Wednesday, May 30, 2007

F#&%ing the Crocodile

OK, bear with me a moment here. The introductory paragraph is a little weird but the meaning will become clear shortly.

Joe Boyd - producer of classic albums by Fairport Convention, Richard Thompson, Sandy Denny, Nick Drake, the Incredible String band, Ivo Papasov, and many others - recently wrote a book entitled "White Bicycles: Making Music in the 1960s." (Highly recommended; his other big claim to fame is actually setting up the sound system the night Dylan went electric in 1965, and he provides a definitive, first-person account of the ensuing controversy.) Anyway, he writes about a decision he once made to explore Scientology - not because he intended to convert, but because he wanted to better understand friends and colleagues who had already converted. There was no way to casually learn about Scientology; you had to dive in head-first. He compared it to a William Burroughs story about a man searching for enlightenment who consulted a rainforest shaman said to know a ceremony that would unlock all the secrets of the universe. It turns out that the ceremony involved "fucking the sacred crocodile." So, Joe Boyd decided to fuck the sacred crocodile, learn all he could about Scientology, and hopefully make a safe escape once the ceremony was over.

My computer experience is pretty much limited to turning the damn thing on and off, using simple business software, sending emails, surfing the web, and of course checking in on this blog. I have no knowledge about digitally capturing, restoring, and preserving audio and/or video material related to KCAC and early KDKB. Therefore, in the past week or so, I have been consulting, via private emails, with other KCAC Lives! bloggers about buying a computer set-up that would let me do so. I received much good advice, but there was no consistent set of answers that I could translate into a particular plan of action.

Therefore, I have decided to fuck the sacred crocodile. Based on (or in spite of) the advice of many helpful people, today I went out and bought a computer and related products that will, I hope, allow me to finally get to the job at hand. I went to Fry's Electronics here in Tempe and purchased the following items:

(1) A Hewlett Packard Pavilion a1700n computer with an AMD Anthlon 64X2 Dual-Core Processor, 250GB hard-drive storage, and 1024 MB PC2-2400 DDR2 SDRAM. (If anybody knows what that last bit means, please tell me.)

(2) An Envision H190L 19-inch monitor.

(3) A Pinnacle Studio MovieBox that will supposedly allow me to convert analog video to digital, provide assorted editing and enhancement software, and allow me to burn the results to DVD. (It also has some limited audio-related functions, but it is essentially a video-oriented product.)

(4) An Internet Media Recorder that can record streaming audio and/or video off the Web.

Please notice that I did NOT buy any audio-oriented software yet. This is primarily because there are several types out there that I want to research before choosing, and also because none of them indicated (at least on the box artwork) that they had speed-correction capabilities (critical to preserving the 1 7/8th IPS tapes provided by Jeff and Jennifer Crawford). The three audio software packages I've looked at so far are Cakewalk Pyro 5, SoundForge Audio Station, and Majix Audio Cleaning 11 Lab. If anybody can recommend one over the other, or some entirely different software product, please let me know.

The above is NOT a perfect, ideal, top-end collection of hardware and software; it is what I could almost afford that also seems capable of doing what I need it to do. The choice of the HP computer was largely a matter of cost - it's a refurbished unit sold at about 60% of the cost of comparable new models. I managed to walk out of the store for just under $1000, which was my upper limit

Anyway, comments and suggestions are welcome. There will be a rather steep learning curve for me, but I hope to get some grasp on the process by the end of June, and get started in earnest on the KCAC tapes later in the summer.


5 comments: said...

F&$#&^ING THE CROCODILE has one huge risk Tom... When you are done, The Crocodile is going to turn on you and say; "I think I liked it - do it again".

My entire computer experience began because I did not want to re-type my music list for each gig.

I will once again (and finally), recommend downloading AUDACITY software for free since it is an open-source compilation of SEVERAL authors. It's like a community portrait being painted by several artists and is consequently being improved and upgraded with new stuff alla time.

You might match it with store-bought stuff for a while, but you won't beat it AND you can buy beer and barbecue with the change.

DRAM is a type of RAM your computer needs to work. The specs you posted are impressive but I am easily impressed. It was a long time before I knew what a GIG(abyte) was.

BEWARE THE OBSESSION FACTOR. Do the simple stuff first - get it digitized THEN join the Star Trek learning curve. You will soon become aware, fascinated and delighted with all the OTHER stuff your new computer will do. Hope you got Windows XP instead of Vista.

Pre-pay all your credit cards and utilities for about four months, get pictures of your loved ones, so you will remember them. Change your oil and rotate your tires NOW.

See you in September!


Tom Wright said...

Thanks, Ron. I will download AUDACITY per your recommendation and give it a try. No XP - the damn thing came with Windows Vista. I don't know if there's a way to "uninstall" Vista and go with XP but I'll ask around.


Lowell said...


I know nothing about Vista, but I though it was suppose to be slicker'n pig snot. At least that's what Microsoft is saying. Man, if you can't believe Microsoft, who can you believe? said...


Slicker than pig snot is probablu right on, regarding VISTA.

Traditionally, everytime a new OS comes out there is a whole new line of bugs and patches/fixes to go with it.. Windows XP is a good example. I am STILL getting fixes from Microsoft. This has been true of every OS change since before Windos 95.

That is why I was advising Tom to go for the latest version of XP he could find.

HOWEVER since he has VISTA on the disc, I say go for that and DO NOT try to "downgrade" to an earler OS like Windows XP even though it might free up huge amounts of RAM and disc space. With as much memory and disc as he has now, it is redundant, anyway. Plus, there will be protected files and access lockouts that are pretty much guaranteed to mess things up if he tries to do that.

Nope, Tom - stay with VISTA, go by the book and don't pee in God's direction.

Expect to see many updates and fix files on your disk over time but accept them as apologies from Microsoft. There are millions of lines of code in any new OS and there is bound to be buggggs.

I am baseing my VISTA cautions on technical reviews of the early releases of the product, The version on Tom's computer is quite probably slicker than pig snot but I wouldn't know.. I just eat the bacon.

Comes in cellophane packages at Wal-Mart. No screams.


Mariah Fleming said...

Congratulations on getting all that cool stuff! How hard was it to find YOUR way back out of Fry's Electronics?