The Battle Goes Slowly, Sire
Feels like things are going slowly, anyway. On the record front, I’m tackling the 78 RPM records first because, song for song, they are the bulkiest and heaviest by far. It takes only about 6 minutes per side to record them, and I’ve managed to go through 3 cartons so far. In general, a carton of 78s takes two very long days to record. Now and then, a record will be in such rough shape that it’s unplayable, or it will be warpy enough that the stylus won’t be able to maintain contact. In the latter case, the thing to do is to kick the turntable speed down to 45 or 33 RPM to keep the needle planted, and then raise the speed back up later, in software. It takes much longer to record, but the needle stays in the groove.
Yesterday, I began an unusual album of 13 sleeved records. I found it odd because first, the album cover and interior are blank, signifying a typical aftermarket album. Those usually have some kind of markings somewhere though, and a 13-sleeve album is unusual. Inside are a complete set of 13 records of the opera Traviata by Verde. It was done in Italian, by Carlo Sabajno and members of the La Scala Orchestra, Milan, and recorded by RCA Red Seal in England. I’m not a big fan of operas, but this one is decent. Not inspiring, but okay to listen through because the performances are very good.
The thing to do with albums is to record every side in one shot, pausing the software while changing records through their proper order. It makes later processing and cataloging easier. My disappointment hit when I got eight sides into the 26-side stack and that record was both double-warped and off-center, making the stylus look like a rodeo bullrider as it did its best to stay in the groove. Such moments are a time for decision: Is this album worth starting over with and taking twice as long to record because of the slower speed? Unfortunately, this one is. Ever listened to a very long opera at half-speed? Woof. It’s unpleasant. Let’s hope there aren’t too many more like this – I actually have a schedule to keep, and going off it costs fuel for extra trips to the storage unit. I’ll probably record the LPs at 78 RPM to quicken the process, as long as each record is flat enough. I was concerned that doing this would degrade sound quality, but my tests so far sound just fine.
Conversion of the physical movie DVDs to digital files is eking its way along in fits and starts. My usually-trusty DVDFab 8 software takes it time to chew through a DVD, and then converts it to an .ISO file that the media streamer gizmo attached to the TV can read. If the hard disk remains intact, this format also allows me to cut a replacement DVD should the original become damaged. Unfortunately, it can take as long as three tries to convert, and I haven’t been able to single out what causes the software to barf. Some DVDs work great, while others struggle. I tried DVDFab 9, and it eliminates that problem but also shows a propensity to freeze the iMac’s operating system solid, which is a very good trick. That requires two hard resets to get rolling again, and that makes DVDFab 9 unusable. DVDFab software has always been feature-packed and very capable, but buggy.
The weather here in northern Illinois hasn’t been very cooperative, either. Nearly every day seems to either threaten or deliver thunderstorms and high winds. High winds here can make Arizona’s high winds alerts seem pretty tame, so I’m having to play it cautious. Except for the lightly-loaded CPAP system, I’m off solar for the time being. The house pack is both lightly loaded and is being trickle charged by the charger built into the trailer’s shore power electrical box, so that’s been disconnected and the third solar panel has been added to the office pack. Between the tree shade, the near-constant overcast, and all the solar panels usually being strapped down into “high wind” position, the office battery pack would definitely not be able to keep up with my 12-hour-a-day use. It would technically work, but I’d be pounding it. No point in stressing it, because that would shorten its service life when I really do need it. The electrical power here is really expensive at industrial rates, so I’ll sweat a lot more than I’d like in this high humidity, and run the air conditioning only when absolutely necessary.
I should also be complaining about how the weather is keeping me from effectively working on the various mods and repairs the trailer needs, but I really, really don’t want to be hauling 200 pounds of records around for the next two years if I can help it!