Workaround for Last.fm: Universal Scrobbler

I listen to a LOT of music via Internet radio streams, and until August, I used to be able to put a nice list of “Listening” tracks on my various blogs. That was courtesy of Last.fm, which used to be the main place people could gather or “scrobble” their personal music libraries as they listened to iTunes or CDs on their computers or listened to radio stations online that provided the right kind of track medadata.

UPDATE: WOW – check out the list at “Scrobble Along” and see how that site makes it possible to scrobble some pretty interesting Internet radio stations.

Well, Last.fm “don’t play dat” anymore. They still provide “scrobbling” music playlist service if you listen to your personal music library and/or CDs via iTunes or Windows Media (or Clementine, and maybe WinAmp if that’s still working), and they might provide cover art TO various apps for listening to music online. However, they no longer pick up the data FROM those apps (with a few obscure exceptions, apparently Tunemark and Rdio might do it, but not TuneIn).

RadioRiel

Last.fm just does not want to “scrobble” or pickup metadata from Internet radio streams anymore, so how to capture all that interesting music for possible later purchase? There’s a workaround: it’s possible to manually or semi-manually scrobble tracks via something called the Universal Scrobbler. It’s not perfect, but it’s quick, it’s clean, and a WordPress plugin called “Last.fm Played for WordPress” reads the scrobbled tracks instantly, where the former plugin did not. In some cases, it uses Last.fm’s own music database to discover and capture the track information. So there. I spend too much time listening to my obscure streams to let that data just disappear.

Basically, while listening to music off the Internet (or even if I happen to hear something on the radio and get the track and artist name from Shazam), I can enter the artist or release name in the search page for Universal Scrobbler, and it can check one of 3 databases and send the information to Last.fm for me, where it appears on my list of tracks, which then gets picked up by my plugin. It’s not perfect and it won’t capture anything automatically, but it’s better than nothing.

Whatever happened to good old Blogging, hey?

Why don’t I blog anymore? Sometimes I go back looking for recipes or something and stumble across an older post and think “Damn, I can write pretty well. Why don’t I do that more?”

I guess the answer is “No time, no inclination.”

But we’re nearing the end of the calendar year, and I’m kind of… getting in the mood and the mindframe to write moar stuffs, and to catch up on things, and reflect. There’s a lot that I never blogged about at the time, that now I wish I’d noted down, if only to fix in my mind where and when and who and what and why.

Reading, Reading, Reading

I’ve been Twittering and even Google+ -ing more than actually blogging, but mostly what I do is read, read, read my newsfeed. Currently, that’s in Feedly, but Feedly doesn’t seem to want to provide a feed for free of the items I read, but I can send the best to Pocket (eyeroll), which can provide an RSS feed of my read and unread Pocket items. And now there’s something called “IFTTT.com” that can provide “recipes” that link different social accounts. I’ve just set it up to either create a new Facebook post with something favorited in Pocket, or to put anything saved for later in Feedly into Pocket. It’s to consolidate the stuff so that the best ends up on Pocket, I suppose. There are lots of other recipes and possible social sites to link there, too.

Currently Listening

I’ve been fooling with iTunes a lot more, since the recent death of my iPhone 4GS and the need to try to get all MY GODDAMN MUSIC on all my devices. Unfortunately, Apple makes life more difficult for users by not only changing the form factor of their products so that new cables, docks, and cases are required after almost every required upgrade, but forcing users to “authorize” their devices to use the music they purchased or ripped. This gets to be a problem if you forget to deauthorize a device when it’s replaced, or if it’s locked up, crashes irrevocably, and can’t be deauthorized without doing something like deauthorizing ALL devices, which can only be done once a year. I should think about doing that, since it’s nearly the end of one calendar year.

I’ve also got two Apple IDs, a lamentable state. The very old one is linked to my old, old, old AOL account, and a few of my songs, which somehow managed to survive on my old laptop through various changes of hardware, were purchased under that account. For some reason, Apple cannot make it possible to merge an old account into a new one. And it’s hard to fix problems with iCloud, too. Fortunately, there’s home sharing now, and iMatch (paid service, not going for it currently), but at least I was able to get all my iTunes libraries to be readable (all the music is now off of my desktop rather than part of iTunes’ folder tree, though).

I’ve been going through my iTunes and adding ratings, deleting songs that annoy me, and in some cases (I DON’T KNOW WHY) some songs go to iCloud and just won’t DIE, DIE, DIE. I think these are songs that I deleted long ago, but they got revived when I re-downloaded from the detachable hard drive. Which probably means that I’ll have to back up everything back to the hard drive in order to prevent the same thing from happening again. And it also may mean that my multiple locations will confuse the issue. I was using Clementine the other night to play music, and hit a snag with some kind of “encryption” error (probably one of the songs downloaded with the old Apple ID that needs to be reauthorized to this computer). Eh, feh, meh.

My rating system is basically like this:

* – Listened, don’t like it, can be deleted
** – Worth keeping, don’t dislike it
*** – Like it, not a favorite
**** – A current favorite, makes me turn up the volume on the headphones
***** – A lifetime favorite, makes me jump up and dance

I’m currently about a third of the way through rating my music, rediscovering stuff I haven’t heard in years. I’ll have to proceed carefully when I’m ready to back this all up so that I don’t lose all the ratings… again, eh meh feh. You can see my progress by checking the “currently listening” widget in the rightward column. I may go back and re-arrange that so the list is longer.

I have… even older choices that are on cassettes. Of those, the ones that mean the most have been purchased at the iTunes store, but I’m starting to get the idea the purchasing a CD is the smarter way to go, given the way I’ve been burned on some of my purchases.

Travel

The big, big trip in August with David’s dad Sheldon and his friend Linda was a lot of fun, as we went all over the Pacific Northwest. It had a fair amount of scope creep (we went too many places, mostly because Shel wanted to re-visit some things, and because David and I wanted to show Shel and Linda our favorites). There are plenty of photos, but I haven’t organized them. Afterwards, David remarked that it had been pretty expensive, so we probably would skip Hawaii in 2014 (we generally go every 2 years). Okay, so we would do something else, and I didn’t earmark 2 weeks away in February or March, when we like to go to the islands.

Then about a month ago, David said wistfully, “do you think we could go to Maui? I miss it.”

Fortunately, I was able to get some air space (thanks to Travelocity, after checking in SABRE), get some ground space (thanks to Condo Connection), and get some vacation time moved around (thanks to… work?) and we’re going. There’s no big plan, it’s just a return to one of the places we love. I’m hoping the condo I ended up with will be okay, as none of the places we’ve stayed at before were available or on the list of properties that Condo Connection handles. I’ve used so many different booking companies over the years, but one I won’t use again is Expedia, because the checkin process with them is a mess if you arrive after hours.

Some of the booking services I’ve used in the past include:

Condominium Connection for Napili Point, Royal Kahana, Poipu Shores (Kauai), and probably Maui Kamaole
Condominium Rentals Hawaii for Maui Kamaole
Maui Condo for Maui Kamaole, others.

I went looking for even more places I’ve used, but can’t find the websites… yeah, we’ve been to Maui a lot over the years (and to a lesser extent, Kauai and the Big Island).

I’d still like to get back to the Royal Mauian, but they sell out for whale-watching season a lot farther in advance. The one time we got in there in a 6th floor center unit, it was through Expedia, and the checkin process was awful – had to call someone to let us in, and the unit wasn’t ready. It’s an ideally located property in Kihei, far enough back from the main street, but perched right between 2 good swimming and snorkeling beaches. They don’t sell through many condo services, though, and the best units are center section, upper floor. The rooftop deck can’t be beat.

We’ve been at the Maui Kamaole a lot, probably because as one of the bigger properties in Kihei, they often have space. Not close to the water, as it’s across the street, but the sloping grounds are pretty and the choice of several pools and jacuzzis, and ample outdoor barbecues make for a nice property to spend off-beach time at. I have fond memories of scrunching my feet down in the crushed stone at the bottom of the one jacuzzi there, feels great on tired feet as the hot water comes up from below the smoothly polished gravel.

We’ve been to Hale Pau Hana at least twice – but probably can’t afford to stay in the Penthouse again, as they’ve remodeled and the price is now around 1800.00 per night, though with 3 or 4 bedrooms, it’s an incredible spot for large groups. Downside: it’s on the third floor, with no elevator. Still, it looks incredible now. The other units in the high-rise part of the building are fine, but they don’t have in-room washer and dryer from what I recall. That penthouse was something extra special, even before the big remodel. At least they seem to have gotten rid of the waterbed in the master bedroom – the upgrades look really beautiful, but I don’t think I’d want to do the 3 or 4 couple thing again, particularly as the last “bedroom” is a TV room with sofa bed.

We’ve been to Napili Point several times. David doesn’t like the rocky entry to Honokeana Bay, but I don’t mind it, and there are ALWAYS turtles there. And the sandy beach is just a short walk around the point. Also, restaurants like the Gazebo and the resort of Napili Bay are walkable.

This time we’re trying a place in Kahana, which is south of Napili, north of Kaanapali. It’s called the Royal Kahana, a big high-rise condo. Doesn’t look like the grounds are much to write home about, but the price was good and the example photos look fine. With this kind of property, each unit is individually owned and decorated to the taste of the owner, so you never know. You can request a recently upgraded unit sometimes. I booked this one through Condo Connection – had to laugh, I’ve used them enough they recognized my email and have a sort of profile with them. They use Skype, in addition to the usual email and toll-free phone.

The way this winter has been, we’ll be glad to get out of town and away from the cold.

Family

That’s getting kind of fun and interesting, since Shel and Linda are still chugging along happily! Good developments for my brother-in-law Dan with his new job and girlfriend, Tammy. Got to see some of my side of the family in August, too. Lots more that’s not for bloggery, but it’s all pretty good.

Friends

I lost my friend Tim Black last summer – how strange that was. He sang in the choir at church and seemed to be getting his life on a better track (lot of struggle, there). But suddenly, we got word that he’d had a terrible stroke, and he was gone in a week. His family decided to have a memorial in the late fall, just before Advent. So I made sure to have the afternoon off to attend, and also the choir prepared one of his favorite pieces to sing. Almost all of the core members were able to be there, plus a couple of extra people, so we were able to sing him off home.

Everyone else I know seems to be doing all right, though I need to check in with a few people – even in this hyper-connected age, it’s all too easy to lose touch.

Work

Work is weird – how bad can it be, working from home? It’s pretty isolating, for one thing. But I love the commute and I love the convenience. I’m just not sure how long it’ll be like this, because some things are changing behind the scenes in the next few months. I think it won’t really affect those of us at peon level, but stuff way over my pay grade is changing. I think for now I’m set as far as being on my same team, doing what I currently do – but there’s always the chance that someone far overhead will rearrange things like teams, accounts, and workflow. Of interest: I’m on a pilot project for a “new-new” booking tool that as far as I can tell is a re-skinned version of the “old-new” booking tool. It’s not officially in use yet, hence the pilot. I’d feel better about using it if it didn’t look like the same old thing as before, which is much slower than it’s supposed to be and inclined to lock up if you fight the process by doing too much the “old-old” way, which is faster and more reliable, but not as lockstep consistent as the new-old and new-new tools. Le sigh.

Epilogue

And look at that, it’s a blog post! And all of my iTunes songs have been rated and I’m all synced. There were some songs that I downloaded from the Internet about 4 computers ago that were stubborn about copying back and forth; I decided they were worth buying from iTunes, what the hell, hey? There were only 4 of them ::eyeroll:: out of about 870 that successfully updated.

So. Christmas time is come and gone, and it’s almost New Year’s Day. I’ve been fighting a cold that seems to just be minor sniffles with an annoying dry cough that comes and goes – I was slugging ginger tea and honey before Christmas Eve, so that I could sing, but have slacked off since then. At some point this week, the tree comes down, and the lights, and they get packed away. But for now we’re in that slightly seedy, post-Christmas festive mood. My week off is over, and it’s back to my normal workday routine tomorrow. Maybe I’ll actually blog again more frequently, now that I’ve got the music sorted (I like to blog while listening to something).

Until then, adieu (adieu, adieu).

The End And The Beginning of My Virtual Life

My iPhone died today. I’m not sure why, but it couldn’t have been good when the speaker dock I’d been using started making more squawky noises than usual – sometimes with shocklingly loud humming and buzzing that came through the speakers. It somehow managed to charge the phone where my older docks did not, but it was never a happy marriage, and David had remarked that it was unshielded, so there’d always be interference. So he’d already found a little wireless speaker called “Mini Jambox” that would be my Hannumas present, and he’s getting a GoPro.

But the iPhone? It’s my life, or a big part of my virtual life. It’s constantly at hand, and being without it isn’t really an option, because all my calendar listings, notes, emails, and a ton of other stuff is on it.

iphone5c-selection-green-2013

Welp, since my iPhone gave up the ghost, refusing to power up via battery and unable to connect to wifi to be reset, off we went to the local AT&T store to get a replacement, as we figured it had finally gotten the shock of its life and gone poof. Alas, the bright guy at the AT&T store didn’t have any of the Chosen One (an iPhone 5C) in stock. We liked Glenn, he pounced on us very politely when we walked purposefully into the AT&T store, and if only things had gone otherwise, we wouldn’t have had an hour’s worth of woe and gnashing of teeth at Best Buy.

But off we went to the Best Buy, where at first things were off to an auspicious start: not only did they have the 32G 5c in stock, they had it in white AND blue AND green. Faced with an actual color choice other than the Model T (black) and the Model A (white), I froze all deerlike in the headlights and blurted out “Green!” Well, in retrospect, maybe the blue would have been the less neon-y choice, but the color is kind of minty and it’s growing on me, and it goes with my deep blue/purplish Hannemas present (but I’m getting ahead of myself).

Anyway, we started the process of de-commissioning the old phone off of our account and enabling the new, but Houston, we had a problem: the Best Buy tech person said that she’d typed my phone number in correctly (…) but they had de-commissioned David’s phone (and he had a conference call to take in less than an hour back home). The tech rushed to get this corrected, IMing the AT&T people frantically, and finally calling (on her own iPhone) to have them fix it.

Unfortunately, the fix meant somehow that both SIM cards (on David’s current phone, and on my erstwhile new phone) had been disabled. So she had to get two new SIM cards out, enable each and install each in the proper phone, and insure that the phones had the right phone number. While that was playing out and we were politely trying not to freak out too much, the tech had a floor runner fetch a green iPhone case and comped it to me for the trouble. Well, heck, I still could have had a blue case, it’s got holes in the back that would be like fun polka dots in the contrasting green. Anyway, eventually she got the SIM cards installed, David called my new phone, it worked, and we were good to go.

Back home again, I started rebuilding all my email passwords, swearing at Yahoo for making the “forgot my password” process such a nightmare (for various reasons, I have several Yahoo email accounts, to go with various social IDs). David had to step in and straighten that out.

I was relieved that my apps had made it through the ordeal, even though I hadn’t synched the old phone to iTunes since September. And now I see that a bunch of my songs didn’t stay in iTunes… there’s a lot more of them on my laptop, which I *thought* I had gotten to synch up to the desktop. I can see that the end is not in sight, but will try to get the old library to synch to the new one. I also still have the Gateway computer handy, which may have the synched library. It needs to be decommissioned, if not.

MiniJambox

David decided to give me my prezzie early, so I powered up the MiniJambox, installed the app that makes it easy to configure and paired it up via Bluetooth with the new iPhone. As an added bonus feature, it also acts as a speakerphone, and a full charge lasts 10 hours… AND it can get Siri talking, too. I started fooling with some of the other features, as it can connect to Spotify, Rdio, and something called Deezer through the app. It sounds terrific, it’s compact and nicely designed, and comes with a mini-USB charge/synch cable and an audio line in/line out double-ended cable (for those times when using Bluetooth to connect isn’t… what, necessary? It paired like a dream).

I signed up for the Spotify free trial and the Rdio free trial. Apparently some services on either will remain free, but playlists and albums are a subscription deal after the trials; I will pass on paying. After all, I still have bad vibes from when Last.fm, the original source of much scrobbling, took their free service to a subscription model, and I went in search of free internet radio apps that scrobbled to my blogs. While I’ve got the free trials, I’ll listen to as much stuff as I can.

HolidayMinionRush

My last big worry: did my Minion Rush game app survive and make the leap across the chasm, with more than 400,000 delicious bananas and quite a cache of game tokens, not to mention my level 26 ranking? Yes, thank goodness, it did – such a funny game – if I’d been reset to 0 loot, 0 tokens, 0 levels I’d have been pretty sad. And right after downloading the delightful Holiday Lab update, too! It’s so Christmassy (say that like “it’s so fluffy!” and you’ll have it right).

So the resurrection continues (it’s not blasphemy unless it’s capitalized, right? Right.). My work life will be full of music (and no more buzzing and crackling). And my play life will be renewed too, because we’re thinking this Jambox thing will be great to bring on future trips… more on “future trips” later.

Listening, listening, listening: will probably get things set up perfectly just before Last.fm quits working.

It’s not easy getting Last.fm to work on an iPad… there’s only partial functionality (I suspect that due to Apple’s well known aversion to all things Flash, and also to their reluctance to grant control of the iTunes player to third parties).

Now that I’m working from home, music is becoming more and more a necessity. I couldn’t listen before in the office environment, which could have helped me tune out distractions. Now I can listen, and it helps me stay focused while working on records in “waiting for calls” mode. I have a normal clock radio in my home office that can dock with my iPhone 4 (but not charge it, it’s an older model radio) and play either iTunes or streaming radio via various iPhone apps. Then  I realized from this post  that my iPad has more capable built in speakers, and tons more options for streaming radio.

Anyway, there are various ways to listen to music on the iPad, and I’ve tried most of them. Only a couple integrate with the Last.fm “scrobbling” feature, which compiles lists of music tracks played. I seem to finally have settled on 2 iPad internet radio apps in addition to iTunes, which are something called Radio.com and the one that works best for me, Tunemark. This is in addition to at least 2 other radio apps that I use (radioBOX and Tuner), but that don’t get “scrobbled” by Last.fm to keep a running list of songs played via streaming radio. There’s Pandora, too, but I ended up deleting it, may try it again later but it wasn’t coordinating with Last.fm any more. Why do I keep the non-scrobbling ones? Mostly because they have different lists of streaming internet radio stations, some unique or hard to find. Some are easy to set up. So they’re not worth dumping.

There doesn’t seem to be a way to get the Last.fm “custom stations” or “create your station from an artist, song, or genre” feature working on the iPad, because that seems to be kicked off only using a browser version of Last.fm that requires Flash, which Apple refuses to support. Meh. The only other way to get this feature is to install the Last.fm desktop client, which of course can’t be done on the iPad, because APPLE. Grr.

On the other hand, I was playing around on the old laptop and there I have tons of options.

  • Had previously installed a cross-platform player called Clementine that scrobbles tracks and streaming radio. It’s simple, easy to work with, it just works.
  • Installed the latest beta version of the desktop Last.fm client, which is reportedly buggy, but working more or less fine for me on Ye Olde Lap-Top Computer (it may help that it’s still WinXP, don’t know). But the fabulous custom radio feature works, and the integrated plugins for Winamp work, whoo hoo! I can even “love” songsI
  • Installed the latest Winamp, ditto whoo hoo, especially as I had never bothered to import my iTunes library… and it seems I should have, because my laptop has the oldest and most complete version of my much neglected and out of date music database. I found tons of music that hasn’t survived the leaps to my old pre-Gateway computer, let alone to my old Gateway and the current custom-built with the blue blinky whirry lights. AND the Winamp plugin works – I could never get that working before. Oh, maybe I should check to see if it detects streaming radio tracks… the inability of Winamp to scrobble on my desktop on the old version is, heh heh heh, ,what got me kind of in this musical obsession death-spiral in the first place. And… there we have it, Winamp does NOT scrobble streaming radio, but it starts to scrobble saved podcasts (I have a copy of This American Life’s “Pools of Money” show on the economic crisis, and the Last.fm client detected it and the audio tracks I’d imported from iTunes
  • Tested a different Last.fm plugin, Adaba’s Last.fm Pages and widget. Didn’t work, too bad, it hadn’t been updated in 2 years, and it had the ability to create pages with latest tracks, favorites, etc.
  • Installed another plugin called Last.fm Tabs, which adds interesting features below the current one, WPLast.fm. So now I can show favorites, top rated, and so on. Not quite as good as an entire page of recent tracks, but okay for now. I may explore a different method to put that on its own page later.

So: on the iPad, I can scrobble tracks from iTunes, and scrobble some streamed radio from the Radio.com app (which has a pretty nice interface, but a lot of dead Yahoo radio links, because CBS Radio killed them or something). My iPad streaming Radio.com app (which has a pretty nice interface, but a lot of dead Yahoo radio links, because CBS Radio killed them or something). My iPad streaming radio app of choice is Tunemark, which I think was a 0.99 BARGAIN.”>radio app of choice is Tunemark, which I think was a 0.99 BARGAIN.

Radio.com was HARD to configure for Last.fm. For some reason I couldn’t get signed in for a day. Then when I thought I had turned it on, I hadn’t actually clicked a little green user icon dingus and REALLY complete the connection to Last.fm. Once that was done, the generic user icon (which looked like a Plamobil wee-people) turned into a faint AS (which scrobblers know stands not for Arne Saknussemm but for Audioscrobbler, the precursor software Last.fm bought). It took me 2 whole days to stumble into the solution – not found in any FAQ that I could find.

Yet Tunemark is a pleasure to use and configure. It comes with the stock Shoutcast directory of internet radio stations, but it’s easy to add a stream URL (Winamp is awful for adding URLs, but I grumbled and got along for years). I had to look up some of the harder to find URLs (for some reason, CBS is a major thorn in the sides of internet radio listners, they hid their high-bandwidth URLs well).

A couple of really cool features on Tunemark (and now I finally get to use the fancy new Twitter embed) are the ability to Tweet a track title and artist, or to post it as a status update to Facebook. Also, it has a way to “tunemark” or bookmark a track, which adds it to a local list which can be exported. Pretty cool, eh? I’m still figuring out what other features are hidden behind little icons.

Oh, lookit that, that’s so cute! Yep, it’s cool functionality… and similar to a nifty little thing that the old, old, old offline WordPress client ecto used to have. Just push the little “musical note” button while iTunes was playing, and it would insert a “currently listening” thing into the post. Le sigh, ecto or whatever it’s called now has been dead for Windows users for years… shame, that. Anyway, the thing is, all this fun musical woolgathering is dependent on one single piece of software – that old Audioscrobbler that Last.fm bought 6 years ago that they’ve gradually let get long in the tooth until now, it seems, it’s easier for them to update for everything BUT Apple products. There must be some longstanding fued or something. If they ever break the functionality for scrobbling to Last.fm or any other site from iTunes or from Apple products, a scream of rage will go up from thousands and thousands of hardcore music-track collectors. Reading some of the years-old pleas in the Last.fm community support pages these last few days, I’ve gotten a sense of how bored the Last.fm folks are with answering the same question over and over again: “WHEN WILL LAST.FM HAVE ITS OWN iPAD APP? WHEN? THE iPHONE VERSION LOOKS TERRIBLE ON THE TABLET!”

The beta version of their software is working. I’m hoping that a website redesign is coming (without the horrible Flash that means I can’t work all the music, video, “play” or radio buttons on the iPad or iPhone). But I have a horrible feeling that I’ve finally figured out how to make a record of all the great music I’m listening to now, only to probably lose this ability at any time, at Last.fm’s whim. You see, CBS Radio bought Last.fm a few years ago. Not long after that, they took their best streaming URLs behind a kind of content wall (forcing listeners to listen to high-bandwith WXRT HD via their website, for example) and they also appear to have simply turned off a lot of Yahoo! radio streams, after taking them over. So it’s not known how long CBS might be okay with the whole “scrobbling via API to various third-party players and blog plugins” concept, unless they see significant purchase revenue from incoming links to scrobblers’ pages. I dunno.

Anyway, I’ve listened to a lot of old and new music tonight playing around on the iPad and Ye Olde Laptop, the Dull Uninspiron. While it lasts, I’ll enjoy listening during the day, too.

More music later. And more tweets.

So,

Now this, THIS is scrobbling: Clementine and Last.fm and Streaming radio just plain work.

On a whim, I looked once again to see if there’s a way to set WinAmp up to “scrobble” streaming radio, and it appears not… but one word at the Last.fm support site said simply “clementine” and that seems to do the job nicely. Built in support for Last.fm, Grooveshark, Spotify, and a few other services. There’s a ton of Internet radio stations to explore, and it’s relatively simple to set up playlists with my favorite Radio Riel streams, plus stations I’ve encountered on trips and local stations too.

The Last.fm feed is put into my sidebar using a plugin called WPLast.fm – it’ll pick up oddities like on-air ads and station IDs, and some songs miss the feed but are visible at my Last.fm page

I’ll try to move the political stuff and noise elsewhere. I can’t blog during the workday – that goes without saying. But I can certainly have music playing. I’ve moved some of the “stats” stuff to the About page, which could use some work but it clears up some white space on the main page and post pages.

Clementine runs well on the old laptop, it’ll get installed on the main desktop machine too, so that when I’m online in the evenings, I can listen to whatever I want and scrobble tracks.

Still need to carve some time out to upload a few batches of photos to Flickr from the last 2 trips. More later.

Happy Easter! I’m Off To Sing The Hallelujah Chorus

It’s that time of year again – I’m singing at the Easter Vigil tonight at St Nicholas, and we’re doing the Hallelujah Chorus tonight and tomorrow. Much like in 2007, in fact, but we’re much more experienced now, and the freshening we’ve felt with Father Manny beginning his tenure has been a LOT of fun!

I’m also the web and social media boffin for St Nick’s so I do the website, Twitter, Facebook, and whatever else that’s internet-y. So I’m always interested to know how people find St Nick’s. I’m also on the Welcome Committee, just  so that all makes a kind of sense.

Work is good too – not that busy, but expected to get busier after the “spring break lull.” One exciting thing: we’re all going to be working from home, the entire office. It’ll be a big undertaking but I’ve asked to be put on the list for the first wave. One of my teammates is already working from home and loves it, and I have a spare bedroom that’s small enough to be kind of ideal for a home office. All the tech gear and connection will be handled by the office, so we’ll be very interested to see how they deal with the wiring.

I’m looking for computer parts these days anyway; my desktop computer lost the graphics card I upgraded it with (WAAAAH!) so I’m limping along on the default one. So far it looks like we’ll swap for a bigger case and power supply, and then there’ll be room for a good quality graphics card. Hoping to spend less than $500 on it, maybe a lot less as prices are about to come down.

Anyway, Easter. My music is all collated, in spite of the best efforts of my choir mistress to keep throwing new pieces of music and hymns in that she planned for but never gave out because it was “in our Anglican DNA” and thus something we ought to know. Ah, well, it’ll be a good service and I’ll be very, very happy when we get through the “big stuff” like the Hallelujah Chorus.I also get to chant in the dark, which is always… fraught, but fun when it sounds good.

More later. Happy Easter, can’t wait to see who Bunny Stig turns out to be at church tomorrow.

Listening to The Zombies On World Cafe : NPR

I had no idea that some of the original members of classic 60’s group The Zombies were playing together again, but I happened upon a repeat of the World Cafe show where they sang some songs from their new album, accompanied by piano. And then they sang their classic, it’s a rough version but live, live, live.

Actually, there’s something about their voices that reminds me a lot of much more contemporary groups, they’ve still got a compelling sound.

In today’s World Cafe session, Argent tells the story of his attempt to meet his idol, Elvis Presley, in 1965 by visiting Presley’s Memphis home — and the surprise he received when he got there. Later, Blunstone describes recording the famous Odessey and Oracle at Abbey Road immediately after the Beatles finished Sgt. Pepper’s; the Zombies even used some of the same instruments, like the Mellotron. Finally, Argent and Blunstone perform two new songs off Breathe Out, Breathe In before treating us to a rendition of the classic “She’s Not There.”

via The Zombies On World Cafe : NPR

Using Firefox Extension to Scrobble Pandora Glibberty Glibberty Glook

Found so much good stuff via Pandora, figured out how to “scrobble” it via my little Last.fm widget, so now the music I listen to shows up from there too. Found lots via Last.fm’s own “Tune In Now” radio gadget. Now I wonder why there are so many orchestral goth bands fronted by redheads. Obviously I missed out on this aspect of my musical career.

Link: Build Last.fm: Extend your Last.fm experience – Last.fm

Okay, Last.fm, I give in. I’m scrobbling again… to The Muppets. Blogging muse must be fed.

I’ve given in to Last.fm, as I found that it was easy to add a widget to scrobble tracks I’ve listened to on iTunes or via Last.fm (it’s not working for the internet radio stations I listen to on Winamp). So far, I’ve listened to random things, and something I created called “The Muppets Radio.” It’s made for some interesting audio moments, which eventually led to Monty Python and something wacky called Moxy Fruvious. It’s high time I opened up to new music… I’m hoping it’ll help me dare to be a bit more productive and creative around here.

If you stumble across the blog after a long time away, you’ll see there’ve been a lot of changes. I’m giving a more modern WordPress theme a try… flirted with WooThemes, but found that their otherwise nifty WooTumblog plugin, paired with the Express for WordPress app for the iPhone really only works with Woothemes – all other themes require some modifications. The default Twenty Ten theme was the only example given for how to get it working; I had it working for a while with my previous theme, Amazing Grace, but it stopped working after the most recent WordPress version came out.

So, I decided to try the latest default theme, called Twenty Eleven. However, it was completely different from the previous default theme, and the instructions for getting WooTumblog configured were nowhere to be found. In fact, there was some indication on the support forums for WooTumblog that the latest version of WordPress kind of indicated that it would be harder and harder to integrate it into any non-Woothemes template.

Meh, I had played around with it from the iPhone, but it didn’t really make my blogging any easier from there. So I bailed on it (especially when an adjustment I tried to make to get it working totally broke my website. Buh-bye).

That said, I went all in with the new default theme, but still wanted a three column layout.

Enter NomNom Twenty Eleven child theme by Zeaks.

  • 8 premade color schemes
  • 6 new layouts including 3 different 3 column layouts
  • Nivo Slider added to header with several options to control the look
  • Option to resize the header
  • Support for excerpts with post thumbnails
  • Second menu above the header
  • Sidebar on post pages
  • Area to add your own custom CSS that will not be overwritten with an upgrade
  • Google Font selector for most areas
  • Built in related posts under each post with on/off option
  • Superfish dropdown menu effects
  • Custom Twitter, Flickr, Author Biography widgets
  • Plain text to URL support(just type a url in a post, no need to create a link)
  • WPPageNavi template and style support
  • Color options for all menu areas
  • All code is well commented

I didn’t really start working with it until yesterday, but it has plenty of flexibility for the kinds of color, graphic, and font tweaks that you might make to adapt a default theme. I’ve already added my normal CSS drop shadows – nice not to have to add it to the stylesheet, this theme has a custom CSS box where you can add it and it supposedly won’t get messed up in an upgrade. I’ve also added about a dozen custom banners that are taken from my own pictures – easy as pie, much simpler and more striking than the way I was doing it before. I may still fool with the Flickr badge in the right column.

There’s still some things to tweak but this is a pretty good start. And it’s been pleasant to listen to Last.fm come up with variations on “The Muppets” as a radio station, and see the music get added to my left side bar. I’ve also been listening to Radio Riel, my standby, which WON’T scrobble from what I can tell – via Winamp and http://www.radioriel.org.

More later, headed out to see “White Christmas” at the Marriott Lincolnshire.