Tugging at the heartstrings…

Rose keeps showing me YouTube videos from Vet Ranch. This is a Texas-based non-profit which gathers donations to provide veterinary treatment for animals who otherwise wouldn’t get it — typically to take them from rescue shelters and get them in a condition where they can be adopted.

The videos they post are generally wonderful before-and-after comparisons, and, I imagine, a very effective fund-raising tool! Nicely done.

MollyMoo is a cutie, for example:

And here’s another dramatic transformation in a small amount of time.

Strike a pose, Sport

Before this morning, if you had shown me a picture of a kangaroo doing this, I’d have thought he was a stuffed one, probably taking part in an Australian beer commercial.

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But it turned out this was just part of his morning stretching routine.

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At Linton Zoo

Making hay wains while the sun shines

Amongst other places, Tilly and I visited Flatford Mill today. A pleasant spot.

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It’s famous for being the place where John Constable painted the Hay Wain:

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He did so, I expect, because he knew that I would one day take a photo in just that location:

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I thought about taking out my easel and oils, but decided his results might still have been better, because he would have had a couple of unfair advantages.

Firstly, he visited when the temperature was above freezing. Secondly, he did so during daylight hours. It’s an issue of exposure, you see — I had to use an 8-second one, and I also nearly died of it :-)

Aiiii! Tunes

When cloud services go wrong, they can go badly wrong.

For many years I was a happy user of iTunes, iCloud Music Library, iTunes Match and so forth. They kept my music nicely in sync across all of my devices.

But at some point over the last year, the rot set in.

I think this may have coincided with the Apple Music trial, I’m not sure. But the metadata in my iTunes library has started to become corrupted in a way that’s proving quite hard to fix.

Here’s an example. At some point in the past, I ripped my CD of Count Basie. Let’s take a look at it now:

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You notice that I have three different copies of ‘Red Wagon’. All supposedly from the same album, and all of different lengths. The first one is actually the inimitable Count. The second turns out, when you play it, to be ‘New Hope Blues’ by George Winston. The third is ‘Green Light’ by Cliff Richard.

Now, I own, and like, all of these, and they all still play, but the metadata is all confused, so you don’t know what you’re about to get. And it’s a big problem – there are about five or six thousand tracks in my system, and it feels as if about one in four suffers from this. The worst thing was when I thought I was about to listen to some Flanders and Swann and got chunks of Les Miserables instead! You can imagine the shock. (I thought I had banished the latter…)

I think this may result from my iCloud Music Library becoming corrupted, and the tracks then getting synced down from there with the wrong embedded metadata. Or maybe it was something else, but it crept up over many months, perhaps even a year or two, to the extent that I can’t just go back to a known previous backup and assume all will be well. It’s not just in the database, or I would simply throw that away: it has been written into the music files on disk too.

Apps like MusicBrainz Picard can scan and identify tracks and help fix this, but it’ll be quite a job if it really is a thousand tracks or so that I need to check. And while Picard can identify the track, it often can’t tell which album it should be part of, and so I end up with lots of single tracks in compilation albums called ‘Sweet Sounds of the 60s’ or some such.

Not quite sure what to do.

Maybe this is the time to embrace the new and expensive world of Spotify or some other streaming service, where I’d be paying for the rest of my life if I wanted to keep listening to music, but where somebody else would manage it.

Or, I could discard everything, re-rip all my CDs and re-download all my purchases. Time-consuming, but perhaps the best option. Thankfully, I haven’t yet quite discarded physical media…

‘New’ is the new ‘thorough’

This essay by Stephen R. Barley is a very nicely written commentary on the changing motivations of academic journals and institutions, and the effect it has on the disciplines they represent. Recommended for anyone involved in academic research, whether or not you’re in his particular field.

I rarely receive any comments these days on my findings, my data, or my analysis. In fact, I am usually complimented on these before being told why the paper can’t be published as is. Instead, the vast majority of comments focus on the theoretical or substantive frame of the story I want to tell. The logic of such comments boils down to this: “You say your paper is about X, but I think it is really about Y.”

Thanks to Paul Dourish for the link.

Trumpington Meadows

Trumpington Meadows is a large new housing development on the southern edge of Cambridge. The houses are, well, modern houses. Perhaps a bit better than some. But the developers have done a nice job of gentle landscaping on the big field between the housing estate and Byron’s Pool. It’s become a favourite dog-walking area.

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Last night, a combination of fog and sunset made it look particularly beautiful. One of those times when I kicked myself for not having a proper camera with me: these are iPhone shots.

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And if you look carefully (or click for the larger version) you’ll see that this is actually a photo of the M11:

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I’m not often grateful to housing developers, so I feel I should give them credit when it’s due!

The oil change of the future

My car’s going in to the garage for a service today. Oil? New tyres? Shock absorbers?

No.

A software update.

I imagine the actual update will take a couple of minutes and a USB stick. But they’re keeping the car for about three days, presumably to test all of the things that it affects.

Earning my R.E.S.P.E.C.T

Wow. She’s still got it, hasn’t she?

Thanks to Rory C-J for the link.

Internet of comfort

I’ve discovered a genuine use for “Internet of Things” devices.

If you happened to twist your back in a funny way yesterday (as I did) with the result that you are now propped up in bed and rather immobile, it’s very handy to be able to turn on and off the music, adjust the heating and switch on the lights from your phone!

Normally, it’s much easier just to go and press the button on the wall, but not when doing so involves increased consumption of painkillers well in advance. :-)

© Copyright Quentin Stafford-Fraser