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Tuesday, January 30, 2007

This Is Why I've Been Listening To Billie Holiday for Four Days Straight

If I've seemed crankier than usual lately, it's because of two things. First, I'm in the middle of having a lot of serious dental work done. This feels like paying dearly to be tortured, which makes it bad in two ways. Having more than one dimension to a bad thing makes it feel worse. Right now, for instance, I would really like to take a nap, but instead I have to go get a root canal. Somehow, the fact that I can't take a nap makes me feel even sorrier for myself than I would normally be feeling just on account of the root canal. The other thing is that, only days before I anticipate receiving my new computer, I reached irredeemable hard drive saturation and had to do a major reshuffling of files, and in transferring my music from one drive to another I managed to delete half of the music I own. I heard that gasp you just made. It wasn't even really my fault*: IDIOTIC iTunes decided that every folder with an identical artist name was a duplicate file, as if no one would ever own more than one album by any one artist. I hope this doesn't make me permanently bitter against iTunes. It might.

I'm going to keep backing up my photographs to actual disks. If this blog, and I, ever abruptly disappear and never come back, you'll know that I accidentally deleted my entire photographic archive and have been carted off to voluntary incarceration in an asylum somewhere. (Do they still have asylums? Or do all our mentally ill now live in cardboard boxes on city sidewalks?)

Adding insult to injury is the randomness of the accidental deletions...I lost most of my Jackie McLean, almost all of my M. Ward (I'm nuts about M. Ward), Zero 7, Cat Power, much Low, The Fiery Furnaces, all my Bass Communion and Muslimgauze (which I love), and just about every jazz record I've ever downloaded from eMusic...and yet, things that I'll never listen to again, like Kaada, Ciba Matto, and Thievery Corporation, are still insolently sitting there on my drive, perfectly preserved. Like being prevented from napping, this makes the disaster feel even worse than it was. And it was bad.

Posted by: MIKE JOHNSTON

*Of course, every computer failure that ever happens is the user's fault—that's the only reason why we put up with them.

27 Comments:

Blogger Player said...

lol, think, or better yet, DON'T THINK "American Chopper," the episode when Senior confides to his son Paulie that he's afraid of his upcoming root canal, so the gang in the shop all get out their huge drills and grinders and start drilling and grinding away, while Paul Senior is in the corner sweating it out. Too funny! Root canals aren't too bad once you get past the needle plunged into the nerve. Sorry. :)

I'm pretty sick of iTunes also. Everytime my computer crashes I have to reload all my CDs else it will delete what's already on the iPOD. It's pretty time-consuming ripping CDs too. Very funny blog BTW. Hope it all works out in the end.

10:23 AM  
Blogger Chris Combs said...

You don't wanna hear this, but iTunes wasn't really the problem - it was the Finder. When you move one folder over another with the same name, the Finder deletes the old folder and puts the new one in its place, rather than combining the contents. This is insensible, but also how it works.

It's also conceivable that the stuff's still sitting out there on the disk, but not in the iTunes library; try dragging the entire iTunes Music folder from the Finder into the Library view of iTunes.

10:43 AM  
Blogger Svein-Frode said...

Feel with you m8t! I've lost the greatest set of Aurora images I've ever taken (during a sun storm in 2003), and recently lost 300GB of music that I had spent coutless hours ripping from my own record collection. Now I have gone completely paranoid and bought a whole stack of external drives for backup. Digital is great, isn't it! BLARGH!

10:58 AM  
Blogger Yuda said...

Check with eMusic. You might be able to re-download stuff you'd already downloaded from them for free.

I know it keeps track of what you've downloaded, and I'm not really sure why else it would do this.

11:25 AM  
Blogger Yuda said...

It turns out you can re-download eMusic songs, as long as you're still a member.

Take a look here.

11:27 AM  
Blogger Max said...

Mike, my condolences, that's more than enough reason to be "cranky" (going on a random killing spree sounds more appropriate!).

11:33 AM  
Blogger stevierose said...

Are you sure the files are lost? Usually when you delete computer files it just changes the setting in a hard drive directory, but the actual file is still there, and can be recovered. Do you own any drive utilities? I doubt that all is lost.

12:11 PM  
Blogger David Emerick said...

Got Data Rescue?

It will bring them back.

d

2:29 PM  
Blogger dasmb said...

Actually, it is "lost," but possibly not forgotten. In every OS other than Windows, a directory is just like any other file, so when you overwrite a directory (which is almost certainly what happened, whether you meant to do it or not) you are actually going to remove the old directory. If you were to do this operation in Finder under OSX, it'd give you the option to merge the contents of the new directory into the old one, which is almost certainly what you want. But most code elements, and any operation performed on the command line, would replace one with the other.

There was a way to do this right...there always is in iTunes. Were you maybe copying FROM the location iTunes wants to copy the files TO in a "consolidated" situation (e.g. "Let iTunes manage my library")? If so, you could have gotten around this by holding down the ALT key when adding the directory to your library. This tells iTunes not to "manage" the files you're dropping into it, and just leave them where they are.

Incidentally player, YOUR problem is that your iPod's still set to sync when it should be set to manual because you know how to copy files to it. Your bigger problem is that your computer crashes, and that's the one you should fix too. Unlike the days of Windows 98 & OS 9, modern operating systems do not commonly crash unless there is something wrong with them. My PC laptop hasn't been rebooted in almost a year (my mac doesn't go so long, because of frequent OS updates).

3:22 PM  
Blogger Robin P said...

"I hope this doesn't make me permanently bitter against iTunes. It might."

Mike you've made my day! - a self confessed Mac man questioning the sanity of using iTunes on a widely read blog is wonderful news.
Please people, don't download music, buy it on CD or vinyl - that way you might still be able to play it in years to come. Your music is far too precious to be trusted to the care of Apple (or Microsoft), their DRM (digital rights management) is far too Big Brother.

Good luck at the dentist, in my experience (far too much I'm afraid) the bill always hurts more than the treatment.

Cheers, Robin

3:24 PM  
Blogger dasmb said...

PS: Backup your music like you backup your photos! I have 200 gigabytes of music (some from eMusic back when they had the full back catalog of Elvis Costello and the Moon Ska label, neither of which is available anymore) and photos on my fileserver and would be inconsolable if I lost it all. Make two copies, too -- one that stays at home, one that goes to the office.

I used to work in a college computer lab and I saw more busted discs, dead laptops, corrupted file transfers and virus-ridden word files than I care to count. These things only seem to happen when you really need the data (such as the day before it's due) and nobody ever has a backup, or at least, a decent one. We had one nice Portuguese physics student who saved every page of his disertation ten times -- once on each of ten discs -- but kept all the disks in the same box. He brushed his bag against the wall of a classroom where they were using a nice strong labratory magnet and rendered them all useless. (Luckily, he had a habit of leaving his files open...ordinarily an invitation for acadmeic fraud, a lifesaver in his case).

3:32 PM  
Blogger Peyo said...

I'm surprised to see you liking Bass Communion. Do you like Porcupine Tree and No-Man, too ?

4:19 PM  
Blogger OK-1K said...

Again, you can't really fault iTunes.

I can't believe that someone who famously advocates photo backups onto specific DVD+R discs doesn't do a regular backup for their other media and files... I have a 250GB firewire drive I use just as a backup drive for everything on my mac's HD (particularly for my iTunes Library). It's not even for extra storage. It's just a straight copy every week. These things cost less than $150, and USB 2 drives are even cheaper.

I also heartily recommend spending $99 and getting Roxio's Toast 8. Besides being ace at converting video for iPod and DivX, and doing a faster job of burning data DVDs, it has this great Preference Pane addition called Deja Vu, which is far easier to manage than Retrospect or Apple's .Mac Backup, and it's been keeping me properly backed up for a while.

4:38 PM  
Blogger Mike Johnston said...

Peyo,
Can't say I do really, although I like Ben Coleman era No-Man, and one of Porcupine Tree's covers is magnificent--I think it was Deadwing? Beautiful album cover. Porcupine Tree always struck me as an odd melding of genres that never really gels, prog-rock drumming, heavy metal chords, and Britpop vocals. Too weird....

--Mike

4:53 PM  
Blogger Paul said...

Woah Mike, my condolences. I fried 50 gigs of music once. It was a bad day. It still hurts...it was 2 years ago. I had backed it up and managed to fry the backup almost at the same time. Pretty sad.

You can re-download stuff from emusic, at least if you keep up your membership. Go to your history page. I've done it several times. I notice that files dissapear randomly, which freaks me out.

Itunes sucks, wicked. I tried mediamonkey briefly but it wasn't much better.

6:14 PM  
Blogger David A. Goldfarb said...

I think the best analogue response to this sort of thread that I've read was on the lfphoto.info forum where someone posted, "Once I had a box of negatives, and they fell out of the box, so I picked them up and put them back in the box."

I think that those of us who started using computers when there were 8" floppies or earlier just expected to have major crashes occasionally and are more likely to have gotten in the habit of backing things up. In over 20 years, I don't think I've lost more than an hour's work or so, despite the occasional hard drive disaster.

I'm an academic, and I started putting a caveat in my syllabi a few years ago, stating that I would not accept late assignments due to computer problems unless the student could produce a backup or printout with at least 80% of the completed assignment, and I haven't had a student ask for an extension (I'm actually fairly generous with extensions for other reasons) due to a computer crash since.

8:46 PM  
Blogger Big Mac said...

If you've irretrievably lost your music, I read somewhere that Apple will give you one free pass "In your lifetime," (whatever that means) to re-download all songs you've bought from iTunes. I guess they figure after this you'll start backing up!

You might want to email them and say you heard this and ask how you go about it.

9:00 PM  
Blogger sydneywater said...

I work in IT and backups still go wrong or don't restore or other such cock-ups, and this with professionals.

I can't help feeling that backing up only delays the inevitable loss of data. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow - but just when you're feeling comfortable up it goes in a puff.

11:14 PM  
Blogger Interface said...

I feel for you. I had two disasters with iTunes resulting in the loss of files. I hate the thing and have banished it permanently from my PC. I gave my iPod to my son.

I fully accept that I probably did something wrong, but it was just too damn easy to do. It refused to work the way I wanted it to.

5:26 AM  
Blogger Paul said...

My 2nd post on this subject...I think this is specifically not your fault . I've spent hours backing things up, burning dvds, etc. I have all my photos backed up on 3 hard drives and I'm working on getting them on dvds too.

In spite of that, I really am not sure day to day about how my files are doing. I've had mysterious things happen with music files where they just dissapear, without me doing anything. I'm never sure what happened. While I haven't specifically lost a picture, with 10s of thousands of files, it's very difficult to know if any one file is present.

What I'm saying, I think, is that I think a modern computer dealing in media files should be capable of knowing whether a file exists or doesn't and should be able to keep track of a file. Or multiple copies of the same file. It seems totally reasonable, and I don't know of any computer system that does that.

I've tried to do what I'm supposed to do (my IT guy uncle says that I'm the only human to have 3 hard drive backups) and I still have had disasters.

1:50 PM  
Blogger Yuda said...

Robin P. said:

Mike you've made my day! - a self confessed Mac man questioning the sanity of using iTunes on a widely read blog is wonderful news. Please people, don't download music, buy it on CD or vinyl - that way you might still be able to play it in years to come. Your music is far too precious to be trusted to the care of Apple (or Microsoft), their DRM (digital rights management) is far too Big Brother.

I just want to point out here that it's entirely possible to use iTunes as a jukebox/mp3 player without buying anything from the iTunes Store. The vast majority of my music was purchased on CD, although lately I've been downloading from eMusic (which is unencumbered by DRM). I've bought a couple of novelty songs from iTunes, but that's about it.

2:43 PM  
Blogger yeled said...

I am currently backing up Aperture to S3 and plan to put my purchased music there as well.

Another thing - I recently moved to London, and ripped my rare albums - the rest, I now get through http://oink.me.uk - it's like a distributed backup as well!

5:55 PM  
Blogger Max said...

I never tried iTunes, but it already looks unappealing after I though of buying a Motorola phone with iTunes included as media player and learning that the in-phone iTunes limited the amount of loadable music to 50 songs to avoid competition with ipods, no matter how much memory the phone card had.

6:52 PM  
Blogger Robert Roaldi said...

Since you've been writing about music lately, I thought you might enjoy these two blog entries,

http://roberts-rants.blogspot.com/2006/07/working-songs.html

http://roberts-rants.blogspot.com/2006/06/grooving-to-oldies.html

Cheers.

7:06 AM  
Blogger Brambor said...

Mike, You can have it both ways. I had a root canal yesterday and fell asleep in the dentist's chair while he was doing it. He gently woke me up by asking me to keep my mouth open so that he can complete the drilling.

12:14 PM  
Blogger John Lehet said...

Here's how I deal with iTunes, which is similar to how I deal with photos, to add relevance to the discussion.

I set iTunes *not* to the iTunes folder. Instead I have a folder called "MP3s" (even though they're mostly M4As), which resides not on my boot partition, but on my Big Partition. More precisely, it's set to a sub-folder in there, which is numbered sequentially. I keep an eye on the size of these folders as they fill, and at about 4 GB I burn them to DVD. The current filling-up folder, not yet burned, gets mirrored to my Macbook Pro (also of course not in the iTunes folder), which means I get backup and also my newest music on the laptop. Also this folder gets backed up onto a firewire drive until it's burned. I used to keep the whole collection on the firewire drive, but it's grown, as has my photo backup requirement, faster than the size of my firewire drives.
Another trick is that I also keep another set of these 4 GB size folders on a firewire drive, and that one contains only audio books. Itunes only finds those files when that drive is connected, which is usually only during backing up or when I want the audio book. If iTunes can't find it, it just skips it in a shuffle play, so I don't get random tracks of audio books coming up in shuffling music.

While Apple defaults to The Apple Way of keeping all files in specific places, it doesn't force us into that way, always. However with photos -- iPhoto and Aperture -- they do. Hence I avoid those applications like the plague.

Photo files are accumulated and backed up and mirrored in a similar way, all in 4GB folders, each of which is cataloged and burned to best quality DVD.

Not to say it isn't all just dust in the wind of eternity.

7:00 AM  
Blogger Dan B (no, not Bennett, think harder) said...

Speaking of Billie Holiday, There is a great group on Yahoo called Billie Holiday And The Disciples Of Swing that salutes the art of vocal jazz. During February they were celebrating Girl Singers Month and this weeks playlist includes several tracks by Billie that were recorded in 1957 at The Stratford Shakespeare Festival. You should check them out. Here is the link to the group and the current playlist:

http://launch.groups.yahoo.com/group/BillieHoliday_And_The_Disciples_Of_Swing/01

01 And This Is My Beloved.mp3 Gloria Lynne at Basin Street 912 K

01 As Long As I Live.mp3 Peggy Lee (rehearsal, 1962)

01 Darktown Strutters Ball.mp3 Alberta Hunter, 1978

01 I Didn't Know What Time It Was.mp3 Sarah Vaughan, 198X

01 Manhattan.mp3 Lee Wiley

01 S'Wonderful.mp3 Ella Fitzgerald and Sammy Davis Jr.

01 They Raided The Joint.mp3 Helen Humes at the Pasadena Auditorium, 1952

02 Loud Talkin' Woman.mp3 Helen Humes at the Pasadena Auditorium, 1952

02 The More I See You.mp3 Keely Smith, studio session, 6/20/1985


02 Willow Weep For Me.mp3 Billie Holiday, Toronto, 8/57

03 Flying Home.mp3 Ella Fitzgerald, Carnegie Hall, 9/18/1949

03 I Only Have Eyes For You.mp3 Billie Holiday, Toronto, 8/57

03 I'll Get Along Somehow.mp3 Nancy Wilson

03 Mood Indigo.mp3 Lena Horne and Tony Bennett

04 Billie's Blues.mp3 Billie Holiday, Toronto, 8/57

04 Lucky Day.mp3 Annie Ross,1959

04 One Night Stand.mp3 Janis Joplin, 1970

04 Why Don't You Do Right.mp3 Linda Hopkins, 6/18/82

05 After You've Gone.mp3 Kay Starr, 1975

05 Azure-te.mp3 Ernestine Anderson, studio session, 1958

05 Lover Come Back To Me.mp3 Billie Holiday, Toronto, 8/57

05 Miss Brown to You.mp3 Carmen McRae, studio session, 6/29/1961

06 Is You Is Or Is You Ain't My Baby.mp3 Ann Richards, studio session, 1960

07 I'd Rather Go Blind.mp3 Etta James live at Memory Lane, 1986

07 Influences.mp3 Billie Holiday

07 The Way We Were.mp3 Peggy Lee (1974 Academy Awards)

08 My Funny Valentine.mp3 Anita O'Day at Carnegie Hall, 1986

08 No Ways Tired.mp3 The Barret Sisters, 1983

08 You've Changed.mp3 Shelby Lynne, studio session,

09 But Not For Me.mp3 Gladys Knight

09 Influences part 2.mp3 Billie Holiday, Toronto, 8/57

09 Porgy.mp3 Nina Simone at Westbury Music Fair, 1968

09 Skylark.mp3 Aretha Franklin, Detroit Music Hall 1986

10 Mean Way Of Loving.mp3 Helen Humes at the Pasadena Auditorium, 1952

13 He Brought Us.mp3 The Barret Sisters, 1983

13 My Funny Valentine_The Gentleman is a Dope.mp3 Peggy Lee and Lena Horne, 1978

15 I Wish You Love 1.mp3 Barbra Streisand, JFK Stadium 1966

15 More.mp3 Baby Jane Dexter

15 Only The Lonely.mp3 Aretha Franklin, studio session, 7/16/64


17 I Cried For You.mp3 Helen Humes at the Pasadena Auditorium, 1952


17 You Turned The Tables On Me.mp3 Anita O'Day on the BBC, 1964


18 Medley.mp3 Anita O'Day and Chris Connor at Michaels Pub, 1989


19 If I Were A Bell.mp3 June Christy Live At The Dunes

20 It Don't Mean A Thing.mp3 June Christy Live At The Dunes

21 Jeepers Creepers.mp3 june Christy Live At The Dunes

22 Too Marvelous.mp3 June Christy Live At The Dunes

25 Mixed Emotions.mp3 Dinah Washington Live At Basin Street, 7/10/55


26 Come Rain Or Shine.mp3 Dinah Washington Live At Basin Street, 7/10/55


http://launch.groups.yahoo.com/group/BillieHoliday_And_The_Disciples_Of_Swing/

12:10 PM

2:13 PM  

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