Monthly Archives: October 2014

Testing the Wolfson Audio Board and Raspberry Pi

The trouble with birds is they get up earlier than I do, so a time-delay start recorder lets me scout locations without loads of early starts.Autonomous recorders are sometimes known as frogloggers in the nature recording community. Commercial variants and great, reliable, but dear. I want something I’m prepared to take the risk of losing to some inquisitive dog-walker, and preferably something I can make enough of to scout several locations.

A Raspberry Pi via Wifi is also a good remote startable recorder over WiFi . A bit like the Tascam DR-44WL but without the nice display. the trouble is the Raspberry Pi has no record facilty. If it had, you can start recording by logging in via SSH and issuing the arecord function. The audio can even be transferred off the Pi remotely via SFTP over WiFi. Enter the Wolfson Audio board – a piggyback audio card for the Pi, which takes over all the IO so you aren’t going to be running any other custom hardware on that Pi.

Installing the Wolfson

Physical installation is easy enough, the Wolfson board uses the bizarre approach of connecting to the GPIO using a standard header and the P5 header using a set of pogo pins. 1 I’d have been easy with soldering an extra set of pins or a header myself and this is probably a reliability hazard, but I’ll run with it for now. Just as well I’m not going to use the badly aligned yellow and white SPDIF sockets, eh?

I started with a Model A running a stock Raspbian image, 2014-06-20-wheezy-raspbian.zip and ignored Wolfson’s recommendation to avoid a USB hub, because I needed that to see what I was doing to set up WiFi.

bizarre use of pogo pins, it's a wonder these make enough contact for the board to work at all!

bizarre use of pogo pins, it’s a wonder these make enough contact for the board to work at all!

No standard Raspberry Pi Drivers for the Wolfson

Unlike other bits of hardware, to run up the Wolfson card you can’t use the stock Raspbian and do an apt-get install some-sort-of-wolfson-driver. You’re in for a world of hurt here.

You either download the SD card image which is recommended by Wolfson. It’s 8Gb and it means 8Gb, and wouldn’t fit on my 8Gb card, because it requires a card with no dead sectors presumably.

Maybe time to compile the drivers myself following this? Nope – life is too short and I do not have the skillz to firefight what goes wrong. And what with the takeover of Wolfson by Cirrus it looks like the drivers are delayed still more. I like the Torygraph’s opener

Wolfson Microelectronics, the struggling Scottish microchip company, has been acquired by its American rival Cirrus Logic for £278m.[…]
Wolfson has become increasingly reliant on a few big customers including BlackBerry, which as seen sales of its smartphones collapse.
The company reported flat revenues of $179m and mounting losses of $13m last year.
Wolfson admitted it had been blindsided by the rate at which consumers were adopting 4G smartphones, which gave Qualcomm an advantage because it had developed an all-in-one 4G microchip that included an audio processor.

Damn. Those drivers aren’t going to happen any time soon, or maybe ever… I then used Ragnar Jensen’s zip described in this post, and the usage instructions here to install it. Which worked for me. I have no real idea how.

Don’t get the Wolfson card if you want playback until there are normal drivers available

My only interest in the card is to record – everyone else seems to want to take advantage of the whizzy playback options. To be honest there are alternatives if you want playback only, and it looks like the product is at risk of getting orphaned, since it is Pi Model A or B Rev 2 only, not B+, and is still driverless. You run the risk of getting stuck on an old version of Raspbian. That doesn’t bother me, as I will only use this for recording and not run anything else exotic on the Pi. If you want to run a media centre then you could start to hate being stuck on older versions of Raspbian.

How does it record, then?

I made the mistake of firing up ALSAmixer after installing, it certainly showed a lot of options and stuff going on which gave me a good feeling that the Wolfson card was present. But it is easier to adopt their installed ‘use cases’ that are installed in /home/pi

./Record_from_lineIn.sh

then issue

arecord -c 2 -f S16_LE -d 10 -r 44100 record_from_line_in.wav

to record a 10 second stereo track from Line in (that’s the -d 10 seconds, -d3600 would do you an hour, etc)

I experienced random buffer errors every 30s or so. Mindful of Wolfson’s warning about USB hubs I removed the keyboard (which has a hub) though I still used a hub to power the device, and because this was a Model A I had the wifi on the hub, and still took overruns

arecord -c 2 -f S16_LE -d 130 -r 44100 record_from_line_in1.wav
Recording WAVE 'record_from_line_in1.wav' : Signed 16 bit Little Endian, Rate 44100 Hz, Stereo
overrun!!! (at least 90.703 ms long)
overrun!!! (at least 50.601 ms long)
overrun!!! (at least 15.111 ms long)

Although it looks ghastly here is an MP3 of the original file that I played into the Pi –

and here is the file recorded with the overruns above, converted to MP3

Which doesn’t sound so terrible to me at all. I should still not be such a cheapskate and buy SD cards from ebay, if a Class 6 card is what’s needed for audio 😉

I still got overruns with FLAC but they were shorter, which points towards disk IO as being the problem, since FLAC ups CPU load a lot but reduces disk writing, because that’s its job

arecord -c 2 -f S16_LE -d 130 -r 44100 | flac -o test1.flac - --channels=2 --sample-rate=44100 -f

flac 1.2.1, Copyright (C) 2000,2001,2002,2003,2004,2005,2006,2007  Josh Coalson
flac comes with ABSOLUTELY NO WARRANTY.  This is free software, and you are
welcome to redistribute it under certain conditions.  Type `flac' for details.

Recording WAVE 'stdin' : Signed 16 bit Little Endian, Rate 44100 Hz, Stereo
-: 23% complete, ratio=0.468overrun!!! (at least 20.023 ms long)
-: 69% complete, ratio=0.513overrun!!! (at least 0.553 ms long)
-: wrote 11620131 bytes, ratio=0.507

Using FLAC (free lossless audio compression)

you must apt-get install flac

to get the codec first

Pipe the output of the record chain into FLAC to reduce file sizes by about 40% on field recordings

 arecord -c 2 -f S16_LE -d 130 -r 44100 | flac -o test.flac - --channels=2 --sample-rate=44100 -f

flac 1.2.1, Copyright (C) 2000,2001,2002,2003,2004,2005,2006,2007  Josh Coalson
flac comes with ABSOLUTELY NO WARRANTY.  This is free software, and you are
welcome to redistribute it under certain conditions.  Type `flac' for details.

Recording WAVE 'stdin' : Signed 16 bit Little Endian, Rate 44100 Hz, Stereo
-: wrote 11692886 bytes, ratio=0.510

with the flac command the single – means  process stdin and -f means overwrite existing file

FLAC used to be a resource hog so I thought I’d look at the CPU usage, which seems to run about 12-15% on a stock Raspbian (no overclocking etc)

top - 18:07:28 up  1:54,  2 users,  load average: 0.05, 0.04, 0.05
Tasks:  74 total,   1 running,  73 sleeping,   0 stopped,   0 zombie
%Cpu(s): 12.4 us,  2.3 sy,  0.0 ni, 84.9 id,  0.0 wa,  0.0 hi,  0.3 si,  0.0 st
KiB Mem:    187592 total,   145604 used,    41988 free,    14664 buffers
KiB Swap:   102396 total,        0 used,   102396 free,    98588 cached

  PID USER      PR  NI  VIRT  RES  SHR S  %CPU %MEM    TIME+  COMMAND
 2713 pi        20   0  7488 1380  940 S  12.1  0.7   0:03.71 flac
 2710 pi        20   0  4672 1372 1036 R   1.0  0.7   0:00.50 top
 2676 root      20   0     0    0    0 S   0.7  0.0   0:03.14 kworker/u2:3
   13 root      20   0     0    0    0 S   0.3  0.0   0:00.96 kworker/0:1
 2683 root      20   0     0    0    0 S   0.3  0.0   0:01.61 kworker/u2:0
 2695 pi        20   0  9260 1584 1000 S   0.3  0.8   0:00.12 sshd
 2711 root      20   0     0    0    0 S   0.3  0.0   0:00.18 kworker/u2:1
 2712 pi        20   0  4944 1336 1128 S   0.3  0.7   0:00.19 arecord
    1 root      20   0  2148  720  616 S   0.0  0.4   0:04.29 init
    2 root      20   0     0    0    0 S   0.0  0.0   0:00.00 kthreadd
    3 root      20   0     0    0    0 S   0.0  0.0   0:00.46 ksoftirqd/0
    5 root       0 -20     0    0    0 S   0.0  0.0   0:00.00 kworker/0:0H
    7 root      20   0     0    0    0 S   0.0  0.0   0:00.75 rcu_preempt
    8 root      20   0     0    0    0 S   0.0  0.0   0:00.00 rcu_bh
    9 root      20   0     0    0    0 S   0.0  0.0   0:00.00 rcu_sched
   10 root       0 -20     0    0    0 S   0.0  0.0   0:00.00 khelper
   11 root      20   0     0    0    0 S   0.0  0.0   0:00.00 kdevtmpfs

Wolfson Card Analogue Line-up

So it’s time to line the card up and find out what analogue levels it takes. I’m going to need outboard audio processing anyway to bring mic level up to line level, and to be honest that’s probably better done off the board anyway away from all the digital power-supply sizzle. I can control levels in the analogue domain, so no need ot run alsamixer unless I want to do remote live recording.

I injected 1kHz tone from a Farnell Wien bridge oscillator ad found that the default gain setting is exactly right for a 1V rms input

1V rms exactly...

1V rms exactly…

on a scope, not the readout is 10x too low because I used a 10x probe

on a scope, not the readout is 10x too low because I used a 10x probe, so that’s 2.8V p-p or 1.4V peak

When I ftp the file to my PC and look at it with a WAV player I see it is as close to 0dBFS as you can get

You aren't going to get closer to 0dBFS than this without clipping

You aren’t going to get closer to 0dBFS than this without clipping

The audio doesn’t start recording instantly, there is an elegant fade in combined with an inelegant DC shift

Audio fades in softly over a short period

Audio fades in softly over a short period

It isn’t a big deal, but you probably want to start it .1s before the desired sound. That’s neither here nor there with a manual start but if auto-started from a sensor trigger that would be a bear.

Audio performance

I terminated both inputs with 150 ohms and used Audition to gather the stats on silence, starting 3s in, a reasonable way past the initial DC bump.

internal noise stats. I'm not going to complain about this

internal noise stats. I’m not going to complain about this

I then scanned the spectrum of the quiet recording to look for any frequency spurs etc, on a fairly narrow IF bandwidth (wide scanning window). I’m not going to argue with the results –

Can't really argue with that

Can’t really argue with that

For reference here is the 1kHz tone (if you analyse it all the distortion comes from my 1970s era Wien Bridge oscillator)

and here is the quiet recording

I didn’t run rightmark on it since I don’t have anything good enough to generate the test signal and don’t know how to play and record at the same time on the Pi.

Since I want this for recording I didn’t bother to test playback – here’s a description of replay.

Time delay recording

The way to use this as a time delay recorder is to set cron to start on boot:

shutdown -h -t 3700

and

arecord -c 2 -f S16_LE -d 3600 -r 44100 record_from_line_in.wav

Then power on the Pi and the microphone preamplifier about half an hour before dawn and pull the power after about an hour and a quarter – the Pi should have halted by then. I will use a PIC microcontroller for that job, because it draws a very low power in the rest state, but an Arduino would work too, though it’s typically 7mA drain is higher than it has to be.

Conclusion

The Wolfson audio card records well, with low noise. You need to use a fast SD card otherwise you will get overruns. But it is poorly supported and the devil’s own job to get going. However, it seems the only game in town for high-quality recording.

Since that’s what I want to go I have to put up with the poor support and idiosyncrasies, it works well enough.

 

Notes:

  1. I did have trouble with these once – what happens is you issue the record for x seconds command and in simply sits there and never times out. Then you press the GPIO down again and it comes good… P5 carries the i2c bus  SCL0 and SDA0 pins which control the Wolfson, lose contact on one of those and you aren’t talking to it any more.

a Raspberry Pi camera after a season outdoors in the British weather

The old pig camera is due for a rebuild. I went with the Pice outdoor case for the new one, but  it’s interesting to see how the old one stood up to the weather. It was still operating when I decommissioned it because I needed to scavenge some of the network parts for the new one. In particular I now use a central WiFi/Mobile node to cover the whole farm, and use Wifi to upload the pictures for each camera via that node.

The original one ran the Mifi node and the Pi all the time, which was hard on battery power. Hence the rebuild, but if the case held up over a season I may as well use it rather than splash out for a new Pice…. The original case was larger than it needed to be, but I can now use this space to put the light sensor and 12V to 5V DC-DC converter inside it.

So how did it stand up to the ravages of the elements. When it was new it looked like this

best not let the IEE see that else they'll revoke C.Eng for disgraceful and outrageous bodgery of the first order ;)

and the innards looked like this

the Pi gets big fast when you hang enough onto it to make it useful

the Pi gets big fast when you hang enough onto it to make it useful

So from the outside it now looks like this

Raspberry Pi camera after a year in the open

Raspberry Pi camera after a season in the open. The messy carving of the rain-shield started out that way

Which isn’t bad. It vindicates one of the things i did, which was to use plastic screws for mounting. Unfortunately the camera needed M2 screws which were steel, and these rusted. The sun bleached the tape, but the box itself stood up to the light well.

The cheap Chinese DIN socket is starting to rust

1410_din_DSCN2527

I had fitted this on the underneath of the case. There are two philosophies when it comes to trying to run electronics outside. One is to go IP65 all the way and keep water out, which means waterproof enclosures, Dri-Plugs for power etc – you’re looking at about £20 to get the power through the case and maybe another £20 for the case itself. Farm hacks don’t really need that sort of ruggedness, which brings me ot the other philosophy

Accept water is going to get in. Mount all connectors on the bottom so it can drain out. I actually picked this up from the PICE guys – they mount the raspberry Pi on the lid of the case, so water could be standing on the bottom half and it would be okay.

No evidence of water, no creepy-crawlies - great

No evidence of water, no creepy-crawlies – great

As it was no water seems to have penetrated, no creepy-crawlies seem to have got in. The latter are a pain with electronics outside- they seem to be attracted to the heat, or maybe the power itself. It certainly helps to lift the device into the air, or simply put it on a stick a metre or so high, compared with ground mounting. But this looks clean, there’s a little bit of evidence ingress on the seam, and the PVC tape degraded in the UV so this may be worth some thought.  I will re-use this box, mounting the microcontroller timer and the light sensor on a board set into the rails, so I don’t have to drill the box for mounting.

However, one thing has been impaired, and that is the lens of the camera, which gives a hazy effect – it was clear and not foggy when this picture was taken

Flare on the camera lens after a year in the open

Flare on the camera lens after a season in the open

Normally a CCTV camera is behind a piece of glass to keep the elements out and now i know why. Cleaning the lens with IPA didn’t help. I am tempted to glue a piece of microscope coverslide over the tiny lens in future this would have the optical quality and would be cleanable/replaceable. Continue reading

Fixing a Maplin EAP450 Car amplifier

This amplifier is used for parties at The Oak Tree where we have no power on site – a 12V leisure battery is good for about 7 hours. I’d noticed one of the pots getting scratchy so one of the four channels was low. This is a four-channel amplifier, and I use it bridged 2×2 as my speakers are 8 ohm. The amp works but I’m losing power, experience tells me this sort of fault doesn’t fix itself.

The go-to site for car audio tech is Basic Car Audio Electronics so if you’ve blown your amplifier and are looking to fix it then that’s a good place to start. The tl;dr version is it’s probably not worth your while, get a new one. The trouble with blowing the amp is not only do you have to find and change the blown part, but also establish the rest of the parts are okay. I’m just fixing a passive part in an otherwise normally functioning amplifier. It’s probably still not worth my time but it’s criminal to junk the amp for the sake of £2 worth of parts.

I did get a meter on one section of the pot and established that it is intermittent and ratty. So I didn’t need the schematic. It’s nice to have, though, but knowing Maplin I figure it’s probably not worth calling them up and asking them to send a PDF or a dead-tree version through the post. I’m still sore about the way they washed their hands of a portable TV that failed after 15 months. On investigation it has clearly not worked right and been incompetently hand-repaired at the factory leading to the screen failure.

Inspection of the circuit board and a bit of Googling turns up some leads. I observe the circuit board is marked APA-450 Rev 2 and Googling APA-450 tells me that Clarion used to make one of these, and the control panel looks suspiciously similar. So now I know what a Maplin EAP450 is – presumably they bought the rights to rebadge this discontinued Clarion amp in a different housing. Or perhaps there’s some noname Chinese company in Shenzhen hawking their production line to whoever will pay 🙂

I got the service manual and schematic from those nice guys at Elektrotanya and established that the part numbers tally with the board.

plan A – changing the pot

Ebay was my friend in sourcing the pot, as it happens also from China. One of the great things about Ebay is the variety – it’s important to get the length of the splined shaft right so it doesn’t stick out too far and this is a slightly oddball length. A 6mm spline shaft is close enough.

Pots showing diferent pitch

Pots showing different pitch

 

I got that right, but I was caught out by the pitch of the pins being smaller than normal. I’d already dismantled the amp before I spotted that. D’oh.

Take a photo before you dismantle the amp

You can’t have too many decent photos of the gear before you take it apart . Once I had taken out the screws I got to see the PCB – it’s clearly not the finest reflow job I’ve ever seen

Maplin EAP-450 circuit board

Maplin EAP-450 circuit board

 

plan B – fix the original pot

Time for Plan B – dismantle the offending wafer of the pot.

 

Closeup of wafer

Closeup of wafer

By carefully bending the tabs I could get the wafer out and look for the problem – there’s a faint patch of shiny something not right at the top left of this, which I cleaned off with some isopropyl alcohol. Plan C was going to be replace this pot and the other one with two fixed resistors per wafer. There’s no real need for this sort of control on a power amp. Ideally I want to line the amp up for full-scale output at +4dBu – there’s far too much gain and it needs pulling well back. the line level input sensitivity is specified as 200mV to 6V

final test – success

 

output at full scale

output at full scale

This is the amplifier at just over 40V p-p showing the two bridge amplifier outputs which are out of phase (I am too cheap to get the probes to set the read out right, so it shows 1/10 of the real sensitivity)

clipping simultaneously

clipping simultaneously

 

and the final trace shows both bridged sides going into clipping at the same time.

Bird recording in the field with a GPS and audio recorder

After a long break, I looked at getting back to using Birdtrack. When I used it before, I used an audio recorder and a GPS, taking a waypoint with the GPS and identifying the bird and waypoint in the audio note. The advantage of this is I could automate taking in the position data, and just transcribe the bird and count.The obvious way to do that now is to use something like the Birdtrack app. Trouble is this wouldn’t run on my device. That wasn’t the main problem, to be honest, it’s easy enough to solve by chasing the upgrade cycle. There’s a deeper problem – it’s not what I want to get out into the field to do, to spend more time peering at an illuminated screen. Not only would Eckhart Tolle disapprove, but you also have to take your eye off the birds. Don’t get me wrong, the BTO have probably done a great job with the app, and if that’s how you want to list birds that’s great, each to their own. It’s just doesn’t do that much for me. But it’s a continuum – after all, what is the real point of recording what you see anyway, particularly as I’m not particularly good with ID so have to pass on a lot?easygpsSurveying an area repeatedly does mean I get to build up a spatial map of territories and get to know some of the birds by the foibles of their song. Now this is made easier I will see if a picture of territories does build up over time in the breeding season. GPS audio mapping isn’t a new idea, I came across it from the OpenMap community, who had largely solved this problem with audio mapping. They simply leave the recorder on capturing a stream of consciousness, because they want to capture data about the whole environment, that’s what a map is. It makes the synchornisation problem easier, as they set a datum at the start of the run, doing the same job as the clapperboard in shooting a movie. The GPS track is a log of where you go, with the sections individually timestamped, which I hadn’t realised. So start the recording at a datum point, and you know that the audio runs in sychronism with the GPS. Modern digital field recorders are crystal controlled to about 100ppm – about 4 seconds off in 10 hours.Now I don’t really want to spend as much time writing up a trip as doing it, so I took a leaf from their book and used a Perl script to parse the GPX data tracklog, find the nearest section to the audio clip timestamp and create a waypoint there, with a link to the audio file in the same directory. Rather than making one massive recording, I can simply make short audio notes when I see the bird, and the Perl script will tally the record time and sort out where I am. It’s easier to find a record and there is much less audio data to process.

Due to the vagaries of real-life devices you have to be able to put in an offset to take out summertime and any slight differences, but an error of 1 minute at walking speed isn’t so bad for bird logging. At a steady 3mph it’s about 80m uncertainty, but in practice you tend to slow down when observing birds, improving the accuracy. File timestamps do go down to the second, but keeping the clocks within a minute is a big ask. The GPS timestamp is always very accurate because it is set to an atomic clock, so it’s down to setting the recorder properly. Or identifying the skew properly at the combining stage.

As an added bonus, this can work on my field recordings too, I can just save the GPX file and I know where they were made too. Using something like GPS Visualiser I can see where everything is on a Google map.

For bird logs, I need to open the audio and edit the waypoint names to the BTO two letter short codes of the sightings, comma separated if there are several at one point. A second run through another script expands these into the long names and creates an Excel file suitable for uploading to Birdtrack.

10 Reasons for getting out of the Cloud

The Cloud is convenient, it’s easy to set up, it’s often free. What’s not to like? Well, after I’ve been on cloud services for a while, I’m getting sick of some of the serious issues associated with investing time and effort on platforms run by other people for their agenda. Which is why I am on my own damn site, paid for by me, under my control. Since I toted this as a listicle, here are 10 reasons to avoid Cloud services.

Cloud: All Your Base (data, work, time, thoughts)  Belong to Us

Cloud: All Your Base (data, work, time, thoughts) Belong to Us

  1. All your data belong to us. Facebook is the poster child for this, but it’s the age old problem, if you aren’t paying for the product then you are the product. This is the biggest issue with cloud services – the surveillance and advertising model is the original sin of the Web.
  2. It’s easy to set up but surprisingly hard to maintain. In one short period Pachube became Cosm which became Xively, and I get to change my code and learn new, poorly documented APIs
  3. Cloud providers come and go. They’re just plain unreliable. I’ve been hit by several – UK Intuit’s Quicken XG, Google Reader, the Vox blogging platform, Pachube, Flickr ratcheting down functionality before Marissa Meyer sorted it out
  4. Cloud is for the moment, not for the long-term. If it’s all done and dusted in a year or less, cloud is great. Crowdfunding, broadcasting an event, running a survey, printing a book – great. Building relationships, building a brand (musicians on Myspace, f’rinstance), lifelogging or even expecting to pass your baby snaps to the parents of your grandchildren in 50 years? Don’t expect the Cloud to do it. Will there even be a Dropbox or Flickr in the 2060s?
  5. The wrong sorts sticking their nose in your business, From Gmail reading your mail (and mine too, because I don’t use it but know people who do) and narrowcasting ads to you all the way to all the Snowden stuff. How the heck do people sleep at night using Mint, for instance – and what is it with Intuit and bad ideas?
  6. The hostage to fortune business – when free becomes paid and you’ve invested a lot of work in the platform. All the work you get to do again, even if you can get hold of your data.
  7. The freemium/in app purchase issue. Apps seem to be classics here – they start off useful in the free version but after a while they are either upgraded to exclude the useful feature you were using or simply don’t support your version of iOS, which seems to be how Apple enforce hardware upgrades!
  8. Data loss or theft. If Jennifer Lawrence’s pics weren’t on iCloud then brute force hacks or no, you have to get up close and personal to nick them from her phone. Sure, it’s convenient to have your Stuff available everywhere, but some things should be hard to get to 😉
  9. You don’t get to control your stuff – how long it is up, who it is sold to, how it is used. That’s how all the papers get a free photo of any miscreant nowadays – they used to have to send a runner to pap them at the courthouse, but it’s so much easier to get it off Facebook. Presumably a nice little earner for the company, too. The credit often says ©Facebook
  10. Upgrades that break stuff. Sure, you get these all the time without the Cloud, though the likes of Debian and MS seems to get this to work most of the time. Sun Tzu says make the battle at a time and place of your choosing – you can upgrade when your system is quiet, or at least when you are ready to fight the consequences.

One Ring to bind the all – the one that sums it up:

Facebook - for the moment, not for ever

One word. Facebook. It embodies both what is great about the Cloud and what is so evil about it – all at the same time. It does the ephemerality of Cloud so well, Facebook couldn’t even exist without the cloud, it’s the quintessential cloud app. It could take the Mission Impossible approach to your messages after a month or so:

Facebook needs this

Facebook needs this

but then stashes everything you say to use it against you in the future with Minority Report advertising.

The cloud rolls up form, function and purpose. And very often my purpose is at odds with that of the Cloud provider. The Internet is a means of communication and publishing. I put up my first web page about 20 years ago. It isn’t there any more, but if it had been important to me I could have seen to it that it’s still there. If it’s important to me then I can make sure this is still here at this URL in 2034, Although I can’t even take back something said on the Internet, if I want it not to be available here in a year’s time I can fix that too. Whereas if it’s on somebody’s else’s information space or real estate I can’t. Nothing I could have done would have preserved my Vox blog, or the information I imported to Quicken XG 1

So I’ll use the cloud – but for things that don’t matter or that have no requirement for longevity. Cloud is about fire and forget – Twitter is a fantastic cloud application because a tweet has no value after a few days. Dropbox is fabulous to share files with a pal, or even temporary backup files as long as I don’t mind various governments taking a look. I won’t use the Cloud for anything strategic. That means anything I want to be there for more than a year, anything to do with personal finances, and anything I’d like to depend upon or look back on in ten years time or more.

The journey starts with the first step – bringing my own audio home, so 2014 scarpering Swifts is now native mp3 audio, not embedded from Audioboo(m) any more.

In all fairness to The Cloud, that means I take a fair few hits for freedom. I get to worry about my own backups and maintenance, and I lose out having everything available everywhere.

Notes:

  1. I only used it for a week before the awful reality sank in that I was renting the use of the program, not owning it. If I want to run Quicken 2004 in 20 years time, I can run a XP machine disconnected from the Internet and still use it.