2011 — 30 September: Friday

A good night's sleep,1 a nice hot fresh cuppa, and the squarbling (my portmanteau for the warbling squawks) of the Puccini multi-et (that is, an integer number of 'singers' somewhat greater than the sum of their parts who were bringing what sounds like disharmony into my little pre-breakfast world) has been replaced by a much more pleasant Telemann string piece. I don't believe I will ever now develop an appreciation of Italian opera.

Where is thy sting?

No. Not my wasps. I mentioned a judge who'd decided a minimally-conscious lady with brain damage has no right to die, despite spending eight years in this miserable state. Personally, I'd say it was the judge who showed clear evidence of brain damage. Be that as it may, the chap now being prosecuted for having helped his terminally-ill mother to shuffle off her mortal coil with a hoarded cocktail of morphine pills gets it exactly right in my opinion. Good for him:

Speaking at his house in Cape Town, he said: "No one has the right to judge me until they have been in exactly the same position. What would I have done? That is the question an individual must ask themselves before sending me a death threat by text message."

Alex Duval Smith in The Grauniad

My only text messages are far less exciting. They tend to tell me I can save money by using my phone more. As it's strictly a pay-as-you-go emergency use phone, I would hope not.

A couple of years ago...

... I already had enough accumulated data to formulate my hypothesis of the "invisible Yaris" — that's to say, the car I drive around in — that other car drivers appear to be unable to see, and pedestrians and pedal cyclists clearly don't believe contains (as it were) moving metal parts that could injure them. I'm now working on my next evidence-based hypothesis which is my attempt to deduce the exact nature of the curve that graphs the inverse proportionality between the size of a vehicle, and the discourtesy displayed towards me by its driver (cross-correlating between brands of vehicle, of course, for improved granularity).

Weekend supplies are now safely stowed aboard, and I await the arrival of my lunch date. It's 11:14, sunny, and warm out there. An essentially cloudless sky, though quite a lot of moss seemed to have been blown off my roof onto the front drive overnight. I was (to my considerable amusement) snubbed in Waitrose (despite twice making eye contact) by the ex-IBMer and Freemason who used always to make a point of shaking my hand each new year to see if I had yet joined his silly Club. Tee-hee. I suppose it's just possible he failed to recognise me in my Australian bush-hat.


This is both fascinating and (in places) just a teensy bit worrying. Source and not terribly representative snippet:

I know that Google knows, because I've looked it up, that on 30 April 2011 at 4.33 p.m. I was at Willesden Junction station, travelling west. It knows where I was, as it knows where I am now, because like many millions of others I have an Android-powered smartphone with Google's location service turned on. If you use the full range of its products, Google knows the identity of everyone you communicate with by email, instant messaging and phone, with a master list — accessible only by you, and by Google — of the people you contact most. If you use its products, Google knows the content of your emails and voicemail messages (a feature of Google Voice is that it transcribes messages and emails them to you, storing the text on Google servers indefinitely).

Daniel Soar in LRB

I see some technical merit to "the cloud" but I can't pretend to be an enthusiastic advocate. Personally, I've always regarded unencrypted email as less secure than a snailmail postcard, and encrypted email very probably draws its own unwelcome attention (not necessarily from organisations whose motto is "Do no evil", either).

Velly interestink

I can always tell when I've been having fun: the latest cuppa is either stone cold and/or still in the microwave from the last time I zapped it and forgot to extract it.

As soon as the Kermode/Mayo weekly film review programme had finished (and I only caught the last few minutes because Len had been here for a while after our lunch out) I started playing with the audio tool he'd told me about — Exact Audio Copy. And seeing both the time needed to extract .wav files from a CD, converting them on the fly to FLAC using my trusty Swiss Army Knife from Poikosoft or first extracting the exact digital copy .wav files and then converting from .wav to FLAC. Also noting the relative file sizes. Plus seeing how easy (or otherwise) metadata tagging is. And, finally, seeing which of my current crop of software music players2 is happy when fed with a diet of FLAC files.

Not to mention how the playback sounds, of course :-)

I'm not very keen to undertake yet another mammoth CD ripping exercise. But since it turns out I can't convince myself I can hear any significant audible difference between a variable bit rate MP3 ripped at its 'highest' quality setting (nominally equivalent to 245 Kbps or so), a lossless FLAC, and the original raw 16-bit .wav file, I can relax. And save quite a lot of disk space: FLAC files turned out to be about three times bigger than the VBR MP3 files, and about 55% of the size of the original .wav files on the CD. I shall be sticking with the MP3 format for all the CDs I've ripped so far, but may yet use FLAC for newer material and all the classical music.

Blackbeast isn't bothered unduly by either the processing load or the optical drive I/O data rate. I can rip a CD to FLAC at about 24x speed, which is just a little slower than ripping to MP3.

How did it get to be 23:55? G'night.



1  And sunshine on awakening.
2  It turns out they all are (that is, Foobar2000, WinAmp, and VLC) though I didn't even bother trying Windows Media Player as I loathe its user interface.