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ATPM 12.05
May 2006




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About This Particular Web Site

by Paul Fatula,

Cylinder Preservation and Digitization Project

Once upon a time, before there were MP3s, people listened to music on CDs. Before that there were tapes. Before that there were LPs, and before that there were cylinders. While many people still have record players laying around, few of us can play cylinders, and even if we can they’re not exactly easy to find. Fortunately, cylinder recordings are so incredibly old that even the long ears of the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act cannot keep them out of the public domain. UCSB offers a number of live feeds and MP3s from a century ago, making our musical history available to anyone who wants to listen.


A few months ago my cable Internet stopped working. I’m so used to being able to google any information I need that it took me a while to find a piece of paper with my ISP’s phone number on it. That phone number proved to be nothing but a door into a labyrinth of button-pressing. I began to wonder whether Mark Z. Danielewski was collecting royalties for every minute I stayed on the line. This Web site, if I’d had Web access, would have saved me both frustration and time: It lists phone numbers and navigation instructions to get to speak to a human as quickly as possible. Of course there’s no guarantee the human you reach will be competent, but at least you can stop pressing buttons.


Personally, I don’t understand the recent craze for spoken audio content. Speech is slow and it isn’t searchable or scannable. Good old-fashioned text can be read quickly and searched easily, and it’s not a problem to skip over a boring paragraph or two. But for those accountants who have been daydreaming of worthwhile audio content, Jack Bogdanski set out to read the complete Internal Revenue Code of 1986, one section per day. Looks like sec. 25A is as far as he got, but there may be more to come. We wish him well.


If you’re anything like me, your first reaction when you see the words “Flash game” will be to roll your eyes and stop paying attention; but really, this one is cool. The graphics and the the music combine to create an interesting and puzzling world. Fiddle your mouse about, find things to click on, see what happens, figure it out. When I first played this game some months ago, I wished there were a sequel. Now there is, and it’s just as amusing as the original.

Said the Gramophone

Doesn’t it seem bizarre that the music industry is taking such extreme steps as suing dead people in an attempt to keep consumers from discovering new music? Fortunately, there are lots of MP3 blogs out there, aimed at introducing people to good, non-mainstream music. Not merely a list of downloadable MP3s, the blog links to a song and provides some discussion of why the writer likes it, with a link (when available) to purchase the music if you decide you like it, too. The trick to MP3 blogs is finding one written by someone whose music taste meshes well with yours; so if you don’t like this one, go ahead and look around for others. For my own part, I will forever be grateful to Said the Gramophone for introducing me to Lajkó Félix’s “Etno Camp” (which I only wish I could find on CD).

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Reader Comments (1)

Dr Lester M Shulman · May 10, 2006 - 15:56 EST #1
I have been a Macaddict from my Apple IIe to my 17" G4 Powerbook. I would love to move up to the new Macbook Pro but probably will have difficulty getting approval. I have justified my previous purchases of Macs in a PC only work environment because of the large library of molecular analysis applications I purchased over the years or have accumulated from free open source suppliers. The cost of upgrading to (or sometimes even finding) the PC version was always significantly more than the difference between the Mac and the PC. That is, until now. Someone should sponsor a contest for adapting Mac Classic to run on the new Intel-based Macs so that we can continue to run some of the old classics. Anyone have a solution?

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