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IMG_0220, originally uploaded by aharden.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a Good Night!

The LinkedIn spambot spammed my Gmail contacts without giving me a chance to unselect them as I was signing up for the service. Sorry if you got spammed.

I had a three months of free XM Radio when I bought my Saturn Aura last summer. I liked the variety but hated the sound quality. Since I don’t do long trips in the car much a subscription wasn’t worth it to me.

They just gave me another 2-week free trial. I tried listening to it again. I like most of the stations in the 40’s, but every one of them sounds like a compromised internet radio stream. The highs are compressed and warbly like the 128kbps MP3 encodes I made over 10 years ago. It’s pretty sad. Unless you’re doing regional driving and want consistent stations I can’t see why you’d want to compromise on sound quality so noticably vs. FM/CD/MP3. The convenience, metadata, and variety of XM are good, but the listening experience isn’t worth it to me.


IMG_0628, originally uploaded by aharden.

I’ve photographed the Calder Cup’s big brother but never posed with it. Eat your heart out, Don! ūüėČ

This was sent by my cellphone @ 9:53am.

Just noticed that the new dashboard allows the user to select HTTPS to connect their dashboard. That’s going to help with our internal WPMU deployment.

Just noticed this QuickPress box on my dashboard. Reminds me of the MT QuickPost bookmarklet. Definitely a nice new 2.7 feature.

I’m a pretty big fan of SW‘s, but I won’t be getting the limited edition of his new solo album:

Shopping Basket

1 x Steven Wilson
Insurgentes (2 CD/DVDA edition preorder)
Subtotal: $50.85 USD
Shipping: $25.49 USD
Total: $76.34 USD

My new 2008 Saturn Aura changed my in-car listening choices by including a front-panel AUX jack on its single-disc CD/MP3 player. I have a Griffin iTrip Auto Universal Plus that I was using in the CR-V with my iPod Nano for podcast/MP3 listening, but I still listened to a lot of audio CDs. ¬†I moved those same CDs (along with a few MP3 CDs) to the Aura, but the inconveniece of storing the discs was immediately noticable. ¬†Other things that bugged me were that playback of MP3 CDs had gaps, and there was a small volume fade-in on every track. ¬†To get the discs out of the car, I decided to make my Hi-MD Walkman (the Sony MZ-NHF800) my main in-car music provider. ¬†I haven’t been using it for music listening or field recording, so this was a great use for it.

Because the Hi-MD won’t charge via USB during operation, the iTrip I had was pretty useless for this. ¬†I decided to get a car power adapter for it. ¬†I bought that and a soft MD case from MiniDisco. ¬†What’s neat about the Aura’s center storage area is that it has a 12V socket inside, as well as dents in the sides to allow you to string cords out. ¬†Once I transferred a bunch of CDs to some Hi-MDs I connected up the Walkman to power and routed the remote outside of the center storage on the passenger side. ¬†The cord is long enough to allow the remote to slink down off the lip of the passenger seat, where it connects to the cord that connects it to the stereo’s AUX jack. ¬†It’s a pretty convenient location and slack in the AUX cord allows me to place the remote in a number of accessible positions.

Performance of this config is pretty nice considering it’s connected to a stock stereo. ¬†I like the fact that the stereo allows unique EQ settings for the AUX input. ¬†Once I flattened the EQ on the Walkman and cranked up its gain I was able to tweak in a decent sound on the stereo. ¬†I can’t tell that I’m not listening to the built-in CD player. ¬†Because the Hi-MD has gapless playback and (to my ears) a transparent Hi-SP mode, it’s like having a multi-disc CD changer at my fingertips. ¬†Seeking and album changes are quick and easy with the remote, and because I can squeeze 10 or more albums on a 1GB Hi-MD disk in Hi-SP mode (8 hours of music) disc changes are rare.

This setup is pretty good for now, but I’d love a solution that allowed me to automatically wirelessly sync content to the player. ¬†A Zune with a car kit and a decent remote might fill the bill. ¬†I was hoping Apple would add WiFi and wireless content sync to the Nano and/or Classic with their last iPod line updates, but they didn’t. ¬†Keeping a small set of albums at my fingertips is cool, but having more music and podcasts available would be even better.