Bought some electronics

I had a conversation at the dog park a couple of weeks ago with someone who’s more
expert than I am about broadcast television and maybe some other
kinds of consumer electronics. I asked him what he has for an
audio setup in his living room.

He said he went with a cheap surround sound setup and is
replacing things as they break or he gets disgusted with

He currently has a good center speaker (because the original
cheap one broke), which makes TV and
movies sound pretty good. He’s thinking about upgrading the
front speakers, because when he plays music, it all goes through
those, and they don’t sound as good as the center channel.

We decided that I could just buy the center channel and a
receiver, and use my current speakers and subwoofer, plus the
rear speakers from my computer set which I never really bothered
to wire to the rear of the computer room.

In fact, when I went to order, the receiver I ended up with
came with a free pair of rear speakers, so I’ll be able to use the
computer rear speakers for whatever the 6’th and 7’th speakers
in a 7.1 channel setup are.

And I broke down and bought the cheapest blu-ray disk player
that connects to netflix. When I’m tired, turning the computer
on and booting windows and firing up the Internet Explorer
browser to watch my Netflix Watch Now stuff is too hard, and I
end up watching junk on the TV set.


I also wrote the local linux users mailing list for advice
about external speakers that would stand up well to being put in
a backpack and taken to my mother’s once a month or so, so that
I’d have off-site backup.

The consensus was that you should buy an aluminum external
enclosure and a recognized brand of SATA internal drive with a
good warranty.

So what’s coming is 2 of those, and two Western Digital 500 GB
drives, for about $100.

Other stuff

And while I was at it I bought a long USB extension, because I
don’t seem to be able to keep wireless keyboards and mice
working on the living room computer.

And some speaker wire with connectors, in case what I have
isn’t the right stuff for connecting my old stuff to the new

This should all come the end of next week — I’m sure I’ll have
things to tell you about it then.

I’m back, and what’s next

I seem to have returned to the land of the living — I woke up
this morning wanting to get out of bed and walk the dog. I then
did a reasonable imitation of my usual morning routine, and still
don’t feel like it’s quite time to go back to bed.

As far as what the diagnosis is, since it’s getting better and
not worse, I don’t see any need to burden the medical care system
with this problem, so you’re going to have to put up with my lay
diagnosis. I was running a fever for a good bit of Saturday and
most of Sunday, so I would normally call it flu, not a cold.

Because people have been worrying about flu lately, I’ve been
just saying it’s a cold. I’m not someone who’s ever had the kind
of cold a lot of people get where it slows them down for a week or
even longer, but they never run a fever or get into a state where
they should clearly be in bed. I suspect that this isn’t because
I’m immune to those viruses; I suspect it’s because the virus that
gives some poeple a stuffed up head but not much else for a week
gives me a fever and a stuffed up head for a couple of days.

But if it is flu, I had the regular flu vaccine 2 weeks ago.
So it’s either a regular flu virus that got in under the wire
before my immunity took hold (or even got a little bit of help
from the virus in the vaccine), or a flu strain that isn’t in the
regular virus. In which case, it’s entirely possible that it’s
H1N1. But if so, I don’t seem to be one of the people that H1N1

What I would have been doing if I hadn’t been in bed

I have to move the site from the old
ISP (hostrocket) to the
new ISP (dreamhost). Note
that this isn’t in any way a criticism of hostrocket as a host if
it meets your needs. I acquired the dreamhost account when I
desperately needed a way to move a bunch of mailman
mailing lists to a new place. They’d been hosted on my home
machine when I had my internet connection from speakeasy, and this wasn’t
going to work when I started connecting with comcast.

Hostrocket doesn’t offer mailman, and while I could probably
have managed to move the mailman lists to what they offer instead,
the non-technical people who’ve been administering some of the
mailman lists would have had a lot of trouble, and I thought that
even for my purposes, mailman was better. So I found a coupon
code that gave me the first year of dreamhost hosting for very
little money. Last Spring I moved the music publishing part of
the site to dreamhost, and now I’m moving the rest of it, before
I owe hostrocket for another year.

Just moving the existing site to a place on dreamhost and
pointing the laymusic dns to the new place would be easy, but what
I’m trying to do is to move the pieces that should be on this site
and that I want to maintain
into the laymusic wordpress installation, and then I’ll just have
a pointer to the old stuff for historical reasons.

The job is a bit less tedious than it might be because of the
program that adds files to the wordpress media library. I may
write a version of that that creates a post from the part of a file between
certain markers. But mostly it’s tedious because it involves
doing minimal updating of a lot of stuff that could use major
rewriting, but that would be major thinking, and that isn’t going
to happen before October 15.

I have a cold

It was coming on yesterday, which is why after trying to make a
post come out through the masses of wool in my head all morning, I
gave up and tagged the post
for the West
Gallery Quire
as my post for October 2.

This isn’t quite as much cheating as when I use the posts I do
anyway for the Cantabile Band or
, but it’s pretty close, since there wasn’t any
actual writing involved.

I knew I should stop even trying to work later in the
afternoon, when I managed to break both the CSS and the DNS for
this site, and spent a fairly long time before managing to fix

So today I’m going ot take the day off. This means I can’t
write you about how much fun the New England Sacred Harp
was going to be, or about what I cooked to take
there, since I’m not going.

I hope this cold clears up by tomorrow so that I can go and
write about those things then.

More about converting MIDI to lilypond

I wrote a a
couple of days ago
about having tried out a new way of
converting MIDI files to lilypond. I posted the gist of the
idea to the lilypond
users’ mailing list
, and got some more suggestions of things
to try.

The idea I liked best was that the MuseScore program has an
experimental Capella import (and
lilypond export),
which would have let me avoid using the MIDI files as an
exchange format at all. Unfortunately, in its current state,
the import crashes on the capella files for Holborne.
(I did report the bug on the MuseScore tracking program.)

So I tried several other programs that import MIDI and export
lilypond, and the one that seems to work best for this
particular purpose was the rosegarden one. I
haven’t finished a whole piece, but from what I’ve done, it
looks like the work I have to do is work I couldn’t reasonably
expect a MIDI reading program to do for me.

The most time-consuming part is that the MIDI files for the Holborne
are what lilypond calls “unfolded” repeats, and I want “volta”
repeats. That is, when something is repeated, these MIDI files
play it twice (which is what you want when you’re using the MIDI
file to practice with), whereas I want to print the music once with repeat
signs around it. But otherwise, I’m just making the changes
which are necessary because I want unbarred parts.

More ebook sloppiness

I never minded stuff like this when the ebooks I was reading
were being produced by volunteer labor, but now that I’m paying
real money for them, it really irritates me.

I’m reading The
, volume 2 of The
Baroque Cycle
by Neal Stephenson, which I purchased

The chapter I’m reading takes place at a castle in Germany, and
I believe Stephenson refers to it by the german word Schloß.
However, the producers of the ebook got the code for the German
double s wrong, and so instead of a Schloß, the ebook keeps
talking about a Schloé. (Html entity 233 instead of 223.)

This book is published by “William Morrow, An Imprint of Harper
Collins Publishers” and I’m sure there are lots of people who work
for that organization who could spot a typo that bad and that
consistent, so I can only conclude that none of these proofreaders
was asked to look at the book after the people who converted the
text to the epub format were through. And that the people who did
the conversion aren’t good proofreaders.

Of course, this would be even more irritating if I weren’t
running the illegal script that turns the ereader format back into
html, which I can edit with emacs.

Truce in the browser wars (on my machine, anyway)

I wrote previously
about my efforts to find a browser to replace Firefox 3.0, which
has major memory leaks and takes over the sound system.

I seem to have settled on Firefox 3.5 for the moment.

I still like the interface on chromium-browser from google, but the linux
version was too incomplete, and so I had to keep a firefox
browser going in addition. In addition, because it was
undergoing such rapid development, I was having to restart it
every day, which is a nuisance.

They have actually gotten flash working, so you could use it to
watch youtube videos, but I’m still not able to publish my
daily blog entry. And they frequently have problems with the
interface with X windows, so that you can’t move or view the
window the way you expect.

Firefox 3.5 still has some memory leakage, and of course when
it’s using 13% of my current 8G, that would have been more than
100% of the old 1G system. But it takes at least a week to get
to be a nuisance on the current system, and by then I’ve usually
had to restart it so that I can listen to the MIDI files when I’m
transcribing music. (This is a point for Chromium; I can play
midi files from the command line even if I’ve just listened to
music on Chromium.)

Another major advantage of Firefox over chromium is that there
are all those plugins, including one that lets you use emacs to
edit text fields, and the one that lets you share your bookmarks
between all your computers.

I’ve heard people complain about problems with Firefox 3.5, but
the only one I’ve hit is that my bank site complains that I’m
using an untested browser, but then it lets me do my banking

So for now, I’m putting up with Firefox 3.5, but I’ll let you
know if chromium grows up enough to be worth another shot.

A Graphic Example

[ebook on Sony reader]

A lot of non-technical people’s eyes glaze over when you start talking
about standard, non-proprietary formats. Mike
has come up with a graphic example of why you don’t
want one company owning the format of the books you read.

Apparently Sony requires any book sold for their reader in
their store to be formatted by them (at a cost of $200). And then
when they do it, it looks like that.

This hideous example is from Sony, for the Sony readers, but
the principle is the same for any proprietary format — if they
won’t tell you how to do it, you’re stuck with them doing it for
you, and you may well not like what they do.

This is why I don’t put music in proprietary formats on