Archives for December 2009

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Back in the Cold

Looking Across Bear Lake Eric Richardson

Kathy and I are back in Michigan for the holidays, which means we're getting our annual dose of cold and snowy weather. Christmas Eve brought freezing rain, which turned the roads into sheets of ice. Saturday and yesterday it was snow, and today's weather is characterized by 40 mile per hour wind gusts that are whistling around the house.

People complain about not having seasons in Los Angeles, but I just don't get it. I'm perfectly happy with 70 and sunny.

Joe Purdy at the Hotel Cafe

A friend and I took a trip up to Hollywood last night to see Joe Purdy at the Hotel Cafe and, for once, no one fell asleep.

It's a long story.

The night marked at least the fifth time I've seen Joe play, four times now at the Hotel Cafe and once at an event at the old Conga Room on Wilshire. Combine that with the fact that I own three of his CDs, and you can get a general sense of my impression of his music.

It was my first time out to the Hotel Cafe in a long while, and it got me thinking about the venue that really defined my taste in L.A. music. Way back when the Hotel Cafe was half its current size and still just an all-ages coffee shop, I used to say that if the venue offered a monthly pass, I would have been there two or three times a week.

Looking through the artists on my iTunes, Eric Hutchinson, Erik Penny, Jay Nash (though I had met him before, actually at that Joe Purdy Conga Room show), Jim Bianco, Joe Purdy, Pedestrian, Quincy Coleman and Steve Reynolds were all acts I first heard at the Hotel Cafe. That's a nice little chunk of my music collection to have come out of a then-40-seat venue.

Importing Old Music

If you dig back through the 11 years of archives here (11 years!), you'll find a lot of posts where I wrote about music: what I was listening to, what shows I had seen, what I had rediscovered...

That last one seems to be a recurring trend for me. I have a song or an album and somehow it gets misplaced, but then I pull it out a few years later to realize I still think it's great.

I'm doing that right now, converting some albums I had sitting around as .ogg files. At the moment I'm being reminded how much I liked Massive Attack's Mezzanine, and a few minutes ago I was doing the same with Blonde Redhead's Melody of Certain Damaged Lemons. — Continue Reading...

The Phone is Ringing

Breaking with today's trends, Kathy and I have a home phone. It's not something that we really ever use and it's probably a waste of money to have it, but it's just a few dollars a month and was an easier option than deciding that the building call box would ring to my cell phone.

Seeing how much I love over-designed and half-implemented solutions, it shouldn't surprise that this phone is a VoIP handset that connects to an Asterisk server and an Adhearsion dial plan app.

What is a surprise is that over the last 24 hours, the phone's been ringing at the oddest hours. — Continue Reading...

Three Years in Macland

I noticed this morning that three years ago today, I bought my Macbook. The laptop remains my daily computer -- and is in fact what I'm typing this post on -- though it has had the memory, hard drive and battery replaced in that span.

I made the switch after having run Linux as a desktop OS since 1997 or so. I sort of miss all the tinkering that involved, but at the same time I've enjoyed things just working much more.

Squeezing Those Bytes

California Plaza Railroad Eric Richardson

Overnight I managed to reduce the load size of blogdowntown's home page by 400kb without changing a single line of HTML. We went from a bloated 750kb to a much more svelte 340kb.

What could make that much of a difference? The size of our JPEGs. 660kb of that load was images, a number that's way, way too high. We do load 58 images, but I was still pretty floored to see the size of some of the smallish images we were loading up.

So what was the deal? Was I just being sloppy with my image compression? No, Flickr was. — Continue Reading...