A Week With Mixmaster Shufflebutton

So my weeklong experiment with putting my entire music collection on nonstop shuffle has given me a few lasting lessons about the value of proper segues. BOB-FM ain’t got shit on the number of trainwrecks-per-hour I’m pushing.

I’m trying this as a way to load my Last.fm profile with a more general idea of what my music tastes actually are. My profile, as it stood before this week, reflected my tastes only since opening the account, which means the Top Artists list is heavily loaded with albums I’ve picked up in the past 4 months. There’s more to me than VNV Nation and Project Pitchfork, I swear! It just seems like I’m cheating the scrobbler since I’m feeding it a ton of stuff that’s not as relevant as it used to be, since I don’t really listen to much of it anymore. But I justify it because my collection is a reflection of myself through the past 20 years. Last.fm should be ecstatic that I’m trying to give them a better picture of my consumption; that’s me in rare form.

Here are some of the things I’ve learned:

  • I have 49 days, 22 hours, and 58 minutes of music; that’s 14689 tracks (not as much as some people, you braggarts). So there’s no way I’m playing random shuffle for a month and a half. Just no way without losing my damn mind.
  • Rhythmbox’s shuffle algorithm isn’t random enough. I’ve noticed it playing a few tracks from the same artist loosely clustered together. It appears the random selections are localized for a while before moving along.
  • I have a lot of stuff I’ve either never listened to or have spun only once or twice since acquiring. Like A-Set, Galloping Coroners, Pandit Pran Nath, Velocity Girl, and a bunch of tracks grabbed from a few of the streams I frequent. And I’ve completely forgotten I had a Luscious Jackson album, which I was into back in ’97. So, some of the stuff I get either doesn’t compete with other albums from an acquisition, or gets forgotten under the sands of time. It’s usually otherwise good stuff, but something else I pick up at that time is just a little better. Attention Deficit: as it is with pop radio, so it is with personal playlists.
  • I have an unholy amount of tracks that are longer than an sixty minutes. These are mostly DJ sets and mixes. Got some chillout mixes from Digitally-Imported, a few drum-and-bass mixes, and a tonne of DJ Testosterone electro mixes. But there are a few tracks that are one solid song; Goldie’s “Mother” and Brian Eno’s “Thursday Afternoon” push the hour mark. Possibly even the original “War of the Worlds” broadcast. So these are a joy when they pop up on the playlist since they transition within themselves for over an hour without jarring my sensibilities.
  • Speaking of segues: Under no circumstances should you follow Stabbing Westward with Genesis. You just don’t. And for the love of Satan, you never, ever come down from Slayer’s “Cast Down” with Sarah McLachlan’s cover of “Ol’ 55”. Both are great seperately, but put them together and be prepared to forfeit your soul.

You Opine to My Chagrin

Earlier tonight, a man I know tangientally from his association with friends of mine made a statement of his opinion regarding the status of Olympic Figureskating as an actual sport. His position was that since there was no objective metric to the performance of the activity, that it does not qualify as a sport, inasmuch as ballet qualifies as a sport. My opinion is that this is nonsense, and that even if the scoring is mostly subjective, it is still a sport.

His opinion really rubbed me the wrong way, and now I think differently of the guy. Subject matter aside, that is the part that troubles me the most: that one man’s opinion puts me so off my ease that I place the person in disdain. What the hell is with that? It is his right to make statements just as much as it is my right to make statements. So why the cold chill in my blood?

I’m an arrogant bastard, as is my training. See, in my 8 years of being a bible-toting, card-carrying Arkansas Baptist youth of the Evangelist persuasion, it was within my wont to issue unto the entire world my statements of Truth and Everlasting Life (because it was Truth, and not opinion, you see), and any person who was not “Of Us” who made any statement, whether related or unrelated, regarding their perception of truth was automatically analyzed and despised. Because if you are not for us, you are obviously against us.

It is in that way that the Baptist mindset poisoned my ability to observe other people’s opinions objectively, regardless of my own point of view. And my continued failure to observe and respect without emotional fury or feeling of damaged face leaves me gnashing my teeth at my inability to grow up.

It’s my sincerest wish that I could rise above my humanity, deprogram myself of the vitriol, and cease from passing the blame for my internal behavior on a decade of poor adolescent idealism.

Movement for Warmth

So the apartment management saw fit to install a new central heater unit. After a week of having to use space heaters to keep the place thawed, the service techs came around Friday morning to cut down the old unit (vintage 1978) and replace the whole thing with a new one. They were even nice enough to leave the task of cleanup to me (how sweet).

But the upshot is that I now have central heat, which is all-too-important this week, what with the latest arctic blast sitting on top of us. We even got some sleet today. Zero accumulations, but sleet nonetheless.

The apartment management declined my written request for a discount on rent for the inconvenience and expense of running the space heaters. Said it was “uncustomary”, and that I only had to deal with it for a week, and that a space heater was provided by management, and yadda-yadda. Notch it up to another thing I dislike about this apartment.

“But Shawn, why don’t you just move when your lease expires at the end of next month, since you hate it so much? Aren’t we all just a little tired of your bitching?”

That’s a (pair of) complex question(s) in search of a simple answer. There is no simple answer. This is my space. I’ve been here two years; it is cavernous, clean, relatively quiet. Sure, there’re shitty things about this apartment complex, but the same is said about everywhere else. I just cannot justify the mental and financial expense of looking for another place and moving. If the lease renewal contract I get next month presents itself with a stupendous rise in rate, then yes, I’ll have no choice, obviously. But if it’s all the same, then I’d prefer to stay.

This is my god-damn neighborhood and has been for the past nine years, thank you.

Swap-o-Rama (¡UUID Es Me Llamo!)

(Just for the sake of remembering my own damn self — and maybe helping someone else.)

Earlier, I attempted to hibernate my desktop. Never done it in the 15 months I’ve had Ubuntu 8.04 LTS on here, so I figured “Hell, why not?” I hit the dropdown, and the system commenced its hibernating shutdown action. But it neither shut off nor came back to life. I ssh’d into it to discover via the system logfile that the hibernate was halfway through its operations when the power daemon discovered “Oh Hell! There’s no resume device on this machine!” at which point it ceased and attempted to raise the machine from the dead.

After manually power-cycling the system, I did some digging. Turns out the UUID of the swap/resume partition had been changed somewhere along the way, so both /etc/fstab and /etc/initramfs-tools/conf.d/resume were stuck with the old UUID from way back when the system was installed. That UUID no longer exists.

I’m not sure what caused it to change; such an idea is disturbing, considering this is supposed to be the super-stable, LTS build of Ubuntu. The UUID of the swap partition is usually set with the mkswap -U command, and can be set on an ext2/ext3 partition with the tune2fs command. But anything can go wrong.

So. How to make fix? A quick check with sudo blkid will list the block devices on the system:

oldman@Deskie:~$ sudo blkid
/dev/sda1: UUID="c97b2e80-a5b2-4371-a60e-126a8d1402a5" TYPE="ext3"
/dev/sda5: TYPE="swap" UUID="f3a3cd16-f0c8-40a1-8a7d-578c57296c6b"
/dev/sda6: UUID="775a56e3-0244-453f-8d8a-fd1eb42a82f6" /
SEC_TYPE="ext2" TYPE="ext3"

The swap partition has the UUID f3a3cd16-f0c8-40a1-8a7d-578c57296c6b and is the device /dev/sda5. Copy and paste the UUID into the fstab and resume config files to replace the UUID that was there. Execute sudo swapon -a to mount your swap partition, and you should be golden. Verify with free -m to check for a nonzero swap size.

oldman@Deskie:~$ free -m
             total       used       free     shared    buffers     cached
Mem:          3962       1784       2178          0        154        660
-/+ buffers/cache:        969       2993
Swap:        11601          0      11601

The value 11601 tells me I’m gettin’ my swap on. Aw yeah.