Slightly More Useful Fluttering

Some weeks back I wondered whether I could use Youtube as a screen saver.  It turned out that I could.

That wasn’t, strictly speaking, very useful, but now I had a small USB monitor sitting in the hall, so I might as well make it display something practical in addition to the music videos.

Hence: flit.

Currently it checks what temperature it’s outside my bedroom window and displays that at the top right there.  (Yes!  It’s that warm here in Oslo now!)

And then it downloads the weather forecast from Yr.no, picks out the precipitation data for the next 24 hours, and plots that as a line at the bottom.

Somewhat cryptic, but that’s part of the fun.

Technologies used: LaTeX to render the temperature data, gnuplot to render the precipitation line, and qiv to display the image with a transparent background on top of the mplayer window.  As one does.

Conspicuous Youtube Consumption

Stina Nordenstam rockin’ in the USB

I’ve been sleeping in even odder patterns than usual lately (I suspect that I’m coming down with microencephaly, SAD and “the hypo”), so I found myself staring at the stereo computer thinking that there should be movement.

I normally hate computer screens that have pulsing lights and stuff, but I wondered how much work it would be to automatically download music videos from Youtube for whatever was playing, and then just show the video.  The sound wouldn’t be synced up, of course, but it’d be a kinda… like…  spastic screen saver.

A screen saver that doesn’t save the screen or the CPU or the network or on electricity, and would probably get me banned from Youtube.

So I started typing, and here it is.

I had a spare USB-powered little screen, so I put the stuff on a small screen instead of using a big one.  I mean, that would be too fluttery.

It’s been in production for all of fifteen minutes now, so I have no idea whether I’m going to pull the plug on the “project” (and the USB monitor) or not.  I’m guessing I probably will.

1995: Dagbøker i stein

Or “The Stone Diaries” as it was called in English.

The reason this one never got read is probably that I suspected it to be respectable and stuff.

And it is.  It’s very respectable.

Initially I thought it was a fictional (auto-)biography of sorts.  Then when I reached the middle, I found all these pictures of the people portrayed in the book, so I kinda for a second thought that it might be a real (auto-)biography of sorts.  And then I noticed that none of the people pictured looked anything like the people described in the book, so I went back to “fictional (auto-)biography with unreliable narrator.  Of sorts.”

I never ever ever read anything about a book before I read it.  I don’t read the stuff on the back, or on the flaps, or reviews.  It much more amusing to read stuff when you don’t know how it’s supposed to be read.

I do, however, love reading reviews of stuff after I’ve read it.  If I loathe a book, I love going to Amazon.com and read the other 1- and 2-star reviews and getting my views validated.  Then reading the 5-star reviews, and see how moronic their reasons for liking the dreck is.

And the opposite thing works, too.  If I love a book, I read the 5-star reviews and congratulate myself on having such good taste, and then I read the 1-star reviews written by obviously sup-par twits who didn’t get the point at all.

I thought this book was kinda “eh”.  Not bad, not particularly good, but definitely respectable.  So I binged it after I finished reading it, and it turns out that Carol Shields won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction for this book, which I feel is such a confirmation.  Mainstream mediocrity seems to be the essence of that prize.

So there you are.

Rating: Respectablicious.

Useful Consumer Review

Whenever I’m out flying around, I needs my music.

Sony NWZ-A845.  Nice mp3 player!

I’ve been using this Sony Walkman NWZ-A845 for years.  It’s fine.  It boots up pretty fast, and the controls are nice.  No yucky touch-screen interface, but nice buttons that do what you expect them to do.

It’s nice.

But it only has 16GB of memory.  Now, that’s more albums than I’m going to listen to on even the longest flight, but it’s too little space to store  all the good albums I have.  If I suddenly get a craving to listen to United States I-IV on a transatlantic flight (as one does), I get mighty peeved if it turns out I’ve forgotten to put Part III on the Sony.

Grr.  Peeves!  Lars smash!

The Sansa Clip Zip comes in the
least accessible packaging ever
Sansa Clip Zit.  It’s small!
And that song came pre-installed!
I swear!

So I basically wanted to just get an upgrade of the Sony.  It’s old, so they must have newer, better models?

Nope.  Instead they have touch-screen monstrosities that are basically phones without the phone part.  Lousy battery time, no USB Mass Storage interface, but the ability to play Angry Birds.

*sigh*

So I googled and I binged, but I couldn’t find any simple mp3 players that had more than 16GB of memory.  All was despair.

But someone on a helpful IRC channel pointed me in the direction of the Sansa Clip Zip!  It takes Micro SD cards!  Up to 32GB!  Or 64GB if you Rockbox it!  And it runs Rockbox!  Which is something that I always wanted to try anyway!  Freedom!

So here it is.

Sensa Zip Clit is kinda deep.

It’s very small, but kinda bulky anyway.  Almost half the bulk is the clip itself, so I may just snap that off.  I wouldn’t have minded if it had been taller and wider and not as deep, but the form factor is quite nice.

I booted it up without the SD card.  It starts in about eight seconds, which is acceptable.  The controls are nice and responsive.

Look at the size of those GBs

After copying the 500 best albums I have to the 32GB SD card (which took like an hour or two), I put the card into the Sansu Clock Mock.  It started building a id3 database.

Building…  building…

It used about 20 minutes to read the id3 data, which seemed kinda excessive.

But after finishing up, the Zensa Clap Sap has a nice and snappy user interface.

Waiting…  Waiting…  Waiting…

It seems perfectly usable.  Cute even.

Anyway, I still want Rockbox.  I’m not quite sure why now, except…  Freedom!

I used the Rockbox Gui to do the installation.  First it failed since I was running it as myself.  Then I rooted myself, and then it worked.

Excitement!

Rockbox!  Me no can have waitz!

Wow!  It’s fast!  The Zonzi Clap Trap now boots in like a second!  Wow!

I asked it it build the id3 database, and was expecting to wait quite a while…  And it finished in like 30 seconds!  That’s like several magnitudes faster than the original OS!

Rockbox isn’t like purdy

Well, nobody can claim that the Rockbox interface is purdy and stuff, but it’s fast and usable. 

So without actually having used this thing in practice (why should this review site be any different than any other?), I give the Sonzi Clip Zap nine thumbs up!  It’s just what I wanted!

Yay!

Top 2012 Records

Hey, I wrote that thing that would pick out what albums I play the most.  Perhaps if I point it at 2012, it’ll just list all the best music that I’ve bought this year?

Cat Power Sun
Deerhoof Breakup Song
Django Django Django Django
Björk Biophilia Remixes Part Six
Neneh Cherry & The Thing The Cherry Thing
Thee Oh Sees Carrion Crawler-The Dream
Boris Black Original Remix
Various Bossa Jazz (2)
Various Minimal Wave Tapes Volume 2
Burial Street Halo
Actress Faceless
Hanne Hukkelberg Featherbrain
Leila U&I
Maria & The Mirrors Travel Sex

 Hey! It worked!

 Hm…  I wonder if it’ll be very different if I tell it to list the albums I’ve played most this year, no matter when I bought them.  Let’s see:

Cat Power Sun
Deerhoof Breakup Song
Django Django Django Django
Men Credit Card Babies
Björk Biophilia Remixes Part Six
Neneh Cherry & The Thing The Cherry Thing
Thee Oh Sees Carrion Crawler-The Dream
Various Crammed Global Soundcrash 1980-89, Part 2: Electrowave
Boris Black Original Remix
Joe Jackson Look Sharp!
Men Off Our Backs
Various Bossa Jazz (2)
Various Minimal Wave Tapes Volume 2
Burial Street Halo
Circlesquare The Distance After
Kate Bush 50 Words For Snow

Not a whole lot different. I play newer stuff the most, apparently.