Day 1 of lockdown. Kinky boots, anyone?

Let me say that this was almost an entire day of isolation. I left the house with someone who is also self isolating as the call for Maccy D and Pokestops was just too great. Don’t know if that counts.

But yeah, apart from that, yesterday was my first day under isolation. Friday was also pretty much self isolating now that I’m working from home, but I went to Lidl on my dinner break.

So, what did I do yesterday? Sleep, mostly. I didn’t bother getting out of bed until 11, as that’s when I went for the afore-mentioned fast food. We returned about 45 minutes later, and then it was time to decide what to do.

Now, as I mentioned, this Coronavirus thing has meant that I’m working from home, so we all got USB headsets to commect to the… Ahem… top-of-the-range laptops (honestly, these bloody things should have roman numerals on the number keys). And what do these headsets come in? A large cardboard box. Now, my eagle eyes spotted that this cardboard box would be exactly the right size for storing 7″ singles, so I asked if I could take them home, and that was my Saturday sorted.

That meant that from 2pm in the afternoon, to 2am this morning, I was able to give a location to 309 of my 7″ singles, which also involved checking all of the track listings, catalogue numbers and bar codes, and just all-round checking the data on them was correct. So, if you as me where my copy of “Kinky Boots” by Honor Blackman is located, I can tell you instantly.

There was plenty of sleep involved too, which is probably why I stayed up for so long. Went for a lie down at about 5, didn’t even flinch until about 9:30. Oops. I did end up binge-watching 5 episodes of “8 out of 10 cats”, which had been on the sky box since the start of the year at least.

Day 2 literally never happened. I left my bed for about an hour. Maybe Day 3 might be different. I doubt it. I’m “at work”

Kenny Rogers dies…

Aw, that’s a shame, as I liked quite a few of his song. “The Gambler” is the obvious one. I first knew of the song because a guy called Eddie used to sing it in the Buffs (spit).

Then there’s “Island In The Stream”, that duet he did with Dolly Parton, which was later ruined by some rapper in the form of “Ghetto Superstar”

“And somewhere in the darkness, the gambler, he broke even, and in his final words, I found an ace that I could keep.”

Charity Shop mysteries – Waterfront – E.P.

Hello, and welcome to a new feature. Since I’ve been hunting through the charity shops, I’ve garnered a liking for “mystery” CDs. these are CDs from bands that I’ve never actually heard of, bands who never made it big, and independently produced CDs. You know those ones, people who got together in their mate’s garage. It all started a few years ago when I unearthed that Jean Bennet Record waaaay back in 2011, and over the years I’ve had comments from many fans of Jean, found out more than I thought I ever would, and learned that she’d had a more interesting life than I’d ever realised.

Since then, my charity shop travels would often unearth little gems like that. CDs without catalogue numbers, barcodes and even record labels. CDs produced in small numbers, that somehow make their way into the charity shops.

Of course, I’m not buying them just for their music, but to also hopefully shed a bit of light on the band itself, do a little bit of research, and hopefully one day this page will turn up in search results and return some happy memories for those concerned and know that someone, somewhere has a copy of their music.

One reason I’m doing it, is because of the Myspace fiasco that occurred a couple of years back. Myspace was a place where this exact type of band could upload their work, share it with family and friends, and of course, fans. Some time a couple of years ago, the Myspace media player fell silent. Thanks to a “server migration”, terabytes of music and countless tracks by these unsigned bands went up in virtual smoke. To this day, I still don’t believe that this archive of hard work and dedication could have just gone, without warning, with a single click of a Myspace emloyee’s mouse, bit it happened. It’s gone..

Some of these bands took it upon themselves to produce CDs, so thankfully, their music lives on. This first one is exactly one of those bands affected by the Myspace server blackout, so at least 4 of their tracks survive into the 2020s.

This is a CD that I just picked up today. It’s a CD that has their Myspace site on the back cover, and it’s the whole reason that spurred me onto start these, as I knew their music would have been affected by the loss. And, indeed they were.

This one comes from a band called Waterfront. Their Myspace link is still active, but as I predicted, the link to the music has stopped working.

Here’s a couple of pictures of the artwork, and CD. I promise my photography will get more professional as this goes on (No it won’t – Ed.)

The inside of the CD sleeve reads as follows:

Waterfront are:
Sam Willoughby – Vocals & Guitar
David Dowling – Guitar
Pip Coates – Bass & Backing Vocals
Tim Carr – Drums & Backing Vocals

with
Mark Broughton – Keyboards

Recorded @ Digital Gardens on October 24-26 2007
Engineered by Johanas Rawlinson
Propduced by Waterfront
Additional Production by Johanas Rawlinson

Thanks to Matthew Brown, Mark Broughton, Johanas Rawlinson and all our friends and family

All songs written by Waterfront
Copyright Sam Willoughby
All Artwork by Matthew Brown

The CD is a professionally printed CD-R, with decent quality inlays and CD label. There’s no catalogue / matrix numbers anywhere on the disc or packaging. There’s a link in the Myspace profile to “Polinta CD manufacturing”. This could be a coincidence, however, as they’re based in Malaysia.

The four tracks on the CD are as follows…

1 For You (04:05)
2. New Life (04:09)
3. Far Away (04:02)
4. Hate To Say it (04:12)

I have, of course, had a play of it. The first two tracks or my favourite. I could probably get away with playing “For You” on loop for a while and not get sick of it, it’s got some nice acoustic guitar bits and decent bassline to it.

But, what became of the band? Apart from the Myspace profile, very little. It’s proved more difficult than I imagined to track down anything about the band at all. Normally the place where it’s recorded is a good start, but nothing for “Digital Gardens” that I can see in the UK Obviously, it’s coming up to 13 years since this CD was recorded, so anything could have happened. A shame, as I’ve really enjoyed listening to this CD. Had it playing the entire time I’ve been typing this.

EDIT: I’m aware there was a late 80s band called Waterfront. These aren’t the same people.

Another server move!

Apparently, my server got thrown into the back of a van the other day, and shoipped off to a shiny new datacentre, so drop a comment if something appears broken. It shouldn’t do, but y’know. these things happen. I say this every time it happens (third or fourth time now?) nd nobody ever does. Either that means that nothing went wrong, and my webhosts are doing their job correctly, or it means that nobody is reading this. I can’t use SFTP but that’ll probably just be the DNS kicking back in, or something.

Pointless post is pointless.

Synology DS218+ RAM upgrade

Recently I had the chance to aquire a Synology DS218+ NAS drive. I’ve had a DS216j for quite a few years – this beast has not missed a beat in over three years, constantly spinning its 3Tb drives for 24 hours a day.It’s been a web server, SFTP server,email server… download / torrent box. It’s been a very good servant. but recently, it’s been showing its age, especially when trying to use some of the built-in apps on it, such as the gallery, so I decided to get an updated model.

I could have went with another make, but when this beast has been so good to me, it felt wrong to stray away, so I went for a DS218+ with a 12tb Seagate Ironwolf drive.

It arrived a couple of weeks ago, and it’s currently spinning away next to the old DS216j.

One thing that drove me towards that model is that it was upgradeable – or at least the RAM is. It comes with 2Gb built in, but the blurb on the website said you could get a memory expansion for it. It could go up to 6Gb. Cor! I had a feeling this would be a custom memory module, and probably more expensive than normal RAM, so I thought I’d just update it if and when I needed it.

After it arrived, and while fitting the drive, I noticed the RAM expansion looked particularly “normal”, just like a standard laptop DIMM socket. I did a bit of digging around and yep, it takes normal DIMMs. Hurrah! In fact the article I was reading suggested you could get a larger memory module such as an 8Gb one, and it’ll work fine. So, I got it.

It arrived at Mercuryvapour Towers just a few moments ago. So, how easy is it to fit? Oh, very. For some reason, I thought this would be a little more involved but it really isn’t.

The memory I opted for is… “Crucial CT102464BF160B 8 GB (DDR3L, 1600 MT/s, PC3L-12800, SODIMM, 204-Pin) Memory”. It set me back just under £30, but looking at the prices on amazon today, it’s gone up to £34.

Anyway, shut down the device. Slip off the front cover, and remove the right drive bay. Under this, you will see a white DIMM socket. Slide in the memory module (with the notch on the left hand side), and youll hear the levers click. Just the same as any other RAM module really.

I booted it back up, and confirmed it did indeed read 10Gb. It was all a lot easier than it sounded in my head.

Finally, the last step is to perform a memory test on the device This isn’t something you can do from inside the NAS operating system – instead, you have to download the Synology Assistant software. Download, install and run it. Select your NAS drive, click the cog button in the top right, and click “Perform Memory Test”. Go back out to the device list, and you’ll now see a “Memory Test” button. Press this, and it’ll warn you that this will take time to perform the memory test, and that’s going to reboot the machine…

The software will report that the device is “Performing Memory Test”, and the power light on the NAS drive will constantly flash orange. Unfortunately, there’s no progress monitor, so I have no idea how long will be left. At the time of typing, it’s up to about 90 minutes. If you’re going to do this, I’d recommend doing it when you’re not planning to use the device. (EDIT: It took just under 4 hours to complete the memory test)

No doubt some of you are wondering if you can update the 2Gb that’s already built into the device? Apparently, yes, you can. It’s just another memory module. Unfortunately, it’s inaccessible without fully dismantling the device, so you have to question whether it’s even worth doing at all. 10gb should be enough for a NAS drive under any circumstance… it’s more than what’s in most perfectly serviceable PCs.

EDIT: I was doing some thinking about what the whole point of 10Gb would be, and I think I’ve found it. Virtual machines. I’m actually typing this right now on a virtual machine that’s running of the NAS drive. I’m currently running a bare, yet serviceable Linux Mint installation from it. Something which I don’t think would be possible with my previous NAS drive. This could be fun!

Let’s Go To Misterland

I’ve been buying music again. Seeing as this blog’s been going on for 20 years, I’m bound to have touched on this subject before, but seeing as I can’t remember, I’m sure you, my dear reader won’t recall either. Today, I’ve had good reason to revisit this subject… so how did my love for music begin, and how did it flourish into what could be classed an a compulsive collecting disorder, or something?

Some of my earliest memories are in my dad’s car. I’m sure he had a particular tape that had “Hang On Sloopy” by The McCoys taped onto it. I’d go so far as to say this was my first musical memory. I’m sure at this point, I must have shown some interest in music, as for Xmas 1984, I got my first ever record player. It was a Fisher Price jobby. Beige in colour, with an orange turntable, and a massive orange tone arm. I have a photo somewhere, but unfortunately, you’ll have to make do with a photo of me opening my presents on what may have been the same day, or it may have been the year after.

Gosh darn it, I’m close to reminiscing about that brown sofa now. Anyhoo. Xmas came, and I got a small selection of records, all perfectly suited for a child of this age…

“Do They Know It’s Xmas” – It’ll have been the most popular record at the time.
“We All Stand Together” – Paul McCartney and The Frog Chorus
“Child’s Play” – a BBC record containing tracks interesting for kids, including the Dr. Who theme, some stories, and a couple of tracks containing Floella Benjamin.
“The Mr. Men Songs”. Featured Arthur Lowe. Another BBC record. Originally released on Pye records
“Stories from Playschool”. A spoken-word record, containing, as it suggests, stories from Playschool.

One main problem with this setup, is that this was a real record player. It played real records, from a real stylus. Sadly, after years of playing everything from Band Aid to biscuits, the turntable finally gave up the ghost. The player “went into storage”, also known as the black bin bag at the side of the road, and most of the records suffered a similar fate. As my childhood grew, I’d moved onto tapes, or rather, taping stuff off the radio, outgrowing these kid’s records.

Fast forward to 1991. My dad brought home a music centre from work. Not sure how he got hold of it. Maybe one of the customers wanted shot of it? Don’t know. Either way, it ended up in our possession, and I was thrilled to finally have a proper music system. It then came to see what records I had to play on it…

I had a choice of either “The Mr. Men Songs” or “Child’s Play”. The rest had went to the great jukebox in the sky. I still have tapes of me doing pretendy radio stations from back in the day featuring selected tracks from these two records. Eventually, these scratched kiddy records went out of circulation, for the final time, eventually becoming part of experiments involving light bulbs and sharp things. Years and years passed, and about 5 years ago, I founf the Mr. Men record smashed under a ppile of old boxes in the cupboard. It was then that I started regretting my actions. A small part of my brain gnawed away at me, wanting to hear some of those songs again. I thought it’d be interesting to hear them with a proper setup, not like the mono little record player, and not like the jumping, scratched mess I forced the music system into playing.

Turns out it’s been particularly hard to find in the second-hand market. Most copies probably just got scratched or thrown away, when the child grew up. After all, it’s not going to win an Ivor Novello award any time soon, but thankfully, I never grew up, and there’s been a little part of my brain dedicated to its memory.

Over the years, I learned it was arranged by Keith Mansfield… the very same guy who composed so many BBC themes, and who gives his name to the KPM music library (I believe). The lyrics were written by Roger Hargreaves himself.

Well, after years of searching I finally found a copy… on tape! Yesterday, I was in Northallerton, which Chris, and after spending more time and money than I really should have in a certain brilliant record shop, I headed round the charity shops. the last one I went into was the Blue Cross shop, near the end of the high street. The CDs weren’t up to much, so I had a look through the tapes. There it was, in all of its plastic glory. The sticker said £1.49. Oof. I’ve paid much more for much worse so I waddled off to the counter, with tape in hand. Turns out it was only 20p, and I only had a tenner, after I’d fed the parking machine gods all of my loose change earlier on in the day. Chris had disappeared outside by this point so I sheepishly handed over The Queen, and while the lady showed the trainee cashier how to use the till, I explained pretty much everything I typed above.

SO, yeah. It’s a bit of an embarrassing purchase, but there’s just something about those 1970s graphics and that BBC logo that will always hold a place in my heart. I’ve yet to play it… it came out in 1979, so no idea what 40 years have done to it.

And yes, I’m well aware that it was originally released on Epic Records back in 1976. It says so on the cover. Oh, here, have some photos of it. (This is your worst closing line ever – Ed). Oh, shut up.

As of December 2019, I’ve played and converted this. It really is as catchy as I remember. In parts, anyway.