January 26th, 2003

In-car entertainment and the joys of accreted hardware

I have a new car radio! A (slightly belated) Christmas present from the beloved.

See, some years back I decided to fulfil a long-held ambition to drive a little blue sports car, and bought myself an MX-5 (a Miata to my US readers; actually a Japanese import, so technically a Eunos rather than an MX-5, but whatever).

I had visions of myself driving around the country, sun shining, top down, wind in my hair, good music on the stereo.

Of course, I live in the UK, so the opportunities to drive around with the sun shining are fairly limited (but they do happen, from time to time). However, the main problem was that the CD player in the car dropped dead some time back, a year or two after I bought it.
(The radio and the cassette deck were still working; I wasn't left completely without music in the car, or I'd've done something about it a long while back.)

Swapping it out was not as easy as it might have been. Partly because I'm just not that up on the inner functionings of my car's electrical system, and partly because the actual radio itself was larger than you normally find in cars (double-sized). But eventually the beloved offered to buy me a new one as a Christmas present and yesterday we finally got round to going and choosing the new one, and having it fitted.

Thankfully I did not need to spend vast amounts of time agonising over what to have, as I wanted MP3-playing capability as well as standard CDs, which meant I had a choice of about four stereos rather than twenty-plus. One of them being on sale and thus about 100 quid cheaper than the others made it an even easier choice. ;)

So now I have a natty new Kenwood stereo in the car, and it is entirely happy with the CD full of MP3s I recorded for it - 103 tracks should keep me in commuting music for a little while, wouldn't you think?

Our system for writing CDs at home is a weirdly Heath Robinson setup, which I ought to simplify sometime; it wouldn't take much, as the reason it's so complex is the lack of a couple of cables. We have a PCMCIA SCSI interface card, and three different SCSI drives; a Jaz drive, an external hard drive and an external CD writer. Unfortunately we only have cables which connect:

  • PCMCIA card to Jaz drive
  • Jaz drive to hard drive
  • hard drive to CD writer

... so it's necessary to have all three set up (though not necessarily powered on) to get a laptop hooked into the CD writer. One of these days I'll get a cable that'll do it in one - or, at a pinch, a SCSI-x to SCSI-y adaptor which'll let me use the cable that now goes to the Jaz drive to connect to the CD writer. But this is what happens when things have been assembled piecemeal from stuff nabbed from work, or bought for other purposes.