I’ve made a few more mixtape recordings and attached the mp3s to their accompanying photos over on Flickr. Since I’m often hanging out at the computer for work or for play, pressing record while I’m doing that is just not that difficult. I’m a little surprised I’m doing this while the weather is nice, not crappy. I’ve also recorded a few “hey you made this tape for me” tapes that are not popular music, so they’re not part of the public listing but maybe soon will be.
It’s Spring which means my landlady was in the backyard trying to chop down a tree and I have stopped wearing socks. Well I did stop until the temperature plunged into the 40s a few nights ago and I put the socks right back on. I did put my sweaters away however, so that’s either a sign that Spring has come, or a come hither nod to a huge blizzard.
My talk at MLA went fine. I felt it suffered from a lack of narrative, but I’m always my own worst critic. My talk was about Intellectual Freedom and Social Software and it went pretty well. I had a quick trip to Springfield MA which was a lot of fun. That trip was bordered on two sides by visits to the Tunbridge Library where I have slowly and with help been putting barcode stickers on books as part of our slow crawl towards automation. I had the genius idea to do a work party, but chose Mother’s Day as the day for it (dates and times and especially holidays are often a bit of a furze to me) and as a result it was a party of one. That said, I got 900 books stickered. That said it’s difficult sometimes to have a party that no one comes to. I’ll try to plan better next time.
Other big news is that my digital divide book proposal about tech training in the unconnected library “Without a/the Net” has been approved (accepted? okayed?) by Libraries Unlimited. Haven’t seen the contract yet. Pretty excited and a little aghast at myself for taking on another project, but this is one I’ve been wanting to do. Wondering if writing books about technology is approaching the “dancing about architecture” realm of nonsense. Hoping that’s not true for another few years maybe.
You can tell I’ve got a talk I’m supposed to be working on because I’ve decided it’s a terrific time to figure out how to record my old audio cassettes on to my computer. Actually the how is less of an issue than the why which is what my Dad asked me when I said I was doing this today. “Why?”
But just in case, here’s the how: get a tape deck, and a RCA jack to 1/8″ audio cable. Plug it in to the line in jack on the computer. Run Audacity with the monitor settings set to “on” and you can listen. Press record and you can record. Export and you can play your MP3 recording through iTunes. I discovered that I actually did have decent taste in music, not like I thought I might find otherwise. My first recording experiment was a tape I made for my friend Sophie (one of the Moms of Amazing Leo) sometime in the 1985-1987 range. You can download the recorded version here, crappy hiss and all. Or, what the heck, you can just watch almost all the videos on the YouTube.
As much as this was a super-fun experiment (and a good first tape choice) I can see myself getting so caught up in recording my musical history that I fail to have a present or, more catastrophically, a future. Tricky stuff, choosing what to document where every minute you spend recording something (textually, auditorially, whatever) is a minute you don’t spend doing something else. I’m aware of my minutes lately, but this was a fun project. Thanks to Forrest for the loaner tape deck. Here’s what was on side 1.
I’ve been away again and I did the usual get back super late at night (or early in the morning) thing so I could wake up in my own bed and start the day doing something other than driving or getting on public transportation. A little more about the Vermont Library Conference and the Berkman Center Tenth Anniversary maybe in a bit, but this is about today.
Being on the road is fun. I get to see people and talk to people and have meals with people and generally be social in a way that I’m not up here. Not that I don’t have friends up here or not that there aren’t people up here, but getting together for a beer with more than maybe two or three people if I’m not hosting a party myself is a bit of a challenge. I had food and drinks with twenty librarians one night. Big fun.
One of the things I don’t get to do when I travel is concentrate, on anything really. I give talks. I drive or fly or bus or subway places. I stay up late and get up early. I schmooze. However, I’ve gotten a little used to the big blocks of time I have up here for what I’ve always called (before the term was co-opted) getting things done. There’s always front burner and back burner projects and today the project was “Get all the music off the iMac and put it all on the Macbook and remove all the duplicate music and then back it all up.” Due to user error, I deleted an entire hard drive of MP3s at one point consisting of my entire music collection. I have basically an archival computer with my music collection from sometime before that (from Topsham), and my current laptop with everything I’ve gotten afterwards. They’ve needed merging for some time now and today was the day.
Over a few hours, during which I kept an eye on the progress and did a lot of small other things (bill paying, receipt organizing, spreadsheet filling out) I managed to import over 5000 songs of which about 18% were already duplicated in my collection. Thanks to iDupe without which this would have been agonizing. Yes, I paid my shareware fees. Yes, this is what I do for fun while I have a discretionary day. Yes, it’s good to be home.
One of the things I schlepped down from Topsham was my old iMac. I got it in exchange for one of my first webbish jobs, a job that I was forced to learn CSS for. I turned it on and learned that it hadn’t had a software upgrade since 2003. Not surprising since I never had more than dial-up in Topsham and you can’t do 100MB downloads realistically over a 42K connection. Two more things about it. 1) it has all the music on it, or most of it that I lost in the “oh shit” music massacre of a few years ago, that’s neat 2) it has kickass speakers. I’ve been on laptops since that machine and they all have pretty lousy speakers. I have the iMac set up on the kitchen counter belting Goodness which is great for reasons 1 and 2.
The last few days have been a blur, enough so that when I looked at the online Scrabble games I had been playing, it was my turn in all (9) of them. Whoops! I had a soup party thing at my house to welcome Chris Mear to town. He’s a guy I’ve known from MetaFilter and he’s on a VT – MA – NY trip for a few weeks. He stayed with Rick and Sarah for a few days and then me for a few days. There’s something about having a guest in town, particularly during an amazing week in October, that kicked my ass into gear getting things done. I got my oil changed, took out the recycling, cooked two pots of soup and some tasty foccacia, went to Montpelier for barbecue, hosted seven people for dinner, upgraded my WordPress install, cut a bunch of flowers and put them all over the house in jars of water and even cleaned up afterwards. Not necessarily in that order. Now I’ve got a day of downtime — actually getting four talks ready for next week — before my friends from Brooklyn show up and we try to find the tastiest chicken pie supper in Orange County.