the itjerk

my adventures with technology

status, third edition

Sorry if I’m going dark for a while, but I’m working on a third (and final) edition of The Strawberry Bricks Guide to Progressive Rock. Writing is complete, re-learning curve for InDesign is complete – funny how you forget to do things (index, master pages) after a year or so – and figuring out how to make the cover/spine look fool-proof. Then it’s on to the never-ending land of proofreading. And there I will be for a while…

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oh dell you sucked today

I ordered a Dell Latitude 3190 2-in-1 Laptop for my daughter late last week. It was a certified refurbished computer, and with discount was cheap, $240. Now I know, ordering someone else’s problem computer can be a bad idea, but it still has a one (1) year warranty and is …certified!

The short story is that arrived today, DOA. It then took me 45 minutes to get through the service prompts, mostly because the Service Tag had not yet been entered into Dell’s system. After a further wait, Dell offered a motherboard replacement part in 1-2 business day, while a complete return/replacement would take 7-10 days after approval, plus shipping.

Really?  That just sucks Dell.

Update: A new computer arrived two days later, along with a return Fedex label. All was well with that unit, updates galore, but my daughter is quite happy with it…

Update, Update: I decided to purchase a second one, for myself. Placed the order, unit arrived, and it did not work: Windows error SYSTEM SERVICE EXCEPTION stop code, so after another hour on the phone with Dell, I returned it for a refund.

lumin d2

Now that I’m all-in on a digital music and streaming with Roon, it was about time that I upgraded from my “science projects” and bought a “real” DAC/Streamer for my main system. First up was deciding a price-point. Most of my equipment falls in the “couple thousand” dollar range, so it only makes sense that the $100 dollar streamer wasn’t quite up to the rest of my system. Thus, I set a budget of $2000 for the purchase.
As for features, I use ethernet to connect to my home network and Roon core (no real need for wifi), and want to use the balanced outputs to my pre-amp. Displays are pretty cool, but honestly, they’re not that easy to see from a distance. Cambridge had a nice model, CXN, but unfortunately it does not carry Roon Ready credentials. So after posting to the Roon Community website, I landed on the Lumin D2. The company makes much higher end devices (and is known for set-top video boxes in Asia), but all are highly rated, and after scoring a deal at Axpona 2019, I made the purchase. Immediately I heard an upgrade through my system, and I also get the benefit of upsampling to DSD quality.

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On the web:
Lumin D2

cd burning on ubuntu 18.04lts

It’s not often anymore that I have to burn a CD-R, mostly when I want a CD for the car, or perhaps to give to a friend. Anyway, I opened up Brasero, clicked New Audio Project, added my files and went to burn the CD-R. Failed. Log showed the following:

BraseroWodim stderr: wodim: Operation not permitted. Warning: Cannot raise RLIMIT_MEMLOCK limits.
BraseroWodim called brasero_job_get_flags
BraseroWodim stderr: wodim: Resource temporarily unavailable. Cannot get mmap for 16781312 Bytes on /dev/zero.
BraseroWodim called brasero_job_get_flags
BraseroWodim stdout: TOC Type: 0 = CD-DA
BraseroWodim stderr: HUP
BraseroWodim stdout: HUP
BraseroWodim process finished with status 11
BraseroWodim called brasero_job_error
BraseroWodim finished with an error
BraseroWodim asked to stop because of an error

 

Quick internet searched yield the following fix, giving “execute” rights to users, and that “4” means as root (setuid):

sudo chmod 4711 /usr/bin/wodim; sudo chmod 4711 /usr/bin/cdrdao

It’s not the first time I’ve had to “fix” something in Ubuntu to do a relatively mundane task, maybe not the last, either. Burn, baby burn!

backup

The data axiom is “always have at least two copies of anything you want to keep!”

Now that I’ve ripped my entire (well, almost entire) CD collection, I have to back it up. A RAID 1 drive is good protection from drive failures, but it doesn’t protect at all for accidental erasure, file corruption, etc. I’m going old school and bought a new 3TB disc, the same size as my RAID, and plugged it into a hard disc enclosure, the same model I have for my another backup drive; I only need to have the same wall-wart and USB cable handy. I formatted the disk with ext4, the same as the source drive, which prevents file-naming errors during backup. However, if you format your disk for use with Windows, you’ll need to install exfat-utils and exfat-fuse in Ubuntu. (I also recommend doing the initial format on a Windows machine.)

I am using Grsync software to make the backup, which is a graphical front-end for the rsync utility. I marked the –update and –delete options, as I want to make an identical copy of the source on the destination: copy what’s not there, replace (based on checksum) what’s changed and delete what was removed from the source. You can perform a dry-run first; be sure to empty the trash and skip the lost+found folder before you sync (the latter may give errors). Viola, backing up FTW!

When deciding on a backup method, it’s important to always remember what you’re backing up and why you’re backing it up – and what risk you can afford.

In this case, these are music files, most of which I have a CD copy of but would never want to put in the months of work in to rip again. The rest are downloads, paid or otherwise, some I may never have access to again. Now, I could probably use something different method (cloud, internal disk), something automated, something better, but this method works for me because I can assume the risk.

I have an initial backup (which I have tested) and a proven backup method, so it’s up to me to keep up the work.

roon 1.6

Yesterday a big update to Roon came out. It touted integration with Qobuz, an unpronounceable and paid streaming service similar to Tidal, and some enhancements to Roon Radio, for a “personalized radio experience… [that] helps you discover new music by curating great recommendations.”

The only problem is a) I already own a music collection, and b) I could give a f*ck as to what some algorithm thinks I should listen to next. I want Roon to stream and organize the digital music I own. It’s all about metadata, and it’s all about getting that metadata correct.

Straight up: I don’t buy into music services (Spotify, iTunes, Tidal, etc.). They are for people who don’t love music: this notion that they or Roon “can help me listen and find music” is diametrically opposed to my journey with music. It’s unsatisfying and it’s lazy, but most of all, it’s imprecise.

Sidebar: I am from the era of the Record Hunter, when one had to put in the work to get music, and put in even more work to discover new music. I’m not sure if the younger generation has any appreciation of how difficult it was to find things in the pre-internet era. I’m not only talking about crawling through bargain bins, driving miles to find new record stores or visit old favs, or scanning the back of Goldmine for vendor listings; it’s going to record shows on Sunday mornings; sending paper checks in envelopes to vendors that were only an address; waiting weeks for a special order to come in, or something to arrive in the mail; tearing out the Yellow Page listing in a new city and taking the rental car to every store you could hit; have a typed want list that was carried on travels; actually talking to people about music, writing letters to friends and acquaintances about favs, making friends just because of the music you shared in common; just hanging out and listening to music; carrying records to friends house, or school, or wherever because you found something you thought others may like. being heartbroken when a purchase didn’t pan out, because those hard-earned dollars were just that; listening to the radio, because that was what we had!

The sheer joy of finding a golden nugget from my want list, or an unknown gem I’d never heard of before: This was how I fell in love with music.

rippin’ good time!

A long holiday break and “dry January” has given me plenty of time to finish ripping my CD collection, and as of today, I’m finished. My RAID drive is now half-full of digital music – ripped, tagged, and entered into Discogs – all for Roon to play. Hurrah!

I’ve sorted through thousands of CDs; nearly all of them I want to keep, and those that I don’t I’ve piled into two: worth selling and worthless. It’s hard to define what to not keep, but you kinda know it when you see it: Todd Rundgren compilation 2CD on Rhino, French budget CD of The Moody Blues’ Go No… you get the drift.

I’ve deleted about 50% of the mp3 I’ve ever downloaded because they’ve been replaced with a shiny disc. That’s good! I regret selling some that I used to own, and I wish I would have made a FLAC copy of the ones I only made a MP3 of; yeah, I know, that’s not “in the spirit” of copyright law, but you know what? Artists make the same on used CD purchases. But I don’t want to go there…

CDs are amazingly cheap, so cheap that I find myself scouring bargain bins and buying anything under $3-4 bucks, especially of ones I already have the vinyl of. I might not keep all of them, but that digital archive is gonna be OCD complete!

happy new year

Happy new year, dear reader(s). As I look over the past years’s posts, I am wrapping up my “adventure” ripping my CD collection to disk, the Chumby has been retired (in favor of another Google Home Mini), and I have just about unloaded all the “extra” electronic components in my household. My wife is now the proud owner of a Pixel 3 phone, and all four in the household are with Google Fi, the old Project Fi.

What’s in store for the new year? Computer-wise, I’m fine, but my oldest will be off to high school, so that looks like a laptop purchase. Now that I’ve had Roon for a while, I’ll write a “real” review. Finally, I’ve warned my wife that I want to upgrade my stereo, though the Neat Acoustics dealer in my area went out of business. More from Axpona 2019?

Anyway, thanks for sticking around, there are bound to be some surprises along the way. Here’s to techno-adventures in 2019!

another bricked nexus 5x

My wife head out of town for work and unfortunately her Nexus 5X promptly bricked. Props to her hotel for giving her a ride to the office. When she returned, I got on the phone with Google Fi who in turn got me on the phone with LG. Sent the phone in with prepaid labels, they replaced “the board” and a week later she was back in action. So that’s 2 of 3 Nexus 5X’s I own that have used had the “extended warranty” from LG.

Props also to LG for taking care of business?

rip logitechmediaserver, squeezebox

sqebay

It is with a touch of sorrow that I have retired both Logitech Media Server and my Squeezebox v3 Network Music Player, and all ancillary programs. Not only was it my gateway into all things Linux, but it was also my introduction to streaming music. The interface remains stuck in the 00s, and my other hardware have eclipsed it; perhaps this is a problem with opensource. The interface does need a major, major refresh. Ultimately, I have just moved on with Roon server. So for all your names, Slimdevices, Slimserver, Squeezeboxserver, Squeezelite, Logitechmediaserver, I loved you all.

Originally purchased in April 2007, I have my Squeezebox up for sale on eBay:

On the web:
eBay