David Reynolds

Welcome to boredom

On Music

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Lately, (well I say lately, I think it’s been the same for a few years now) I have been finding that it is very rare that an album comes along that affects me in a way that music I heard 10 years ago seem to. That is not to say that I have not heard any music that I like in that time, it just doesn’t seem to mean as music that has been in my life for years. What I am trying to work out is if that is a reflection on the state of music, of how I experience music or just me.

Buying

Buying music was always quite an experience. I would spend weeks, months and sometimes longer saving up to buy some new music. Whether I knew exactly what I wanted or just wanted “something else by this artist” I would spend some time browsing the racks weighing up what was the best value for my money. In the days before the internet, if you wanted to research an artist’s back catalogue, you were generally out of luck unless you had access to books about the artists. This lead to the thrill of finding a hidden gem in the racks that you didn’t know existed or had only heard rumours about. The anticipation of listening to the new music would build even more because I would have to wait until I had travelleled home before I could listen to my new purchases.

Nowadays, with the dizzying amount of music constantly pumped into our ears through the internet, radio, advertising and the plethora of styles and genres, it is difficult to sift through and find artists and music that really speak to you. Luckily, there are websites available to catalogue releases by artists so you are able to do thorough research and even preview your music before you purchase it. Of course the distribution methods have changed massively too. No longer do I have to wait until I can make it to a brick and mortar store to hand over my cash. I can now not only buy physical musical releases on CD or Vinyl online and have it delivered to my door, I can also buy digital music through iTunes, Amazon or Bandcamp or even stream the music straight to my ears through services like Spotify or Rdio. Whilst these online sales avenues are great for artists to be able to sell directly to their fans, I feel that some of the magic has been removed from the purchasing of music for me.

Listening

Listening to the music used to be an even greater event than purchasing it. After having spent the time saving up for the purchase, then the time carefully choosing the music to buy and getting it home, I would then sit myself down and listen to the music. I would immerse myself totally in the music and only listen to it (I might read the liner notes if I hadn’t exhausted them on the way home). It is difficult to imagine doing one thing for 45+ minutes without the constant interruptions from smartphones, tablet computers, games consoles and televisions these days. I can’t rememeber the last time I listened to music on good speakers or headphones (generally I listen on crappy computers speakers or to compressed audio on my iPhone through crappy headphones) without reading Twitter, replying to emails or reading copiuous amounts of information about the artists on Wikipedia. This all serves to distract from the actual enjoyment of just listening to the music.

Experience

The actual act of writing this blog post has called into sharp focus the main reason why music doesn’t seem to affect me nowadays as much as it used to – because I don’t experience it in the same way. My life has changed, I have more resposibilities and less time to just listen which makes the convenience and speed of buying digital music online much more appealing. You would think that this ‘instant music’ should be instantly satisfying but for some reason it doesn’t seem to work that way.

What changed?

I wonder if I am the only one experiencing this? My tastes in music have definitely changed a lot over the last few years, but I still find it hard to find music that I want to listen to again and again. I’m hoping I’m not alone in this, alternatively I’m hoping someone might read this and recommend some awesome music to me and cure this weird musical apathy I appear to me suffering from.

Git Workflow

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I’ve been using this for a while and had it recorded on a private on a private wiki. I was just tidying up my hosting account and thought I’d get rid of the wiki and store any useful info from it on my blog

Clone full subversion history into git repository (warning, may take a long time depending on how many commits you have in your Subversion repository).

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$ git-svn clone -s http://example.com/my_subversion_repo local_dir

-s signifies trunk/ branches/ tags/ exist in the svn repo (standard repository setup)

Create branch for local changes and check it out

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$ git checkout -b XXXX-description # where XXXX is a ticket number

Make my changes in the branch… Make my commits in the branch…

Change back to master branch

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$ git checkout master

Merge branch as one commit to master

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$ git merge --squash XXXX-description

Commit changes to master branch:

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$ git commit -a

Push changes back to svn:

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$ git svn dcommit

Resync local_changes to master:

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$ git checkout XXXX-description
$ git rebase master

Installing Python-crack on Mac OS X Lion in a Virtualenv

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Since:

  • I forgot how to do this last week
  • I need to do it reasonably regularly
  • I can’t find any other correct resources suggesting how to do this

.. I thought I’d record it here.

This assumes:

  • You are running Mac OS X (version probably doesn’t matter)
  • You are using Homebrew (and if you’re not, why aren’t you?)
  • You are using virtualenv

Do the following:

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$ # Download and uncompress python-crack-0.5.1.tar
$ brew install cracklib cracklib-words
$ cd python-crack-0.5.1
$ DEFAULT_DICTPATH=/usr/local/share/cracklib-words ./configure --prefix=$VIRTUAL_ENV
$ make
$ make install

Done!

How to Compile Lftp on OS X Leopard

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I’ve recently been missing a few pieces of software from my linux days most recently, lftp. It wasn’t as simple as I had hoped it would be so I thought I’d record how I did it here.

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# Download and install readline
$ wget ftp://ftp.cwru.edu/pub/bash/readline-6.0.tar.gz # (or latest stable version)
...
$ tar zxvf readline-6.0.tar.gz
$ cd readline-6.0
$ ./configure --prefix=/usr/local
...
$ make
...
$ sudo make install

# Download lftp
$ wget http://ftp.yars.free.net/pub/source/lftp/lftp-3.7.15.tar.gz # (or latest stable version)
...
$ tar zxvf lftp-3.7.15.tar.gz
# Here comes the magic
$ CXXFLAGS="-O0 -Wall -fno-exceptions -fno-rtti -fno-implement-inlines" \
   LDFLAGS="-Xlinker -search_paths_first -L/usr/local/lib" \
   CPPFLAGS="-I/usr/local/include" \
  ./configure --with-openssl --disable-shared --disable-nls --prefix=/usr/local
...
$ make
...
$ make install

.. and that should be it. As I understand it, the ‘magic’ part tells the compiler to look in the right place for the readline library.

UPDATE: I suggest you now ignore this and use Homebrew where I have contributed an lftp recipe.

My Favourite Podcasts (at the Moment)

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I’ve been finding recently that I seem to spend a lot more time watching and listening to podcasts than I used to and I thought I’d list them here to see if anyone else has similar podcast taste or if anyone has any podcast recommendations.

Apple Quick Tips: Weekly, short tips on how to use Mac OS X. These are often things I already know, but sometimes the odd gem of a tip comes up.

Best of Chris Moyles Enhanced: Since I don’t commute to work any more, I seem to not catch much of this show when it’s on in the morning, so I catch up on it with the podcast.

CNET TV’s Loaded: A (generally) less than 5 minute look at the latest news stories in Tech. Presented by Natali Del Conte.

The Collings and Herrin Podcasts: Weekly musings from Richard Herring (ex of Herring and Lee) and Andrew Collins (ex of Collins and Maconie). Often quite crude, always very funny.

Diggnation: A hilarious look at the weeks top stories from digg.com. Presented by Kevin Rose and Alex Albrecht.

GeekBrief.TV: Shiny, happy Tech news.

Hak5: Info and tutorials on all sorts of geeky topics.

Layers TV: Short tutorials, competitions and news about all applications in Adobe Creative Suite.

The Perfect Ten with Phill Jupitus and Phil Wilding: The first podcast I’ve heard with rules: * 10 Subjects, drawn at random from a fine-looking hat * Only 30 minutes for the lot * No returning to subjects – EVER! It ruins the time/space continuum. Another very funny podcast.

Photoshop User TV: Tutorials, news and competitions focused mostly on Photoshop (and sometimes Lightroom).

Pixel Perfect: Presented by the Photoshop wizard that is Burt Monroy. He shows you how to create all sorts of things from scratch in Photoshop.

Robert Llewellyn’s Car Pool: The actor behind Kryten in Red Dwarf and presenter of Scrap heap Challenge. Drives people around in his car and has a chat with them. Fantastically simple concept which makes for a great podcast.

Scam School: Bar scams and tricks. Another great podcast from Revision 3.

SModcast: Kevin Smith and Scott Mosier (with occasional guests) chat about anything and everything.

Systm: Patrick Norton, David Caulkins and Roger Chang talk you through all sorts of geeky projects. From building a robot, to making a Media PC.

Amazon MP3 Store

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I have probably been using Amazon a hell of a lot more over the past couple of months than I usually do, mostly because I signed up for an Amazon Prime trial and then bought most Christmas presents from Amazon, but also because of their new MP3 Store.

Amazon launched their MP3 store just before Christmas and I bought Seasick Steve’s album “I Started Out With Nothing” to try it out. I found the experience pretty painless and was very pleased with the service for £3 an album. I didn’t really buy any more music from Amazon until I received an email with a £3 voucher in it for use on Christmas day and Boxing day.

I finally remembered to use it on Boxing Day evening and I picked 2 albums to download (Elbow – The Seldom Seen Kid and Kaiser Chiefs – Yours Truly, Angry Mob). I checked out, paid and the realised I’d forgotten to use the voucher! I cursed my own stupidity but then forgot about it and started listening to the music.

Today, I received an email from Amazon saying the following:

‘We are writing to you with regard to our recent MP3 Christmas promotion. As your order XXX-XXXXXXXX-XXXXXXX qualified for this promotion, we would like to offer you a refund of GBP 3.00.’

Thanks Amazon! This means despite me forgetting to use the voucher (like an idiot) I still received the £3 discount! I was so impressed with this customer service that I had to break my month long blog silence to post about it.

How Long Does It Take to Do a 7 Pass Erase With Disk Utility

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Since I couldn’t find any solid figures for how long it might take to run the 7 pass erase, I thought I’d feed Google with my findings in the hope that it might help someone else in future.

I ran the 7 pass erase on an 80GB Hard Disk and it took around 4.5-5 hours.

Hope that helps someone.

Django Pony Wallpaper Popularity

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From my logs it seems that the blue wallpaper was the most popular:

74 /blog/django-pony/magic-pony-django-wallpaper-blue.png

57 /blog/django-pony/magic-pony-django-wallpaper-green.png

41 /blog/django-pony/magic-pony-django-wallpaper-red.png

For fun, here is a little graph to demostrate:

Django pony wallpaper colour popularity