Saturday, November 1, 2008

"Little Miss Lover" sample in "Tick, Tick, Bang"

This is old news, but, a few days ago, I was listening to Jimi Hendrix's Axis: Bold as Love album for the first time in my life (yes, I know: shame on me) and it struck me: I had already heard the drum introduction to "Little Miss Lover" somewhere. Once again and as it was the case with Roger Limb's "Passing Cloud" track, I heard it in a Prince song, "Tick, Tick, Bang", from the Graffiti Bridge album, released in 1990. You can clearly hear Mitch Mitchell's drums throughout Prince's song. As you can expect from Prince, the sample is not credited.

Note that you can hear the sample more prominently in the 1989 unreleased version of "Tick, Tick, Bang", as most of the extra instrumentation is missing. As for the 1981 unreleased version, it uses live drums instead of a sample.

Any other interesting samples I've missed?

Monday, September 1, 2008

Rivella Jaune + Ragusa Noir = ?

La Suisse est un pays calme et il en faut peu pour avoir l'impression de vivre une révolution. Je suis pourtant relativement hermétique à la publicité, lis très peu les journaux et ne regarde presque jamais la télévision, mais il m'a été impossible d'ignorer ce qui pourrait bien être l'évènement majeur de la fin du mois d'août en Suisse : l'introduction sur le marché du Rivella Jaune et du Ragusa Noir. Tout le monde en parle, je n'ai pas pu y résister : il m'a fallu y goûter. Résultat des courses : contrairement à la fondue pour micro-ondes, le Rivella Jaune et le Ragusa Noir sont parfaitement comestibles. L'honneur est sauf. À quand le nouvel Ovomaltine ou le nouveau Cenovis ?

Sunday, August 17, 2008

How to make a bootable USB key with a Debian installer from Windows

This is something that should be obvious, but I managed to lose several days on this problem. I wanted to install Debian on my brand new mini-ITX server (with no CD/DVD drive, only several USB ports and an SSD drive), but I only had a Windows machine available. These are the steps I followed:
  1. Download NTRawrite.
  2. Download syslinux. The file that you need is syslinux.exe. It is located in the "win32" folder of the ZIP archive you downloaded.
  3. Download a Debian installer, e.g. the current installer for Lenny.
  4. Download a "netinst" ISO image for Debian, e.g. the most current image.
  5. Uncompress boot.img.gz.
  6. Format your USB flash drive, using FAT16, if possible.
  7. Use NTRawrite to write boot.img to the USB flash drive. Just launch NTRawrite.exe, enter "boot.img" and the drive letter of the USB flash drive. This step can be quite slow.
  8. Use syslinux to make the USB flash drive bootable. Just launch syslinux.exe with "-f e:" as argument (replace "e" by the drive letter of the USB flash drive).
  9. "Safely remove" the USB flash drive and put it back (I'm not sure this step is mandatory/useful).
  10. Copy the ISO image to the USB flash drive.
  11. "Safely remove" the USB flash drive again. Voilà. It is ready.
If, for a reason or another, you don't manage to boot on your USB flash drive, try formatting it using HP USB Disk Storage Format Tool. It might help.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Delia Derbyshire and Prince (Jamie Starr's a thief)


I admit it: I like bootlegs. They're a way for me to stay interested in musicians that don't release music as often as they promised (Prince) or that don't release any music anymore (Miles Davis). From time to time, they also contain a few surprises.

Last week, I was listening to a 2-CD bootleg called Wow!, released in April 2008 by "Eye" Records. Nothing too special, but, at the end of the second CD, a track particularly caught my attention. It was an instrumental recording, not by Prince, but by someone called Delia Derbyshire, which I had never heard of before. I quickly learned (thanks to Wikipedia) that she was a British musician, a "pioneer of electric music", whose best-known work is the theme music to Doctor Who, first recorded in 1963.

What struck me was that the track I was listening to, "Clouds", by Delia Derbyshire, was something I had heard many times (maybe even hundreds of times) before. It was the beginning of my favorite Prince album of all time, Lovesexy, released twenty years ago, in 1988, without the synthesizers, sound effects, and Ingrid Chavez' "poem". Listen to the MP3 excerpts. You should notice the similarity...

Apparently, "Clouds" was part of a project called The Dreams, recorded in 1964 (according to Wikipedia) and it circulates on a 131-track compilation entitled Complete Works Compiled, possibly a bootleg (according to a thread on housequake.com).

Conclusion: the first seconds of "I No", the opening song on Lovesexy, are not Prince on synthesizers, as I had always assumed, but the (uncredited) work of Delia Derbyshire, who didn't use any synthesizers, by the way!

The questions that remain are: how did Prince get ahold of this (officially unreleased?) recording and did he use it with permission?

(One last detail, for the non-Prince fans: Jamie Starr is one of the many pseudonyms Prince used in his career. He's cited by Prince himself in "D.M.S.R.".)

Update (May 14, 2008). After listening to The Dreams (1964), it appears quite clearly that "Clouds" is not part of that recording. According to a thread on prince.org, "Clouds" probably comes from one of the sound effects collections released by the BBC Radiophonic Workshop. My guess: it might come from Out of This World, but listed under a different name. If you know the exact release on which "Clouds" appears, please let me know!

Update (May 24, 2008). I just had a listen to the Essential Science Fiction Sound Effects, Volume 2 CD. Track 61, "Passing Clouds", credited to Roger Limb, not Delia Derbyshire, is the track Prince used on "I No". This CD is the 1991 reissue of the 1976 LP Out Of This World. The conclusion is that Prince just used this track from Out Of This World. Since this is a compilation of sound effects, he didn't have to ask for permission or to credit anybody. End of the story. Or, almost. The only question that remains is: why did "Eye" Records wrongly credit "Passing Clouds" to Delia Derbyshire? The likely answer is: because they're bootleggers and they make that kind of mistake very often... Anyway, I've updated the articles on Wikipedia.

Monday, April 28, 2008

A user manual for my life

Today, I read a post by Dustin Wax titled "I Need a User Manual for My Life!":

"I was doing something routine a couple of days ago — paying some first of the month bills online — and I got stuck. For the life of me, I couldn’t remember the name of one of the people I send payments to. All the information is saved in my bank account’s settings, but I have to enter the name of the recipient, exactly as it appears in my records, to bring everything else up. That’s when it hit me: I need a user manual for my life!"

A user manual for my life... I really like that wording. I had never thought of it that way. I've started writing my own "personal user manual" a couple of months ago. Like many people (I guess), I already had checklists, such as a travel checklist, i.e. a list of things I need to do or take whenever I leave home for more than one day, but I quickly realized that I needed more. So, I started writing "how-to" lists for tasks I need to do regularly. These lists usually consist of pointers to Web sites, names of utilities, command lines, etc., but I suppose that, as time passes, they will include more non-technical stuff.

The idea here is to centralize all that information in a single place. For me, that place is Google Docs. This is where I already have my to-do lists and GTD-related documents, among others. The advantage of Google Docs is that the documents can easily be accessed, modified, shared, exported, or printed. At some point, I thought about using a personal wiki, but Google Docs is just ideal, after all.

So, next time you have to spend more than a couple of minutes to do something, because you don't know how to do it, ask yourself if this is not the perfect time to start writing your own personal user manual!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Read "Getting Things Done": done.

I've finally read Getting Things Done, the famous book by David Allen. It took me six months to finish it, which is a pretty long time to read a 267-page book. There are several reasons for that:
  • The book is too long. Let's admit it: it is sometimes a bit repetitive and I'm pretty sure it could have half as many pages and still contain all the necessary points and ideas needed to understand the Getting Things Done (GTD) methodology. I know another writer who tends to write long books: Ray Kurzweil. I guess he and Allen, among others, are so excited about their ideas, in a way, that they feel the need to repeat them over and over.

  • I had been implementing GTD for a long time without even knowing it. At least partially. I've been making to-do lists for a very long time. I still have handwritten lists of project ideas dating back from the time when I was programming on Atari computers (i.e. when I was 12-15 years old). The result is that a lot of Allen's ideas sounded quite familiar to me ("I like lists. Don't try to convince me that lists are good."). Somehow, the fact that these concepts weren't completely new to me didn't encourage me to read Allen's book more quickly.

  • You don't have to wait until you reach the last page to actually implement GTD. You can change the way you already organize your work as you progress into the book. That's what I did.

  • There are a lot of GTD resources on the Web. I've watched videos and subscribed to blogs about GTD. A lot of these resources sum up quite effectively what GTD is about. Again, it didn't encourage me to finish the book.

  • Allen's book is starting to get old. It's from 2001, after all. Most of his examples are related to paper- or Outlook-based organizational systems. Since I hate both paper and Outlook, again, it was a turn off. Isn't it time for a new edition of Getting Things Done? Or are the Web resources I was talking about sufficient?
I will definitely post further articles about the way I'm implementing GTD. I've already dedicated almost two whole days to completely rewrite my personal to-do list, a few weeks ago. My professional to-do list is now also "GTD-compliant". Okay, here's a spoiler: I use Google Calendar for my calendars/reminders and Google Docs for all my other lists/reference documents. It's simple, but effective. Nothing original, I guess. At least, I no longer use e-mail for my to-do lists, and I've learnt the importance of clearly separating my input baskets, my "as soon as possible" actions, and my "someday/maybe" actions. You don't need complex tools to implement that. Only discipline.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

J'ai testé pour vous : la fondue pour micro-ondes

Je ne sais pas ce qui m'est arrivé, hier. Il était plus de 13h et je n'avais pas encore mangé de la journée. J'ai soudainement eu envie d'une fondue. Une envie irrépressible. Certains savent de quoi je parle, j'en suis sûr. Je me suis rendu dans le magasin alimentaire le plus proche, avec ma copine, qui avait envie de quelque chose de léger (quelle bonne idée !), et me suis donc rabattu sur une portion individuelle : une fondue Gerber "L'Original", version "spéciale" pour four à micro-ondes. Je précise d'emblée que Gerber est une marque suisse alémanique, qui se prononce "guerbère", et que je ne me permettrai aucun jeu de mots douteux à ce sujet.

Quoi qu'il en soit, l'expérience a été quelque peu frustrante : mon four à micro-ondes n'en est pas sorti indemne, certains éléments gratifiants de la fondue, comme la "religieuse", n'étaient évidemment pas au rendez-vous et, inutile de le préciser, le goût de la chose avait un côté assez... inquiétant... La mauvaise odeur dans l'appartement, elle, était bien là, par contre. Tout l'après-midi. J'ai été bien puni, je suppose.

Cette expérience m'a vaguement rappelé le chewing-gum au chocolat que Stimorol avait lancé, il y a quelques années. Ayant l'esprit plutôt ouvert, j'avais également donné une chance à ce produit. Je l'avais vite regretté.

Pour conclure, vous aurez compris que je déconseille fortement l'achat et la consommation de "fondues" pour micro-ondes. Si l'envie vous en prend, renversez-vous plutôt un seau d'eau froide sur la tête. Vous vous sentirez moins bête. Je précise que j'habite en Suisse. J'ignore si cette abomination est disponible en dehors de ce pays et j'espère sincèrement, pour la paix des nations, que ça n'est pas le cas.

Si vous souhaitez partager vos pires expériences gastronomiques, n'hésitez pas à laisser un commentaire sur ce blog !

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Don't fly Austrian Airlines, if you're a vegetarian

Two weeks ago, I went on a 5-day trip to Vienna. I had booked a flight on Austrian Airlines, through Swiss. I'm a vegetarian, so I was quite anxious, because I was not asked if any special meal was required when I bought my tickets. I was delighted to see that the meal served during the flight was vegetarian for all passengers. It consisted of spinach and ricotta ravioli with cherry tomatoes and a cream sauce of some sort. Not that bad.

Four days later, on the flight back to Geneva, though, the meal contained ham (why in hell do people need ham or bacon in what would otherwise be perfectly fine vegetarian dishes?). I told one of the flight attendants that I was vegetarian, but she couldn't do anything about it and didn't particularly seem to care. It wasn't such a big deal, but I was really hungry. I ate the small piece of bread they gave me, as well as my dessert. When I arrived in Geneva, I was hungry again. It was 10:15 PM. I had to buy something to fill my stomach before I went to bed.

A few days later, I wrote an e-mail to Austrian Airlines. I guess I cannot reproduce their reply here, since it comes with the usual "confidential" notice. Anyway, to sum it up, they can't offer vegetarian meals, because then they would have to offer "a lot of other special meals". If it's not a bad excuse, I don't know what it is. We're in 2008. It shouldn't be too difficult to have special meals served even during short flights. After all, airlines don't make them themselves. And if I can't have a vegetarian meal, at least I shouldn't have to pay for other people's meals.

So, what airlines would you recommend or advise against for vegetarians? What are your best or worst experiences, when it comes to in-flight vegetarian meals (or lack thereof)?

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Les Liaisons Dangereuses au Pulloff

Je l'avoue : je n'ai ni lu le livre ni vu ses différentes adaptations cinématographiques, dont la plus connue de Stephen Frears en 1988 (avec Glenn Close, John Malkovich, Michelle Pfeiffer et Keanu Reeves, rien que ça).

Par contre, il y a deux jours, j'ai vu la mise en scène de Jean-Gabriel Chobaz, au Pulloff, à Lausanne. Cette pièce est l'adaptation théâtrale du texte de Christopher Hampton, traduit en français par Jean-Claude Brisville, texte lui-même adapté du roman épistolaire de Pierre Choderlos de Laclos de 1782 (vous me suivez ?).

Si un journal gratuit médiocre (n'est-ce pas un pléonasme ?) vous a dit que la pièce comportait des scènes de nudité, n'y allez pas pour ça ou, inversément, que cela ne vous empêche pas d'y aller : oui, il y en a, mais il y a plus que ça. Il s'agit d'ailleurs bien plus d'érotisme que de nudité. C'est le texte, superbe, qui veut ça. Ambiance gothique, décadente, maquillages et costumes magnifiques, anachronismes, musique étonnamment rock ou, au contraire, classique (superbe extrait de la Suite N° 3 en ré majeur de Bach), etc. Difficile de ne pas être touché, troublé. Je vous recommande vivement d'aller le vérifier par vous-mêmes. Après le Pulloff, la pièce sera jouée ailleurs en Suisse Romande (Morges, Avenches, Treyvaux, Vevey, Yverdon-les-Bains, Berne, Bulle, Sion et Genève).

Note pour Madeline Golay, qui s'est occupée des costumes : Prince, dont je suis fan, porte le corset bien plus serré que cela (comprendront ceux qui ont vu ou verront la pièce).

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Google classifies its own e-mails as spam

Warning: this blog entry is not about Microsoft and Yahoo!.

I don't know if I am the only one to experience this "bug", but whenever I receive an e-mail from Blogger (a blog publishing system acquired by Google in 2003), be it a copy of an article I just posted or a notification that a new comment has been left on my blog, it is almost always classified as spam by Gmail (which is, needless to say, also owned by Google). Kind of ironic, isn't it?

The "Not Spam" button doesn't seem to work (i.e. it doesn't seem to have any influence on the way Gmail classifies further e-mails from Blogger). Maybe this problem is caused by the fact that I am using another e-mail address for Blogger (which is redirected to my Gmail address)?

I'm generally happy with the quality of Gmail's spam filter, but I still get genuine e-mails in my spam folder, from time to time. Even e-mails that don't come from Blogger. That's the kind of things you don't want to happen with a spam filter. I'd rather have a bit more spam in my inbox. So, let's hope Google is still working on their spam filtering algorithms.

And, yes, if Flickr is indirectly acquired by Microsoft (through Yahoo!), that would suck and I would seriously consider moving to Picasa Web Albums. Maybe. Okay, maybe not, but that would definitely suck.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Copyright infringement is not theft

It has been said many times before, but it can never be said enough: copyright infringement is not theft. These are different concepts, covered by different laws. Apparently, there are still ignorant people who claim they are the same thing. It is not news. The problem is that some of these people are allowed to talk in public. A few days ago, U2's manager Paul McGuinness gave a speech at the MIDEM music industry convention in Cannes, which has been posted on U2's Web site. In that speech, McGuinness pathetically shows that he is one of these numerous music industry professionals who just want things to stay the same. But more than that, he shows that he doesn't even understand the basic difference between copyright infringement and theft:

"(...) it is terrible that a direct effect of piracy and thievery has been the destruction of so many careers."

"(...) I'm not talking just of their tolerance of copyright theft."

"(...) I suggest we shift the focus of moral pressure away from the individual P2P file thief (...)"

Thievery? Copyright theft? File thief? It is painfully obvious that McGuinness doesn't know what he's talking about. U2 should be ashamed to allow such messages to appear on their Web site.

Oh, and by the way, did you know copyright infringement is not theft?