CD won’t rip? Try a different drive.

A few weeks ago I uncovered a stash of CDs from my college and early bachelor days that, for one reason or another, I’d never ripped to MP3 format.

When I started ripping the discs, I got one clue as to why I never ripped some of them: Some of them made the DVD drive in my Dell laptop sound like a Commodore 1541. If you ever owned a Commodore, you know exactly what I’m talking about. If you haven’t ever owned a Commodore, let’s just say my drive groaned in protest very loudly, and in exchange for putting up with the noise and insanely long rip times, I received a bunch of errors and a few MP3s that played really poorly.

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The downside of streaming music

There’s a new rule when it comes to security and privacy: If a service is free, then you’re the product.

Actually, come to think about it, the rule isn’t so new. I’m the product when I listen to the radio. Radio stations exist to deliver a product–namely, an audience–to advertisers, and the audience is different when you’re talking top 40 versus urban contemporary versus country versus classic rock versus alternative versus adult contemporary.

But when it comes to streaming music, the game changes a bit.

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Enabling 320kbps bitrate MP3s in Windows Media Player in Windows 10

Enabling 320kbps bitrate MP3s in Windows Media Player in Windows 10

I had a maddening issue in Windows Media Player on my Windows 10 machine where I could only rip CDs at a maximum bit rate of 192 kbps. Since storage is so cheap anymore, I prefer to rip at 320 kbps. Here’s how to enable 320kbps bitrate MP3s in Windows Media Player in Windows 10. Read more

Nostalgia can make you younger

This month’s Social Engineer podcast featured psychology professor Dr. Ellen Langer, whose specialty is mindfulness. Dr. Langer brought up a lot of important things, including the idea of work-life integration rather than the more difficult work-life balance, but another thing she briefly touched on really resonated with me. She brought up a study, originally done in the late 1970s, where a group of 80-somethings were immersed in 1959 for a week. At the end of the week, they didn’t act like 80-somethings anymore. It seems nostalgia can make you younger.

That got me thinking about the power of nostalgia.

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Dave vs. Mmm-Bop

NPR recently released its Songs of the Summer, which invokes memories of summers past by conjuring up (or dredging up, in some cases) songs you couldn’t go anywhere without hearing. Songs like “Crazy” by Gnarls Barkley (2006), or “Hips Don’t Lie” by Shakira (also 2006). Or the bane of 1991, the unforgettable “Summertime” by the equally unforgettable DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince.

In 1997, one of the songs of the summer was “MMMBop” by boy-band Hanson. And mercifully, I avoided hearing it. I remember the summer of 1997. While everyone else was listening to that, I was listening to aging bands like The Cure and Echo and the Bunnymen, and that habit saved me. I managed to make it until 2004 without hearing that boy-band staple. It’s an achievement I’m proud of. Read more

New Order, Joy Division, surviving and moving on

I couldn’t tell you the last time I thought about Joy Division, and then one of my college classmates posted a story about a stash of Joy Division and early New Order master tapes showing up in the basement of a former bank, along with guns and gold (but presumably, no butter). Yes, the jokes write themselves.

Instead of talking about the contents of the tapes, the story talked about New Order going on tour. I was vaguely aware that Peter Hook quit the band, and another story on the site discussed that: New Order is back together without Peter Hook, and Peter Hook is planning on touring as himself and playing Joy Division songs. And he’s writing a book about his time in Joy Division.

As a guy who spent way too much time listening to Joy Division in college, and who for a time ran the largest Joy Division tribute site on the Web, yeah, I have some opinions on all that.

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Redigi gets to live another day

Slashdot is reporting that selling used MP3s has been ruled legal. Unfortunately, Slashdot jumped the gun on that–it’s not quite what happened. Capitol Records asked a judge to shut down Redigi, and the judge refused. So Redigi can continue to operate, at least until the case goes to trial.

That in itself is a victory. But this isn’t the Super Bowl, where it’s just one game. More like the World Series.
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What I learned buying car audio

My oldest son and I broke my wife’s car stereo. He put quarters in the CD slot, and I broke it worse trying to get the quarters out. So it was time for a new stereo.

I hadn’t shopped for one since college. I found sales tactics haven’t changed a lot, but it seems pricing has. Or at least I found a pleasant surprise in what I could get for the money these days.

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Looking back at Achtung Baby, 20 years on

I’m of the age that’s supposed to like Nirvana more than U2. Or at least, when U2’s Achtung Baby came out, I was. (I suspect a lot of people my age would rather listen to U2 than Nirvana now, while my teenaged nephew would have the opposite opinion.)

I bought both Nevermind and Achtung Baby, at the same time in fact. I’ve written before about what Nevermind meant to me and the people around me. Being arguably my favorite record of all time, I think Achtung Baby, which is being re-released this week, deserves the same treatment.
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