Monday, 29 December 2014

Christmas Day 2014

Christmas with me means being with my folks and despite some grandstanding and outright unco-operative behavior from one sibling, we went out for Christmas day lunch as Mom doesn't wish to cook on Christmas Day, not that I'd blame her at all to be honest.
Like if you've cooked for much of the other 365 days don'tcha deserve a break from it?
We went to a public house in our Village, that's part of  a large Midland brewery group early but as it happened, they were a little late to be seated at our table overlooking the Canal and  subsidence prone Country Park.
After drinks most of our group had starters except for myself and I had a Turkey Roast for the main course that came with loads of rich tasting Turkey with vegetables such as honey roasted parsnips and Cranberry sauce.
We had been forewarned a day before one of the Desert options was MIA  so some re-ordering would be needed but they'd be plenty of the other options so I ended up with Christmas Pudding although Eton Mess as an option. Thankfully the one sibling who usually kicks of at the slightest thing didn't as my other brother was prepared to shut him down in ten seconds if needed this time.
Mom and I don't need his antics.
When it comes to presents, I had a dvd, some replacement record inner sleeves, another copy of the Beatles' Abbey Road  lp(it's enroute as we speak), some money and vouchers.
All said, the day went well.

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Christmas edition



Just finished wrapping the last present and taking cards around to folks so...
Happy Christmas Folks!

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Just a pawfect day

It's all about me again and you know what? This blog owner bought a lead so her Pentax camera could be plugged into the new Netbook and nothing happened cos there's no  driver thingy that's safe for it using Windows 7. Might as well of bought me one for what good it was so it back to using a USB card reader whose driver was recognized!
That's my seat, snug up to the radiator for the best warm seat in the house and my very own mat, except for when they use it as a dumping ground (tm).
Among my specialties is eating toast, trying to paw my way into the oven door and getting into cardboard boxes with bubble wrap!
They don't have any equipment I can jump on for a quick warm so I hop on the radiator but at least I get my fur dried and free mice pies. 
Regards Marmalade

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Tidying up edition

Here I have been a bit busy tidying things up a bit and going through some older clothes that I'm just not wearing and giving some thought as to their replacements.
Well, I've always had a thing for Tartan going back to my mid teens and from time to time bought the odd Tartan skirt but I spotted this Green one recently going for a song.
It's by Jessica Reid, made here in the UK, is very well made with a built in lining and a belt loop.
The length of 27 inches is quite flattering  lending itself to more formal occasions and when it arrived it fitted perfectly. Perhaps it's perfect for wearing during Christmas?

Friday, 5 December 2014

The Christmas build up


Slowly getting set toward Christmas here delivering the final community magazine of the year here featuring that winter perennial, the red breasted Robin after Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
Gawd, you should of seen the carnage as  people though each other not merely to get to those heavily discounted ticket items but even from each other as they were in their hands or trolleys with the police having to be called out  as order clearly had broken down.
Scores of people injured, some with legs kicked from underneath them to gain possession of said items others from items being pulled so furiously that they landed atop of them while security person in some instances only two for the whole store were powerless to stop it.
Where did our humanity go that day?
I decided to give it a miss not least with my health and disabilities It would be highly likely I'd be in the the casualties being less than stable on my feet ordinarily.
We did get on the Saturday, a small outdoor Christmas tree and some low voltage lights to decorate it with as normally we only have a half artificial tree over a metre high as the cat would climb up a traditional ground level one if not attack the burbles and tinsel!
Usually I prefer to get stuff in dribs and drabs across the week to avoid the weekend rush and that includes presents although for somethings at least the Internet is my default choice as if it is something may need to ordered with a return visit to collect I might as well cut out that step and be done.

Friday, 28 November 2014

The Comfort Zone

Brrr it feels cold right now and that translates on into staying warm at night although that loveable scallywag, Marmalade put his paws through my old Dalmatian pj's last week.  Blooming cats,eh?
So i had to do something about it as the holes were pretty big so I bought these fleecy ones that are also ideal for just lounging about in first thing before formally getting dressed not that in my family that was exactly condoned.
They're really warm too!

Friday, 21 November 2014

Computing eras end

Peoples who've know this blog since it's very start way way back in 2006 know that apart from a very brief period at the start, the majority of its posts came from desktop computer obtained around October 2006 mainly because of the ahem 'extra curricular' activities I was having to undertake for more hours than inevitably were really good for me not least having to have means of emailing and working on shared documents.
Time hadn't been kind to said machine and I had gotten a laptop in 2012 for most activities but it has a recurring fault that so far has proved hard to fix leaving me with that old desktop for most things which had gotten so slow at starting like 15 minutes minimum, run on Windows XP Pro and only had 256MB of RAM (with very limited expansion prospects) and to cap it all, a hard drive with a maximum capacity of 18.6GB of which the operating system ate a good portion.
I called it "Treacle" as using it was akin to trying to walking through thick treacle, getting so far and hitting a sticky patch every time something required an update just as you were attempting to do anything. It also was incapable of running Tumblr and Google Plus never mind any sort of online games. 
Hardly an economic candidate for revamping with various upgrades so as a few friends know I was looking for an affordable replacement given I'm not into gaming or video editing placing humongous demands on the processor  and I do really like some portability.
After looking around I spotted something with potential from Microdream in Devon which was a bit out of the box when it came to ideas and this was it, the Dell 2100.
A netbook, that small laptop concept that got a bit lost between Chromebooks and upscale 10 inch tablets but very much the rage a few years back because the one advantage as being a full computer was thanks to its Windows 7 operating system, you can use full programs on, a generous 160GB Hard Drive for storing music and pictures on and obviously being an all in one,  a newer 10.1" screen as my 15 monitor has some burnt on tramlines and needed to replaced at some point although this machine does have a VGA connector for external monitors.
The negatives looked workable, such as not having a  dvd re-writer wasn't an issue as I have an external spare one that just plugs in and the RAM when supplied was a pitiful 1GB could be expanded to a more workable 2 which was the maximum the Atom processor can accept which proved adequate for most things even using the iTunes store.
On the other hand its keyboard was very responsive with plenty of feel while typing, the trackball while being small is accurate, an issue I had with the previous HP Compaq laptop and it had a built in SD card reader too
The small size is a boon for working from anywhere and after a few issues trying to install iTunes (I could write a book on the issues with its interfaces for Windows uses and unhelpful help sections) it is going well.
Perhaps you'd like to join me in pouring some cream on the treacle pudding and celebrating Treacle's permanent replacement!

Friday, 14 November 2014

London American years continued (1964&1965)

Hi pop pickers. It's been a while since I posted a series of entries around the Ace Records (and they are Ace!) series "The London American year By Year" series which explores a range of recordings as issued by this most iconic UK label.
By way of a background capsule, London American was a label owned by UK Decca for recording licensed from many at the time small US record labels for marketing and distribution in the UK making use of UK Decca's strong operation.
In time many of the labels whose recordings had been licensed set up their own UK operations such as Atlantic and Liberty while others got absorbed into increasingly big US concerns or with changing tastes the labels ceased to exist as outlets for new recordings such as Sun.
Ace began this series way way back in 2009 with the 1960 volume covering a number of recordings I heard on many 'oldies' shows while I was younger that played material from period immediately before the popularity of Merseybeat and the British Invasion of North America's airwaves had began.
There had been something of a hiatus since 2012's last release the 1956 volume captured much of the initial rock and roll boom witnessed on radio, television and your local movie theatre.


The most recent release like it came out this very week, is this, the 1965 edition which showed how a combination of changing tastes, increased competition by UK EMI and Pye Records for licenses and that British Invasion had reduced the output considerable and the number of genuine hits.
This said the set does include a number of gems such as Dobie Gray's the In Crowd a number of hits by the Righteous Brothers, Shirley Ellis's infectious The Clapping Song which was covered in the early 80's in the UK, a great version of Trains,Boats and Planes by Burt Bacharach and a UK act signed in the States and issued by London American - the Pageboys - and their song When I Meet a Girl Like You

1964 for many of us was when Beatlemania  struck, we got Stoned with Richmond's finest and an English accent was a guarantee of acceptance!
In throws of all that,  even the mighty Beach Boys would struggle chased off the top spots by some many darn fine UK artists however America still had a few tricks up it's sleeve not least Phil Spector's unforgettable productions that were licensed by London American so we're treated to such numbers as Crystals and Ronettes plus hits from Atlantic, Kapp and Monument stables  such as Ben E Kings Around The Corner, the Drifters with One Way Love and Otis Redding's  Come To Me.
It was also event licenses that had been profitable such as those to Sun Records and Cadence  from the 50's were becoming irrelevant.
Although it had taken some time to put together this compilation - licensing often is complex - the result is highly enjoyable adding a  fine collection of songs to ones collection of favourite oldies.

Friday, 7 November 2014

Cat and Mouse

Or the continuing adventures of Marmalade since his arrival on the doorstep with that cute "make me Your pet" look all over his face.
Things had be getting along fairly well, requesting toast, sausage and cream although he had to dissuaded from putting his paw into the gas fire a few times as for some strange reason when it's on background with just small area lit with no flames coming through the slots, he's insistent upon 'exploring' it.
Last Saturday through he really took the cake as he insisted on going out after our evening meal an not being litter trained, it was felt he was better to get outstanding business dealt with before coming in for a few hours.
Except he insisted on coming back in after just a few minutes which would of been fine but for it being pitch black outside and he dashed straight into the main living room without asking for food and then 'it' happened.
Sat, staring at a certain music site on the laptop, I thought I saw him trying to be sick. Then I saw something sticking out of his mouth and at the exact moment I was about to shout "Help, Marmalade's sick" the jaws opened and something came out scampering.
It was a brown field mouse, on the prowl to hysterical screams of one family member and another practically psychotic  one shouting out orders between screaming nasty words  with much up and down arm waving rejecting an offer of asking the neighbours help catch this mouse.
Eventually the cat found it and having dropped it near  the rear wall, I was able to use the end of the sweeper to push it curling style to the corner where it could be removed.

Friday, 31 October 2014

Catalogue restoration

One downside of the laptop failure two months back is a number of albums I had went with it and although against the odds it rebooted albeit for one occasion only where I was able to grab some audio and picture folders, that left a few missing so I bought on used cd cheaply copies of these two albums.

In a number of ways 21, her second  from 2011 that featured the hits Rolling In The Deep, Turning Tables and Someone Like You was the stronger set of the two and after the Bond tie in  single Skyfall, she taking something of a sabbatical from performing.
I ripped them using dbPoweramp to Mp3 at 320 for the personal player where the originals were iTunes Aac and have turned out well.
One looks forward to her next series of recordings.
I also found my Band Perry albums which were the deluxe iTunes editions.

Friday, 24 October 2014

Wash and go

I wonder how many of us scratch our heads when we see the following symbols on our clothes....
It would be great if something like this was given out by the stores when you buy items.

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Valuing the disabled

This wasn't the entry I was thinking about making at the time but one that seems to have arisen in the last 36 or so hours.
Background is a Minister, Lord Freud, was overheard in a fringe meeting at the Conservative Party conference talking around the Minimum Wage and Disabled people and he was reported a suggesting it would be in order to pay less than it, a figure of Two Pounds was suggested on the basis that their work didn't justify the actual minimum wage as a means of increasing the number of disabled people in Employment.
Presently in the UK, as I know from personal experience, employers often receive financial help to employ suitable disabled employees and some assistance with any adaptations the person may need to do the job but the person is paid the going rate for their work even if it is the case they may have a co-worker provide some assistance too. 
What was suggested was they need not and that government would be prepared to pay employers to employ them on Two Pounds per hour basis.
This lead to a very heated debate in the House of Commons where the Prime Minister and "Disability" minister disassociated themselves from it saying nobody in Government agrees with this idea.
The first comment I would make is while Lord Freud isn't a Member of Parliament, he nonetheless  is a Minister and is therefore a member of Government by virtue of holding office and having power.  To suggest otherwise is deliberately ambiguous.
The second point is, It drives a coach and horses through the whole notion of the value of work, the presumption of labour having a minimum level of reward that dignifies it and furthermore it poses the question how you would assess when a person is so disabled that they should be expect to work for less than his or her colleagues for the most menial of tasks.
Most of us hold that everyone doing the same job should be expected to receive the same pay and a number might well think employers might well substitute disabled employees for cost savings.
The real issue is the nature of what some people by virtue of disability can achieve is limited by the absolute ability to perform one or more tasks or if indeed they can  then the amount of work they can usefully provide.
To put it plainly if they can work at all, it may not be economic to either the employer, the individual and may well cost the state a lot more  to support in the attempt than the value of anything they may well produce.
People often talk about integration - the mixing of disabled and non-disabled - in society but the preoccupation with employment in policy areas as the sole means of meeting the aim is flawed.
What some disabled people need is an outlet for their abilities that provides stimulation, the chance meet new people, make friends and learn new skills that can be shown to the wider community such as a well run day centre and maybe a break for their carers.
Providing this isn't writing disabled people abilities off, ghettoizing them or just enabling a dependency culture at all. It's about meeting disabled peoples own individual needs as they are and as I'm only too aware from person experience being honest, about your very real limits.

Saturday, 11 October 2014

Moving mountains

This weeks kind of a digest begins with the continuing fall out from Thursdays by-elections in England where the emergent United Kingdom Independence Party (UKip) caused a major set upsets.
Take the area of Essex centred on Clacton on Sea, where the sitting Conservative Member of Parliament changed his allegiances to UKip and decided he'd resign but stand for his new party instead.  Well he won it for UKip with over 12,500 majority, more than he had in 2010 at the general election.
Then the area of "proper" Lancashire of Middleton and Haywood near Rochdale where the death of a popular and much respected local MP, an area where it's unheard of for the centre-left Labour Party not to win convincingly, only got their candidate back with just 670 votes on a partial recount with UKip coming second.
And in months time also in Essex there's yet another by-election due.
Most political commentators are agreed there's more than just dissatisfaction with the governing Tory and Liberal Democrat opposition going on, indeed you'd think the Labour opposition would be doing well but they're sure not.
Most agree with me and what I've been saying on here for a while, people feel the candidates and leaders especially are in a different world altogether to them going from education at 4+, leaving formal education at 18 for studying Politics,Philosophy and Economics (PPE) at university and getting there first job as political researcher or working for a MP before becoming one themselves.
They've had little experience of the lives of ordinary people, the workplace discovering what works, what doesn't and the very real limitations of ideas and philosophies as applied to the "real world". They live in an abstract bubble talking to each other about what interests them that they present in their party's programs and election addresses ignoring what many electors are talking about on the streets.
Whatever peoples personal points of view on UKip may be, they're talking with people on the street, making connections and that's what many people who voted for them liked.
One worrying aspect politicians being off the ball has been with the Ebola virus, the need for a global program to help tackle it at source and what measure for screening UK airports need to take to minimize the exposure to UK residents to it from those travelling from effected areas. Where there's a vacuum, something comes to fill it and sadly in part of Stockport we saw hysteria fill the void where a child and parent, cleared on return to the UK barred from returning to education by well meaning but ignorant parents creating conditions that meant a head teacher and governing body had little option other to request they didn't return.
In such sad situations, politicians need to give real leadership and direction to events that leads to cooler heads on the streets of our towns and cities. They failed.

Saturday, 4 October 2014

Roles

I wasn't too pleased when I woke up this morning with the overnight news to be honest and it's been on my mind all morning.
I was looking for something a bit more upbeat when I came by a longish article by the noted artist Grayson Perry around identity and presentation which made some sense to me and to which I'll throw a few observations out.
The first is something in 2014 I feel one shouldn't have to say but nevertheless tends to put in appearances which is wearing a dress doesn't make you a female because what makes you a female is your sense of the feminine  which may be different to mine but to which if your a female you do actually possess.
If you maybe don't bother much with dresses or spend hours on pampering this shouldn't lead to any questioning of your gender role any more than those who may spend quite a bit and like more overly 'dressy' styles.
Gender is just that a social construct not just a mode of dressing and what from within you ring to it makes you, you.
It may well be true that some interests tend to be followed by mainly by either males or females but that doesn't rule out being a female and playing Rugby any more than being a male and say being a Ballet dancer.
I think it's time people broke out of some of these artificial restrictions that prevent them from being themselves.

Saturday, 27 September 2014

We're at war

My backs aching rather a lot so I'll keep this entry short.
A few weeks back I talked about the threat not just to the Middle East but to us from the so-called Islamic State who are responsible for beheadings, crucifixions, mass murder in addition to depriving people of their most basic freedoms.
I think the term that best describes their actions is barbaric with some of those directly involved as quite probably psychotic leaping to actions with any obvious rational reasoning being applied and even ignoring information provided by many Muslim groups and even drawing the ire of other so-called extremist groups and their leaders.
The old English expression to be "beyond The Pale" comes to my mind when even those most detested groups condemn their actions.
As I suggested the United States followed by the United Kingdom would reluctantly feel obliged to go to war with them simply to try to to ensure these people don't get a foothold in establishing a single barbarous state that recognized no established national boundaries.
Well, late Friday the UK Parliament agreed overwhelming to back actions against Islamic State in Iraq while not ruling out further involvement in Syria which as you may be aware they have taken portions and atrocities already have been committed although it maybe that any action there may be more with a nod and wink of the Syrian government where the interests of both coincide.
It's good that many countries in the Arabian Peninsular have decided to assist too although it's also the case some well off people there have supplied funds to the Islamic State and perhaps this is something they can put a stop to as it seems to be very well supplied financially with the money going on their weapons budget and that needs to stop.
Some are asking how long action this may last but with some reluctance I have to conclude we're talking years and not just a few years to remove them from our world.
We need them and their actions gone for everyone's sake

Saturday, 20 September 2014

United Kingdom redux PtII (Scotland starts a debate and some)

After the last few entries here's something a bit different.
As everyone in the UK and a good many other elsewhere may of noticed, the outcome of a long passionate debate over Independence or staying a part of the United Kingdom was finally put to the test by a referendum on Thursday in which 55% of Scottish voters rejected independence.
There are a number of things that I could say about this topic of one is as in our personal lives we are not fully independent so much as interdependent on each other for meeting our needs. 
It's fair to say the United kingdom is one of the closest  if not the closest ally the United States has in Europe in a two way relationship that has benefited us all since WW2 based on shared values and aided by a common language.
For historic reasons going to our former Empire, we have and maintain relations between Ourselves and the many countries of the Commonwealth we established.
While there is much controversy over the European Union, it's undeniable we do co-operate with them in many ways when it comes to know-how, trade links and so on.
In other words while we are a separate sovereign nation with our own policies and politics, we depend upon and gain  from our interdependence  with others in a increasingly global and interconnected World.
Was this a good time to be splitting up?
That was one question Scottish people were wrestling with.
Another was just how Independent would an Independent Scotland be? Although the Scottish National Party had asserted it didn't wish to join the Euro, a currency used by many but not all European Union countries, many observes noted as it would not be legally the successor to the UK, it was likely that the current terms of joining the EU would apply which included working toward adopting the currency whose interest rates and so on are set internationally. Also the so-called opt outs from policies the UK had obtained would not apply.
An Independent Scotland may well of been independent of Westminster but not of the EU and that monetary policy would be set outside of Scotland whereas as of now it's set in London by the Bank of England.
My personal views could be summarized by saying I wasn't persuaded the case for Independence and it's viability was made compared to being given more powers within the UK so the Scottish People could make the changes they felt mattered to them.
But that takes us to the unresolved problem of balancing a system that has a one Scottish Parliament and an assembly each for Wales and Northern Ireland who also return members to the UK Parliament in Westminster with England that has no such body and controversially allows Non English Members to vote on purely English laws at Westminster.
It is that which is regarded in differing degrees desirable to fix alongside the granting of extra powers to Scotland and the understandable clamour for similar powers for Wales and Northern Ireland.
I can see a Federal structure of sorts being adopting simply because increasingly since 1997 the UK constitutionally has changed beyond recognition and we need a system that allows each part of the UK certain areas that it alone sets while keeping others provided for across each.
English Cities are already asking for similar powers to raise taxes and make own spending decisions but to me the offer to people in England has to be comparable with even if not absolutely identical to that offered to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
That could be achieved either by giving such powers to assemblies or I feel better to County and unitary City authorities directly what already exist, cover the whole of England (giving powers to say Birmingham but not Cannock in neighbouring Staffordshire wouldn't be acceptable imho) and are acceptable by locals as their 'patch' that they identify with and wouldn't prove too expensive to set up.
Whatever happens the evolution of the UK's Constitution continues.

Monday, 15 September 2014

Pet life

Sorry for the delay folks, it's just that I've been a bit busy this week and suffering from a bad neck with associated head pains


Marmalade's being continuing in his attempts to becoming a de facto pet  spending several hours a day indoors after copious amounts of food are place on his saucer.
Indeed on Friday he lay on top of me across my lower torso for an hour while I was resting!
In other news, during the road closures here along the stretch into town,  it was found upon removing the surfaces a great big hole from subsidence had been getting bigger so they've got to fill it in resulting in one way working on a brief stretch.

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Ginger spice

There are things you might choose to do and those that just seem to happen without any real thinking about on your part.
When the old cat, the last of a kept litter of three died earlier in the year, the assumption was that as far as having a pet goes, that habit, going back to the earliest days of childhood was over.
True, in the last year we had one cat call on in from time to time looking for food but apart from a brief stroking of the fur, wasn't much into petting and indeed could growl.
Recently though a Ginger and White tomcat has arrived, disappeared in mysterious circumstances for a week and then returned who's wormed his way into being a pet of sorts.
Ginger, has some comical habits like standing on two paws and either banging or scraping his paws against either the back door or front window whenever he wants food or amazingly wants to come in for a half hour or so.
He's so funny!

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Unexpected pauses

Unfortunately my much anticipated post for this week will not be happening due to a big technical hitch that occurred originally on Tuesday and after a resumption for a brief period has continued for a few days.
You might recall I bought a laptop around June 2012 and had been using that for much of the work as the desktop computer I have is currently 8 years old and probably was at least 2 years older than that before I bought it used but professionally refurbished around October 2006.
That's a very very long time ago, like  but a few months after I started this here blog and it's fair to say it's fallen well behind what is needed to use modern websites and social media was rather more someone shouting "Isn't that amazing" as they heard an Mp3 or video playing from the internet than the likes of Tumblr, Twitter, Google Plus or Facebook so a miserly 256MB of RAM isn't much use today apart from the sad fact that older computers just get slower as the years go by.
The short no technical bits of it are it won't come on and recognize what it is (a Compaq) and then load up Windows 7 preferring to flash every tw seconds  with a back screen instead. I hope a in a few days to be able to return to normal service but in the mean time to please bear with me as that ancient computer is very poor at media heavy sites like Google Plus and Tumblr and even stalls  on regular sites from time to time.

Friday, 22 August 2014

Back to square one (sigh)

Gawd, hasn't been a depressing week for news don'tcha think?
The whole business around the so-called "Islamic state" a perversion of Islam i.m.h.o., the capturing and selling into slavery of women and girls, the cheerfully murdering of what they call non believers, these events who appear to lack a single gram of humanity ending with the recording of the beheading of a American journalist who had only been reporting on the suffering of Arabs such as Palestinians in the world, really makes you wonder.
Wonder cos if like some of you you thought with the coming down of the Berlin Wall, the end of the Cold War we were told the World would be relatively stable and yet from the first Iraq War, it appears the world is more unstable, lacking an rationality in negotiated evolutionary change in the governance of countries, internal and external relations and borders some of which around the Middle East were and are unsatisfactory in many ways, being drawn up the Victors of World War One with no regard to cultural and ethic cohesiveness.
Understandably, in view of the very real threat to World order, peoples liberties and freedom the Islamic State poses as the do not believe in nor recognize any existing boundaries believing instead in single unified "Islamic" state structure, the people of the United States and the United Kingdom through our leaders are in the vanguard of dealing with this situation from both a humanitarian standpoint, such as providing food and shelter in parts of Iraq and varying military assistance which may well alter in the upcoming weeks and months.
Like many of you, I am war wearily having seen enough dead and disabled from Afghanistan and previous Iraq wars, I've know people personally disabled and disfigured from terrorism not least in this Country and yet with sadness I have to conclude this threat to us and our nations interests has to be confronted even with casualties. It's that serious and we may have to strong action in our countries to deal with those who rather join forces with them rather than defending our institutions that uphold the principals of freedom and justice that are the very real Standard for the world to aspire toward.
Be strong.

Friday, 15 August 2014

Legends continued (Crank It Up)

Following on from Get It On, the matching disc was also obtained here:
This like it's predecessor also has a TimeLife pedigree with 17 tracks from the mid 60's to Mid 80's featured in their full album versions remastered for regular and super audio cd on one disc from their original masters which typical doesn't happen with compulations as much as we love playing them.
This one gives us the best sounding For What It's Worth by the Buffalo Springfield, Running On Empty by Jackson Browne,  Pretenders Back on the Chain Gang and Daniel (the latter besting the DCC Greatest Hits version even) amongst others on a single 70 odd minute disc that just rolls on back the years.
The set keeps the original Time Life booklet notes and pictures.
While generally I don't buy compilations from specialty companies preferring single artist albums, I felt these two were worth getting for the sound.
We'll see just how popular this excursion into compilations has been for California's Audio Fidelity label.

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Tom Petty and Hypnotic Eye

I lived through the era that saw Tom Petty make it from the self titled Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers album of 1977 on Shelter that was more popular at the time in Great Britain to the commercial breakthrough around the time of late 1979's Damn The Torpedoes following them through the 80's and beyond so you can say I'm pretty much a fan of his.
Those who follow the album charts can't helped to notice Tom Petty recently topped it in the States with Hypnotic Eye that came on cd July 29th and got to #7 here in Great Britain but it wasn't until last week I got my copy because it is the 140 gram German lp pressing simply cos it sounds a bit better (and has more dynamics) than the cd version plus came with a free download code for 24bit (48K) High Definition lossless digital audio and regular slightly more compressed Mp3. Amazon did also give me a free Mp3 but I didn't think it sounded too good personally.
Being the sort I am I downloaded the 24bit and downsampled myself a Mp3 from that using the Batch Format convertor in my cd copying program which sounded much better.
Favourites from this altogether really good comeback album are Burnt Out Town which with American Dream Plan B  and Power Drunk are good examples of Tom Petty drawing from current affairs to write spirited songs about the World we live in.

Saturday, 26 July 2014

Legends (Get it on)

Sat here, melting, drinking glass after glass of treated tap water in this weeks summer sun, thoughts roll back to hits from the past and that's what this short  entry is all about.
Its existence was met with some mirth at a certain music site where some patrons are incredibly elitist (you can only  like studio albums according to some and don't mention iTunes!) but it's a compilation with a difference for based upon a Time Life one, it makes a point of using the very best available sources so not only can I enjoy Schools Out that was (appropriately) a big hit during the summer vacation of '72 it also sounds terrific into the bargain. Ditto Manfred Mann Band's spirited version of the Springsteen song Blinded by the Light so by the time I'd past Freebird, not only was I hearing many of my favourite hits I was thinking back to those times.
I'm a sucker for a compilation well done just for that feeling - maybe you are too - and this is one I can recommend for the sound.

Saturday, 19 July 2014

MH 17

I wish I didn't have cause to write this as this weeks entry wasn't planned and apologize in advance for being angry about the topic but here a few thoughts by me on it.
Although it's no justification for what happened, the area it was flying over was the subject of a civil war in effect and so it may not of wise of Malaysian Airways to fly over the area.
I also feel it is irresponsible in the extreme for at the very least for Russia to turn a 'blind eye' to allowing various advanced weapons to leave Russian territory to the Rebels as they require a lot of experience in field to use with  care. Many of us would go further and say outright they were allowed to leave and return to  Russian army depots (there is photographic evidence showing the direction from which they moved) and so called 'Cossack' units appear to be on the scene that were nothing to with Ukraines' own military.
To put it plainly, I put a lot of the blame for what happened with Russia and particularly President Putin's ambitions as the rocket launcher is certainly one of theirs and required a level of training simply not available to rebels in Ukraine by themselves and he knew that.
This appalling  incident was the foreseeable consequence of putting such weaponry in the hands of such groups to hide any too obvious involvement although all week we have read of the downing of Ukraine military planes with denials as ever of involvement. The widely copied but taken down tweets show clearly it a plane was spotted and lined up before they realized after launching what it was.
It's telling the blame was obtrusively widened as the consequence of the conflict they blame Ukraine's government of president over rather than saying categorically it wasn't anything to do with them.
 And now the rebels are not allowing the international aviation experts to do their job of inspecting thoroughly the scene for clues regarding the airplanes crash as well as questions remaining unanswered as to who may have the 'black box' and reports of evidence being removed and destroyed even. This is simply outrageous and must stop.
The monster Putin unleashed may have its biggest internal consequences yet.

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Explosive entry

Charging up things isn't always that straightforward especially when they're not supplied with the required equipment and it's assumed you have your computer on most of the day to just plug in and leave.
But then you also might be away and not wishing to lug a laptop with you just for that.
Unfortunately quite a number of chargers you find on Amazon and other places aren't so much useless as beeping dangerous having exploded, caught fire and even electrocuted people while using them.

This one by FX Factory was on offer at W H Smiths and is RosH tested and CE approved featuring a regulator that sense when your device is charged and cuts off the charging so the battery isn't overcharged and the voltage doesn't rise suddenly.
I had one previously but it stopped worked without catching fire or anything scary like thta but thought it was time to get another.

Friday, 4 July 2014

Things that could be better

This week while it's raining I'll talk about a few things that annoy me.
Firefox: under the hood it is great and I was a noted proselytizer for in in the mid 2000's when many of us were hacked off with Internet Exploder 6 and 7 but why do you need to keep changing your mind over where to put ones bookmarks?  And what was wrong with that Orange tab on the top left that conveniently put browser functions like download and search history in one spot?
It seems to me you're trying to be Chrome  and while that isn't a bad browser I never felt at home it layout-wise.
That's one reason while on the old desktop I use Pale Moon as it's  a less fussed with lighter version of Firefox I can just get on with.
iTunes: The store is a bit clunky but I much prefer the downloads from it, not least the Mastered For iTunes sort for quality  but why is the ripping utility so slow at converting your cds that it's rare to get much above 6x the speed near the end of the session and often less so copying the cd takes over ten minutes? As crazy as it sounds it's quicker to buy and download the commercial download from the iTunes store complete with artwork. Plus at least when ripping to Aac (M4A) there are times when the version from the same source sounds better in the Store and I rather suspect they've not updated it compared to what they use commercially.
Certainly other programs such as dbPoweramp do a much quicker, accurate and more integrated job of this. Maybe it's corporate pride that prevents them from asking somebody to make a better version that  also does Flac (free lossless) that an increasing bumber of portable players can use.
Freeview: Britishers know all about this, the free to air via antenna tv service we've had since October 30, 2002 but while the idea is good, it suffers from a good number of 'placeholders' typically one hour behind versions of main channels just to keep the slot for the owners while capacity is limited. Platform regulation doesn't extend to such notions as having to use for new channels or lose your slot that might improve programming.
Another issue is HD programming where a number of secondary ITV channels and Channel five are only available via satellite based pay tv while the standard versions are on Freeview. Why should you have to a pay a monthly  premium to watch free commercial channels?

Saturday, 28 June 2014

Rearranging the deckchairs in Brussels

This week between the smoke from a USB port that needs replacing when I get a newer XP Pro machine and the soccer from Brazil comes today's post. Yip just think of the delights of posting in Pale Moon with something whose processors  are circa 2002 being updated to something like 2006 or 7!
One big deal politically has been the choice of European Union Commission President following the European Elections in May.
The British Prime Minister has made a lot of noise and invested much political capital around this for a number of reasons not least the thrashing his party and most of the others took by the anti EU Ukip party in said elections in the UK.
Another set of reasons revolve around how the Commissioner Elect is chosen which in the past was done by the individual Prime Ministers of each EU Country, each repesenting the electorate of each Country being drawn from the Governments so chosen.
It was decided this time around to allow a say for the European Parliament members in this but whereas you might of thought an advance was one member one vote in a secret ballot, instead it's been decided to award votes on the basis of the percentage of the  Europe wide bloc each party is aligned to has even though the choice of the commissioner didn't feature as an Manifesto item of each party and no approval was given on the usual understandings to it.
The other area is the favoured choice is seen as being an advocate for stronger powers for the commission and more inclined to remove powers from National Governments, which in a number countries - quite strongly in the UK - the electorate indicated they did not agree with.
Prime Minister Cameron contends that's a snub to the voters.
Personally I am inclined to agree as even those who do favour European Union membership did want reform of its systems and more respect for the role of Nation states within it.
The voting change does nothing to increase accountability between Commission,  EU Parliament, and Electorate and sends out the wrong message for those who do believe in membership.

Friday, 20 June 2014

A question of organizing

 A hot start to the weekend that saw England drop out of the World Cup sees me continuing on a bit from last weeks theme.
Normally you'd load music and and off your player depending on how much capacity the player has and what you normally listen to. For instance I keep on mine a collection of 'evergreens' I usually listen to on the internal memory to save having to reload every time and have used a card for loading odds and ends on such as new albums for immediate playback but the rigmarole around this does jar a bit.
See, I'm used to Cassette and MiniDisc walkman where you just grab a stash of tapes or discs already done and easily to find with labels from their storage containers to listen to with no need to fire up the computer, waiting for it to boot up and then connect the player to load stuff on and off.
Preloading cards on the face of seems a good idea but you do need a way of knowing what - and we could be looking at over 20 - albums are on what card which are typically the size of a small postage stamp.
I had discussed a few ideas with friends and one thought was plastic loose leaf inserts for SD cards you put in binders but while available in North America, the leading Stationery stores here in the UK such as Staples, Ryman and W H Smith don't stock them.
I did spy on Ebay this which while not perfect was promising, a small pouched zip up case with room for 22 full size SD cards which because the pouches are plastic could have a small paper label with a name or number attached you could use with a small pocket book, something else not requiring booting up!
You would have a sticker with say 2 on the pouch and maybe a genre statement  say "70's Rock".
The entry in the book would go like this:
2

Badfinger
(listed album by album)
P McCartney/Wings
McCartney
Ram
Wild Life
Red Rose Speedway
Band On The Run

and so on

This would make it easier to find the right card with the albums I want to listen to so I could just slot them in, waiting a few seconds for the player to index them to its' album list and be away without faffing about with the computer every time I want to go out.
For major artists you could have separate Artist Cards and this week I assembled a "Beatles in Stereo" card from what I consider to be the best sounding cds and I could easily make one for the Rolling Stones albums from the 60's to the early 80's as they live in my iTunes library just to slot in and play.
By my math, you could easily get 440 albums in that pouch which would be ideal and even If I were to get another surely 880 albums is more than enough!


Sunday, 15 June 2014

Firmwear upgrade

You might recall sometime in 2010 I write about a portable music player, the Sansa Clip+, I bought cheaply from Amazon because of an interest in downloads I was starting to buy from stores such as 7Digital and wanting the means of listening to them away from the computer which back then was a behemoth of a Desktop.
Well, that player is still alive dispute what some doommongers said cos it wasn't a fashionable brand like Sony or heavens above an Apple although like them it contained a non-user replaceable battery.
It has had a couple of upgrades by Sansa one adding support for the rather geeky Ogg Vorbis audio format but in that time they hadn't done anything about adding support for other file formats such as Aac such as that used on the iTunes Store which was a much bigger thing for most people, but did add it to the later Clip Zip as standard but they've stopped doing upgrades for the Clip+.
I also experienced an issue with a few Flac (Free Lossless Audio Codec) files such as when playing Sgt Pepper where they would hang or crash the player so I was reading about what you might do about this when I read about an alterative software you can put on it called Rockbox you can get from Rockbox.org.
I decided given its' age it was worth trying this this so having the found the graphical user interface downloader followed the instructions - the only bit I found hard was finding from the Sansa official site a copy of the original software for  a .bin file to link Rockbox's software onto the official players directory.
It went in without any fuss.
The display now looks like this and it will also show the upcoming track as well track time.
It cured the Flac playable issues completely, added proper gapless replay so albums where one track segues into another don't pause even just a second.
Best of all it now can play Aac, Alac (Apple's own Lossless format) and other audio file formats native so I can play anything on one single player.
I set the database to automatically update every time using the manual drag and drop to the memory on your computer I alter the  contents just like the original software did.
I have noticed as well the sound quality seams to have noticeable improvements when it comes to stereo image and fine detail.
The radio gained more presets and the ability to label the stations where on the Clip Zip it used RDS to get this and display program and song playing which is nice but still the upgrade does make things better.
Was this worth doing? Yes because it improved on the capacities of a fine player at no expense and it does show how sadly products can be limited by the software released.

Sunday, 8 June 2014

Pigs in pokes

This damp weather hasn't been too good for my bones but anyway a little late, here's this weeks blog entry.
It's been a frustrating week with online orders with a third of my cds ordered from the usual sites not being the discs I had ordered as the actual discs in the case differed from the title which took quite a bit of my time emailing the vendors and getting them to agree to refunds.
What I find surprisingly is that prior to dispatch no one checked the order given each disc had it's catalogue number and title clearly visible on the cd label.
More annoyingly in same respects was to get a record in the mail where not only had the vendor just put a layer of bubble wrap over the record sleeve and then thin parcel paper providing little protection from being bent or damaged by water but the record itself looked like it had had dirty water speckles all over it.
Given lp mailers, those 14x14" envelopes you put records in  easily available from suppliers, are not that dear, why dispense with using them? Equally I remain astonished they considered its condition to be acceptable.
I was able to re-order the cds from other vendors but the experiences took the shine off buying things and pose some questions about what standards are considered acceptable.

Sunday, 1 June 2014

Styx Paradise Theater and Pieces of Eight on SACD

The last time I touched Styx was on May 10th 2010 when I wrote about the 24 kt edition of The Grand Illusion on Audio Fidelity Here

As I have commented in a few places before the Styx catalogue has been left as is from the early days of the compact disc and can be divided between the decent but nothing special and the clearly inferior to lp versions.
On January 19th 1981 the band issued the concept album Paradise Theater based on the real story of a theatre in their native Chicago which came out on laser etched lp and tape versions (8 track and cassette) which topped the US album chart and featured four forty-fives, Rockin' The Paradise, Too Much Time On My Hands, The Best Of Times that charted at #3 and Nothing Ever Goes As Planned.
It was an album I bought near date of release and always loved for the musicianship and story telling in a song.
This new Super Audio cd also playable on regular cd edition sounds quite a bit clear with more definition than the original disc.

Another album of theirs whose cd version left a fair bit to be desired was Pieces Of Eight  based around the story of a boxing bout which on cd sounded thin and splashy


ln September 2017 this disc that featured the 45 Blue Collar Man, Renegade and The Great White Hope was issued on Super audio cd also playable in regular cd having been mastered by Kevin Gray from the A&M master tapes.
This edition is a lot better than the 1987 original cd.

Thursday, 29 May 2014

Enjoying ones music

Every so often on one site I frequent there remains a lingering thought that a substantial number of its more active users appear obsessed with the pursuit of high fidelity to the point they are no longer enjoying the music.
It's hardly an original observation as Flanders and Swann wrote the great musical satirical piece "A Song of Reproduction" very much around that in the early 1960's  where the tinkering around buildings ones own 'rig' and habitual bashing of commercial equipment was all the range.
In my experience   many people fail to get as good a sound as possible from modest equipment simply because they have not invested the time to set it up properly, using good quality leads, determining the best spot and support for their loudspeakers that move the air within the room used and so on.
Those steps that need not cost much, saving many an audio fan from spending a never ending amount on upgrading when often they've not heard all their existing equipment is capable of.
One often feels like saying, go treat yourself to a new great recording be it on record, cd or high quality download instead of spending hundreds of pounds on what turn out to be sideways changes in hardware.
One thing you soon learn with good equipment regardless of price is, recordings vary wildly in terms of their own quality to which the best good equipment can do is not make reproducing them any worse than they really are and where available, look for the best sounding recordings of your favourite artists and music. 
Unfortunately much new popular music is made much louder with less difference between the softest and loudest passages and some classical recordings have had whole passages seriously edited to perfection losing any real sense of a conductor's own character showing in how a note is performed compared to recordings in the analogue (generally pre-1980's) era so much so that many musicians seek out these older recordings because they sound more like performances with their own character.
In many ways what is sad is it's  that while the wanting to hear music well reproduced that gets people into better sound, they get locked into obsessing over hardware and their specifications so they feel obliged to spend more time thinking about that than simply playing a recording and enjoying it.
When I'm happy with my equipment, as a rule I stick with it until either I become less satisfied or it needs replacing.

Monday, 26 May 2014

Political earthquakes

He did it!
Caused a political earthquake that is in both English local Council elections making a net gain of 161 seats from only 1, second only to Labour with  17% of the popular vote.
Plus gaining 24 Seats in the European Elections with 28% of the popular vote making the Ukip party the largest UK group in the European Parliament with Labour and the Tories  at second and third.
People who supported him were called unpatriotic by Liberals, a charge so silly I refused to even consider voting for them although I have supported them nationally before now.
Suggesting overall immigration control from the EU was needed was deemed racist by people from the three main parties and supporters in the media. To me there is a difference in believing in the right of freedom of movement across the EU and setting some practical limits of the same. Most countries around the World do.
Candidates had there every email, tweet and blog scrutinized, not that sometimes they may of made a questionable comment but no more than many from the other parties and they were dealt with (and rightly so).
Somehow I feel things will never be the same and actually I'm glad the political mould has been shaken up a bit.
It was good to see although Pro-Russian separatists had tried to halt the vote for the Ukraine President going so far as to prevent polling stations opening and destroying ballot boxes (such good Democrats,eh) the popular vote was resolved by a man who wanted closer links to the west but who did understand concerns emphatically.

Sunday, 18 May 2014

Just a few days to go


A few days before the grand politics day and things sure are hotting up as each party tries hard aided by their press supporters to dig up some dirty or proof of  saying one thing while personally doing quite the other.
What concerns me more is Apathy could well be in the winning lead as people just switch off  from accusation to counter accusation and that some of the material produced for the televised election broadcasts have come over as really rather poorly executed satire failing to get over what it is I and several million others should know before I consider giving you my vote.
For me, any group of people who don't have a clear plan to simplify the role and governance of the institutions of the European Union fail simply because as it has gotten bigger like any organization it needs to change, (something very belatedly the Co-operative Group in the UK have come to realize) sort out what is its core roles, put an end to the Strasbourg shuffle every month for a week and when it is clear a member state isn't happy with how it does things work with to have good trading terms outside of it.
It must be frustrating to many members to have people who just don't appear to share it's principals trying to stay in by opting out. 

*Blogged with Pale Moon under  Windows XP Pro!

Sunday, 11 May 2014

Rocks off

Gawd I feel tired this morning even though I woke up early

This is for some of my  friends who are meeting up to socialize and raid the record stores  in one state in the North Eastern United States this weekend. The crates per store I've seen are just amazing!
Meanwhile I'm doing an audit of those of mine and my little friends looking at duplicates as well as anything we just bought and maybe never played while I get better following this weeks problem.

Friday, 2 May 2014

May edition

Recent events have caused me to recall what was a fixture of this time of year when I was growing up, the annual May Day Parade, sometimes broadcast live from Moscow.
The event itself divided me in that as spectacular, it never failed to deliver from the marching of the military, the split second synchronization of the young adults  who did gymnastic events and procession of armoury to Red Square. On the other hand the political repression, the subverting of much of Eastern Europe  to it's economic and military requirements  and so on was something I found disagreeable as much as the general idea of treating people as equals and providing free education, health and social care is something I supported strongly.

Saturday, 26 April 2014

More current affairs

Well, it's been a very politically minded week with the ups and downs of the United Kingdom Independence Party's European electioneering  campaign creating a stir with the controversial  poster campaign, the disowning of a candidate for racially prejudiced social media remarks (not that other parties candidates haven't done this before themselves) as well as the disarray between the Liberal Democrats and Conservatives on the proposition the UK is a predominately Christian Country and calls for the de-establishment by Liberal Democratic honcho Nick Clegg, of the Church of England.
The other matter is the one I typed at length about last week, the Ukraine, Russia and European peace which depressingly  turned out pretty much as I expected it to.
We have the kidnap, torture and death of a pro Kiev political leader at the hands of Pro-Russian agitators, the kidnapping and holding hostage of European peace observers with report that one suffered rifle related injuries by the same. Three Pro-Russian agitators by a (illegal) road check point were killed allegedly by Ukraine forces although we don't know if they pointed weapons or offer to surrender first.
Russia starts extensive exercises on the border and even over flying Ukraine threatening serious consequences for the checkpoint incident that on the face of it had no direct business with Russia itself while Ukraine and the West produces evidence showing some Russian involvement in the Eastern Ukraine Pro-Russian uprising particularly in the Militas. Nato sends forces to Poland and the Baltics due to their concerns over Russia's stance.
Week ends with Ukraines Premier saying Russia is wanting World War Three and some of the most strongest language for decades used by the State Department against Russia with the probability of further sanctions Monday.
I fear this can only get worse by next week.

Saturday, 19 April 2014

On Ukraine and the stability of Europe

Delayed again with one thing or another  so eventually is this weeks shortish post after all.
I guess few of us have escape the continuing tensions around The Ukraine from the start of this year and to be honest I have been tempted to weigh in with it but somebody might only have suggested I'd just copied it from Farage's little black book of thought provoking remarks.
Anyway pleated battledress with ribbons on, here we go.
The question around the Crimea and the reminder of the Ukraine are different, different in that the original borders of the Ukraine were fixed pretty much under Stalin's own ideas with little active Western import and it was only the decision of Soviet President Khrushchev in 1954 to 'gift' Crimea from Russian to the Ukraine  with next to no support from the inhabitants that any change occured.
It is hard to escape the conclusion that for a number of years under Putin, Russia has taken the view that post USSR break up, it regarded some areas as being it's own backyard wanting to create a buffer between it and the West through a trading and diplomatic bloc, having no qualms about using every gram of diplomatic and economic pressure to ensure such areas including the Ukraine didn't succumb to the West's influences.
It was the attempt to coerce the Ukraine against considering joining the European Union that was the final straw leading to protests that saw the previous Ukraine president removed among much bloodshed in February.
One might argue as Farage did that encouraging this with no plan to deal with the likely Russian response was less than responsible - and I share a lot of that - but what was effectively the encouragement of locals  with some fairly obvious Russian back up of the taking of Crimea was wrong.
Wrong because any kind of change always leaves outstanding issues such as the rights of those who saw themselves as Ukrainian and their futures which are best negotiated in advance and allowing the proper fixing of borders.
Not of itself wrong had a discussion taken place prior to a referendum of the people of the Crimea as for most of it's history it wasn't a part of Ukraine. 
The Eastern Ukraine situation is different because parts were fixed post WW2 between the USSR and Poland as to what parts of the then Republic of Ukraine, a part of the USSR were with some obvious mismatches around ethnicity and nation state boundaries.
Unpicking these settlements, settlements that have their own perceived injustices admittedly, invariably lead to movement elsewhere by other groups creating considerable  geo-political tensions that cannot easily be stabilized.
The Baltic States fear similar actions by the Russian speaking minorities with tacit support from Russia and similar threats to intervene if they are threatened.
Thursday's summit meeting in Geneva between Russia, Ukraine and Western representatives such as the United States produced against the odds a workable way through the tensions but already the Pro Russian forces in several Eastern Ukraine cities refuse to accept it, refusing to leave the buildings they occupy, refusing to lay down their (military style) arms unless the current Ukraine Government itself leaves the parliament building, effectively stepping down.
Granted the manner of their taking power wasn't democratic but the problem with them doing so is simple: it would leave a huge power vacuum and in the meantime someone needs to run the State.
There appears to scant interest in the West for appoint a body to do that on top of the considerable war weariness that's evident on the streets of London, Toronto, or New York from events elsewhere for the past 11 or so years.
Short of Russia's Putin accepting some formal responsibility for what has taken place and making it plain the Pro-Russian protesters would not receive any support from him, it is hard to see this being resolved without more tension and probably more bloodshed.
I fear Russia has allowed a Genie out of the bottle which it cannot put back that will haunt Europe for years to come.
Welcome back to the Cold War.

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Track edition


Travelling on the train as I do from time to time the continuing controversy over the HS2 London-Manchester high speed service continues to intrigue me.
As I experienced this week the problems that can happen on a very busy stretch where I train has a breakdown or similar difficulty often has a knock on effect on other services such as delays or even cancellations.
On the other hand a report of MP's suggests the proposed new line and service should operate no faster than 185 MPH for environmental reasons (C02 emissions) rather than the original reducing considerably the 'improved' journey times for being say not more than twenty minutes and as some of these stations are not going to be the existing ones, passengers may need to pick up connecting services or taxis to traditional business destinations making any savings over the standard services pretty much academic being unlikely to encourage such users to switch.
One alternative might be to increase capacity on the existing networks by introducing and in some instances restoring twin track working in which was removed for cost reasons in the 70's and 80's and finishing of electrification allowing trains to operate to a maximum of 125 MPH which would still offer advantages over the road network.
This could benefit a wider geographic area and customer base.

Sunday, 6 April 2014

C60, C90, C120 Go!

Ever remember what we did pre iTunes when it came to getting and playing our music? Well one thing I remember doing was making up tapes sometimes 'mix tapes' with various tracks sometimes whole albums for playing back elsewhere.
This was one machine I had in high school for it as it was both a home stereo cassette recorder you used with your stereo unit and also a self contained mono player you could take away with you without any mains to play back your tapes on.
There were a great many different lengths of tape that offered different playing times per side of the dual sided cassette but generally I stuck to 60 and 90 minute lengths as they covered most needs and tended to be more reliable as longer tapes would be thin being more prone to wear or even jamming up. Cleaning up after  a jammed tape in the unit wasn't funny!
That's what the tapes looked like , this one plays for forty-five minutes per side and is one of the higher quality type II sorts that  I used a lot of back then although I started out using the cheaper regular type I TDK D ones as the really cheap tapes the drugstores stocked didn't sound so good and were not reliable.
That machine also had a stereo headphone socket so you could use like a 'Walkman' although Walkmen were smaller if no less chubbier to start with, more of use on the bus or train where space is at a premium.
I kept this until I got a proper Hifi deck and separate walkman in the early 80's

Saturday, 29 March 2014

On girlishness

I saw this a few days so and really it's not something I talk about here but it is very much the kind of thing I not just liked when I was younger but still strongly identify with.

There's a awful lot of young girl in me which sometimes shows when I post on sites with an older target audience so it's like how ever the number of times I've gone around the sun, I'm always young and with a child-like mind set. I struggle to keep this part of me separate. 

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Magazine

A few days ago a replacent copy of a much loved Heart album arrived.
The first thing to note is that 'sash' on the top left hand corner as it was announced recently by the President of Audio Fidelity that they would no longer be manufacturing 24Kt gold cds anymore a carry over from the days of DCC because of escalating costs and erratic supplies.
To me at least the gold plating was never an issue - it's the actual sound  from the mastering that counted - but I guess the gold plating did suggest 'Gold Standard' for some.
Instead they're using from now on exclusively a disc with a regular cd layer and a high definition super audio cd layer for special players instead.
This album came out in 1978 originally with the consent of Heart who had changed labels but they returned to alter the mix and re-record parts and is a mixture of a few new songs and older unreleased recordings with a few live tracks.
Notwithstanding it's origins, the track Heartless became a   top 30 single and the set does show clearly just how talent they had become covering Without You and I've Got The Music In Me distinctively.
 I originally had the lp and bought the U.S. Capitol XDR tape re-issue in the mid 1980's.
It was issued on cd by Capitol who had acquired the rights to Mushroom Records recordings  in the late 1980's in a so-so transfer with next to no album art but this edition by Steve Hoffman for Audio Fidelity sounds very smooth and is to be much preferred today.


Friday, 14 March 2014

R.I.P Tony Benn

Today it was announced the veteran Labour politician and former Member of Parliament Anthony Wedgewood Benn who was born in 1925 died following a period of illness.
Tony very much lived up to the notion of being who you are and saying what you believe both in and out Government, playing  a major role in the 1964-1970 and 1974-1979 Labour governments holding ministerial office, overseeing the transformation of the then GPO, helped form ICL an big computer player from small private concerns, the creation of a peoples bank, Girobank where you could bank at the Post Office and use mail based services, overseeing the outlawing of pirate pop radio and the introduction of its' legal replacement, BBC Radio 1 and supporting Worker Co-operatives.
He also supported the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament which I was a supporter of, played a vocal role in campaigning against the Iraq War. In later years he toured theatres giving packed talks about his life and beliefs and wrote a series of diaries.
Politically he was very much an inspiration to me to get engaged with and in the process. He will be missed by all sides in politics.