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Computers, Internet and Technology / Chromecast Fun
« on: June 08, 2014, 11:24:05 AM »
I never thought I would have so much fun with this inexpensive bit of tech but wow.

It's a small dongle-like device that plugs into an unused HDMI port on your TV.  Unfortunately it's not battery-powered so it also has a USB power cable.

Once plugged in, you go to the chromecast website and configure the device with a name and hook it into your wi-fi network.  The devices updates itself to the latest firmware.

Then you download the Chromecast app to your Android or iOS device (phone or tablet).

Once that is complete you can download several Chromecast-supported apps (if you don't already have them) such as YouTube, VEVO, Netflix.

Then you open the app, activate the Chromecast function from within the app, find the content you want to cast or show on your TV, and hit play.

All the glorious chaos on YouTube is now on your TV.  VEVO has a lot of interesting music content also.  Two or more people can take turns controlling the content seamlessly from their devices.

It's a lot of fun watching the music videos for my favorite artists that were never broadcast in this country (e.g., The Durutti Column) and to see some of the highly artistic videos that accompany some of my favorite tunes.

It's also a nice way to "drive" Netflix streaming.

You can also control it or cast from any computer that uses your wi-fi via a Chromecast plugin for the Chrome browser.

It's 29 bucks at Amazon.  This is yet another reason to become a couch potato but I'm fighting it by heading off to the gym right now :)


Computers, Internet and Technology / R.I.P. XP
« on: December 01, 2013, 06:16:00 AM »
My 2008 full-tower XP computer with an AMD quad-core processor just gave up the ghost.  I suspect that the second and only-remaining video card died.  I was able to remove the hard drive and salvage all my data so at least I'm not mourning the loss of data AND the old reliable computer.  Ironically I was in the middle of backing up some .flac files that I had ripped when the machine gave up the ghost via the infamous Blue Screen of Death.  Is there a better or more honorable way to die for an XP machine?

Fortunately I was in a position to have purchased a customized machine a few months ago to have in position to succeed the dead one:

i7 Sandy Bridge-E 3930 processor with 6 cores
Vertex 256 GB SSD
6 TB of hard disk storage
EVGA GeForce GTX 660 video card with 3 GB RAM
16 GB system RAM
Soundproofed full-tower case
Blu-ray Burner/Reader
Windows 7 64-bit
USB 3.0

I decided to go with the motherboard's sound via S/PDIF to an external DAC and likewise with the Ethernet connection.

While I have enjoyed the relative reliability and speed of XP for now over 10 years over multiple computers, the difference between these machines in terms of functionality and speed is pretty marked:

1.  Multiple downloads simultaneously do not noticeably slow the machine
2.  Unraring 30 GB of files now takes less time than unraring 10 GB of files on the old machine
3.  In fact, nothing I have done seems to slow the machine and I'm running all of Windows 7 "window dressing" and running a number of apps in the background at all times including the inevitable antivirus solution
4.  The one problem I ran into is that the eSATA connector does not seem to work but the one device I use for that connection is an external hard drive dock and it has a USB 3.0 connector also.  With the USB 3.0 connector, I'm getting speeds pretty comparable to what I was seeing with eSATA.
5.  My old large-format photo-quality printer would just not work with the 64-bit driver; fortunately I had an updated one in the wings also.  My old flatbed scanner's 64-bit driver seems identical to the 32-bit one.

Re-installing all my necessary software is somewhat of a drag and time-consuming but I have had a chance to reconsider all of it and find better alternatives in some cases.

So R.I.P. XP.  You served me well.


Happy Holidays.


np: Rigel Orionis - Centrifugal (wow!!!) on

Music Gearheads Tech Talk / NY The New Audio Geeks
« on: July 28, 2013, 12:48:50 PM »

Points I would like to make:

1.  MP3s may usher a lot more people into the hi-fi world but many people with iPods could care less
2.  Digital or analog is fine as both have pros & cons
3.  The laws of diminishing returns applies to audio equipment probably more than any other area of technology or entertainment
4.  I think the article should have focused more on lossless versus lossy files
5.  No one can hear the difference between $10 and $1000 interconnects
6.  Vinyl, although I have had an addiction for it, is not the gold standard of audio formats


Edit:  Here's one of THOSE interconnects: at over $5000!  and another at almost $7000.  If I had money to throw away, it certainly would not be on that nonsense. 

PS If you want a monthly laugh, check out in paper format.  The equipment is described in highly subjective terms and NEVER tested in blinded settings to demonstrate that there is an objective reason to throw away 10 grand on a particular DAC, or cable or CD player.

Other Ambient (and related) Music / Bandcamp
« on: July 12, 2013, 03:41:58 AM »
Bandcamp seems to be setting the standard for the distribution of digital music.  The variety and amount of music that is available is mind-boggling, and much of it can be had for "pay what you want" or free.  I'm tickled pink about the availability of my precious .flac files.  Entire labels have set up their own camps there.  Limited edition CDs are also available in many cases.

The new social media aspect (collections) is also fairly cool but clearly in its infancy.

I'm curious what other forum members and, in particular, artists and labels think about Bandcamp.

Everything and Nothing / Record Store Day 4/21/12
« on: April 21, 2012, 12:14:54 PM »
I decided to "celebrate" Record Store Day by going to the legendary Waterloo Records in Austin.  I felt energetic and decided to get to the store about a half-hour early.  Much to my surprise and consternation, the line wrapped around the entire city block nearly to the door of the store.   I was just as surprised to walk into the store about 10 minutes after opening to nearly standing room only as people slid up and down each aisle to look at all the vinyl releases that came out today including David Bowie, Bruce Springsteen, Abba, Captain Beefheart, etc.

It was madness.  I grabbed about 10 records including a Japanese reissue of Eno's "Another Green World" and attempted to checkout.  The line wrapped around the interior wall of the building to the other corner of the store opposite from the cash register.

After I waited approximately 20 mins and the line had moved about 1 foot, I calculated that I would be in line for about 2-3 hours before I could even see the cash register.

The mission was then aborted.  I unbagged my booty and walked out into the cool, sunny weather.

I then drove over to a smaller record store near my home but I couldn't find a parking spot!

Not a very successful RSD for me, but it DOES indicate the power of vinyl in Austin.


Other Ambient (and related) Music / Dynamophone Label
« on: August 20, 2011, 05:49:37 AM »
I discovered this label by reading about it on

Check out the (Bandcamp) store where you can listen to all the music on this interesting label.

Everything and Nothing / What do you love?
« on: June 28, 2011, 06:16:31 PM »
What do you love?

Ambient music

Now Playing / FILE://Access/Rip/Play
« on: March 12, 2011, 06:34:10 AM »

Everything and Nothing / Special Editions
« on: February 27, 2011, 11:53:51 AM »
Music is one of my passions and obsessions.  Despite my embracing files as a favored "format" for music distribution, I am also a sucker for special & limited editions of physical formats.

So despite my format preferences, please keep pumping out those unique, but not too expensive, limited editions.

I just tried to rip a CD-R labeled as follows: Bertom Cabot Jr "When Children Sleep" on Eleven One Records from 2000.

The CD-R itself is unrippable due to "frame errors" and the artist is not Googlable or on

Any clues?

Everything and Nothing / Jewel Cases
« on: February 20, 2011, 11:28:05 AM »
I guess since we have discussed CDs, vinyl, cassettes and downloaded music files about the only thing we have left is to discuss the packaging.

My negative feelings about jewel cases are based on the following: they take up too dang much room.  Excluding the case itself, one can get four CDs and their inserts into the same space.  Also, about 20% of them arrive so that the center spokes are broken out or the hinges are damaged.  As time goes forward, it's only downhill for thiem.

I'm slowly replacing all my jewel cases with two pocket polyethylene bags.  In doing so, I am reclaiming enormous amounts of storage space that I need.

Since all the files are on the music server, I don't really need rapid access to the CD itself.  Hence they are being stored in bags.

Anyone need about 5000 jewel cases?  Can anyone think of what to do with this mountain of plastic?

Also I have noticed that recent CDs are approximately 50-50 jewel cases vs other forms of packaging such as digipacks and slim sleeves made of plastic or cardboard.  The older music is my collection consists of about 80-90% jewel cases.

Here's a little before and after.

Computers, Internet and Technology / = 404
« on: February 13, 2011, 01:50:14 PM »
I tried to pull up today while I was ripping one of their CD-Rs.

1.  The CD-R was evidently deteriorating despite being shrink-wrapped.  I got a lot of ripping errors.
2.  The site itself is a 404 error.

It's hard to imagine that such a prime domain name lies fallow.   :(

I probably have about 30 CDs from the label when it was active. 

Everything and Nothing / The Residents - Live in Austin
« on: February 13, 2010, 03:46:32 AM »
I saw The Residents who are on tour for the first time in 20 years.

They played at Stubb's, an outdoor venue, here in Austin.

The concert was well-attended, and the performance was classic Residents.

Great stuff.

As many of you may know, The Residents have never been seen outside of their performances and they always obscure their identity on stage.  The full identities of the group has never been made public in their 35+ years of existence.

I first discovered The Residents at the first record store I ever went to just off the campus of LSU in Baton Rouge.  On the checkout counter was a 45 RPM record of Duck Stab.  I have been following them ever since.,+The

Other Ambient (and related) Music / Non-Hypnos Artists & Labels
« on: December 21, 2009, 05:18:12 AM »
For me personally, this section of is the best place to find new ambient goodies (outside of all the great Hypnos artists which are a given).

I give thanks for this forum and its posters, and I look forward to more such information into the next decade.

Happy Holidays.


Everything and Nothing / Roomful of vinyl reduced to a hard drive
« on: November 22, 2009, 11:44:04 AM »
I moved into my first home in 1998. 

I had a huge vinyl record collection which I had collected from 1976 onwards, consisting of approximately 15,000 units.

Unfortunately the room that held my vinyl records was inundated by flood water from Katrina in 2005.  I was heartbroken (although I did get a huge tax write-off for uninsured losses).  Also when I moved to my current home, I didn't have to move and store the roomful of vinyl (a huge heavy task)

Over the past year I have been ripping and downloading music files for my music server.

By my estimates, I now have 2-3 times as much music as I had in the roomful of vinyl on a single 2 terrabyte external USB drive.

Somehow in 1998, I never thought that the roomful of vinyl could be reduced to the size of a book.  This makes backup possible and future loss much less likely.  Also, moving this amount of music is effortless.

Technology is still surprising to me.

Everything and Nothing / The Public Option
« on: September 07, 2009, 05:39:14 AM »

As a physician practicing public health for the last 22 years, I have seen countless folks who have lost their lives or health, and prosperity due to

1.  pre-existing illness
2.  losing their job
3.  inadequate coverage via their insurance
4.  and, of course, not being able to afford insurance.

A government-managed option like Medicare, Medicaid, or Veterans Administration benefits is very, very important in the new healthcare plan.

Please don't let the proponents of scare tactics and misinformation win this one and deprive Americans of a government option for insurance.

Remember the insurance and pharmaceutical industry are heavily funding the hatchet job on the public option.  The reason is, of course, money.

There are no death panels, no threats to existing programs, no loss of choice of physician, and no rationing of healthcare.

Sign the petition and consider a contribution to the effort.  As you know, I never, ever send out solicitation emails, but I feel like this is a critical time for a crucial issue with which I am all too familiar.

If you have any questions, let me know.

Please consider asking your friends to sign the petition also.

Happy Labor Day.

Jim Zachary MD

Everything and Nothing / Photo Thread
« on: May 24, 2009, 02:35:05 PM »

Almost everyone has digital cameras and some sort of way of posting their pix (Flickr, Picasa, etc.)

I would really like to vew some pictures that you talented and not-so-talented guys are taking.

Here's some of my amateur ones to get it started:

Austin TX

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