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Kirkville Black Friday Sale

It’s Black Friday, in the US and around the world. People are thronging to stores, seeking the best possible bargains, and retailers are helping to fan the fire.

Here at Kirkville, I have nothing to sell, so there’s no real sale. However, if you plan on shopping at Amazon, click one of these links, which has my affiliate ID, to help support this website. I’ll make 6% of whatever you buy, and you won’t pay a penny more.

Amazon.com, Amazon UK.

To be fair, Amazon does have some great deals. I grabbed this box set of recordings conducted by Pierre Boulez, on Sony, for only £57 in a flash sale. (Amazon.com, Amazon UK) The regular price, as of this writing, is £164. I wouldn’t have paid full price for this, but since it contains a lot of 20th century music, which my collection is lacking, I thought it was a great deal.

If you’re interested in classical music, and you’re in the UK, I’ve posted links to some box sets on flash sale later today.

Book Notes: Bob Dylan, The Lyrics: Since 1962

Unknown.jpegAs Bob Dylan has been such a prolific songwriter, his oeuvre is large and complex, and any book containing his lyrics will have to have quite a bit of girth. This new release is, I have to say, the heaviest book I own, though not quite the largest (in height and width). Weighing 13 1/2 pounds, this is not a book that is easy to read. However, it contains multitudes. (Amazon.com, Amazon UK)

First, you need to know that you cannot buy this book at the normal price. Only 5,000 copies were printed, with 500 reserved for the UK (though it’s not technically a limited edition, and perhaps there will be another print run). While the list price was $200, I notice that people are already offering copies used on Amazon for $300 or more. I ordered my copy from Amazon UK, on the first day it was announced, and was disappointed to find that my order was “delayed,” with no guarantee that I’d get a copy. Then, about ten days ago, I checked Amazon UK again, and found a third-party seller was offering the book at the same price as Amazon, £81.25, 1/3 less than the UK list price of £120. I was very pleased to receive the book this morning.

The book is slightly bigger than an LP in height and width, in part because the book contains thick cardboard LP covers for each album. These are single sheets of cardboard, with the front and back of each original album printed on them. After each one of those is a list of songs on the album, then their lyrics, as well as, for some albums, songs that are alternate takes or tracks that were later released, such as on Dylan’s Bootleg Series.

Each of the songs shows the original lyrics, as well as notes for alternate lyrics, with references to the recordings, such as when Dylan sings different lines or verses on officially-released live recordings. Tell Tale Signs – the Bootleg Series Vol. 8 – is the only non-studio album that gets its own section, as this contains a number of outtakes from more recent years that don’t fit anywhere else. (Note that the book does not contain the lyrics to the songs on the recently-release Basement Tapes Complete, but only those from the original LP release.)

The songs are each laid out on a single, large, left page, so there’s lots of white space. If a song is long enough to flow to a second page, it takes up two pages; if not, the right page contains any notes or alternate lyrics, or is blank.

If you want a collection of Bob Dylan’s lyrics, you’ll certainly want this book, though, to be fair, it’s more of a collector’s item than a useful reference; it’s too heavy and unwieldy to access easily when you’re listening to a Dylan album and want to follow along. It is a true coffee-table book: you’ll need a table to hold it. Don’t even think of holding it on your lap. In fact, for that reason, I’m almost tempted to buy the Kindle edition (Amazon.com, Amazon UK), but I hesitate, as it may not be easy to navigate. (Amazon UK shows a release date of September 2016 for the Kindle edition; I have a feeling it will be released sooner than that.)

If you’re a die-hard Dylan fan, you may have already gotten a copy of this book. If not, and you’re willing to pay a premium, there are some copies available from Amazon. I would be surprised if the publisher didn’t reprint it, given the success; it sold out in just a couple of days. But you never know. This may be one of those things where Dylan just wanted a bunch of them printed and no more. (It’s worth noting that there was also a 50-copy signed, limited edition of the book sold for $5,000.)

Six Colors: Attack of the 50-foot Save Sheet

This morning I tried to save a file in BBEdit, only to discover that I couldn’t see half of the save sheet—it was so large, it went off the bottom of the screen.

It turns out—and thanks to Jon Gotow of St. Clair Software, maker of the excellent Default Folder X, for the answer to this—that there’s a bug in Yosemite that causes a sheet to grow taller by 22 pixels every time you use it.

I hadn’t noticed this, but, sure enough, when I tried it out, I saw that each time I invoked the Save sheet – by pressing Command-S – it got a bit longer. Try it, even with Safari. Press Command-S, note where the Save sheet ends, then press the Escape key, or click Cancel. Then do it again a few times.

Read the article on Jason Snell’s website Six Colors to find out how to fix it.

This is a stupid bug. Stupid bugs like this shouldn’t be in shipping software.

via Six Colors: Attack of the 50-foot Save Sheet.

The iTunes Store Sells Philip Glass Sheet Music

Cover225x225I spotted an interesting item on the iTunes Store today. Together with a new recording of Philip Glass’s Complete Piano Études, Apple is selling the sheet music for these works, in the iBooks Store.

This is not new; there is plenty of sheet music on the iBooks Store, but I had not noticed it before. The iBooks Store could be a great place to sell sheet music; you can use it on an iPad, and, with a retina device, this could be practical.

It’s interesting, however, that Apple is highlighting this specific score by Philip Glass. Given that this is contemporary music, it can be sold “full price,” unlike classical music which is in the public domain. I wonder if Apple is planning to expand the sale of sheet music to popular music as well. I’m not sure how big a market there is for books of sheet music of, say, Coldplay and Taylor Swift, but these books do sell, so why not sell them on the iBooks Store?


Glass

Matthew McConaughey to take The Stand for Stephen King adaptation

Matthew McConaughey is tipped to take the role of villainous Randall Flagg in The Stand, a Hollywood franchise based on the 1978 Stephen King novel. Backed by Warner Bros, The Stand will be released as four standalone pictures directed by Josh Boone.

Very cool; a perfect choice. However, this most likely means that he won’t be able to play Roland Deschain, in the projected film/TV adaptation of The Dark Tower, may favorite Stephen King work. The Dark Tower is a seven-volume (plus a later-written intermediate novel, and a novella) that combines fantasy, horror, and is set in a Western context. The original character, the Gunslinger, was patterned after Clint Eastwood in the westerns he made back in the day. McConaughey would be the perfect personification of that character.

Coincidentally, I started re-reading The Stand again just last night… Still the best Stephen King novel. If you haven’t read it, you should. (Amazon.com, Amazon UK)

via Matthew McConaughey to take The Stand for Stephen King adaptation | Film | theguardian.com.

ipad-air

Apple’s Obsession with Thinness; How Much Thinner Can Things Get?

Apple is obsessed with thinness. With an obsession that rivals that of the CPU clock speed days, Apple touts thinness for many of its devices.

Look at the new (poorly named) iPad Air 2; the first text you see on Apple’s website is:

“So capable, you won’t want to put it down.
So thin and light, you won’t have to.”

For the iPhone 6, it’s a bit different. They start with bigness, then go to thinness:

“iPhone at its largest.
And thinnest.”

Ember

And the MacBook Air:

“Thin. Light. Powerful.
And ready for anything.”

And then there’s the iMac:

“Creating such a stunningly thin design took equally stunning feats of technological innovation.”

Apple marketed the current iMac models as being thinner, even though the thinness of a desktop computer is not a valid selling point.

Since Apple no longer touts the clock speeds of its devices – at least not as the leading argument in their marketing pitches – thin is the new fast. The problem is that this thinness is getting less and less important; with each iteration of a device such as an iPad or iPhone, the company shaves a few millimeters off the thickness, making very little difference, but giving them a marketing message that, in the end, means little.

The difference between the current iPad Air and last year’s model is so slight as to not make a difference. The newer model is 1.4 mm thinner than the previous one; the difference in weight is a mere 34 g, or just over an ounce. The iPhone 6 is only 0.7 mm thinner than the iPhone 5s, yet it’s still thicker than the iPod touch. But it doesn’t matter; the difference in thickness and weight are inconsequential.

Metric such as size are valid at certain times. When the MacBook Air was released – nearly five years ago – the difference in thickness and weight, compared to other Apple laptops, was tremendous. At 3 lbs, it was 2/3 the weight of the first aluminum MacBook with the same display size: the aluminum MacBook, released later that year, weighed in at 4.5 lbs. And the plastic MacBook, released shortly after the MacBook Air, weight 5 lbs. Those are big differences.

Yet Apple hasn’t changed the MacBook Air much in five years; it’s still just under 3 lbs (2.96 to be exact), and it’s only a few hairs thinner. The MacBook Air has hit the thinness wall. The same thing will happen to other Apple products.

Apple has nearly reached the limit of thinness. Compare the original iPad and iPhone to the current models; the differences are noticeable. But as each generation shaves a couple of millimeters off the thickness, there’s not much point any more. It’s getting harder to make devices any thinner. Already, the iPhone’s camera has to stick out because the body of the device is too thin. (This was already the case with the iPod touch, whose camera also protrudes.) Apple soon won’t be able to shave even a half a millimeter off its devices, and they’ll have to find a new marketing message.

Thin is near the end of its life as a marketing argument. Maybe it’s time to switch to something else: something that has a lot more value to users, such as battery life.

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