chebe: (BluesBros)
I do love Creative music players. What I do not love is the Windows-only nature of their software. Luckily there have always been programmers willing to spend time getting MTP devices to work under linux, however clunkily.

But I got a new player recently, and was surprised to find that it's not MTP. It's just a regular mass storage media device. Which means it can be used with regular music software like banshee and rythmbox, with one small tweak.

Props to the author of this snippet.

Plug in, mount device, touch .is_audio_player (or otherwise create empty file with this name) in the root of the devices file structure (e.g. /media/My Zen/), unmount and disconnect device. Start your music software and reconnect device. It should appear automagically. And this should work for any kind of mass storage media device.

Women that Rock!

2010-Oct-13, Wednesday 09:29 pm
chebe: (Purple - DanceLikeNooneisWatching)
This post sprung from a conversation I had with a friend. I realised that after growing up listening to male-dominated music I'd suddenly found myself listening to a lot of music that at least has one female band member. Not only that, but it's music that really rocks too. Guess it just took me a while to find them. So I'm here to help spread the word. In no particular order I humbly present to you some very, very good music. I love these bands/artists, I hope you at least find something you like.

(Also, seems all music ever is on MySpace, even bands that disbanded well before the invention of the internet.)

Marian Call MySpace
Astrid Wiliamson MySpace
Tori Amos MySpace
Imelda May MySpace

Daisy Chainsaw MySpace
MapleBee MySpace
QueenAdreena MySpace
Portishead MySpace
Garbage MySpace

The Runaways MySpace
Joan Jett MySpace
L7 MySpace
Jack Off Jill MySpace

Skunk Anansie MySpace
Skin MySpace
Die So Fluid MySpace
Kidney Thieves MySpace

The Dresden Dolls MySpace
Amanda Palmer MySpace
Bitter Ruin MySpace

No Doubt MySpace
Cowboy X MySpace
Gossip MySpace
Horror Pops MySpace

Edit: Oh, here's more for me to explore:


2010-Aug-03, Tuesday 08:20 pm
chebe: (OnTheVergeOfSomethingWonderful)
I like listening to music. I find when navigating the city and its public transport that having portable music is a must. However, when you're subjected to very changeable weather there are often problems with trailing wires, bag straps, jumpers, coats, buttons, zips, and passing umbrellas. Not to mention having wires catch on the most awkward of things even in fine weather. (Which is particularly painful when wearing those wrap-ear headphones.) Every one of my portable CD-players smashed to the ground because of this, and smaller MP3-players have been known to go flying through the air. Wouldn't it be great, I thought to myself, if I could wear my headphones as easily as I wear a tshirt. *grin*

- Headphones break all the time, at one stage I was buying a new pair every two weeks. And sometimes you just want something different. So, I want to make my headphones replaceable, just something I plug into my tshirt. This requires a female stereo audio jack. Okay, but how am I going to attach it to my tshirt? Aha! Finally I've found a use for the Lilypad mini protoboards!
Female audio jack construction... )

- Now, you have your jack to plug your headphones into. I'm going to put this on my shoulder, to keep the wires away from my body, where they have the habit of getting caught on things. But my music player will be somewhere around my hip/waist, in a pocket or bag. Okay, so I need to connect the two together, and I don't want wires... Ah, conductive thread! So, I came up with a design to suit having three trails of conductive thread (sleeve, ring, tip) across my tshirt.
T-shirt design... )

- Okay, this last bit could have been done with conductive thread as well, but I reckon this part will be subjected to a lot of wear-and-tear, and wire comes pre-insulated, which makes our life easier (the small insides of the male audio jack is very likely to result in shorts). And, as long as it's removable the rest should still be washable. This bit, being the plug into our music player.
Male audio jack construction... )

- Done. Now plug in music player, and headphones. And enjoy!
Final product. )

You may want to add some extra things, like an inside pocket to hold your music player if it's small, or a loop of fabric to keep the wires from annoying you. But overall I'm loving this! It's comfortable, much less likely to catch on anything, and there's only a slight drop in volume level. Plus I think it's pretty cool to have audio waves carried through silver-plated thread across your body!


2010-Jul-22, Thursday 10:17 pm
chebe: (BluesBros)
Have you heard about Bandcamp? It's a platform that allows musicians to provide music to the fans, at minimal cost. And I mean minimal, right now it's free. You can customise the page so it fits into your website, so no third-party ads, and then with one click you can download music in a tasty variety of formats. The fan doesn't have to install any software. Music can be given away free, for a donation (you the buyer gets to set the price, but remember Paypal gets about $0.30 of it), or for a set price. Bandcamp take care of the all the backend stuff, so when your album releases you know the site won't go down. And it's free. In about a month Bandcamp will start taking 10-15%, but that's still less than almost everyone else. And it means if you give your music away for free, they're not going to charge you for it.

I think it's a genius idea. One thing in particular put them in my good books. You can buy physical goods as well (if related to a release), and addicted as I am to physical music I bought a CD, and a download began automatically as well! I think this feature may need to be enabled by the band, but anyone I've bought CDs or vinyl from gave me the download so I could start enjoying the music then and there! The samples on the site aren't samples, they are the full songs (minus any bonus/hidden tracks), and at a better bit-rate than most places. And, they don't own your work, you're free to use other music retailers, etc. There's just so much about Bandcamp that I love. For artists I think are really doing it right see; Amanda Palmer, and Zoe Keating.

There are many, many bands and artists I'd love to see using this, pretty much anyone independent, as I know it means I'm supporting them as much as I can. One such band released an EP on iTunes only, no physical version pressed. After finding out that iTunes dropped the DRM I signed up. I had to download a large, constantly updating program, and whenever I download something I have to transcode the format to be able to get it on my portable music player (not an iPod). Bandcamp is just a simpler, more elegant system that gives the artist more control and the fan less hassle. One artist even got into the U.S. billboard charts with no marketing or publicity!

It's not perfect yet, there features missing that I'd really like to see, like a shopping cart. Right now you have to pay individually for each album. But they're working on it, and it really seems to me to be a massive step in the right direction.

Music + Science

2010-May-26, Wednesday 10:49 pm
chebe: (Purple - DanceLikeNooneisWatching)
I own a red t-shirt, it says: "Music + Science = Sexy". And I couldn't agree more. So in that vein, I give you: Geek Pop's Essential Collection for Nerds 2010. Oh yes.
chebe: (Default)
When my mp3-player started displaying a "hard-disk problem" message one day, nearly a year ago, I decided it'd be fun to fix it myself. I was wrong.

I have a Creative Zen Vision W. I love this player, the interface, the weight, simply everything. So I googled around and found this teardown. Great! So I went out and found a Toshiba MK1011GAH 120Gb, and fit it. Only. It didn't fit. The drive is 8mm in height, and as it turned out, I have the slim Zen that only fits 5mm drives.

New knowledge! Try again. Get the Toshiba MK8022GAA 80Gb. It certainly fits, but it doesn't work. Turns out the drive is proprietary to the Apple iPod Classic gen 6 video. It uses an extended/encrypted command set which makes it useless in any other device.

More new knowledge! Try again. Samsung HS081HA 80Gb. It fits! It turns on! I can format the drive! I ... can't reload the firmware. New error message: "firmware problem". GAAAAHHHHHHH! The firmware update tool fails. There's also an mp3 player recovery tool, sure I've nothing to lose. As it's downloading the latest firmware for me my player seems to unfreeze, flashing something about plugs, and restarts. I swiftly unplug the usb cable and sit in amazement as it starts up normally, returned to factory-fresh blue theme and everything. I press a few buttons, see that it's empty, turn it off. Then on again. Just to make sure. Apparently it's 02:27:15am, on Monday, 1st August 2005. *SQUEEEEEE* *ahem* Excuse me. To reload with my music!

Helpful information:
- At least two models of Creative Zen Vision Ws. One, that takes 8mm drives and probably came with Hitachi Travelstar C4K60 Slim 60Gb. Two, that takes only 5mm drives and probably came with Seagate ST760211DE 60Gb.
- To force the player into recovery mode, unplug from computer, take out battery. Pull the power switch to the on position and hold it there as you put the battery back in, and keep holding until the recovery menu appears.
- If you are pressing buttons and nothing on screen changes make sure you haven't the hold button locked. If you've opened the player it's real easy to knock it out and put it back wrong, so be careful.
chebe: (Default)
I got a bug a while back. One that demanded I get myself sorted with some vinyl. So I got the parents old turntable (Technics SL-B3) down from the attic. It was dusty, and had suffered some grim build-up around the controls, so my first order of business was to wash it down with some gently soapy water. My dad suggested that maybe it might need a new belt.

Proof of one man's powers of understatement )

So I ordered the new belt from Turntable Basics who told me what length I needed from the model number, and it arrived swiftly complete with instructions.

Next thing I needed was new needles. This was much more difficult, and had me attempting to track down some 20/30 year old manuals online, before realising the replacement part number was written on the turntable itself. I found a nice place on eBay that sold them, and snapped them up.

But, it's an old turntable, and my stereo is a fair bit newer. It's Aux port expects pre-amped input to be able to drive the speakers. Something this turntable doesn't do. So I needed a pre-amp. I found a very pretty one for £100 that I'd have to order from Belfast. But I'm not a patient lass. So I wandered from A/V and electronics shops, getting looked at as if I was insane. Only two sales assistants had even heard of them. One told me to order from Belfast, the other, in Peats, sold me this with a very dismissive and rude attitude.

A phono-phono cable acquisition later and everything was in place. But to be sure I needed a record I knew the air of by heart but didn't mind getting damaged. Cue a 7" copy of Moonlight Sonata I picked up in a charity shop.

All fired up and looking pretty )

But alas! The pre-amp is complete shite. I had to turn the stereo up a lot to even vaguely hear the music, and as I did the background noise and hum got so loud it actually drowned out what little sound was present. To give it another chance I hooked up my mp3-player to it. And yep, the same result. So tomorrow I begin my attempt to return the useless piece of scrap-metal that is far from fit for it's purpose, and order the pretty pre-amp from Belfast. Once again I learn that it's impossible to walk into Peats as a female and actually get anything useful from them. But now I'm only a hairs breadth, or about two weeks, away from getting to listen to my brand new LPs. This is an event I greatly look forward to.

Things learnt today:

2009-May-03, Sunday 11:59 pm
chebe: (pic#152271)
1) I love doing scales. Just started arpeggios (chord progressions played note by note). The simple, specific, clarity of each, that just 'fits', is very soothing. Helps calm the beast, a great escape from a hectic mind.
2) I found a legitimate and actually practical use for arm-warmers. Who would have guessed it'd be as a way to warm my arms? Well, wrists and hands more specifically. Warm hands and wrists mean the muscles don't seize up, which in turn means music practice is less painful and more productive.
3) Bodhrán and piano practice don't go well together. The symmetry and synchronisation required for piano gets all shot to hell when only one hand/wrist is moving at lightning speed and with complete fluidity, while the other stays rigid for long periods of time.
4) This implies that all piano practice should be completed before bodhrán practice begins. Which is somewhat inconvenient as bodhrán is by far the louder instrument. Especially when it has become customary to practice piano between the hours of 11pm and 1am.
5) Frustration leads to me beating my hands frantically against various instruments trying to get them to cooperate. But thanks to all the exercise and warming, this doesn't actually hurt.
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