Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Toys are fun, spam is not

I'm enjoying my new iPod. I ordered one of the new 2nd-generation iPod Nanos from Best Buy Canada. Green, 4GB. It arrived promptly in a little tiny box. I amalgamated my sprawling music library into something iTunes can manage by itself, sorted out most of the duplicates, and now I'm in the process of listening to it all and rating each song. I'm using a system I've seen outlined in various places -- one star for songs I don't really want to hear again, two stars for a song I can tolerate but would probably skip past, three stars for a song that's okay, four stars for a song I particularly like, and five stars for "this f'ing ROCKS".

I've thrown together a few "smart" playlists -- fifty Rush songs here, forty Ween songs there, a pile of short 90s tunes elsewhere, and so on. I tell the machine to serve me up a pile of songs that have no stars -- unrated. Then I rate 'em on the iPod, and when I plug the critter into Little Eddie Dingle, it syncs everything up with the master library, ratings and all.

A surprise for me has been how much I've enjoyed the Barenaked Ladies podcasts. They released a new album (or two) in September. While they were making it, they made podcasts. And they're fun. I've caught myself laughing out loud while listening. I'm gonna have to put the new BNL album(s) on the iPod for listening, since we have tickets for their Halifax show in January.

It's going to take a long, long, long time before everything's rated. It may never get completely finished, actually. But it's fun along the way.

Now, I'm a bit peeved at another of my toys: the Blackberry. I've gone for some years now with a Blackberry strapped to my hip, and not even a whisper of spam. But I got three or four spams on the weekend, and one at 4:43 this morning -- looks like some kind of pump 'n dump stock deal. I'm not even sure what I can do filter this crap out on my end.

Back to toys that work. I've been accomplishing a want-to-do that I've wanted to do for, like, five years or more. And that's transferring my old videotapes to digital. After failed experiments with USB digitizers and frustration with the ATI All-in-Wonder solution, I did some research and realized that the Hauppauge MPEG2 encoder cards in Little Eddie are the ideal solution for me. I run my old four-head Sharp VHS machine into a Datavideo TBC-1000 time base corrector to smooth out any timing errors and give fresh sync signals to the encoder card ... then run S-Video and stereo audio out, into the PVR-250. (The PVR-150, I've found, looks and sounds little crap in comparison.) The pack-in software, WinTV2000, is a little clunky but versatile, and lets me capture DVD-ready video to the hard drive. A quick trip across the BigAssSupernet to The Stallion (the more powerful PC in the house) makes it ready to edit, author and burn. So far, what I've been taping looks pretty good, and no dropped frames in any of the experimental burns I've seen. I'm learning a lot about digital video along the way. This weekend I began experimenting with an old video project from my university days, by splitting the audio from the video in an effort to remove some tape hiss and hum that's bothered me since the day the soundtrack was mixed in 1995.

The trick to getting all this done is finding the time to dump hours of VHS tape into the machine. Now that I'm going to the gym a lot, I can set the thing rolling, go get sweaty, and come back to find an hour or more of video encoded. Cool beans.

On a closing note ... best wishes to mom, who's going into hospital this week for an indefinite stay. The Bigass community (me, Amanda, and the few regular readers) are all thinking of you and wishing you comfort and good health. Love you! Love also to dad, who'll have his own challenges in an empty house! And continued good vibes go out to my sister, who's now about a month and a half away from birthing her first baby. Hell, good loving thoughts go out to everyone ... except those nasty spammers.

Follow-up (November 17): Looks like I'm not the only one to get a sudden burst of Blackberry spam. BBHub - The BlackBerry Weblog - wrote an article about the recent annoying emails, with several comments from users who've been getting them too.


  1. I just wanted to drop you a line as a general how do ya do. Im 4 days away from having my baby boy 9.5 lbs at last check! Hows Halifax treating ya? I could not find a link to yer email so i went thru here.

  2. email me back by the way........... Kreemkorn@msn.com