Microwave Biscuit

Hey Kid Rock – You are an idiot.

Posted in Music by microwavebiscuit on September 7, 2008

That catchy tune by Kid Rock – All Summer Long – have you heard it? Being that I am roughly the same age as him the references he makes strike close to home. The first time I heard it I loved it and I ran home to see if I could get it on iTunes. Nope. Turns out Kid Rock decided not to make his music for sale via iTunes. Some folks might have scoured the seeder parts of the internet to download an “illegal” copy but I don’t do that. I do think that downloading a commercially released album without paying for it is stealing. Instead I did nothing. Of course I heard the song about a billion times over the course of this summer and now I’m over it. I could care less if I ever hear that song again. As with most “pop” music it has a fairly limited lifespan. If KR had made the song available on iTunes I would have spent the .99 on it and Kid Rock would have gotten something out of the deal. Instead I paid nothing, listened to it to death on the radio (for free!!) and now I have completely lost interest.

The thing that the RIAA and many artists, filmmakers, etc. fail to realize is that if they make their product available for a reasonable fee in a reasonable format (DRM Free Please!) and it’s reasonably convenient they get some money. If they don’t then some people resort to “alternate” ways of getting it while others just do nothing. There was NEVER a possibility that I was going to go to the store and buy the Kid Rock CD. If I had paid .99 on iTunes it technically would have been a waste of money as I would have soon tired of it and not listened to it but I don’t mind paying .99 for short term entertainment. Congratulations Kid Rock – you lost my 8 cents or whatever you would have gotten from iTunes.

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Keith Urban – Stupid Boy

Posted in Music by microwavebiscuit on July 30, 2008

I know the song is a year or more old but every time I hear it I still get chills. It’s got me thinking – do I get chills because I am in fact a stupid boy or is it because it’s just a cool song?

Hey baby boomers – please hurry and die

Posted in Music, tv by microwavebiscuit on July 7, 2008

Die Boomers Die
I’m awfully sick of watching sports on TV and being the recipient of advertising geared towards the boomer generation. You had your time, it’s now over. Yes, I appreciate the contributions made by your generation – especially the music. That being said, you are doing a terrible job as stewards of that music. I suppose at some point in my life I’ll have to hear Nirvana or Pearl Jam shilling for dick pills or hair dye but I’ve really had enough of the music of the 60’s in advertisements. So, if you will all please hurry up and die perhaps I can stop hearing the music of the 60’s being used as a metaphor for the greed of the 80’s while targeting you old folks. Hey is that Freedom Rock?

Bob Dylan and Depression

Posted in Music by microwavebiscuit on July 6, 2008

When feeling depressed is it better to listen to Dylan or not? In the plus column, “Blood on the tracks” is quite possibly the world’s greatest album to listen to ’cause Bob really gets it. Conversely, when you listen to Bob because you are depressed you are then reminded of the last time you were depressed and put on Bob. This of course is known as the Dylan circle of depression wherein the listening of Dylan because you are depressed brings back old depression memories causing you to listen to more Dylan which in turn brings back further memories and so on until you are no longer able to get out of bed.

I’m stuck with a sense of Deja Vu as though I’ve written this post before although it could just be the Dylan.

The News

Posted in General, Music, Politics by microwavebiscuit on September 18, 2007

It’s not unusual for me to get aggravated about the world of news but today I managed to get ticked off (enough to blog about) twice on my “My Yahoo” page.

First, here’s a screen grab of the “Top Stories”:

Top Stories

Notice the interesting usage of the word “Soar” in two different headlines.

Next, music news:

Music News

First of all, I really don’t think that “reform” is the right word there. Someone may correct me but I would use a hyphen in there as in: re-form. Secondly, how exactly are they going to re-form without Sid? Yes, I know Glen Matlock was the “original” Sid but they’re getting back together to celebrate (rip off aging Punk rockers??) Never Mind the Bollocks 30th anniversary and it seems quite cheesy to me. Perhaps they can take the show on the road and sell $400 gold circle seats.

So, there you have it. I suppose I get annoyed at the news on a daily basis (whether it’s the news itself or the reporting of it) but occasionally I get a bit bent out of shape enough to comment.

CD’s as a metaphor

Posted in Music by microwavebiscuit on March 21, 2007

I just got new bookcases for my office and I also got inserts to put CDs in the shelves. It kinda takes the shelf and divides it into 8 CD shaped areas that I can fit ~10 CD’s in each (80 per shelf). I just finished putting my entire audio cd collection in it and with each CD loaded into the shelves I was reminded of different things. Some of my CDs have duct tape residue on the outside of the cases as I used duct tape to “strap” them into a box that I was taking to college. I’m embarrassed to say that there are a couple of CD’s still in their wrap, never opened – those few are mostly the last remnants of my friend’s CD store that went out of business and I bought a handful from him for $5 each. There’s a Nine Inch Nails CD that I got in trade with an ex-girlfriend – I honestly don’t remember what she got for it. I’ve got CD’s from bands that I saw in clubs that were probably only sold at shows – BOP(Harvey) Anyone?. Also interesting are some of the CD’s I burned mixes on. “Good Music 3” was put together on September 1, 2001. I was heading out of town and was driving to Boston for a couple of weeks and needed some good music to drive to. During my trip to Boston, 9/11 happened. I certainly wasn’t expecting that when I put together my “Good Music 3” CD. I have no idea what is on that CD – so I’m going to listen to it to hear what I thought was “good” 6 years ago. Then there’s a CD called “American Air 1082 Mix” that I put together on 12/21/01 on AA Flight 1082 which I think was from DFW to San Francisco. I also have far too many CD’s written on in pen called “mix”. Lord only knows what’s there. Anyway it’s definitely a trip down memory lane just organizing CD’s. It’s also odd to think that 80 – 90 % of the music that I’ve gotten over the last few years is in electronic format only. My new bookcases would be a lot fuller if not for iTunes. My CD collection is almost a scrapbook to me. I still have the very first CD I ever bought (U2 – Joshua Tree).

Converting flac files to ogg – 2

Posted in Linux, Music, ubuntu by microwavebiscuit on February 23, 2007

In the previous post I described “why” I convert legally obtained music to a lossy format. Here’s a “how-to” post. First and foremost, you need the “etree scripts” package. I have it listed in synaptic under multimedia but I’m not positive which repository it is from. If you don’t have it listed, here’s a link to the sourceforge site: http://etree-scripts.sourceforge.net/. This is a set of Perl scripts that makes living with flac and shn files way easy. There are a few dependencies that you need to get as well.

First: Shorten – This is necessary to deal with .shn files. You can get it here. You will need to build it from the sources.
Second: Lame – Used to encode to mp3. It may be in your repos or you can get it here
Third: Flac -Free Lossless Audio Codec – Also in your repos, if not go here.
Fourth: Ogg Vorbis – Again, in the repos or here.

You should also get a couple extra Perl Modules that aren’t required but make encoding easier.

Date::Parse – open a terminal and type cpan. Answer any questions that cpan has, then type: install Date::Parse. This should build and install Date::Parse which makes the parsing of date/time info easier for the scripts.

Audio::Wav – Used to deal with WAV files. Get it the same way as Date::Parse. You may already have it.

Now, all dependencies satisfied I’ve written the following script to do some magic:


#!/bin/bash
# Purpose: Convert Downloaded Music
# Script written by Microwave Biscuit
# Script Name: converts
before="$(date +%s)"
for name in $(pwd | sed 's/ /____/g')
do
oldname="$(echo $name | sed 's/____/ /g')"
newname="$(echo $name | sed 's/____/_/g')"
if [ "$oldname" != "$newname" ] ; then
echo "renaming \"$oldname\" to $newname"
cp -r "$oldname" "$newname"
fi
done
cd $newname
md5check;
result=$?
if [ $result -ne 0 ]; then
echo "Something is wrong with the MD5 Sums";
exit 1;
fi
shn2mp3 `pwd`
after="$(date +%s)"
elapsed_seconds="$(expr $after - $before)"
elapsed_minutes="$(expr $elapsed_seconds / 60)"
echo "Conversion Time: " $elapsed_minutes " minutes for: " $newname | mailx -s "Conversion Finished" me@mypc

Save this script as converts and make it executable (chmod +x).

What this script does is:

1. Gets a starting time so that we can figure out how long the process took.
2. It figures out if there are any blank spaces in the name of the directory that contains the flac/shn files. The Etree script shn2mp3 doesn’t like folders with spaces.
3. If there are spaces, it creates a new directory that replaces the spaces with underscore characters and copies all of the files into it.
4. Runs the md5check script. This ensures that all of the files are complete and match their md5 signatures.
5. If it fails the check, it will exit the script and report the error to you.
6. Next, it runs the shn2mp3 Etree script which will encode all of the files to mp3 or ogg (your choice), parse the info file if it exists and update all of the tags on the newly created files.
7. Figures out how long the process took and emails me that it is complete and lets me know how long it took.

This process works for 99% of the files that I get from etree. There are a few files that don’t follow the etree info file conventions which means that they don’t get their tag data done correctly. I also occasionally get md5 check errors. This is almost always due to the person who created the md5 file having extra files in the directory, i.e. the original WAV files or something else unnecessary. If it fails the md5 check and reports that a wav file is missing or thumbs.db is missing, I just manually run the shn2mp3 script on the directory. If there are other errors in the md5 check then you likely have a problem with your download or the source flac/shn files.

Another very useful script in the etree scripts package is burn-shns. This script will take a directory of flac/shn files and create a CD from it. If your downloaded files have multiple disks in one directory (usually identified with filenames like d1t1, d2t1, etc) create a new directory for each disk and copy all of the d1 files to the new folder and then run burn-shns in each folder.

Some may have issues with using the mp3 format – feel free to use ogg. Also, I believe that shorten is a proprietary format but it’s free to use for non-commercial usage. Please respect copyrighted music and especially trade friendly artists. If there is an artist that you like who is trade friendly you should definitely buy their commercial releases so that you support their work.

Converting flac files to ogg

Posted in Linux, Music, ubuntu by microwavebiscuit on February 23, 2007

This post by Eclectic – Converting flac files to ogg « Eclectic – seems innocent enough – just a tip on how to encode music files from flac to ogg. However this brings up a little bit of controversy. I have tons of shn and flac files as previously noted. I get them predominantly via e-tree which is a bit torrent tracker for “trade friendly” artists. They are very careful to not include artists that have any issues with having their music traded and they also do not allow any commercial or copyrighted material. In any case, I often find in the information file of a recording something like this:

*****************************

DON’T CONVERT TO LOSSY FORMAT

*****************************

NOT FOR SALE

*****************************

I can certainly get behind the “not for sale” part. If an artist allows people to record their live performances and trade the music people should respect that. I’m sure that some of you have purchased “bootlegs” or “imports” at some stores and basically that is ripping off a lot of people. First of all, the artist doesn’t get any money out of the deal, and secondly the person that recorded it probably didn’t intend on having it show up in a record store for sale. I do doubt that this particular warning in an info file would prevent someone from selling it, however as I said I’m behind keeping it not for sale.

The “Don’t convert to lossy format” part is what kind of gets to me. I do always keep the original flac and or shn files so that when I share the music it retains it’s original state, however even if my iPod did play .flac (which I don’t think it does) I would certainly not keep it in a flac format. For those of you who don’t know, flac stands for free lossless audio codec. Flac files are not nearly as big a WAV files (which are uncompressed) but they are way bigger than ogg or mp3 files. I always convert the files to a “lossy” format before moving them to my iPod.

I’ll be posting another post on the process I use to convert flac and shn later.

iTunes Uncovers Musical Hoax

Posted in Music by microwavebiscuit on February 20, 2007

Slashdot reports that there is some sort of musical hoax going on – iTunes Uncovers Musical Hoax. While not nearly as bad as what Slashdot reports, I too have encountered some funny business with iTunes. One of my favorite singer/songwriter’s is Eva Cassidy. When Apple released one if it’s recent upgrades to iTunes they released a new feature which was to download album art for CDs that have been ripped. Being an Eva Cassidy fan, I have several CDs that I had previously imported into my iTunes library. Imagine my horror to see this as the new album artwork that was downloaded (after the jump to protect the innocent):
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