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Chiarina - musician for hire

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We live in litigious times, so I should say that content reflects only my opinions!

Friday March 11 2005

In the pursuance of

my customary fortnightly fine curry in Thame the other night I was able to settle at least one of my current concerns; by careful use of trusted associate with mag torch I was able to confirm the absence of the devil from my exhaust. As far as one can tell in the dark, anyway. They love the dark whose deeds are dark. The periodic rattling is not tiny diabolical claws on my muffler, vicar, but is in fact either a loose baffle in the back box (replaced by shitfit a while back, but they were pretty cheap) or just crap rattling around in the back box (ooh, stop it). This means that there is a sporting chance of getting the elderly state Micra through its next MOT with only a tweak of the hand brake cable and prayer. Excellent news, as I did not want to spend money on transport right now, preferring of course to drink it.

I also draw your attention to a new link to the left. Now that I have two friends who've asked me to add their music biz-related links I have inaugurated a section for that purpose. Well, section may be putting it a bit strongly - but there's a couple of links. Chiarina is neat, polite and a very listenable singer/guitarist who you should all immediately rush to book for your parties, functions, restaurants or whatever. She has a really extensive repertoire, a big plus. Go on - work her to death...


Posted at 7:33 pm by Jim Woods

Wednesday March 9 2005

I did a complete

reinstall of the on-balance-fairly-trusty XP Professional last night. It's a fairly onerous task, but the advantage is that the whole system is quicker and more stable, and noticeably lacking in what I believe is called cruft. Cruft is the bits and pieces of old software left lying around even after one has uninstalled the packages in rage and disgust. If you're as keen on trying out software, and as generally hard-to-please, as myself then rather a lot of this builds up over time. So now I'm enjoying, however briefly, my clean "new" system. Actually, as I think I mentioned before, I'd been running the previous installation since last August - a record for me. You have to hand it to XP - it's an order of magnitude better than previous incarnations of Windows in almost every respect.

What I don't like, and I guess I'm showing my age here, is the palaver associated with booting up from a floppy. It is possible to create a set of four floppies to do this for XP, with some limitations. There is a warning from Microsoft that future editions of Windows will not have this facility at all though. This is a cause of some distress to all those who, like me, do not like to do a clean install of their operating system without first reformatting the target partition. Call me paranoid, but if I'm having a cleanup I want to know that all traces of prior grime have truly been expunged. Now, I suppose that the vast majority of users are pretty unfamiliar with the whole concept of partitioning hard drives; they have one drive, and all their stuff is on it. I prefer to keep work and play separate, as well as largely separating data and applications. It makes admin a great deal easier, for one thing. Fortunately the avid partitioner has Partition Magic available to do all this - a truly magic utility, and a sine qua non of running multiple operating systems in my opinion. Yes, it costs money. But boy, it saves time and hassle. It also allows me, and here's the point, to boot quickly off a couple of floppies and reformat my C: drive prior to reinstalling XP. Yes yes.

Of course, when I started with PCs you just reinstalled DOS when it went tits up, and it took about - oh, no time at all. Those were the days.

In a "things that are broken and depressing me", with reference to my recent post on the topic, I am relearning the old principle of "don't moan, things'll be even worse in a while". I can now add a bicycle lock that requires one to fiddle with it for anything up to twenty minutes before it will lock or unlock - handy, that, when the temperature reaches five below. At least a respected friend and guitarist has opined that the action on my main guitar is "not bad". I'd be happier if it hadn't played roughly twice as well in the shop, but this is what one has come to expect. Perhaps it's the widely varying temperatures in my gaff, coupled with the newness of the instrument. Perhaps I should be less fussy...

CD playing is still a thorny topic. I mentioned that my Trichord CD player had begun to die of old age, as evidenced by a failure to gracefully cope with CD-Rs. This is a sign that the laser is going out of alignment, and in any case the transport has become noticeably more clunky of late. Age, it gets to us all. I had decided that I would simply use my universal player while I waited for my exchequer to regain some of its former strength. Bad plan. I listen infrequently but critically, and the Pioneer 565 A is a great DVD player that also handles - well, absolutely every current format of silver disc. What it does not do is sound good with ordinary CDs. It sounds OK; it would please the casual listener, or someone who paid a couple of hundred quid for a CD player and likes it well enough. What it doesn't do is delight the ears of someone who thinks that digital audio is a double-edged sword, and prefers analogue where possible despite the practical constraints. The Trichord sounds like a turntable as far as possible, and anything I can afford at the moment does not - meaning that I find the sound harsh and shouty.

Harsh and shouty is not what I want. I want smooth and impeccably timed. Neither the DAC in the Pioneer, nor the fairly f*ck-off DACs in my Sony 555 ES receiver, give me a great deal of pleasure for critical audio listening. I think it's time to dig out the old turntable and revel in it for the time being, while grinning and bearing my CDs on what I have.

Oh for some much-awaited dosh.


Posted at 5:08 pm by Jim Woods

Monday March 7 2005

Should you be

(and I don't know that I recommend it) the kind of person who obsesses about every last tiny modification and tweak you could make to your hifi, here are some links...

First, a couple of amateur pages on mods generally:

Tips and tweaks for budget hifi

Decibel Dungeon

And now three companies that do mods or sell the wherewithal:

Audiocom International

LC Audio Technology

Trichord Research

I can particularly recommend the Trichord products, having had ten years of lovely sound from my Trichord Genesis CD player - in fact a Pioneer with a better clock and analogue output stage. Tragically this has begun to show its age by failing to play CD-Rs, as I stated in an earlier post. I was looking around the web for some data on how to re-align the laser in it when I came across the above links. It seems that it is not a job for the enterprising baldy with a set of screwdrivers, so I am not entirely sure what I'll be able to do or get done about it. Use my half (but only half) decent Pioneer DVD 565A player for all disc playing duties I suppose. Maybe I'll get a Trichord clock for that. I've become rather accustomed to the excellent timing and more "analogue" (less jitter) sound of a player with an expensive clock.






Posted at 4:20 am by Jim Woods

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