flash drives

#726: Misplaced

GETTING MORE TALE #726:  Misplaced

I lost my favourite flash drive.  It’s around here somewhere.  Maybe I left it in a shirt pocket that ended up in the laundry.  Flash drives can survive a go in the wash, that’s no big deal.  It has 32 gig of various music on it, and it’s my handy dandy go-anywhere music solution.  Most recently it had the complete studio albums of Black Sabbath, Van Halen, Deep Purple, and many more.  Losing it (temporarily we hope) meant putting some tunes on another flash drive instead.

This time, I loaded it up with some AC/DC, Faith No More, Led Zeppelin, Rush, Joe Satriani, Whitesnake, and more.  Jen had a day of errands to run, so I decided to use a vacation day and help her out.

Our first mission, for most people, was no big deal.  In the lives of Mike and Jen, it requires planning and preparation:  getting your photo ID at Service Ontario.  You know those lovely pictures that look like mug shots because you’re not allowed to smile or show any facial expression at all?  Those are an obstacle and a half for Jen.  Why?  Because she’s epileptic and can’t have her photo taken with a flash.  Just another day in the Mike and Jen Show.

Since this wasn’t her first rodeo, Jen knew what to do.  She learned the hard way last time.  I know what you’re thinking.  “Why don’t they just take a photo without a flash?”  They can’t.  Those cameras are hooked up in such a way that they cannot turn the flash off.  Last time Jen had to do this, the staff at Service Ontario were absolutely stunned.  This time, we called in advance and booked an appointment.  Jen told them of her condition and made sure that they were prepared for her.  Then she went to Walmart and had some photos taken without a flash.  We picked the most bland-faced one of the bunch, and she had it printed up in various sizes and finishes so we’d have lots of options.

“Print it?” you’re asking.  “Why not just give them a card with the pictures on it?”  Yeah, they can’t do that either.  So what we do, and it’s quite ingenious, is take the Walmart photo and tape it where you’d normally stand to have your picture taken.  Then, they take a picture of that, while Jen looks away.  It took a few tries but we got her photo ID today with no hassles.  That was a first for Jen!  Mission accomplished.

Then we hit the road for Mission #2.  I loaded Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap up on the flash drive.  The mission this time was really simple.  We were going to visit Jen’s best friend Lara in Brampton for lunch.  It was a lovely day for a drive and AC/DC kept my pedal to the metal.  We both had a chuckle at the lyrics to Big Balls, with me remembering what it was like to be 10 years old and laughing every time Bon Scott said “balls”.

When Dirty Deeds ended, I threw on Rush’s Moving Pictures.  On a recent episode of Eddie Trunk’s radio show, Geddy Lee left no doubt that Rush is over.  Neil Peart has not only retired from Rush, he said, but from drumming altogether.  The physical toll that those 40 years took on Peart’s body means he needed a permanent vacation.  Rush will never play again.  That was running through my mind when I selected Moving Pictures, but soon I was immersed, rushed down “the river” like a modern day Tom Sawyer.

We picked a cheap steak place for lunch called Chuck’s roadhouse.  Surf & turf for $20?  Sure, I’ll try anything once.  Better than a fast food burger.  My steak was overdone but I haven’t had a lobster tail in years!  The sweet taste of lobster and salty butter was almost too much to bear.  I could have cried with joy.  Lobster is the ocean’s steak.  That was the easiest $20 to spend, ever.  I’d go back; maybe next time the steak won’t be over cooked!

We had a great lunch.  Jen broke a plate, but like a true friend, Lara took the blame.  We dropped her back off at work and headed home to Led Zeppelin’s In Through the Out Door.  It’s a quirky one and that’s why I love it.

As we rocked to “Fool in the Rain”, Jen remarked on how much her musical taste had improved over the last 10 years.  “I’ll always love Nirvana and Stone Temple Pilots, but now I like Led Zeppelin too.”  Hey, I’m glad to have been a positive influence!

I think every music fan likes to share their favourites and hope it connects with somebody else.  The car is my favourite place to do that.  Thanks, Zep!

 

#327: Flash! (saviour of the musicverse!) (RSTs Mk II: Getting More Tale)

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RECORD STORE TALES Mk II: Getting More Tale

#327: Flash! (saviour of the musicverse!)

My current vehicle is my first to have a built in USB port.  What a revelation!  Only in the last few years did I finally make the digital leap with my Sony mp3 player.  Now with the car USB port, I finally have the ability to bring music with me in the car, without worrying about damaging a CD or packaging.  It’s a very liberating little gadget.  Listening to a Deep Purple box set in the car is no longer an exercise in delicacy.

The first music that I began ripping and loading onto a flash drive were in fact my box sets.  Let’s face it: some box sets (Pearl Jam’s Ten, Pink Floyd’s Shine On, Deep Purple’s Listen Learn Read On) are not very portable.  I find the car to be a great place to listen to a box set.  This week, I decided to revisit my 12 CD Marillion singles box sets, straight through.  Everyone who drives to work on a daily basis probably spend a lot of time in their cars.  It works for me to listen to something really long and involved on my drives, over the course of a week.  Many of my reviews have been mentally composed in my vehicle.

Unfortunately it’s not the perfect setup.  The GM factory stereo has some flaws.  One thing that bugs me is it doesn’t display the track times, unless you’re fast-forwarding or rewinding.  It also doesn’t interface well with the big 32 gig flash drives I’ve tried.  The stereo can’t remember where it left off on a drive that big.  Now I use a couple 8 gig drives, which work much better.  I can pick up the tunes exactly where I left off.

The biggest and most annoying flaw is that it will not play certain mp3 files.  I have never figured out why.  I get an “id3 tag error” on some files.  Some cassette rips, and some bootleg CDs will give me that error when ripped and played in the car.   Some official CDs even give me an issue once ripped.  Anthrax’s Anthems EP for example won’t play in my car after I ripped it.  (I should try re-ripping and see what that does.) Others are no problem.

It’s incredible how much things have changed since I was a kid, when it comes to listening to music.  When I think back to packing cassettes, and then CDs, for road trips…and now just loading up a flash drive, it’s amazing.  Yet the process remains the same: I still go through album after album trying to find the perfect batch for a particular trip.  The ease of doing so has been a massive shift for my listening habits.  I don’t know if they still make vehicles without USB ports, but unless something better comes along, I will never do without one.

What to do with an old cassette case – USB edition

Rock & Roll & Recycle!  Two weeks ago, Marko showed you how to use an old cassette case to hold a smartphone such as a Blackberry Z10.  Unfortunately, as Aaron pointed out, the iPhone charges from the bottom.

So, for iPhone users, I present to you my own original idea of an alternate use for an old cassette case!  We all have a ton of these things sitting around!


Stickers from the folks at reprolabels.com.