In Praise of the Non-Monolithic…

My Dad has just got an iPod.  And he did try to get it set up on his own, but I got called in in my normal technical support role.

I have to admit that I thought that the issue was going to be simple, so I loaded Lizzie in to the car and headed over one Saturday morning.

The PC runs Vista, and iTunes was installed. The problem only arose when we dropped a disc in the CD drive and tried to rip it and add it to the iTunes library.  Invariably the process would start, and progress smoothly until the progress bar at the top of the iTunes screen showed 20 seconds processed. At this point iTunes would freeze, and if you tried to do anything to rescue the system then you would (eventually) get the good ol’ ‘Blue Screen of Death’ (yeah, I haven’t seen one of those for a long time either!).  The system would then reboot itself.

Checking the Events Log for Windows there wasn’t much in the way of errors mentioned, but there was talk of problems with VSS.   A short Google later showed that this is something to do with hauling large chunks of data from one place to another.  It looked like iTunes was using this for its large volume data handling and that it wasn’t behaving.

And of course, iTunes being the monolithic beast that it is, you are sort of stuck with this behaviour.

I was left with a couple of options.  I have been thinking about upgrading the machine to Windows 7, but that needed planning that I hadn’t made. The easier option was to delegate the part of the process that iTunes kept on breaking on to another program.

Another quick Google lead to the top 5 ‘CD ripping programs’ for Windows, and a couple of minutes later I was ripping a CD to mp3. A quick tweak to put the files in a more sensible location (under Music rather than on the Desktop) and we were good to go. The files can all be added to the library easily enough on the basis of importing as a folder.  And syncing to the iPod is then done in the normal way.

I still have a bit of a problem with the way that iPods insist on being managed using iTunes from either Windows or a Mac (of course, I use Linux wherever possible) but I understand that they are easy to use and most people won’t be bothered by such things. But me, I will continue to stick by my old iPod with Rockbox installed (a subject for another post). And when it comes to syncing the iPod, I’ll stick to using rsync!

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The Cabin in The Woods.

As the last day of a mini-holiday, SWMBO and I took advantage of Lizzie staying with her Granny to be able to go and see a film which wouldn’t be considered child friendly.

The film of choice was ‘The Cabin in The Woods’. The adverts are on lots of the buses at the moment, and as Joss Wheedon had a hand in it I thought it would probably be good.

I really enjoyed this film. In the same way that Scream was a re-take on the slasher film, this was a re-working of the Friday the 13th type film. A group of kids (mostly pretty obnoxious, obviously) go to a ‘Cabin in the Woods’ (duh!) in order to relax, drink and have pre-marital sex.

The story bore a similarity to the season of  ‘Buffy’ where she ended up fighting Adam, the product of the government program ‘The Initiative’.  But it clearly had a bigger budget and much tighter story telling parameters. And for my money, although both the female leads were attractive, Sarah-Michelle Gellar as Buffy trumped both of ’em.

The first part of the film was pretty much standard of its genre, apart from the interstitial ‘The Initiative’ style bits, though weirdly, a lot of the ‘action’ was so dark that you really couldn’t tell what was happening. In the case of someone being sawn up this was probably a good thing!

The second half took place in glaring fluorescent light, and was both more gruesome and funnier.

When it comes around on the BT Vision box I will probably watch it again…