the itjerk

my adventures with technology

Category Archives: Notification

discogs.com

I have a few passions in life: technology, food (both eating and cooking) and music. I’ve been collecting records since the early 70s and have amassed a man-cave full of them, along with CDs, DVDs, boxsets, cassettes, singles, etc. After doing this for decades, I find slimmer pickings at the shops these days; mainly, because I already own most of the records that I want, and well, people’s taste in music doesn’t really change that much over the years, does it? But I still love collecting, and I still love record shopping.

In 2005, I discovered discogs.com. It’s a website built around a user-contributed database with just about every music release ever, you know, released. Think of it as Wikipedia, but for albums. The coolest feature is the implementation of master release and subsequent pressings. For the collector, one can find the exact pressing in their collection, or the copy that they are looking for, as there’s also a marketplace attached to the site — I guess that’s how they keep the bills paid for running the website.

As with any “user-contributed” sites, discogs.com has its pluses and minuses (the minuses being users that take it upon themselves to police every last change to a listing), but overall, it’s very accurate and very robust. As a marketplace, it’s effortless to drill down to the *exact* release I want; as well as creating a want list for those that I cannot afford! Anyway…

I have a lot of records; to the point of I don’t even know what I have! On a recent record-run, I bought five records that I already owned. Not a lot of money, but it pushed me into action. Discogs.com also has a feature that allows one to catalog their collection to the website, as well as a phone app that lets one access that collection wherever they go. The trick is, you have to enter that collection into the website. Luckily, the phone app has a built-in barcode reader, so adding items to your collection is as easy as scanning them (just keep the app rotation fixed to portrait)! For records, unfortunately, this doesn’t work, as ones prior to 1980 never had barcodes. But it’s easy enough to enter the catalog number from a computer.

It’s a time consuming process, but not one without reward – revisiting items I didn’t know I had – nor one without an end. Figuring out which specific pressing I have (Monarch, Presswell, etc.) can be arduous, even to the point of who cares; but it’s a solution to a very real need, and a damn good one at that. Give me a year and I’ll have most everything cataloged.

Until then, enjoy the music.

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the book is finished

I finished writing my book: 632 pages. All text. No pictures. Yep, lots of words. It’s a record guide, so non-fiction, but lots of facts. And my audience (mostly old white men) are very picky about getting facts correct, like “It was ‘THE Fountain of Salmacis,’ not ‘Fountain of Salmacis.'” Anyway, I’ve spent the last few months proof reading and fact-checking those 632 pages. Boring, tedious, but being who I am, I just had to get it done. Letting go — knowing when to stop checking-as well as stop writing — was even more difficult.

Anyway, the book is self-published (more below), which means, despite a few kind souls that helped with fact-checking, and a younger soul that I paid to edit my non-final text, and my wife, bless her soul, it was really down to ME to get everything correct. I wonder if a “traditional” publisher could have offered more?

The first edition was published in 2007. Hard to think it was a decade ago, my kids were just babies then. Social media was too! Now, I have soo many options now to market the book, it’s exciting. Foremost, the book doesn’t suck (to borrow a Cubs’s manager Joe Maddon phrase), in fact, for the topic, it’s pretty darn good. And with all the fact checking, those few nasty Amazon reviewers will have NOTHING to bark about. Heck, maybe some adventurous young white men may even want to read it!

I sold 3,000 copies of my first book via Lulu.com. One day, after the book had been in print for a couple of years, sales stopped. That normal November, December surge of 40 books fell to zero. So, rather than argue “what happened to the sales,” I withdrew it from print. As the next edition was readying for sale, I looked at alternatives to Lulu. I found CreateSpace.com, an Amazon company. The process of approving a title is a little more clunky (CreateSpace must do something manually because it takes 24 hours once you submit files), but here’s the slam dunk for CreateSpace:

I’m going to retail the book for $34.95. For direct print sales — someone clicking on my link to buy the book at Lulu.com — my royalty is almost 30%, which is great. But the sales through Amazon — so-called retail print-where 99% of people will buy my book — I just can’t accept $2.67 per copy. And if I were to lower the price of the book, say discount it to $29.95, that rate drops to $0.67!

Enter CreateSpace: Perhaps(?) because it’s an Amazon company, I can earn that 30% on those retail print Amazon sales, which also includes the UK and the EU. The print book isn’t as high quality as Lulu, but each copy costs me $5.00 less to buy outright and I make more money on each sale. Well, not that much worse quality then!

It’s not like I wrote 632 pages for anything but the love of music. But I’ve easily shelled out $2000 for editor, images, art, transcriptions, press, promo copies, postage, etc — let alone the money I’ve spent buying the music that the book covers. And after recouping those expenses, I’d like a little slush fund to buy a few “holy grails” for my collection …at least until I get an IRS form 1099 from CreateSpace to file with my income taxes next year. Ugh.

Buy your copy here: The Strawberry Bricks Guide to Progressive Rock

happy new year

Since the last post, I’ve been working on the Revised and Updated version of my Strawberry Bricks Guide to Progressive Rock, using Adobe InDesign under Windows 10. Love Windows 10, and InDesign is a great program for book layout. The Index and Table of Contents features are a lifesaver, too. I will also be switching to CreateSpace.com for publishing, at least on Amazon.com. Back to work!

windows 10, not

win10

democracy fail

Well yes, here’s a post about politics. I won’t go on about my leanings, but I would like to make a comment on the process. It’s quite simple, no one votes anymore. Here’s the results from the Illinois governor race this morning. I imagine that both parties could care less that 65% of eligible Illinois voters did not turn up to the polls. But think of the effect that this has on the outcome of elections.

Here’s the link to the numbers:  election graph data

2014ILGOV

the itjerk is back

Nothing like heartache and a couple days off to spur on those unfinished projects… the itjerk is back, now hosted on wordpress.com. All the old content from My Opera site has been imported, and I’ve got a few fun projects lined up. Goodbye opera and welcome to my new home!

hour of code

I just completed an "hour of code" at the code.org site. You should too!

customer service?

Okay, pot calling the kettle black but… Not sure if it's because IT types are the ones behind those support tickets, but this just seems appropriate in light of some experiences I had recently. My point is, the customer is usually right, especially when they are right. No need to get defensive when you're wrong. After all, you don't own the company, do you?

My Partial Mash Procedures

My Partial Mash Procedures

1. Pre-brew: Check for all ingredients/equipment. Activate yeast package. Take top-off water out of refrigerator (was put in night before). Don't forget ice.

2. New sponge (with no soap), microwave for 30 seconds. Mix batch of sanitizing solution. Boil tea-kettle full of water. Always follow good brewing habits.

3. Mash: Preheat Igloo cooler. Add gypsum and bring water to mash temp (1 quart of water preheated to ~170F degrees for every pound of grain being mashed). Put crushed grains into bag, place in bottom of Igloo cooler. Pour over grains, take temperature, adjust to ~154F. Close lid and wait one (1) hour. Drain (via hose) to kettle, recirculating first two quarts or so.

4. Bring water to sparge temp (>170F). Pour slowly through strainer over grains in Igloo cooler. Drain via hose to kettle. Remove grains from cooler and let drain over kettle.

5. Place kettle on stove. Top-off to boil volume. Add first wort hop (if applicable), bring to boil, remove from heat, add malt extract. Put kettle back on heat to reach boil temp.

6. The Boil. Add hops on schedule. Stir in circular motion (do not splash). Add Whirlfloc tablet last 10 minutes.

7. Sanitize primary fermenting bucket, lid and airlock parts. Rinse clean, keep covered.

8. When boil has completed, remove from heat and cover kettle and place into ice bath (cold water and 22lb bag of ice). Stir in circular motion (do not splash). Let cool (this generally takes about 20 minutes).

9. When wort reaches <80F, add to primary fermenter using strainer, which already contains 1 gal chilled water. Avoid trub. Top-off to 5 gal. Take O.G reading with hydrometer. Shake/stir bucket to oxygenate.

10. Pitch yeast into primary fermenter bucket and stir to mix. Close lid then carry it to quiet place to ferment (63-70F). Put on airlock.

11. Fermentation starts within 24 hours, lasts day or two. Transfer to sanitized secondary carboy after 7 days. Rack carefully, avoid splashing, avoid trub. Put on airlock. Wait at least 3-4 weeks. Check F.G. with hydrometer.

12. Clean bottles. Rinse immediately after serving home brew and place into sanitizing solution, soak, dry. Morning before bottling, gather bottles and soak all again in sanitizer, rinse using jet rinser. Hang on bottling tree to let dry. Soak caps in sanitizer solution, rinse before using.

13. Bottling. Boil 5oz priming sugar in 2 cups of water, put in bottle bucket to cool. SLOWLY transfer beer from secondary to bottling bucket with the tubing below the liquid line.

14. QUIETLY bottle beer, minimize bubbles as much as possible. Use short line, clamp, slow flow out of spigot, and have lots of patience. Cap and store (~60-70F) for at least two weeks. Then place in fridge overnight.

15. Enjoy home brew!

sopa pipa and megadownload

Does anyone noticed the unbelievable coincidence of the Megadownload take down, just one day after the incredibly successful "internet blackout" protest of Wed Jan 18th?

Update: Glad to see that Kim Dotcom got out on bail, and was able to get his assets unfrozen so he can mount a proper defense. My take is simple. We're talking copyright infringement, not international terrorism, rape or murder. Or bank fraud that brought down the US economy.

If it were not for the unduly powerful influence of the entertainment industry, penalties for copyright infringement would be compensatory to the crime; if you stole a candy bar, who would fine you $100,000 or send you to prison? A movie costs a few dollars to rent. Just ridiculous.