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Moving, moving, moving... · 30.03.13 by colin newell

Linode getting it on

If you have noticed an absence of activity around these parts for the last month, it is because I have been prepping numerous websites for an “experimental” move off of Islandnet.com (after almost 18 years with them…) after many technical hiccups, slow downs, the occasional Ddos attacks etc – it was simply time for a change.

Do not get me wrong – Islandnet has been great – it has been puzzling to me why (for me) that are the slowest loading pages on the internet. My customers and readers simply cannot wait 10 to 20 seconds – sometimes minutes for the pages of my sites to load. Additionally, I will be keeping my Islandnet accounts very much alive as instant back up for my own new ISP that I have created – I do still believe in product loyalty and keeping “largely good” relationships intact.

So, I have moved over to Linode.com where I am my own ISP maintaining my own virtual cloud servers – 10 times the firepower and arguably 5 times the speed – for around the same coin – with tons of space to spare.

My bottom line folks is keeping my websites fast and accessible to my readers – no excuses, no technical foul ups, no mysteries…

I do not “do the web” merely as a pass time. I have a message and lots of media to share – and if there are black-outs, I want to be the one responsible for it.

Enjoy the new experience on DXer.ca and Coffeecrew.com for starters. More to come.
And now I can concentrate on getting some new content out there. Thank you for your patience!

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Rites of Spring #15 - Gadgets - playing with the TASCAM US-100 interface · 15.05.10 by colin newell

TASCAM US-100 USB Audio interface with Phono inputsThis is the first in a series of features focusing on the geek aspects of my life under the category of digital audio.

I have a home based studio powered by a 3.2 Ghz PC running Windows XP. One of my main audio interfaces in the M-Audio Delta 44 4 channel audio interface tied into a 12-in / 2-out Behringer analog mixing board. I use APEX floating plate microphones and Adobe audition software for multi-track audio recording and mastering.

An old friend of mine needed a portable USB interface device that would handle phono inputs from his turntable into his slightly older PC. After a bit a research and phone calls to the good folks at Long & McQuade, I had my hands on the very affordable TASCAM US-100 multi-mode USB audio interface.

The TASCAM’s US-100 bridges a wide variety of analog devices like cassette decks and turntables as well as guitars, basses, keyboards and non-phantom powered microphones into your PC or MAC. The microphone input handles any dynamic microphone (like the SHURE SM-58), or you can plug in your guitar or bass directly into the instrument-level input. Stereo line inputs can be switched to RIAA phono level for digitizing your LP’s from any turntable. A USB 2.0 connection guarantees hassle free playback on any Mac or Windows box, and solid aluminum construction looks like it could survive anything I could throw at it.

The online specs read: The US-100 records in stereo at CD-quality 48kHz/16-bit resolution and includes a free copy of Audacity software to get you started.

Oddly my sample did not come with any software but the fabulous AUDACITY software is readily downloaded along with a veritable forest of plug-ins.

I was up and running in minutes and playing my guitar directly into my PC (and then my MAC Powerbook for good measure) – I then patched one of my favorite semi-pro cassette decks from the 80’s – the JVC DD-5 into the RCA inputs on the TASCAM US-100 for some whisper quiet recording on the PC. Some of my song demos from the 80’s, however banal nowadays, sure sounded sweet through this set-up. And NO, no one is ever hearing those demos!

The TASCAM US-100 has a single balanced XLR and 1/4” unbalanced microphone input, as well as unbalanced stereo RCA line ins and outs. I have been using TASCAM products since the 1980’s (with the venerable TASCAM 144 and 244 cassette multi-track units.) As usual, TASCAM and Long & McQuade have never let me down. Their staff are awesome and no matter where you go in Canada, you are going to be singing the praises of Long & McQuade and Tascam products.

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Rites of Spring #14 - Facebook suicide run. Good bye. · 14.05.10 by colin newell

facebook - join the exodus - you don't need it and neither do I. Suicide pact Facebook.Signed on to Facebook for about 10 days. More out of curiosity than anything else. Twitter has been working out quite well – and not surprisingly.
I mean, Twitter is a very simple thing. You post thoughts and hopefully link to some richer media somewhere.
It works… like you would expect.

But I digress.

I signed up for Facebook knowing full well how dodgy and sketchy Facebook is with peoples personal information. We have always known that Facebook is a data mining center for the folks who pay the execs at Facebook top dollar for every bit of minutia you put on your profile. It’s for sale. You’re for sale. And you can never really delete that information… ever. Never.

I knew that.

I also know that everything you put on Facebook (pictures, content, multimedia) belongs to Facebook forever. Your pictures? Theirs. Your life? Theirs. It is in the user agreement. You have no excuse if you are offended and do not understand this.

I get this.

What I was not ready for was the amount of spam mail that I got that seemed to fit in, puzzle like, and locked fit to every little detail of my personal profile.
What I discovered was: In my “interests” are on Facebook, I have; hiking, skiing, race car driving, helicopter piloting, ballet, etc etc…

And I was soon being buried on my e-mail with shills for hiking, skiing, race car driving and so on. You get the picture.

And I had my “privacy” settings locked down as hard as they could go.

So I should not be surprised that Facebook sells everything on you… and me.
But I was… a little.

But I left. After 10 days. And it’s OK.
Because tens of thousands of people are leaving Facebook daily. Some of these departures are affectionately referred to as suicide pacts – group departure from an online social network that is, oh so obviously… so… yesterday.

The online user base (and the folks at Facebook should pay attention to this) are pretty savvy.
And like old friends who turn out to be con artist scum balls… we eventually clue in.
I did.
And you can too.

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Spring into birdsong - why we do not twitter · 19.04.09 by colin newell

Jess and Jane in the 21st Century - Corner Drip - Copyright 2009

I embrace technology. Heck, I have been doing this for too many years. When I first started monkeying around on the internet, there were no web servers. They were called gopher servers – and they served up text.

My first attempts at webbing were launched from a Windows 3.11 for Work groups box (an IBM PC) around 1995 or so. That was a century ago in internet time.

So now we have streaming audio and video and dynamic web pages that change with every glance. I am good with that, dog. Really I am.

I believe that I owe it to my dedicated reader that I keep it fresh and real.

I do not believe, however, that there are more than a very small handful of people out there that would hang onto every word – if I offered truly up to date snippets of my every thought.

Twitter.

I do not do it. I will not do it.

No one needs to know what I am thinking when I am standing on the corner of 1st and Main Street. No one needs to know when I am sipping on a truly great coffee in a remarkable setting. I can tell them later.

Twitter is an alarming indication that we are getting a tad too self indulgent.
I went through the eighties – I was in my 20’s. And let me tell you folks… the only difference between then and now (for me) was more hair and more hair gel… and a lot more self indulgent behavior from just about everyone around me.

I have a theory. We never actually left the eighties. The mentality is still very much alive in all of us. There are many of us that actually feel that there is an audience for our every utterance, our every stomach gurgle, our every thought – however useless and every trivial thought that jumps from our synapses.

Enough already. How about some quiet.
Take some… on me.


Colin Newell is a Victoria resident and long time user of the World Wide Web. His handiwork has graced the cyber-World for going on 2 decades… if anyone is counting that is.

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Technology madness in the modern World #1 · 12.05.08 by colin newell

If I had an extra 5 or 6 hours a day… to think… and perchance to write, I would have more strange stuff to feed you…
Perhaps more than you would like.
I mean, everything here is written and read (by you) voluntarily.
You can shut if off whenever you want. And never come back.

Which is kind of counter intuitive compared to what we have to deal with in the modern World. Having stuff pushed on us that is. Constantly.

(And)When I talk and write about cafe culture, I often remind my audience that coffee is the number two most traded commodity on the Planet… Oil being first.

But is this supposition entirely true? Are humans not the number one commodity on the Planet? Our minds are bought, sold, pitched to, filled and subjected to rendition on an almost continuous basis. And so much so that we are rarely aware that we are being manipulated?

Some examples: Facebook. Facebook is a data mine for marketers. Explain that to the average user of Facebook and you will get that classic, Dog cocking its head as its master makes a funny noise look.

Television. Everyone knows that 50% of the crap on TV is designed to sell you something, to sanitize something, to perfume something, to put you in a car and get you away from over sanitized and funky smelling stuff.

And if you are Rami Tambello of illegalsigns.ca (the Toronto area rogue spear fighting a winning battle against big visual ad agencies like Pattison Outdoor – who bend the rules for fun and profit…) you know the distance large corporations will go to get their message shoved down your visual cortex…
In Rami’s own words: “Ad agents lie for a living… trying to convince you that a pair of blue jeans will make you sexy… a fragrance will make you desirable…”

So. For liars, breaking the law on a daily basis comes naturally.
And you can almost avoid the visual assault – if you are legally blind that is.

So what’s next you ask? Apparently a technology called Hypersonic Sound (developed by the U.S. Military no less) can actually beam messages directly into your head — and there is no tin-foil hat made that will protect you.
H.S. technology uses ultrasonic beams of narrowly focused acoustic energy that can quite literally be concentrated into an area the size of a bread-box… or a nut house – which is where you will think you are when you experience it.

Which begs the question: What private space is left for we humans? Our brains were once considered the ultimate private sanctuary, a zone where other people can’t intrude without our knowledge or permission – This barrier has been eroded it seems.

Rami Tambello concludes, “There is no distance that advertisers will not go to… to deliver their message or product. There is so much money… profit at stake…breaking the laws of the community, pushing all the boundaries of what is communally acceptable – well, it is part of doing business… all in a days work.”

Yay. Thanks Rami.


In this continuing series on invasive technology in the 21st century, the CoffeeCrew blog will focus on the folly of modern technical wares and how they are not improving our lives.

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