Debbie Friedman, who else?

The first official programming on Radio Hanukkah was, of course, Debbie Friedman singing the candle blessings (in both masculine and feminine form). And it’s been 15 minutes and they haven’t played “The Hanukkah Song” yet, which is a good sign!

Niche programming, and I’m in the niche!

I’ve had XM Satellite Radio for a couple of years; there’s almost always something I want to hear, though sometimes I have to dig through a lot of garbage first. But at this time of year, finding that special something gets a bit harder, since they convert several channels to all-Christmas formats.

This year, though, they’re trying something different: Radio Hanukkah, XM 108, debuts tomorrow, the 25th of Kislev, and will play for eight nights and days.
It’s available online as well as over the satellite, and, as a special Hanukkah gift, the normal 3-day trial for XM Online will last through all 8 days of Hanukkah — use the not-very-secret promo code “TheChosen” on the trial signup form.

I can’t say that I’m likely to listen to it exclusively, but I do plan to give it a shot — some of the programming looks intriguing. A little Adam Sandler goes a long way, though….

Installing MySQLdb on Mac OS X 10.4.8

I’m in the process of deleting duplicate copies of photos from my system in the interest of saving disk space (320MB just isn’t all that much when one is playing with video!). I’ve used find and md5 to build a list of all the .jpg files on my system with their hashes, and wrote some simple Python code to find duplicates. The problem now is to choose the best one of the duplicates (“best” in this case means the one with the most useful file and directory name). But my code just creates a pile of small files, one for each set of identical photos. This is a pain.

So I decided to install MySQL so that I could crawl through the duplicates in some interesting manner (yes, I did have wine with dinner tonight. Why do you ask?). The install of MySQL itself was trivial, but trying to install the Python binding (MySQLdb) was a pain. The important tip came from a posting on Jeremy Dunck’s blog — I was using gcc 3.3, and needed gcc 4. His posting explained what to do; I did it, and now I’m all set.

Now I have to actually put the data into the database and do something with it — that’s a problem for another evening, though….

Wine with Dinner

Every so often, I look at the wines featured on the endcaps at Lunardi’s. Most of them, of course, are Chardonnay, and therefore of no interest to us, but sometimes they have something which meets two important criteria:

  • It looks interesting
  • It’s being sold at a substantial discount to claimed retail

On Sunday, I found a couple of wines which met those criteria, though we’ve only drunk one so far — the 2002 Clos LaChance Central Coast Syrah. They wanted $8.99 for it, instead of a retail of $16.99 (or the winery’s suggested $18). It’s well worth the $8.99, so we bought a couple of more bottles, and might pick up more if they’re still in stock when we next visit.

That’s not crashing, it’s thrashing

Much to my surprise, I am now the proud owner of a 300GB backup drive for my Mac Mini.

The story started earlier this week, when I decided to get back to the project of digitizing our Hi-8 tapes before they (or the camcorder) gave up the ghost. So I fired up iMovie and copied the first tape that came to hand.

Except that I’d forgotten to rewind it, so there was a 13-minute segment that was dubbed. No problem; I rewound the tape and copied that part, too. But then I wanted to move the clips into the proper order so I wouldn’t have to remember what I’d done when I finally got around to editing.

Again, no problem. Until I tried saving the rearranged file. The progress bar zipped along for a few seconds, then came to a complete halt (with the spinning beachball in place of the cursor). And I heard a ticking noise from the disk. And the noise continued. And the progress bar didn’t move. And the app was unresponsive to the “Cancel” button.

So I rebooted and tried again. Same results. I even downloaded smartmontools, only to discover that they don’t work against an external Firewire-attached drive. I did wonder how I was able to do the download and compile while the disk was having problems, but it was getting late, so I turned everything off for the night, including my brain. That was Wednesday.

Thursday, I stopped at CompUSA on the way home and picked up the special of the day, a Maxtor 300GB drive (which, for reasons best known to Maxtor, came with a 20GB “bonus”, making it 320GB). I put it in my external USB drive case (which I’d bought in the course of recovering a failed disk on a TiVo) and went to work.

I’d done some research, hoping to find a way to recover the bad sector on my old drive, and there didn’t seem to be one — but The X Lab suggested it would be a good idea to “zero” the new disk before using it, so that the system would find and bypass any bad sectors on the drive. So I started that process and went to sleep.

This morning, I fired up SuperDuper, as recommended at UNEASYsilence, to copy the old disk to the new one. Then I went off to work. When I returned, the copy had finished, so I swapped the new drive into the miniStack; it booted, and I was back in business — back to iMovie to continue where I left off.

When I went to save the movie, the same thing happened. Except this time, the ticking was quieter. And it finally hit me: copying 22GB takes a long time. And the progress bar in iMovie doesn’t reflect the amount of data moved, just the number of clips touched. And I almost certainly didn’t have any bad sectors on my old disk — it was just doing a lot of seeking.

Oh, well; I needed a place to take backups anyway.

But next time, I’ll make sure to rewind the tape before I copy it.