Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Back to Analog

A year or so ago I was clearing out a storage space under the stairs and I came across a couple of VHS tapes I had packed away some time earlier. These were some old TV shows I had recorded and a couple of movies that I had not yet replaced on DVD when I had decided to keep them. They were significant because they were the only pieces of analog media left in the apartment (if you don't count books and I don't). In fact things had moved on to such a degree that beside the box of VHS tapes was my box of CDs, long since burned to MP3 and playing off my iPhone.

I contemplated what to do with the tapes, they did have a certain sentimental value but I realised that even at their peak they were not the best quality and I had long since disposed of the VHS player that could make them useful again. So they went into the bin, the last relics of our analog past. I was quite proud of myself to have finally moved my life to digital.

At least until last weekend when I went shopping for a present for my fiancee. She is a music nut and accounts for an ever growing percentage of the random tracks that appear on my iPhone after a sync. The English punk rock band The Clash have a strange and cheesy role in how we got together 4 years ago, so I decided that a set of Clash albums on vinyl would make an amusing and quirky Valentines gift. Off I went into Dublin City to scour the music shops for vinyl.

It turns out I'm not the only one to have gone digital, the mainstream shops in Dublin have long since made the switch too, pushing CDs into a smaller section and trying to cling to a market of DVDs and Blu-Ray movies. Even some of the old die hard music shops seem to be allocating more space than I would have expected to CDs. Granted many of those CDs were indeed old and from bands I had never heard of and whose names their own members probably struggle to remember after all these years. In the era of iTunes CD's may start to push the old vinyl disks out of the dusty hidden away record shops and into the antique shops as 30 somethings become nostalgic for their first album bought in the 1990s and want to show their kids how Daddy used to listen to music before phones had play buttons.

Eventually after being sent from one shop to another an assistant at one market stall informed me that indeed he had seen some Clash vinyl that very morning but in a different shop around the corner. Off I went and with some relief I finally managed to acquire 3 albums, an EP and a single (for far less than the new versions would cost on iTunes). Now the first album The Clash from 1977 sits in an album frame in our apartment while the discussion takes place on where we should hang it.

The fact that we don't actually have a record player did cross my mind but that's for another days shopping. We will get one, fans would insist that the music should be played, but for the moment this is analog media that has moved to the status of wall art. A historical relic from a previous era. I cant see myself ever hanging a CD on the wall, VHS tapes were never pretty and iTunes album art makes no sense at all in a role outside a computerised screen so perhaps that is the future for analog media in my home, finding a niche as visual art that digital can never hope to usurp.

Monday, February 07, 2011

New Dublin Street Trading Spots

Dublin Council is considering adding new street trading locations around the city. Most are food stalls but there would be several Arts and Crafts spots around the city. The full list is available here but some highlights include
  • Books and/or paintings under Merchants Arch

  • Jewellery/Crafts on Capel Street Bridge

  • Art and Photography in St Patricks Park
I think some high quality trader spots around the city would be good, so long as they encourage Irish crafts and artists. The spot for Art and Photography in St Patricks Park would be good, especially if they allow numerous stall and dont allow the art crowd to exclude photographers in the way they do at other spots like Merion Square. I do wonder about the need for more flower stalls on Grafton St and a food kart on the traffic island opposite college green seems like a good way to get drunk people to wander into traffic while eating a kebab, but in general the new spots could be good additions to the city.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Dublin Bus Fare Increase

With all the media attention focused on the upcoming General Election for 2011 it appears that Dublin Bus have managed to sneak in approval National Transport Authority for a 2% fare increase. 2% may not seem much but somehow it adds up to 10c on some fares. A quote from their website:
Dublin Bus wishes to advise customers that from Sunday 6th February 2011, adult cash fares will increase. For journeys of 13 stages and under, the fares will increase by 5 cent. Over 13 stages, outer suburban and Xpresso fares will increase by 10 cent. There will be no increase to child fares.
So next week expect to pay more if you take a bus on your commute.

Alternatively if you drive a car through tolls apparently the National Roads Authority believe toll companies are ripping off commuters and should be reducing tolls to reflect the fall in the consumer price index. I agree with them, the price of state supported services should fall when the CPI falls, unfortunately the Public Service seem to think it's fair for them to increase their charges no matter what is happening in the economy.