2020 weeknote 10 – fondly-remembered films, and digital data retrieval

A week of too much time spent home alone, and too much going on at work to keep up with.

Good things though, too, like re-watching a couple of old favourite films from a couple of periods of my life:

The Mask, which I absolutely knew word-for-word back in the day and which, re-watching it now, it was wonderful how much I could pre-empt and sound out in real-time. In fact, it wasn’t just dialogue, but Foley effects little audio/musical stings, and other snippets. It was also, as it so often can be, quite surprising how risqué some of the jokes were, at least for my young ears:

And then it felt like time for another re-watch of Almost Famous ( or rather the director’s cut aka Untitled*), a film I’ve loved since my first viewing of it stuffed into the TV lounge of the Wellington YHA some time in late 2003. Since then I’ve watched it so many times and it is just such a comforting film to watch. I realise I am also dangerously into the territory of not now being able to watch it with a critical eye, but I don’t think that matters.

* Jesus, I am so sorry you had to witness that.

I shan’t bother going into too much detail with regard to work woes, but we had a bit of a poorly-timed clusterfuck (is there ever a well-timed clusterfuck?) of some issues with our email hosts which, hey, turned out to be a little bit of the host’s fault, and a little bit of ours. As is often the way with these things. But it was a horrible situation for all involved, and came during a week of unusually high tension.

The Amazon re-seller who I returned my POP Nano digital radio to came good and a replacement unit was dispatched in good time. Thanks lads.

It is a brand new unit and is working fine, though I can’t help but notice one of the other buttons feels like 1% softer than the others, and so I wonder if there’s an issue with the buttons on these units – or possibly, if the packaging is to be believed, these units are new old stock from 2013 and perhaps there’s a membrane in the buttons that is degrading over time. We’ll see.

Until then, it’s lovely to have a decent, tiny digital radio again. On a related note, I was reminded the other day of this phenomenally in-depth round-up of various portable digital radios from a few years ago, which I remember helped me last time I was in the market for such a device.

At one point this week I probably looked like a one-man scene from Mr Robot, blasting DJ Shadow, stabbing a screwdriver through a spindle-full of CD-Rs and DVD-Rs before throwing them out.

I certainly hadn’t been able to read them (disc rot is a thing: if you have some old burned DVDs and CDs on a shelf somewhere, you’d be well advised to grab the data off them if you are still able to), but I obviously didn’t want anyone else to be able to either.

So: Stab. Stab. Stab.

It was fun seeing how different discs responded to each stab: some all but shattered, while others kind of just split in a neat single crack from the centre to the edge. The more annoying ones sort of absorbed the screwdriver I was using and just pierced a tiny hole, with the tool needing to be extracted with some force and re-punched again. Anyway. That was a satisfying exercise.

And in other data retrieval exercises this week, I grabbed an old hard drive and copied over my iTunes library circa 2012 with a view to copying some high bitrate album rips across to my phone’s memory. Anything 320kbps or above (or 256kbps VBR) is fair game, and I only want the kind of ‘greatest hits’ of special albums that I can’t be without.

This led me to wondering what albums have been released since then that I have streamed to death on Spotify, but not gotten round to purchasing. I don’t think I’m in the minority in saying there will be a lot. So it would be cool to get last.fm to spit out a list of records I’ve spun from Spotify more than a handful of times, with links for where best to ethically purchase my own copy.

This ransacking of my old iTunes library brought some curiosities. I knew that a handful of my album rips had been done at very high bitrate – whether lossless or 320kbps AAC – and that these had been prioritised by the same criteria as above: albums I couldn’t live without.

I was therefore stumped to find that my copy of Radiohead’s In Rainbows was a 160kbps MP3. 😱! I then got to thinking why this would be and, lo and behold, this was the original format I’d purchased it in on release day:


So that was interesting. In more recent years I’ve listened to this either via Spotify or vinyl, so I don’t feel too short changed at having such a low quality rip of the album on my computer as I just wasn’t using it.

I don’t know now (though a trip to the Wayback Machine would probably answer this) if higher bitrate versions were available as well. I’m sure they were, but I expect you had to pay more (this was, remember, one of the first high profile ‘pay what you want’ digital releases), and I was a Radiohead newbie back then.

In fact, having got swept up in the hype of the impending release of In Rainbows, I listened to OK Computer for the first time the evening before IR‘s release.


And finally, this weekend was mostly doing family things, which mostly meant eating and drinking well, but also meant I did Hampstead Heath Parkrun for the first time in a while, and I managed to get a PB for this route. Very pleased with that – as is so often the case I was not feeling it beforehand, but was merely ‘up for it’, and I still managed to achieve something to be be proud of. So that was nice.

Anyway. Take care of each other. Stop bulk buying things you don’t need. See you next week.