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Hmm. So that's how it is in their family


Shriekback - Malaria

TL;DR: Here is how to restore DJ to iTunes, as much as possible

A few months ago, Apple maliciously broke iTunes in several really specific ways, one of which was to drop the DJ functionality, which is basically how I would listen to music.

Reading a thread on JWZ's site this issue, among others, I posted my somewhat-fix for the issue. And it is. A "somewhat" fix. It acts pretty much like DJ used to act, but for two problems. You can't drag things from a window with your whole collection into your "DJ" window (Cause hey, ONLY ONE WINDOW NOW), and besides, I had to create a Smart Playlist to fix it, and you can't add to a smart playlist anyway. There is "Play Next", which I guess works.

My other main gripe with this is that when I hit Next to skip a track, usually it removes it from the top of the playlist, but often enough to annoy the fuck out of me, it doesn't, and I have to go back in and clean up the top of my list a few times a day. Worse, songs I've skipped will come back up in the mix sooner than I would otherwise want them to, since iTunes doesn't know I've skipped them.

I remember reading somewhere that there was a discussion once about how to make iTunes mark something as "Skipped", or at least what the secret parameters are that cause things not to become "Skipped". So tonight it annoyed me enough to hunt around, and of course, the very first hit was back to a different JWZ post from exactly three years ago this week, complaining about this exact skipping thing.

Of course he didn't get a satisfactory answer, because he almost never gets a satisfactory answer to exactly what he asked. It looks like if you skip between 2 and 20 seconds into the song, and don't hit pause ever, it will show as Skipped. Neat.

His Herp Derp checkbox was the only thing that made any of this sane for me in this case.

To mostly restore iTunes DJ, do the following:

Click + at the bottom left of the iTunes window and create a new Smart Playlist. I named mine "DJ-ish".

Match All of the following rules:

  • Last Played not in the last 1 days -- Or however long you want to go between repeats
  • Last Skipped not in the last 2 days -- This will make iTunes clean up most songs you skip using the Next button.
  • Limit to 100 items selected by Random -- or however many upcoming tracks you want it to pull at a time
  • Match only checked items -- Unless you want iTunes to randomly play songs you've explicitly told it you don't want to hear by un-checking them
  • Live Updating

It's pretty simple to get most of that functionality back, but you know what would have been simpler? NOT REMOVING IT.

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YouTube's Phoney Puritanism


George Michael - Careless Whisper

Twice in the last week I have been frustrated by phoney YouTube "standards" policy. People send me fun or useful Arduino projects, to which I reply "You lose, here ...", only to be reminded that my example of the most useful Arduino project currently on the Internet has had its video removed by YouTube for ToS violations.

That project was The Hammer

The Hammer is better described by the engineer, but basically it's a dildo which lights up according to how much pressure is placed on a bulb that is inserted into its "wearer". Like a test-your-strength machine, except awesome and fun.

This video was pretty clinical, yet humorous, and did, at the end, have a period where it's implied that the Hammer is being worn. No proof is given for this and there are any number of ways in which this could have been simulated, but who cares, at no point do you see anything except olive green jumpsuit. (The best way to fake this is to have an Arduino controlling a grip which exerts increasing and decreasing pressure on the bulb. It's Arduinos all the way down)

I like the sex positivity of the project, the fact that it's a neat hack, and, say what you will about the lack of merit of any other aspect of the show, the people who cast The Big Bang Theory knew what the hell they were doing when they cast Leslie Winkle (and probably Leonard too). We (nerds, hackers and engineers) do play to a type whether we like it or not.

Judge for yourself, the video is here: target="_blank">Link to video I can't be bothered to figure out how to embed

Tame and humorous, yes?

Given the dreck that's on YouTube, I can't see the reason for deleting it. It's not meant to turn anyone on, she's not being sexy, she's being an engineer describing her project. Amusing yes, arousing? Not the intent.

If I had to guess, it's the implied sexuality and/or kinks of the wearer, which, this being the Internet after all, is just a ridiculous condition on which to base anything. Considering the traffic YouTube gets from explicitly sexual videos with view counts in the millions, am I wrong in thinking this is just a case of an easily oppressed fringe being crushed under the boot heel of the straight people for being "icky"?

Here are examples of videos with tens or hundreds of thousands of views (Millions in a couple of these cases) which YouTube is happy to keep up. Note: I fully support anyone uploading anything to the site, I'm not one to try and complain about content.

Vibrators Everywhere:

Implied insertion of that vibrator, in this case an English teacher in class:

Tits Everywhere:

Lesbians are great as long as they're doing things guys consider "hot", judging by the multitude of "Chicks making out" videos:

And of course, endless videos of girls dancing in their underwear:

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Facebook Hoax Denouement


The Clash - Hateful

Of course, according to the natural law of maximum irony, my very next Facebook post resulted in this screenshot.

In my withering defense, I rate anything I read based on the relative historical trustworthiness of the writer. Ebert, Gibson, my wife, rate very high and are near-unimpeachable sources. William Gibson rated a cursory check of Google News to see that, yeah, there are other headlines from other sources telling the same story.

That said, don't do the crime if you can't do the good natured time :-)


Since Facebook sucks at telling time, the meat all happened within ten minutes of the tweet I read

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Howto: Avoid Facebook Ridicule

As anyone who knows my Facebook history knows, the most callous hoaxes about things like sick, dying and abused children with some photo stolen from wherever makes me mildly angry at my friends for being dupes and spreading lies without thinking it through.

Invariably, when you rail them on it (semi-politely, using a private message and a link to Snopes or somesuch hoax site), they will say "But it doesn't hurt anything, it's something for people to think about"/"makes people happy"/"could happen some day".

All of that shit is false.

I don't even read this stuff anymore, if someone shares a photo with ALLCAPSMISSPELLEDPOORLYPUNCTUATEDTEXT under it, I just do this...

The attached video shows how you can take quite literally 15 seconds of your time and avoid being the One Friend. I encourage you to share it, paste it into hoax threads as they come up, show people how easy it is to not be the butt of jokes:

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iTunes Mass Importer


Bauhaus - King Volcano

For my own notes, so I don't forget I did this... Big thanks to Doug from Doug's Applescripts for iTunes for convincing me that making iTunes update in this way is possible.

As with all things, I have to make my music library overly complicated. In historical times, I ripped at 128k, then 192k, but even a lot of the 192k mp3s sound like crap, so I've decided that going forward, I'm doing 320k CBR MP3s as well as FLAC.

I'm using Max to do the rip and encode on the Mac. It encodes both sets of files in parallel and saves them in a directory under ~/Music/max-rips/Artist/Title.

Here is a script to sort that and update iTunes. It'll drop the MP3s in my MP3 library directory, then drop the FLACs in a repository for them, finally making iTunes add the new files at the end. If all you want is to make iTunes rescan your library for new files from a script of bash shell, you want the osascript line toward the bottom, just substitute the path to your collection in place of mine.

I'd like to pass $directory and $albumdir to the osascript and have it live inside the inner for loop, but I've not figured out how to use my variables inside the 's that osascript -e requires to run its part. It only takes a few seconds to re-index the whole thing.

This is the utterly fugly 15-minute first draft with crappy variables and whatnot, but it does work.

(Yeah yeah, "find blah blah | while yadda yadda", 15 minutes, works, admittedly fugly, 2000 CDs and nothing has | in the artist or title)
Update #2: Nevermind all that, the script below is a lot clearer and does all that stuff I wanted.


#! /bin/bash

find ./max-rips -depth 1 -type d | awk -F "max-rips/" '{print $2}' | while read artist

    mkdir "/Volumes/Filestore/CDs/$artist"
    mkdir "flac-output/$artist"

    find "./max-rips/$artist" -depth 1 -type d | awk -F "max-rips/$artist/" '{print $2}' | while read album

        mkdir "/Volumes/Filestore/CDs/$artist/$album"
        mv "max-rips/$artist/$album"/*.mp3 "/Volumes/Filestore/CDs/$artist/$album/"
        mv "max-rips/$artist/$album" "flac-output/$artist"

        `/usr/bin/osascript         tell app "iTunes"
        add POSIX file "/Volumes/Filestore/CDs/$artist/$album/"
        end tell


    rm -f "max-rips/$artist"/.DS_Store
    rmdir "max-rips/$artist"


It looks like there are several ways to skin my osascript cat. These aren't even the most fluid examples I've found.

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Winter 2013 Blizzard


The over-hyped blizzard of February 2013 has come and gone. 3000cu. ft. shoveled by two of us in 2.5 hours. The lowest point in the driveway measured 22", more drifty parts measured 28", between the cars, 40". But still, who's panicking? It's snow. In February. In New England. Why the travel bans? Why the storm-namery? You suck it up, you shovel, it's clean.

Here are some photos, the Nemo thing might work since everyone's car looked like a nautilus shell under all this snow

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Fixing an ugly email situation


I've been running IMAP services on my mailserver for many years, previously using Courier. I always had a pretty basic but solid-running system. Postfix, doing a Spam Assassin check, then delivers to the user folders, and Courier running IMAP.

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Salman Rushdie at Portsmouth Music Hall


A change of pace tonight. A few months ago, we saw Salman Rushdie speak and do an interview as part of the Writers on a New England Stage series presented by NH Public Radio. He gave a brief reading from his recent memoir, Joseph Anton, followed by an interview.

Listen Here

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Economics of Home Protection


Bertie Wooster (Hugh Laurie) - 47 Ginger Headed Sailors

Or: Why you don't need that AR-15 to save your TV.

I've had some conversation with friends who are very vocally talking about upping their gun count since Sandy Hook, all in the name of "more protection". Discussions of AR-15s and such.

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Scurvy Fundamentalists React To Tragedy


This week we've had a massive tragedy. Dozens of innocents killed in the most callous way possible. Everyone, everywhere very, very sad.

Except for those devoutly religious enough to bring their unique view to the whole event. I've been reading statements to the effect that God did not intervene because he is polite enough not to go where he isn't welcome. That the answer to this is that our children should pray before every school day, also, More Guns.

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