A New Year potter

· culture ·

Happy New Year, everyone! I know I'm a day late, but what's a day between friends?

I've taken a couple of extra leave days, so I'm not back at work until next Monday, and I'm enjoying just pottering around, and trying to shake off a weird bug I seem to have picked up. I had one of those days today where you start off with the intention of fixing one small thing, and end up putting a whole host of things right by accident.

It started with my long-disconnected SliMP3 player. When we moved into our new house, I didn't get around to connecting up the SliMP3 player, for a number of very dull reasons, but partly because I didn't have a long enough Ethernet cable. (I know: it's a classic GTD situation of not having the right next action written down...) It's only taken a year, but I finally got around to finding a cable and fixing the other impediments and hooking that sucker up. They are beautifully simple devices, so the configuration was fairly straight-forward, except that I'd forgotten that in the interval between last using it and now, I'd converted most of my iTunes library to AAC format from MP3. My player can't transcode AAC on the hardware (I believe some of the new players can do it), but the server software can convert AAC on the fly to MP3 and play that. Except that I needed LAME installed, so all I got was a 'Can't play file' message. After a quick install of LAME all was well. Except that the horrible distortion I've noticed intermittently in my audio system downstairs was really ruining my enjoyment of listening to the SliMP3.

So I decided to see if I could track down the problem. We have a very noisy mains electrical system in our house, and the boiler controller is a particularly bad source of noise. I'd assumed when I heard the distortion before that it was the boiler switch, but today I was listening with the heating system off, and it was still distorted. I checked cable connections, tightened speaker terminals and swapped out power strips, all to no avail. Just when I was beginning to despair of being able to find the source of the problem, I noticed that when I listened with my ear to each speaker in turn, the left was producing all of the distortion. Checking the speaker cable to that speaker carefully, I found that the insulation had cracked, exposing the wire. Aha! Fifteen minutes of pottering in the garage looking for my wire strippers, and some cutting back of the cable, and the distortion had gone. Now I could sit back and listen to my SliMP3 player.

But now I noticed that there were huge numbers of mislabelled files cluttering up the artist listing, making it hard to chose the artists I wanted to listen to. I then felt compelled to go into iTunes and clear up the database, getting rid of some temporary files, and naming everything properly with the correct metadata.

By the time I came downstairs to finally listen to my distortion-free, nicely organised music, it was time for tea. Seriously, where did the day go?