NOTES FROM THE SHED – JAMBOREE BAG EDITION

Despite Google and all that, The Shed continues to run its own filing system, tailored for Shed personnel and kindred spirits.
Recent additions include …

QUOTES * MODESTY
Sunday Times recalls: “When Blackburn Rovers won the Premiership in 1995, the striker Alan Shearer was asked how he planned to celebrate. ‘I’m going to go home to creosote the fence,’ he famously replied.”

TRAVEL – FLIGHTS
Sunday Times reports, 3.8.14, on agencies selling bargain space in planes flying back empty from private charter work. Occasionally, though not often, the price per seat is less than a budget airline – provided you can find enough fellow travellers willing to go wherever at the drop of a hat, with no guarantee against cancellation if the plane’s owners get a better offer.
More often, according to one agent, “it gives you a taste of private jet lifestyle at a price perhaps 75 percent less than normal”.
PrivateFly is one online broker. Victor is another.

FOOT CARE
Also gleaned from same paper – Philip Wells, who has just walked 1,000 miles barefoot, “bathed his feet in cold water after each walking day and massaged them with ‘dog oil’ – a lotion made from a blend of rape oil and petroleum jelly”.
Can’t find a recipe but Masons Dog Oil, made in Driffield, is widely available.

KEEPING COOL
The Guardian Money supplement runs a good consumerist column called IMHO – In My Humble Opinion – in which readers answer other readers’ questions. There ought to be, and possibly there is, a full index to it somewhere. Nearest I can quickly find is a list beginning at http://www.theguardian.com/money/series/personaleffects/
Meanwhile, the following tips come from a discussion on air conditioning …
* “My partner learned this in China about 30 years ago and it works: put a towel on your bed, get your t shirt and soak it in cold water, wring it out and put it on, lie on the towel and drift off into the arms of Morpheus. Costs nothing.”
* “Close the window and hang damp sheets or towels a couple of metres in front of the fan for an hour before bedtime; the temperature of the room will be drastically reduced. If you’re still too warm, cover yourself with a damp sheet. A cheap option and you won’t be adding to the heat in the street outside!”
* “In the Mediterranean region it is common for the entire apartment to be aired by throwing open all the windows for 1-2 hours in the first and last hours of sun-up. Then the windows are left open but the shutters drawn for the remainder of the day. This removes any warm air generated during both the night and day. You could draw curtains and keep windows open if your apartment is on a high floor. If not you could consider security locks which allow for partial opening of windows.

SCRABBLE LIST
In the Guardian of 6.8.14, Stephen Moss had a pop at the Scrabble authorities for allowing another obscure two-letter word – TE – into the Official Scrabble Dictionary. Champion Scrabblers were increasingly mathematicians rather than lovers of language, Moss complained. They learned lists of words they did not even know the meaning of, so they could slide in under existing words and get scored in several directions at once.
Moss said: “TE, as you will know, is a variant of TI, the seventh tone on the musical scale. It joins AA, AG, AI, AL, EL, ES, FY, KI, KO, KY, MI, MM, MU, NU, OE, PE, XI, XU, YU and ZA on the approved list, although you could go through several lifetimes and never hear this motley collection of abbreviations, archaisms and Greek and Hebrew letters in everyday speech.
“In November 2011 I played the then British Scrabble champion, Wayne Kelly. He gave me two pieces of advice: treat each move as a puzzle, and learn lots of obscure two-letter words. He singled out QI (the Chinese life force), ZO (a cross between a yak and a cow) and EE (a Scots variant of eye) as especially helpful. Our game was a travesty. I made some beautiful words. But I was overwhelmed by those killer-fillers – JO (a sweetheart), DA (a heavy Burmese knife), AX (a variant spelling of AXE) – that enabled him to make half a dozen words at the same time.
“Kelly admitted that sometimes he has only a hazy idea of what a word means. It probably sounds like sour grapes, but doesn’t that defeat the object of a word-based game? Shouldn’t a condition be that you have to know the definition? Better still, shouldn’t it be a word in common currency, so ruling out ZAX (a hatchet used for cutting slates), HOWF (an old Scots term for pub) and QIVIUT (an Inuit word for the wool of the musk ox)?
“I’m very happy for QIVIUT to be used in the Inuit edition of Scrabble … And if two 19th-century Scots are playing, by all means let them bandy archaisms as they spend a night on the tiles in their local howf. But the rest of us should play with the language we actually use – and with a respected but concise standard dictionary as the arbiter when disputes arise.”

NICK DRAKE
Tim Jonze, Guardian, is a big Nick Drake fan. Not sure I am but I was interested in his offer of a link to Nick Drake’s Cello Song, from a recently rediscovered John Peel session, dated 1969 …
http://tinyurl.com/mb8yq9t/
Tim Jonze’s Top 10 of Nick Drake, with YouTube references is at …
http://tinyurl.com/qjdd9j7/
And Guardian readers’ choices are at …
http://tinyurl.com/pr9fosa

QUOTES ON POLITICS
William Hague got a surprisingly warm write-up for his time as Foreign Secretary, source lost for now, which said: “His legacy at the foreign office is subtle. He himself likes to describe the essential craft of the patient diplomat by recalling Lord Salisbury’s description. The great former foreign secretary said: ‘Diplomatic victories are made up of a series of microscopic advantages: of a judicious suggestion here, of an opportune civility here, of a wise concession at one moment and a far-sighted persistence another, of sleepless tact, immovable calmness and patience that no folly, no provocation, no blunder can shake.’
“Hague used this description with which to toast Hillary Clinton at her farewell dinner in Washington in 2013, leading Clinton to describe him more prosaically as the David Beckham of toasting.”

A FILOFACTS ON MP3s ETC

In the Independent’s Tech Monthly supplement of 13.7.14, Daniel Tomlinson wrote …
“When ripping your CD library, it’s important to choose the best storage format to preserve your music collection’s original quality. To the audiophile market and to a lesser extent for some music lovers, digital music has a pretty bad name. This is due to historically low bit-rates in lossy consumer music formats like MP3 or AAC (a lossy compression format is one that permanently removes some of the file’s data; in some cases it will remove more data than it leaves behind). Today, higher bit-rate MP3 and AACs are much better than they were.
“Thankfully, iTunes supports some lossless (compressed and uncompressed) formats, including Aiff, Wav and Apple Lossless. But lossless formats often take up much more space on disk (up to about 11Mb/min), and are not supported by most online music lockers, including Google Music.
“When ripping CDs to your iTunes library you can choose higher bit-rate MP3 and AAC (192kbps or 320kbps), an uncompressed audio format such as Aiff or a lossless compression format like Apple Lossless. These all have the same quality as a CD. iTunes is also pretty good at detecting your music and automatically populating your library with metadata where supported.
“Below is an overview of the various lossless formats:
Apple Lossless Compression
This Apple file format option in iTunes can reduce the stored data by almost 50%. It restores to a bit-perfect replica of the original music file for playback. The Apple Lossless Audio Codec (Alac) was open-sourced in 2011, so there is relatively good support, with iTunes on OS X and Windows, Music on iOS, and third-party audio players such as PowerAmp on Android offering support.
It’s worth noting that iOS only supports up to 44.1kHz audio, so if you intend to transfer any of these to your phone, be careful to not use 96kHz settings. ALC fully supports metadata tagging, which is great for searching your collection.
WAV (Waveform Audio File Format)
WAV is capable of storing Linear PCM audio (the digital encoding format used on CDs) in uncompressed form. Ripping a CD and storing it as an uncompressed WAV results in a bit-perfect clone – identical to the original CD. WAV files can also store high-resolution music files at greater bit and sampling rates than CDs. Some places offer them as “hi-def” or “studio masters”. Uncompressed WAV files can be ripped and played back in iTunes and are very high quality. However, they do take up more hard drive storage space than AAC, MP3 or Apple Lossless. WAV files do not support metadata tagging. Things like album art, song titles and other features that enhance music library management and playback will be lost.
AIFF (Audio Interchange File Format)
AIFF is similar to WAV and is capable of storing uncompressed Linear PCM audio. AIFF files can also store high-resolution music files at high bit depths and sampling rates. AIFF files can be created and played back in iTunes on Mac OSX and Windows and are very high quality. But they are still very large uncompressed files. AIFF files, like Apple Lossless, fully support metadata tagging.
Storing digital music files in lossless or uncompressed form does not mean that you have to reduce the amount of music stored on your iOS devices or other players. iTunes allows users to convert higher data rate music files to 128kbps AAC on the fly as music is synchronised to a mobile device. There is no need to keep separate libraries. Many devices are, though, capable of playing lossless files.
When it comes to backing up your uncompressed files, for now at least, you will need to keep them stored on a physical drive or an online backup service such as Backblaze or Crashplan. This is because no online music lockers that I know of currently support them without compression.
As for streaming music to a hi-fi system, Apple Lossless is likely to be the best format as files can be transported in compressed form and decoded on the hi-fi, which should result in faster playback.

QUOTES ON FAME
The recently departed Eli Wallach is quoted as having said:
“Having the critics praise you is like having the hangman say you’ve got a pretty neck.”

**

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