I’ve spent what feels like the last two months working either splits or overnights. Last night was under the Brooklyn Bridge, Manhattan side, one of Olafur Eliasson’swaterfalls is fully visible, but at night the LEDs seem somewhat dim.
Riding up East Broadway to Clinton on my way to the W’burg Bridge I nearly ran over a hooker who had positioned herself in the bike lane presumably for callers in motorized transport. Granted, I am only speculating she was a woman of the night, but there was a man nearby who I believe was her pimp and he did holler some indecipherable at me as I passed.
As I climbed the bridge’s bikepath I had various thoughts, namely how many Johns actually solicit while riding their bicycles? Which led me to think about bearded potbellied men on recumbents, tandem recumbents more prcisely, trolling the LES and Chinatown late at night with an empty seat hoping to score. It’s a funny image I think. And surely a boon to the image of large bearded men on recumbents everywhere.
A final thought: riding my bicycle is faster than taking the subway. I supposed I knew this, and most nights my excuse has been that I was so tired, why would I want to ride home? But the best reply to this is twofold: 1) after a long night riding home is a good way to unwind 2) there is literally no traffic in NY city at 5am. Seriously, I had some beautiful rides home coming up through the damp verdant jungle that is the east side of Prospect Park Brooklyn, riding home from Church Ave. Also at 5am, if you are lucky, there will be passed out tight jeans fix’sters on the Williamsburg Bridge who just couldn’t quite make it home from a debaucherous night out in the LES.
So yes, commuting on bicycle has somehow renewed my faith in humanity, even if NY is still far too automobile-centric. My hope, and perhaps it’s closer than we realize is 1000$ per barrel oil and every road a bike lane.
Molly mentioned recently that a messenger friend [Lane Kagay] was in town [in Portland] and included a link to his bicycle rack making business on her blog, his business is Cetma Racks. They’re nice looking Porteur style racks solidly constructed in three styles out of tubular steel. His site further supports my belief that for cyclo-touring all you need is a good front rack.
Anyhow, I was flipping through the pictures in the gallery of racks and paused when I happened across this one:
As far as I can tell this is a picture of Ryan Swanson with a sweet Shark / Man / Bicycle rig wearing his standard Portland, Oregon costume. Note how the shark head is attached to the Cetma rack. This bicycle seems to have taken the place of Ryan’s old black Bianchi hybrid. Granted this is all speculation, the masked man may very well be a good impostor Ryan Swanson.
Another telling image from the gallery was this one:
I guess if I had spent more time in either Eugene, Oregon or Olympia, Washington this would’ve been me. This kid seems pretty intent on welding some mean bicycles.
A co-workeracquaintance of mine, Chris Cannucciari, directed a feature film over the Winter 2008 here in New York titled New Brooklyn. I know he’s been mailing off the the latest DVD cuts to festivals and he said he’s going to soon purchase a big fat Mac Pro to do some more finishing touches himself, the final sweetening.
The film is about two roommates, one a recent transplant from Chile, the exploitation of workers in the city, and gentrification. I found this writeup from The Citizen in Auburn, NY. The film’s official website is at Bind Studios but Chris also has a requisite Facebook page for the film. I think it’s best to watch the teaser and read his blog as he talks about the production process. There’s an interview with him off of his youtube page.
I’ve spent more time these past 6-8 months developing a functional web server/daemon/player for playing back lossless audio than I care to admit. If I were smarter I’d simply use iTunes like the other 5 billion people on the planet with iPods and call it day, except that the audio collection has spiraled out of control and just about everything with Apple and iTunes is proprietary. The idea started with putting Zoe’s old Dell Inspiron 4000 laptop in the closet (with a screaming Pentium III 900 MHz processor) and I figured “hey that’s more than enough power to act as an audio server/player, right?” Well, yes and no.
Part I: ripping the collection, which format? Again, if I had taken the easy road (iTunes) Apple recently added the Apple Lossless Format to the lineup for M4A files. It’s very similar to FLAC which stands for Free Lossless Audio Codec. So why use something free and open source? Well when I’ve ripped 200 CD’s I don’t want to find out that Apple updated QuickTime to some incompatible version or even more likely is that I’ll need to convert my Apple Lossless files to another format, which as it turns out is not so easy (see proprietary). So to cover my bases I’ve been ripping CD’s to FLAC with Cue Sheets and 320 kbit/s MP3 using the LAME encoder. My preference is for the awesome Exact Audio Copy (precise German ripping) and have been playing around with MAREO to do multiple command line outputs.
Part II: how slow is that 900MHz Pentium III? Well, mostly it’s a RAM issue (currently 128MB) running Windows XP. The cost to upgrade the RAM to 512MB would be nearly $100 for an 8 year old laptop (it’s in the late Winter of its life). So then what? Run XP slowly. What audio player if not iTunes? (because iTunes is a resource hog). Well originally everyone loved Foobar2000 and it’s mostly free/open and sounded good until version 9.5.3 crapped out and stopped playing FLAC files with embedded cuesheets. Media Monkey (based on Winamp) is my new sweetheart. Reasonable overhead, works with ASIO and Kernel Streaming Output plug-ins, similar layout to iTunes and is way better at batch organization and embedding album cover images.
Many will ask why I didn’t simply use SlimServer and buy a Slim Devices Squeezebox 3? Well, I tried SlimServer and it brought the system to a crawl (likely 512MB is needed). Also, I have an old Edirol UA-5 (by Roland) external USB-DAC which doesn’t function as a stand alone DAC and the SqueezeBox 3 requires one for optimal sound reproduction.
Part III: Remote control via the iPhone, BlackBerry & Web Browser. Right now there are a few simple web servers for Winamp that create a text file for play list control and creates a basic HTML interface for BlackBerry http control. Signal from Alloy Software, supposedly is the best interface right now for iPhones and iPod Touch remote control. In theory the ~$200 iPod Touch is the ultimate media center remote. It’s 802.11g enabled and with Signal the native iPod music interface on the Touch becomes the remote (on a PC it can control iTunes, Winamp, or Windows Media Center). Slick. Worst case you turn on your other computer and run VNC or browse using a non-mobile browser. I expect with the upcoming iPhone 3G 2.0 (and Touch) release Apple has a few tricks up its sleeves similar to the AJAX and Google Code Telekinesis remote control of OS X. The safebets for a Winamp server are is the low overhead old version of WWWinamp Server (my favorite so far) and the new version currently being developed by Eric Nusbaum requires Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5 to run (.NET was something of a pain).
Part IV: No end in sight? I think once all the CDs are ripped and all the MP3s are sorted and presuming the Dell Inspiron doesn’t die on us anytime soon, I’ll be satisfied. The system sounds good for what it is, thrown together somewhat piecemeal. The amp is a 1979 Denon PMA-850 and I’m sending the USB-DAC direct bypassing the preamp stage. The speakers are crazy old Bose 301 Series II of Z’s dad. It somehow works. How much of a difference is there between FLAC and 320 kbit/s MP3s? A little bit. A tad richer, a bit more textured, bass and highs seem to have “more” umpf and depth. This really isn’t the system to do a comparison on. The air conditioners in our courtyard are loud, it’s like 95 degrees out and we have three box window fans. It’s loud, so you see how it goes. God bless you if you read all this