The Haunted House

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Oxygene Remastered

Today was a bit of a treat. One of our newspapers, the Mail on Sunday, gave away the complete remastered version of Jean Michel Jarres, Oxygene album. I was quite keen to get this so I got my self into down before lunch to pick up a copy before they sold out. Not bad, a full decent electronic album for £1.50. The newspaper is complete bollocks but the CD is good.

I was massively into Jarre when I was younger. It was Jarre's cd's that got me into electronic music in the first place. I remember my parents buying me the complete box set of CD's for Christmas once. I must see If my Dad still has the discs.

I think I am going to have to get all of his albums on my mp3 player and rediscover some of his music again. It's been a long time :-)

The whole album has been re-recorded in all it's analog glory at 24bit using Jarres old collection of vintage synths, and the re-recordings sound amazing. Even Amanda quite liked it when we put it on the car CD player earlier. Bonus :-)

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Longshaw and Padley Gorge Walk

Yesterday we went for another walk with Neil and Caroline. Neils Dad also came along as he was visiting this weekend. We was originally supposed to go for the walk today, but Neil checked the weather and it was more stable yesterday.

Neil picked a shorter walk of 5 miles, although the real length was about 6, so still a good distance to walk. The walk was on the Longshawe estate out near the Castleton again. We got to their house for 8.30 and set off as usual.

After a little confusion with the maps, the OS map said one thing and the road map another, we arrived at the car park and got ready. The sky looked very menacing as if it was going to start pissing down straight away, but it held off. We fully expected to get very wet towards the end of this walk so we went prepared.

Luckily the rain held off completely until late afternoon so we got around the whole walk dry. Well, dry-ish. The ground was very muddy, the rivers very high and we had to walk through some streams that had formed after the huge amount of rain the past week.

The first half of the walk was quite flat so didn't pose too much of a challenge. After we had lunch the next part of the walk started going up a hill. Total ascent was around 250 meters, so not too bad really. My legs were still tired afterwards though. I had been to the gym a lot during the week though, so I think I was still a little tired form that.

We have had some good walks this year so far. Mine and Amanda's total country walking mileage is now at 35 miles which isn't to shabby. We indend on doing a lot more this year. Amanda has now been walking over a year and is really enjoying it. In fact it is Amanda who nags me to drag my arse out of bed early to go walking :-)

Today we took it easy. The only task we had to do was tidy out the kitchen cupboards and take all the old kitchen gadgets and crap we have collated over the years to the dump. Out cupboards can now breath a sigh of relief :-)


Sunday, January 13, 2008

Bakewell to Chatsworth Walk

Yesterday Me and Amanda went on another walk with Neil and Caroline. We was due to do another edge walk today, but because rain was forecast we did a walk yesterday. We didn't do the ridge walk though as it was very very cold up there so Neil picked a walk from Bakewell to Chatsworth.

We got to Neil and Carolines around 8.30 and set off for Bakewell. By 9.30 we were ready and had started the walk. Unfortunately we took a wrong turn pretty much straight away and went the wrong way. By the time we realised and corrected ourselves we had added another 1.5 miles to the walk. Not that I minded, it all goes towards the weight loss :-)

This walk is quite flat compared to the walk we did last week. This was a good thing as it took most of us a while to recover from the previous walk so no one minded doing an easier one. The only bit of ascent was a small hill at the beginning.

The main thing that made this walk challenging was the wading through thick mud. It has been raining the past few days so the ground was very wet and claggy.

As we got about half way around the walk Me and Amanda recognised part of the route as we had done a similar walk around the Chatsworth estate last year. We stopped and had our lunch about 12 and then pressed on along the river.

The last challenging bit of the walk was near the end on the way back to Bakewell. There was a steep hill we had to climb down. This is normally not a problem, but it was wet, slippery and muddy, so this took a while. We finished the walk about 3pm and went back to Neil and Carolines for a coffee.

Unfortunately part way through the walk Amandas reasonably new walking shoes failed her and they let in water through the so called waterproof layer. They were not particularly expensive as Amanda only started hill walking last year, but we went out to Derby today to get her a new pair. My boots are leather ones from the shop Blacks. They have a simpatex lining and I have had them for about 3 years. They are still going strong and have never let in any water, so we decided to get Amanda the female equivalent to my boots. They had them in stock and £60 lighter in the pocket we took them home :-)

It has been a fairly lazy afternoon, we did some housework and now I am making dinner. Just have another week in the office to get through before we can go out for another walk. I need to go into Derby this week as I want to replace my Gaters (those silly looking things we wear around the bottom of our legs to keep us waterproof). My ones are getting a little tight, and I have had them 3 years so they are due for replacing.


Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Haunted House Records Albums Available Directly

For a while now I have been investigating ways where we at Haunted House Records can sell album downloads direct from the website, thus enabling royalties to directly go to the artists and not the pockets of big evil corporations.

Although I am a software developer by day, the fact is I just wouldn’t have time to implement a full shopping cart system on the Haunted House Records website. After much research I narrowed the options down to 2 service providers, PayLoadz and Musicane.

After some experiments I decided to use Musicane. So why is this?

  1. The integrated shopping cart they provide is flash based and therefore easy to integrate into the website, or a myspace page.
  2. The listener can preview all the tracks from the album within the player as lower quality streams, so they can try before they buy. With so much music out there I think this is important.
  3. The shopping cart offers a safe and secure way to take credit card payments. Musicane handle all the card processing so we at the label never have to deal with anyones credit card details.
  4. The card allows customers to sign up as affiliate sellers and embed the shop onto their website and earn 10% commission on sales.

Point 4 with the reseller program was the main clincher and I think Musican’s killer app. A feature like this would hopefully allow us to go viral, thats the plan anyway.

So without further delay, here is our new online shop below. Cool eh?

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Monday, January 07, 2008

A Very Steep Walk Near Ladybower

On Sunday Me and Amanda went out for another walk with Neil and this time Caroline came along. We went back to Ladybower reservoir where we was the other week.

This time instead of going up Derwent Edge we was on the other side of the reservoir up near Alport Castle. The night before the walk Neil checked out the walk in the book, the AA peak district book. The book reckoned the walk was around 8 miles with an ascent of around 600 meters.

Neil checked on the map and reckoned the walk would be longer and steeper, and going by the AA books past experiences they do tend to under estimate the walks, so we was prepared for this walk being a little "challenging!".

Sunday was another early rise, we left the house and got to Neil and Carolines house for 8am. It was very cold out. It doesn't fill you full of joy when you are about to go for a walk and you have to defrost the car.

The drive took a little longer than usual as we went the A6 route instead of the shorter route. This was because the roads were icy.

We started the walk about 9.40 and right from the start we was walking up a steep hill. This would be a re-occurring theme of the walk :-)

Once we got to the top of the edge, it really did start getting windy, to the point where it nearly blows you off your feet and taking a photo was difficult as you can't hold the camera straight. Today was a good day for taking pictures though.

In the morning there was lots of interesting clouds and some decent light which created a really nice warm glow across the landscape. I think Neil would have liked to have his tripod with him to get some of his pro shots.

Once we climbed down from the edge we walked a little further and around 12 we had lunch in a sheltered area. Not long after lunch the weather picked up quite a bit and the clouds disappeared to reveal a nice blue sky. It felt more like a spring day.

By about 2pm our legs where starting to ache alot. The thing that makes this walk hard is that once you have climbed a tall hill, you then go down the other side and the up another hill. In total we had to climb 3 large hills. This was turning out to be a really challenging walk, certainly the hardest walk Me and Amanda had done since Kinder Scout last year.

The walk may have been tough but it was a good day for pictures. As I said above the light all day was really good. This walk was also good for helping burn off a bit of that Christmas excess weight.

The whole walk took us 6 hours!!! The light was starting to disappear by the time we got back to the car. Once we had got changed, Neil checked the GPS. We had done over 10 miles and 900 meters ascent. So the book was out by quite a lot. Oh well, we all enjoyed it.

Once we got back, I got dinner ready as quickly as possible, then had a bath and went to bed. I was even too tired to do my blog entry, so I must have been tired. I was going to go to the gym today at lunch time, but I didn't bother as my legs were still aching. I will go tomorrow instead.

So far this years walks have gone well. We are going out again with Neil and Caroline next weekend. Most probably on the Sunday. I think we are planning to do another challenging edge walk.


Saturday, January 05, 2008

The loudness war and the battle for the volume knob.

I recently had some people ask me why my album doesn't sound as loud as other commercial bought Cd's, lets say Brittany Spears for the sake of an example. Well there is a really good and deliberate reason for this.

For the readers of this blog who are into digital audio and recording, all I have to say is, I don't want to compete in the loudness war and suck the dynamic range out of my recordings. I trust my listeners to control the volume knob them selves. You all know what I mean.

For the non audio technical readers I shall explain in a little more detail and then point you over to a good example video. When you record a song you have soft parts and loud parts. For example a song might have a fairly quite verse and then a really loud chorus. When an album is finished being recorded it goes off to a mastering house who add the final sparkle to the recording. One of these steps is compressing (not as in mp3) and limiting. This is where you reduce the dynamic range of the track, ie reduce the difference in volume between quite and loud parts of the track.

When this range is reduced you can then pump up the volume of the whole recording. Now this is a process that every album goes through, and mine are no different. The trick is striking a balance. A lot of albums get limited so much that they start sounding distorted at lower volumes and for some strange reason record companies try to compete on how loud the initial recording should sound. They just don't trust the consumer to control the volume knob themselves.

Where as myself, I do trust the listener to control their volume knob. My albums are compressed and limited, but a balance is struck over loudness and sound quality.

If you have a couple of minutes spare, please watch THIS VIDEO. It explains what I have just said really well.


Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Derwent Edge and Ladybower Reservoir

Whilst most of the country was lying in bed nursing a rotten hangover Me, Amanda and Neil went out for a walk. A really long walk. We met at Neils for 8am and headed to Derwent
Edge next to Ladybower Reservoir.

We were ready to start walking around 9.30. The weather was fairly dry and not too cold, but it was very foggy. This was a shame as from the top of derwent edge the views are supposed to be stunning but we couldn't really see more than 100 feet in front of us.

The first quarter of the walk had a huge bloody great big hill to climb to get to the top of the edge. This nearly killed us, but we kept on reminding ourselves that it would help burn off some of that extra Christmas weight :-)

The whole walk took us around 5 hours and we covered 9 miles so we feel quite proud of ourselves doing this on new years day. We definitely want to come back and do the walk again though when it is clearer as I reckon I would get some great photos of Ladybower Reservoir from the top.

By the time we got back to the car we were knackered. We had something to eat and a coffee and then Neil drove back to Belper. Neil had Depeche Modes latest album blaring out of the stereo to keep us awake.

I think we have earned the right to sit in front of the TV and do bugger all tonight. Hopefully my legs will stop aching before I have to go back into work tomorrow. We are going on another walk with Neil and Caroline on Sunday to the same area but a different hill. This one will be around 8 miles, but has a steeper hill apparently...