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Good Morning Nanty Glo!
Tuesday, April 3 2001

Downsides of "playing the computer"

Yesterday I extolled the virtues of listening to your collected music via computer using your hard disk as the replacement of a CD, tape, or record, and Winamp as a jukebox that can arrange your music into an infinite variety (depending on how many selections you add to the mix).

Incidentally, if you have a connection to the Internet that you think is not good enough to download from Napster, you can also "capture" ("rip" is the term computer buffs use) your own CDs as mp3 files into your computer drive and play them through Winamp or comparable software application. If you want information on how that works, let me know...otherwise, I'll leave the fact on the table with no additional enhancement.

I realize that "playing the computer" has some limitations despite the flexibility described yesterday. Its main limitation is the fact that most computers are not portable. They also don't always "reside" in the room of your house where you might want to listen to music. I have had laptops as my preferred PCs for at least three generations of computers now, but none of my grown children have opted for laptops, preferring the desktop variety, so I presume most consumers are on the other side of that issue. I play music on my computer in the car during my morning and evening commutes and love it.

However, even a portable computer doesn't have a hand-controlled volume switch and the on-screen control just isn't useable during the commute. You either have to have an independently volume-controlled set of speakers easily plugged into your computer, or have to be ready to pull the earphones out of your ears (I don't recommend use of earphones while driving your car—it may even be illegal—but I've known it to be tried).

Few people spend as much time attached to their computers as I do, no doubt, but you can enhance the time you do spend there by adding music. And I thank Lisa Bee for the suggestion of trying an online radio station. I plan to do that at work, where I have a high-speed connection. However, last Christmas I recommended an online Christmas music radio station that worked fine at work but couldn't be used at home, where Pacific Bell (proudly A Division of Southern Bell), here in San Jose, the Capitol of Silicon Valley, doesn't provide a high-speed Internet connection. (Frankly, I'm thinking about initiating a class-action lawsuit against the phone company, as their policy against those of us who live in this part of town is clearly and unjustly prejudiced. But I digress....)

The major workaround for playing your mp3 files in random mixes is to acquire an mp3 player. They are flash memory computer devices about the size of a transistor radio that let you download enough files into the flash memory every day to make it through the commute (mileage will vary, of course). They come in varied sizes and prices, but none of them are, as of yet, cheap. If mp3s continue growing in popularity, they will no doubt come down from beginning prices of several hundred dollars to probably less than $50 (there are fewer parts in them than a hand-help tape player, for comparison). For $1000 up to about $3000 depending on how many gigabytes of memory they have, you can get a plug-in unit for your car, and reprogram it from your computer as easily as updating your personal digital assistant. (I know...yeah, sure.)

Webmaster Jon Kennedy

Very punny

9. These friars were behind on their belfry payments, so they opened up a small florist shop to raise funds. Since everyone liked to buy flowers from the men of God, a rival florist across town thought the competition was unfair. He asked the good fathers to close down, but they would not. He went back and begged the friars to close. They ignored him. So, the rival florist hired Hugh MacTaggart, the roughest and most vicious thug in town to "persuade" them to close. Hugh beat up the friars and trashed their store, saying he'd be back if they didn't close up shop. Terrified they did so, thereby proving that: Hugh, and only Hugh, can prevent florist friars.

10. And finally, there was a man who sent ten different puns to friends, in the hope that at least one of the puns would make them laugh. Unfortunately, no pun in ten did!

Sent by John A. Sardell

Lenten thought

I speak not of such a fast as most persons keep, but of real fasting; not merely abstinence from meats, but from sins as well. For the nature of a fast is such that it does not suffice to deliver those who practice it unless it is done according to a suitable law. So that when we have gone through the labor of fasting we do not lose the crown of fasting, we must understand how and in what manner it is necessary to conduct the business since the Pharisee also fasted, but afterward went away empty and destitute of the fruit of fasting. The Publican did not fast, and yet he was accepted in preference to him who had fasted in order that you may learn that fasting is unprofitable unless all other duties accompany it.

St. John Chrysostom, fourth/fifth centuries


Lenten thoughts (i.e., pertaining to repentance and spiritual growth, from any faith-community perspective) are solicited from readers.

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