying CDs.
(link via Scout Prime)
Saturday, 11:37 am
When the lad and I hop in the car to go, he is responsible for the music play list. It kind of fascinates me to see what he comes up with. I keep telling him he’s a true throwback to an earlier generation. He’s more knowledgeable about music from my early years than I am. So, Thursday morning, he plugged his iPod into the car radio and off we went. This was his playlist. It’s heavy on the Dylan...nothing wrong with that *at all*! I asked him to write the playlist down for me so I could come back home and duplicate it. Now I’m grooovin’....
Sweet Home Alabama - Lynyrd Skynyrd
Like a Rolling Stone - Bob Dylan
The Village Green Preservation Society - The Kinks
Mr. Bojangles - Jerry Jeff Walker
A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall - Bob Dylan
Magic Carpet Ride - Steppenwolf
Hurricane - Bob Dylan
You Really Got Me - The Kinks
Stairway to Heaven - Led Zepplin
Desolation Row - Bob Dylan
Sittin on the Dock of the Bay - Otis Redding
All Day and All of the Night - The Kinks
Day Tripper - The Beatles
Man of Constant Sorrow - Bob Dylan
Celluloid Heroes - The Kinks
Hoochie Coochie Man - Steppenwolf
All Along the Watchtower - Bob Dylan
Blowin in the Wind - Bob Dylan
The BBC Proms
Saturday, 3:23 pm
This week began the BBC Proms, billed as the World’s Greatest Classical Music Festival. The concerts are broadcast live on BBC3 radio, streamed right to your very own computer. The day after the concerts conclude, BBC3 radio offers them up in their Proms archives for about 7 days. Oh man, this is bliss.
The concerts began last night and run through September 10—over 70 concerts in all. Most are performed in the Royal Albert Hall in London. This year’s themes are Fairy Tales, The Sea (in honor of the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar), and Composer Anniversaries.
Last night’s concert started off the season with The Sea theme and featured Berlioz, Mendelssohn, Elgar, and Tippett. Tonight’s concert was all about Gilbert and Sullivan. I just finished listening to HMS Pinafore, including a specially written narration that replaced dialogue and it was delightfully humorous. I love hearing audience response. Tomorrow’s concert is all Purcell and Monday is Wagner’s Die Walküre with Placido Domingo. Oh yeah! And I’m counting hours until Tuesday’s concert, which features Benjamin Britten and Vaughn Williams. That’s just for starters. This is so great!
If you like classical music, this is just a feast. I love the internet.