2nd hand MP3 players!

I’ve typed a few times about radio rallies. They’re basically markets for new and old amateur radio equipment, computer bits, and box upon box of various other electronic hardware that have served its useful life. Still, there’s nothing wrong with digging through these boxes of miscellaneous flotsam to see if there’s something that’s worth looking at, or giving a second home.

You may remember I pulled out a perfectly working voice recorder last year for £1. Now, due to the fact that the headphone port on my phone is broken (or rather, there’s half a newspaper stuck in it, which won’t shift), I’ve been using this voice recorder as an MP3 player. The slight problem with it, is that it’s an absolute beast. The microphone on top of it makes it look like a taser, so I don’t like getting it out in public (oo-er). It was still serviceable, however, so I wasn’t really in the market for a new one

Today was the first radio rally of the year, in Ripon. Chris came with me, and right in the middle of a box of trash, he spied a little box. “MP3 Player 4Gb”. Of course, the burning question is, did it come home with me?

Pffft. Of course it did.

It’s one of those little “chewing gum” MP3 players, without any type of screen, or other functionality. The guy wanted £3 for it. I talked him down to £2. Finally, those years of watching re-runs of Bargain Hunt have finally paid off. My first successful haggle!

It came with everything it should have done. Manual, mini (not micro) USB cable, and Of course, the in-ear headphones. I don’t think they’ve been used, but I’m going to nuke them from orbit, just to be on the safe side. As you can see, it’s badged with the Alba name, and has the model number MP420008UK. Anybody that knows anything about hi-fi would probably projectile vomit at the mere mention of the word “Alba”, but if it wasn’t for my original Alba music system, which I got for Xmas 1991, and the CD player in 1992, I’d probably not have the same interest in music that I do now. The hi-fi is long gone, but the CD player still works. , or it did the last time I plugged it in anyways.

So, anyway, back to this MP3 player. What’s the first thing you do with any type of 2nd hand storage media? That’s right, you plug it in, check to see what the previous owner had on it! I think I’m safe publishing this. It’s an MP3 player. I don’t think they’re going to be listening to their personal documents through this.

It seems this MP3 player had a very easy life, as there were only a few files on it. The majority of the drive seemed to contain the same random data string, so it was either like this from the factory, or the previous owner wiped it using a utility. This was entirely possible, as due to the .trash-1000 folder, the previous owner was using Linux. It didn’t come back with anything other than the few tracks that were already visible. The rest of the 17 files were just random system files.

Oddly, a lot of German-named tracks. Edith Piaf too. Coincidentally, Chris was with me . Funny how these things come together like that.

So, I’ve typed all of this, but does the bloody thing work? Yes, is the short answer.

Cosmetically, it’s in mint condition. No obvious wear, and the serial number sticker isn’t worn at all. As this has spent (what looks like) many years stashed away, I’m not sure how healthy the non-replaceable battery is going to be, but it charged without an issue.

I formatted it, and copied three, songs to it. They’re the first three instrumental versions from the “Pandora’s Box” version of Hell Frost, by The Unguided, if you were wondering, and yes, it works great. Despite it only being 4Gb, that’s plenty of space for the short bus journey to work. It certainly lasted the whole time it took me to type this.

In conclusion, I’m pretty happy with this purchase. It’ll certainly last me until I upgrade my phone. Now, to choose what other crap to fling on it!

Hartlepool Record fair – just a few days to go!

What’s black, 12 inches long, and guaranteed to bring a smile to my face? Yes, that’s right. A record.

And on the end of that terrible, and actually non-factual joke (I collect singles mainly), I’m happy to announce that for the first time this millennium, the lovely little fishing village of Hartlepool is getting its own record fair! (Would help if I mentioned the date. It’s this Sunday, March 31st. Oops)

It only seems a mere 20 years ago, since I was rummaging through boxes, buying “Morning Train (9 to 5)” by Sheena Easton, because I thought it was the *other* “9 to 5″, you know, the one by Dolly Parton. Little did I know that those particular memories would be the last ones I’d make for 20ish years, and I’d have to satisfy my record hoarding hunger through other methods, and other towns with their own record fairs.

Let’s get the formalities over with, If you’ve found this through Google, or something similar because I mentioned the record fair in Hartlepool (sutble), and you want to know how to get there, then it can’t be easier. If you’re coming by train, head out and look for the big church. Walk towards the church, and look for a zebra crossing on your left. That’s Tower Street. Walk about 100 yards along that road, and there’s be a building on your right that looks like a smaller church. That’s it. That’s the Studio, and that’s where the record fair is. It’s really easy to get to.

I’m also not affiliated whatsoever with the record fair runner, I’m just over the moon to have one in my home town again, and if the fair is well attended, there’ll be more, and I’ll be a very happy bunny.

We now return you to your usual programming, of me rambling about crap that happened recently, and yes, mainly record fairs.

So, erm… yeah. How to sum up 20 years aof record fairs. For me, they go way back. Pretty much my entire adult life. The late 90s were a strange time for music. Vinyl record sales were dramatically on the decline, CDs were still the in-thing. Music downloads were something done illegally, and streaming was something you did in a dark alley on the way home after 15 pints in the pub.

The art of the record fair was also in decline. It never truly died off, but it’s safe to say it went into hibernation. Fast forward many years. I’d lost my hair, my beer gut took pride of place around my midriff, and all of a sudden, vinyl was back in vogue again, and so, the humble art of the record fair returned.

I think the first one I went to (in the recent batch) was back in 2013, then the owner of Betterdaze (a record store in Northallerton), arranged one. It must have had a good attendance, as more were arranged, along with others in Northallerton. Looking back through the collection, I’ve came back with some cracking stuff from all of them. I mean, who could turn down a 12” pressing of “Seven Tears by The Goombay Dance Band, on clear yellow vinyl? Not me! I picked it up from Middlesbrough on 12th September 2015.

Recently, I’ve travelled as far as Leeds, just to get toa record fair. They was an ordeal. Absolutely worth it for the German pressing of “Downtown” and “Another Man“by One 2 Many. In fact, you can view all of the records I bought that particular day.

So, in conclusion, yes, if you attend this record fair, there is a very high possibility I will be in attendance. Say hello. Actually, no, don’t. I don’t mix well with strangers, and I’m out the night before, so there’s a strong chance I’ll be hanging out my hoop, and not willing to talk to anyone.

If you gdo go, I hope you find some bargains!

RIP Mark Hollis

Less than a minute ago, I learned of the sad and untimely passing of Mark Hollis, the lead singer of Talk Talk, definitely one of my favourite bands of all time.

Wow. I don’t know what to say. I found the news completely by chance. I have a site bookmarked that lists the most recent pictures to flickr, and someone posted a picture of a Talk Talk single cover. “Wooh, I like that song”, I thought, as I randomly clicked. Up came the hashtag #RIPMarkHollis

I… I’m speechless. This post will be strewn with errors, and I don’t know if it will “make it to air” any time soon, as I’m not sure if the battery will last, but… my word.

I’m just typing a stream of consciousness right now. I genuinely loved a load f their stuff. Teearly stuff, like the single “Talk Talk” (demo version was called “Talk Talk Talk Talk”) to the commercially acceptable “It’s My Life”, the dark and grungy piano loop of “Life’s What You Make It”, which is upthere in my all-time favourite songs. There was, of course, its utterly deplorable 1990s remix (which I own a copy of), completely disowned by the band – to the point that when they released “A Sides and Besides”, they took the piss out of it, and included the original 12″ mix, with the liner notes reading something like “Trust us, this one’s better”.

Another favourite is “Pictures of Bernadette”, and the altogether weirdness of “Happiness Is Easy”, with its strange, almost lacklustre choir of children singing some of the lyrics, and bass line that just goes anywhere it wants in parts.

I’m keeping a low profile on social media at the moment, as it jolly well sucks, but this news has made me break out the keyboard. It’s my life, don’t you forget.

Then We’ll have Steak And Chips for tea.

Bleeergh. I’ve felt lousy over the last few days. Unfortunately, the lovely fishing village of Hartlepool appears to have some type of cold / flu bug doing the rounds. Daddykins had it last week, and spent over 24 hours in bed because of it. I started getting the ol’ throaty tingle on Sunday night. By Wednesday, I’d flung in the 6 hours of lieu time that I’d accrued and headed off to bed myself. The rest of the week saw me throw in the first sick days in three years (I’m discounting foot/eye problems in that).

Saturday came, and Chris was available for a trip somewhere. I explained about this record shop I’d heard about in Darlington, so off to Darlington we went.

Now, seeing as Darlington is a short distance away, it’s somewhere I opften go to as a change of scenery from the normal charity shops. I also knew that the afore-mentioned record shop existed, but every time I’d been there, it was closed. Oddly enough, it wasn’t actually in the location I thought, as it’s recently moved location. Previously, it was in a courtyard, away from the main drag. Now, it was in its own little shop, which, as of July 2018, was an empty sewing shop. Thank you, Streetview.

Anyway, I entered the shop, and started digging through the first pile of 7″ers I came to, tucked away on a shelf. The guy behind the counter saw I was interested, and told me he was getting shot of them, 10p each, or I could have the lot for £20. Whilst the latter offer seemed tempting, getting them from the shop, to Chris’s car, would have been a logistical nightmare, and where would I store them when I got them home? I decided to just go for the 10p option. It was easier.

I can’t have been more than a minute into picking through this vast vinyl variety, and I came across something incredible. Cue, the wibbly flashbacks, etc.

Back in 1975, Mike Oldfield was the new music sensation discovered by Richard Branson. His debit album, and of course, the first single from it, imaginatively titled “Mike Oldfield’s Single” was released, and Virgin, as a music label, was born

Neither that single, or Tubular Bells, are particularly difficult to find. This can’t be said for Mike’s follow-up single, “Don Alfonso”. It’s a charming little ditty about a Spanish bullfighter…. In fact, here’s a YouTube link to it… this will probably die at some point, so if it doesn’t work, comment on this post or something.

The guy who played him in the video is Larry Martyn, who was in Are You Being Served. There. Saved you looking him up.

Despite the brilliant 70s comedy video, the song appeared to have been quickly withdrawn, and failed to chart anywhere. The B side was Mike’s first working of his famous Xmas hit, entitled “In Dulci Jubilo (For Maureen)”. Maureen was his mother who had died a year previous to this being released. A year or two later, Mike would release a remixed version of “In Dulci Jubilo”, reaching No. 4 in the singles chart.

I think this is where the issue occurred, and how this got thrown into the pile of records he was trying to get rid of. Now, I’m only speculating here, but I noticed that a previous owner had written “In Dulci Jubilo” on the cover. As both singles share the same black and white “Twins” label, it’s possible, that this was mistaken for the much more common release. Either way, I can’t say for certain, but what I do know that this was the bargain of the year so far, possibly ever.

Here it is, in all its vinyl glory…

Happy Xmas or something like that

So this is Xmas, and what have you done? I’ll tell you what I’ve done, I’ve squeezed this post in with mere minutes to spare, so really I should probably just say Merry Boxing Days, or something. If you do see this post on the day of festivities, then good. If not, then happy belated Xmas.

(Worst Xmas post ever – Ed.)

I know. I’ll do better on new years’ I promise.

WordPress releases a new major version!

OK, I’m probably late to the party with this one, as it’s been a week or so since I last logged in, but WOrdpress has released a shiny new version, 5.0! It’s the first major update since… erm, the last one. Actually, it’s been a good few years since their last major incarnation (as far as I can remember. Before I do that, however, I’ll do the most important thing…

I know this one brings in a shiny new editor. I shall politely decline that one, and continue using the lovely text editor what was originally included. I don’t see the need for all of those bells and whistles in an editor. It’s only going to detract from the most important thing, and that’s polluting the internet with my absolute twaddle.

Speaking of updates, my webhosts kindly updated my account to include 50Gb of space for the same price I was paying for 20Gb. That means I have over twice as much space to upload stuff that nobody is interested in!

If you didn’t guess, this is a test post, and if everything goes wrong during the update, you’ll know where the site’s gone, or something.