Posts Tagged ‘cover’


Well, today I launched my second attempt. Only this time round, I am going to do what few others will bother. I am going to plant strand-by-strand. Other than this approach (to planting), most of the delta in Attempt #2 of  my Dry-start Method implementation is executed during the pre-deployment<insert link>. The only other significant difference, is the usage of a glass top to completely seal the moisture in when illumination is engaged. I’ll let the photos narrate the process.

Advertisements

I know exactly what you are. I see exactly what you want. If you are looking for latitude, I can tell you I don’t have any. But what I do have are a very generous serving of fortitude; tenacity I have acquired over some very arduous life experiences. A resilience that make me a nightmare for green scum like you. If you let my plants go now, that’ll be the end of it. I will not look for you, I will not pursue you. But if you don’t, I will look for you, I will find you, and I will eradicate you.

Well, that’s a full two-&-a-half months of solid effort gone down the gutter; but life’s short & there ain’t much time to take things lying down. So I have to proceed with implementation #2 of my Dry-Start Method learning experience. This time round, I am prepared to go the extra mile in all aspects of the deployment environment.

Precautions in execution include:

  1. I believe flooding is a major destroyer of yield. This time round, I will implement measures to prevent & eliminate any flooded regions.
  2. I believe inconsistency in humidity, temperature & moisture content invites risks of yield failure. I have to devise some mechanism to maintain most, if not all, of these attributes.
  3. I believe excessive lighting & lighting in the wrong places will be a potential source of ingress for algae.
  4. On a less critical note, I believe there are more effective & precise methods to tweak the topography of the substrate.
  5. Likewise, I believe extra procedures have to be in place to maintain that topography over time.

So with these new guidelines in mind, I set off to prepare the deployment ground for batch #2 of my foreground carpeting plant, the hemianthus callitrichoides.

Step 1: secure a pair of broad-diameter straws, pierce holes (using a hot paper-clip) along their length in all axis.The holes should be smaller than the size of each granule of your substrate. The straws should preferably be opaque in colour, so that at their area of insertion no light is transmitted into the substrate, i.e. concept of optic-fibre. This may sound a bit ludicrous, but note that when the lights are powered on, imagine the clear walls of transparent straws are transmitting some light constantly all the way into the substrate. In the event of extreme flooding, these straws will act as outlets where excess water is drawn out. That's is why their diameter must be able to accommodate an air tube's girth.

Step 1: secure a pair of broad-diameter straws, pierce holes (using a hot paper-clip) along their length in all axis.The holes should be smaller than the size of each granule of your substrate. The straws should preferably be opaque in colour, so that at their area of insertion no light is transmitted into the substrate, i.e. concept of optic-fibre. This may sound a bit ludicrous, but note that when the lights are powered on, imagine the clear walls of transparent straws are transmitting some light constantly all the way into the substrate. In the event of extreme flooding, these straws will act as outlets where excess water is drawn out. That's is why their diameter must be able to accommodate an air tube's girth.

Step 2: Grab a bunch of Post-it notes, & list down each significant numerical aspect of the substrate, e.g. height of front edge, height of rear apex, etc. After which, stick these "labels" at their actual positions, preferably on the outer side of the tank wherever possible.

Step 2: Grab a bunch of Post-it notes, & list down each significant numerical aspect of the substrate, e.g. height of front edge, height of rear apex, etc. After which, stick these "labels" at their actual positions, preferably on the outer side of the tank wherever possible.

Step 3: Lay the base additive system as per the first deployment.

Step 4: Position straws vertically & slowly fill the tank with substrate. It is important to note that the lazy method of inserting the straw into the substrate after the substrate has been laid in the tank, is ill-advised as the straws will be choked & their primary purpose will be ineffective: drawing excess water from a flooded substrate.

Step 4: Position straws vertically & slowly fill the tank with substrate. It is important to note that the lazy method of inserting the straw into the substrate after the substrate has been laid in the tank, is ill-advised as the straws will be choked & their primary purpose will be ineffective: drawing excess water from a flooded substrate.

Step 5: Scape the substrate so that its topography aligns with the various Post-it notes that are distributed around the tank.

Step 6: Completely devoid the tank of light by sticking pieces of black paper on all clear sides entirely.

Step 7: Mist the surface of the substrate to make it “clumpy” to facilitate further modifications to its surface.

Step 8: Drive a few pieces of bent corrugated foam boards into the higher regions of the substrate to maintain the steep slope over time. Their apexes must be facing the slope's angle of repose.

Step 8: Drive a few pieces of bent corrugated foam boards into the higher regions of the substrate to maintain the steep slope over time. Their apexes must be facing the slope's angle of repose.

This is how the corrugated plastic board look like

This is how the corrugated plastic board look like

Step 9: Use a tool to create organized, regular depressions into the substrate where the plant nodes are supposed to be planted.

Step 9: Use a tool to create organized, regular depressions into the substrate where the plant nodes are supposed to be planted.

A closer look at the depressions from the left.

A closer look at the depressions from the left.

A closer look at the depressions from the right.

A closer look at the depressions from the right.

Step 10: Use a vessel with a pouring tip, e.g. one of those small jugs use for cooking, to pour dechlorinated (but again, not de-ammonium-ized) water into the straws gently & steadily. The effect is quite awesome when I execute Step 7. I saw water saturating the substrate from beneath it, all the way until some water peeks above the topsoil (at which point I stop pouring).

Step 10: Use a vessel with a pouring tip, e.g. one of those small jugs use for cooking, to pour dechlorinated (but again, not de-ammonium-ized) water into the straws gently & steadily. The effect is quite awesome when I execute Step 7. I saw water saturating the substrate from beneath it, all the way until some water peeks above the topsoil (at which point I stop pouring).

Step 11A: Cover the top of the tank with an opaque material when there is any form of visible light around. I will not allow any form of algae to have a head-start in this tank.

Step 11A: Cover the top of the tank with an opaque material when there is any form of visible light around. I will not allow any form of algae to have a head-start in this tank.

Step 11B: Cover the top of the tank with some mesh at night, only when there is no light in the room. This is to air the substrate to dry out excess surface water before planting. Preferably the mesh should have very fine holes so that dust in the room will not enter the tank.

Step 11B: Cover the top of the tank with some mesh at night, only when there is no light in the room. This is to air the substrate to dry out excess surface water before planting. Preferably the mesh should have very fine holes so that dust in the room will not enter the tank.

And then we lie in wait…for a week or so until


On the 14th of February 2012, a colony of highly-assorted algae infiltrated & successfully overwhelmed a field of Hemianthus callitrichoides in a 2-feet village. The massacre was over within a matter of hours. There were no survivors. Looks like no Valentine’s Day for the occupants of this village.

– An external witness

It's a lot worse than it seems

It's a lot worse than it seems

So here’s 10 weeks of consistent daily effort gone down the gutter. An algae attack reduce my progress to zilch. As a matter of fact, my progress has been reset to below zero, i.e. “negative”:

  1. The algae assault team has gone underground, literally. & since I have no water in the tank, using an algae scrapper on a dry & soiled (again, literally) surface runs into the danger of scratching the tank’s glass.
  2. Since at this moment in time, I do intend to re-use the substrate system, it means I can not use harsh chemical solvents (Hydrogen Peroxide, anyone?) to treat the algae; for fear of persistent negative effects harboured in the substrate long into the future.
I'm not even entirely positive as to the species of this algae.

I'm not even entirely positive as to the species of this algae.

So, I did what I can, at least, what measly efforts my broken spirit allows me to pursue today:

  1. I removed all traces of the HC, i.e. algae-fied, rotten, half-dead. Armed with a pair of tweezers & some elbow grease, after surface extraction, I use the pointed tips of the tweezers to rake through the soil to ensure all plant material (inclusive of roots) are removed. I do not want any further rotten material inside this substrate.
  2. I re-laid a layer of powder-type Aqua Soil as a form of repair to the topsoil of my substrate.
  3. I completely covered the tank from any visible light to implement a total blackout. The tank “cover” was only removed at night to accelerate the dehydration within the substrate. Faced with depleting moisture & no source of light energy, the existing algae colony should be having a hard time.
Utter & complete wipe-out

Utter & complete wipe-out

& then it starts travelling underground. To destroy any possible foundation

& then it starts travelling underground. To destroy any possible foundation

New topsoil administered to the immediate affected area

New topsoil administered to the immediate affected area

Using powder-type Aqua Soil as the new topsoil

Using powder-type Aqua Soil as the new topsoil

More powder-type

More powder-type

& then I try as I might, to repair everything

& then I try as I might, to repair everything

I’m done for the night, I suppose. In fact, I’m surprised that I even have the strength to recover (& rebuild) from the calamity that has befallen my crop. But I guess when you are used to utter bad luck, you tend to bounce back faster.


UPDATE: this-just-inMicrosoft has finally unveiled their latest revision of the Windows Mobile platform. The name has been revised toWindows Phone 7” to encourage the masses to throw all their perception of the Windows Mobile platform out of the “Windows” (pun intended), i.e. like how they are trying now to make everyone forget Vista ever existed. Well, I like it, after watching the promotional video. It appears Microsoft has quite a few latent potential that they didn’t “want to” dish out at Apple. First, they do have an adequate “AppStore”: it is the Xbox Live Marketplace. Secondly, the music interface of their latest Zune HD device, is a refreshing & stylish UI as compared to any other iPod. So when they take these 2 features, throw in the capacitive touch-screen & high-res requirement (WVGA as a minimum) for device manufacturers, what we have here, is a very serious contender for the choice of my next smartphone. I like the fact they actually am convinced their customers have the ability to multi-task. Not everyone of us like an interface that is too dumbed down, i.e. I will take live updating panels over (disruptive) push notifications any day. Oh, did I mention the extremely pleasing Zune interface/transition for navigating around the device? Previously there was only the iPhone 4G (yes, I’m still waiting for a breakthrough in WWDC, June | they better gimme a proper “One more thing…” then, after what they pulled in Jan) & the Google Nexus Two (ala Motorola Shadow). I was about to replace my dying iPod Touch with a Zune HD (which many didn’t know, has a lot of potential due to its Tegra chip & I was already eyeing because its raw industrial metal design topped off with Gorilla glass from Corning {same used on HTC HD2} is serious appeal) & embark on the media player + phone combi again, but now, there is actually a 3rd platform to look forward to, in the horizon. Maybe I will breakaway from iTunes after all my effort to master it.

Minimum requirements for manufacturers who wish to deploy Windows Phone 7 devices

This is the newer, rumoured mock-up

Talking about the next iPhone, I saw this mock-up of the rumoured 4G from the interweb. There was another mock-up that has been floating around for ages but this newer one takes the cake. Gloss black surfaces & curvatures always a favourite with the masses. I think with the introduction of the crazy Magic Mouse & the touch-capable bezel of the Palm Pre, a full touch-sensitive body enclosure isn’t that far-fetched. I just haven’t thought of what purpose it serves, but give us an API & we will give you a function. Actually, with regards to that glowing Apple logo, I’ve an idea. They could actually use it as a flash for the integrated camera! Either that method, or if they wanna prove their hardware muscle, Apple could actually built a ring of LED flash around the “rim” of the original camera. Both seems to be very expensive way to implement a flash, but hey, its Apple (but since they never say anything; as of now it’s my idea). The 2nd idea will look something like this (Avengers fan will find this extremely familiar):

Either you recognize this immediately, or you don't

Observe how rich the visual design is. Final level at bottom-right

& since we are still on the topic of the iPhone, recently I’m playing 2 new games on my iPod Touch, Dark Nebula & Plant vs Zombies. Installed Dark Nebula because it was announced to be free & I enjoyed the game so much I would have gladly pay for it (& upcoming episodes). Unlike typical Labyrinth games, although one still uses the accelerometer to navigate an item throughout a maze, the environment in Dark Nebula is extremely well thought-out, challenging & innovative. Interaction with the environment is accompanied by a wonderful background music which I enjoyed via the speakers of my mini-compo. The things I really like (I mean, in addition to the basics which it covered pretty well): 1. wonderful background music, 2. intelligent way to give huge amount of depth to the gameplay via the graphics & how some obstacles “bounce” your item, 3. last level’s design is just crazily-cool.

Plant vs Zombies was just heavily recommended in the forums, so I spent the USD$2.99 for it. From PopCap (the same company that supplied Bejeweled 2 on Yahoo! Games), it’s a tower defense genre with a twist. You are not trying to navigate your enemies around a maze that you make out of weapons, but rather your enemies (they are zombies, btw) will come attacking as collective wave & you use various plants to destroy them. The things I really like: 1. extremely vivid graphics, 2. huge variety of plants (your arsenal) as well as huge variety of zombies (your enemies), 3. any game with Michael Jackson in it, is cool.

Thriller night...

Medusa being a captive of her reflection in an iPhone

Also watched “Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief” on Valentine’s Day. My other options was “Valentine’s Day” (the movie) & I refuse to pay to watch a film with no special effects in the cinemas. On the other hand, PJNTLT was lacklustre as well. Execution of the plot was very kid-oriented with the lame moments inserted here & there. The only consolation I obtained was my ability to name every single of the Greek gods, i.e. who is the father of who, who is the mother of who, who hate who and why, etc. But I tink it annoys my companion to no end. Like that time I watch the 1st Transformers & ID all the aircraft along with their military roles. However, all these Greek Mythology is simply gearing me up for “Clash of the Titans“, which much to my delight, is available in 3D!

Nice to get gd books from the library

Also covered one & a half book recently. “Daemon” by Daniel Suarez & “The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs” by Carmine Gallo. I finished the former within 3 days because I couldn’t put it down. It’s the 1st novel by Mr. Daniel (who is an IT consultant) & for those who read it & is disappointed by the ending, erm…there’s a part 2, titled “Freedom“, just fyi. I’m simply happy because I am able to relate to how the various ploys by the antagonist were executed by existing technologies. Technologies like non-lethal directional restrain (I read up a lot of it when researching on riot control) as well as house keys that unlocks using a crystal with a specific resonant frequency. The storyline isn’t that far-fetched, but I will encourage anyone that loves technology in general to read it. Think of something very cool, multiply that by infinity & you will have the storyline for “Daemon”. If you are still not convinced, remember the automatic killer motorcycles in “Terminator: Salvation”? Now imagine a full fleet with blades. Imagine that they can now distinguish between heat source that stays still (small fire) & heat source that has exponential movement towards a perimeter (human trying to tip-toe then breaking into a run for a pre-defined exit). This scenario is in “Daemon” & it’s not even the coolest feature in the “grand-scheme of its plot”.

The 2nd book on presentation is so-so; pretty much most of the concepts are common sense but guess I’ll finish it anyway. Most of the principles being preached are very useful for introducing new consumer products & maybe less useful for say, presenting corporate performance in front of your board. Nonetheless, I’m glad to loan both books for free from the library (negligible reservation fees).

Try using this interface for high-spd repetitive input

H was impressed with the submission that got awarded “Best team” for the current CS2103 module; I wasn’t. Granted, a calculator with its input mechanisms designed in the form of a tag cloud “looks” extremely innovative, but I suppose high-speed repetitive input is almost impossible via this interface. For those who are touch-typists, you will know that even shifting the keyboard arrangement very slightly will mess up your typing speed & accuracy. In my point of view, any interface that prioritise beauty over its core functionalities, deserves a penalty in the respective grading criteria. Unless that submission was for “make a calculator for piece-meal input but must look very chio“, then I nothing to say lah. But even if I got something to say, I’m also not the fellow grading CS2103 students…but if I were feeling mean, I would simply request that team to perform 5 sets of any calculations in quick succession. Then try it on a typical calculator…

ISIS again? Wanna spend $ build more reading rooms lah...waste $ man

On the topic of things that are defunct in my school, remember the trash information system revamp they implemented recently, ISIS? Well, not only did they delay the access of school results last year, this time around it screwed up the relay of living allowance to those who are on tuition fee loans. I mean, why spend money, time & human resources to implement something new that clearly has no new added value to replace a system that has been tried and tested for years without problems? Clearly my school has a sense of “purpose & logic” that is beyond my grasp?

Set of Camelion AlwaysReady LSD batteries

Just ordered my set of Camelion batteries. I’m sure by now, the consumer are familiar with Low Self-Discharge batteries courtesy of Sanyo’s aggressive promotion of their EneloopWell, these Camelion AlwaysReady batteries are LSD yet they have the highest capacity I found, 2300mAh! series. However, the difference between these & “typical” rechargeable batteries are the capacity: LSD AA usually max out at 2000mAh while “normal” rechargeable AA can go as high as 2900mAh. However, they usually lose the majority of this 2900mAh by the end of a week or two. Some fellow is selling this brand in Clubsnap forums, but he is promoting the outdated charger (I verified the difference between the various chargers with him via PM) via the advertisement thread. I dug around his main online store site & managed to secured a bundle for the more up-to-date charger (at a cheaper price to boot!). I can understand his rationale, i.e. most likely he’s trying to gain publicity in ClubSnap forum to clear the stock of the old chargers…well, I’m not the type to disrupt anybody’s plan, as long I know which is the one to buy for me.

Check out the capacity of this LSD battery!

Progress is steadfast...

Unbeknownst to many, I’ve already begun the indefinite revamping of my music library. Started on 4 Feb, till today (19 Feb), I’ve processed 20.95GB (~68%) of my disorganized/unprocessed old library. In other words, over the course of 15 days (intermittent), I’ve gone through 4497 files (2254 folders). Though this may seem like leaps & bounds over my projected progress to the undiscerning eye, personally, I know better. It’s gonna be a terrible uphill journey as the pool gets smaller & smaller as:

  • the original file & folder count contains a large amount of iPod Touch apps, some podcasts, 2 deep folders-worth of album artwork created by iTunes previously. Removing this “crud” = zero processing time; more of inspecting & deleting. For the remaining collection, which are really songs, progress will be capped at a slower rate.
  • most of the albums I process earlier are of the “1-folder-1-album” nature, there is a huge quantity of remaining songs that belong to distinct albums. Which means I have to find/tag their individual album art 1 by 1, instead of tagging 1 full folder at one shot.
  • I’m beginning to encounter more & more “problem” albums, i.e. those that Winamp refuse to recognize chinese-character-titles for, those that belong to the same collection but Winamp tagged as different albums, those that I can’t find any album art for, etc…These I put off into a folder for later rounds of reviewing.
  • As the library grows, I have to spend more time differentiating between accidental duplicates & “real” duplicates from my additions.
  • There are really some songs that Winamp’s Auto-tag cannot identify correctly. Manual override always require way more time & effort than automatic means, but even though I ignore the validity of disc & track numbers, at the very least title & artist I require perfection.

This is always very inspiring…

Nonetheless, everytime I feel weary, I just need to engage the “Grid-Album” view on my iTunes & I’ll have some inspiration to pursue this endeavour. Anyway, it’s a marathon, not a sprint.

Started watching Steve Job’s keynote, launching the Apple iPad. My commentaries as follows:

  • the way the audience applauded just for his presence, is starting to creep me out
  • “a truly magical & revolutionary product” – erm…not only evolutionary wor; he implied a “game-changer”, paradigm-shift
  • Of course, since this is not a shareholder meeting, for some reason, he just have to flash some sales figures
  • Now, he (they) realize the Microsoft-bashing has gotten old, he’s looking for new competitors to bash, namely Nokia (& also Sony as well as Samsung). Is this company’s philosophy based on intentionally demeaning/mocking fellow competitors?
  • “Those devices have to be far better at doing some key tasks…better than laptops, better than smartphones. What kind of tasks?” – this is so gonna return & bite him in the arse.
  • Browsing the web. Doing email. Enjoying & sharing photographs” – translate into no-flash, typing with one finger
  • He bashes netbooks, by saying they aren’t better at anything. He actually manages to bash a product category. The way he says it, either hasn’t use the latest netbook with Ion, or he better have something way superior to announce
  • &…we have the name. Won’t go into the name, I believe it has been mocked to the death by the Internet. Not only did he managed to convince me the company is oblivious to the industry (“We challenged our engineers…to put in a SD card slot.”), he convinces me the corporate team is oblivious to social norms & naming conventions
  • “It’s a dream to type on it”…until one actually tries to type a sentence on it.
  • 1st laughs: the ridiculous bezel width, weird aspect ratio (almost everything is 16:9 or 16:10 nowadays, well, except this device) & that funny iPhone/iPod Touch-sized “lock-bar” (totally no modifications!). I’m not saying he should extend it across the entire width, but come up with something new to unlock the device lah!
  • Awkward & blatant indifference of all the “flash-missing” icons scattered across his selection of demonstration websites…I kinda feel sad for him…
  • You have to place the device on your (slanted) lap to type with both hands.
  • I’m positive the photo app UI got “major inspiration” from BumpTop. The slide show transition, “Origami” is very lovely though.
  • Kinda notice he is not looking at the audience AT ALL while demo-ing the interaction. I dun like this.
  • Didn’t mean to be rude, but he called “Up” awesome because it’s a Pixar creation right? However, when he ends the Movie app demo, the final scene resembles the default WinXP wallpaper?
  • He says the A4 chip screams? Hmm…perhaps as loud as a SnapDragon then? Really live in their own world man…latest Bluetooth is BT 3.0 lehz
  • Try achieving 10 hours with Flash capability lor…don’t mock the battery life of other hardware when they need to deliver flash (flash is CPU-, not graphic chip-intensive)
  • Wait? did I hear wrong, “So that’s a little bit of an overview of the iPod hardware.” – 29min41seconds into the keynote…
  • & why are they claiming the auto-2X maximise window a remarkable feature for iPhone apps to run on the iPad? Have they seen for themselves how ridiculous native iPhone apps were to run at their default resolution on the iPad screen? If it’s such an extraordinary feature, why dun they try releasing iPad without this 2X feature? To me, this feature is more of an “necessary evil” than an extra feature.
  • I realized when Scott Forstall watch the game trailer video of ESPN’s “Snocross”, he did NOT use the 2X feature? Is it because 2X is unable to scale actual video content (non-codebase-driven; unlike actual game code) to fill up iPad’s screen?
  • I wonder if “Shake-to-Undo” is implemented on the iPad? Probably someone will accidentally smash theirs…sooner or later
  • Scott Forstall is clearly trying too hard – 50min54sec into the keynote.
  • Okay, this one I have to give it to them: iWorks looks great, not amazing, but great on the iPad. However,…
  • They had better ensure it multi-task (actually I tink these apps would, since they are published by Apple). Because productivity suite are quite cumbersome if say, one cannot copy a chart from the spreadsheet program to a word processor
  • I’ve a feeling they are really using the relatively cheap data plans to push the sales of the iPad, but shouldn’t a great product sell itself?
  • “It’s phenomenal; the whole Internet in your hand” sans Flash?
  • & I remember Apples fanboy criticising the various versions of Windows being released, while the iPad comes in 6 versions…wonder what they gotta say about that? & I still can’t get over the choice of micro-sim in something with so much space.
  • This is the 1st thing I watched Steve Jobs reading verbatim the sentences (yes, sentences) from his slide – 1hr31min15sec

After-thoughts: I feel that if they could somehow unify all the publishers in the academic market to publish textbooks via this “iBook store” & encourage local institutions to webcast/podcast the lectures to this platform, then it will be fantastic. But because publishers will always fear each of them can’t secure the biggest slice of the pie & well,some of the local lecturers’ had better not had their lectures publicized, the iPad will have a huge setback in securing the local academic institution. On the other hand, it could be the launchpad for electronic boardgames (I think this has massive potential given the multi-touch capability and size of the IPS screen).

In addition, I was severely underwhelmed by what Apple delivered, after months of speculation, given this slightly sub-par performance where the presenters have difficulty selling the magic of their device & the actual feature-set of what it attempts to kill (the netbook category), I would rather have a super-handy 3.5″ display device to enjoy anywhere & need not worrying about finding a stress-free environment for it beyond my pockets.

Anyway, after watching the keynote, here’s my reaction:

That pretty much sums it up for me. Especially the middle row.


As of the moment, I’m still on the airplane (I started drafting this post 40mins after takeoff; remembered clearly because I immediately caught one episode of “V” when I was finally allowed to meddle with my iPod Touch without disapproving stares from the air stewardess). For the time being, I’m still actively providing feedback on Ovi games in Hardwarezone forums, but I’m pessimistic as to whether anybody reads my contributions.

Ah, the beauty of properly-tagged music

The next major project I intend to embark on is gonna span a few months, even a year (I will provide the derivation of this figure later on). I intend to properly re-tag & structure my entire music library to prepare for my next system format. I have over 6500 songs (excluding podcasts) across 2400 folders worth a total of 30GB of data. Part of the impetus for this is to have a quality “CoverFlow” experience on my iPod as well as nicely-displayed album cover art within my iTunes interface. The other part of my motivation is simply due to the fact that I like to have all things “as correct as can be” & it’s way overdue for an overhaul of my unruly music library.

These 2 sets of figures reflect the net amount of songs & albums I will have to process for this overhaul

My workflow will be as follows:

UPDATE #1: To comply with my future iTunes library eco-system, whereby multiple computers are made capable of iTunes library content management & iPod sync-ing regardless of connection status of external volume, && all changes are committed to a single instance of iTunes Library database, I have created a new procedure to instantiate my new iTunes Library:

Side-bar #1: One may ask, if I import new content into the sole iTunes library using a computer that isn’t connected to my external volume, i.e. grab new podcasts/import new TV series via my netbook in school, wouldn’t I have some media files on my netbook local hard disk & the bulk on my external volume? Well, visit the following link & read from “But what happens if I import media, download podcasts or buy something from the iTunes Store?onwards:

Source

**********START of method for new machines that I introduce onto my “portable” computing environment**********

a) Create new directory for all media, “iTunes_Media” on external volume [absolut path: I:/iTunes_Media]

b) Create new directory for iTunes library database files only, “iTunes_Library_DB_files_ONLY” within my DropBox [absolut path: irrelevant/My Dropbox/iTunes_Library_DB_files_ONLY]

There is NO need to create this folder at this early step as you will be prompted to create it when instantiating a new folder for your new iTunes library.

b) Launch iTunes with “Shift” key depressed. Create new library & browse to a directory for the iTunes folder to reside under. iTunes launched normally with empty, fresh library.

For example:

if I browse to “C/Users/your_username/Documents/My Dropbox/“, & enter “iTunes_Library_DB_files_ONLY” as the folder name, my “iTunes_library.itl” (amongst other iTunes database files) will be stored at:

C/Users/your_username/Documents/My Dropbox/iTunes_Library_DB_files_ONLY/iTunes_library.itl

However, if I store it under that folder name, when using iTunes, the title (bar) of my library window will be:

Note the library window title (bar) follows the actual folder name where you store the actual library database files

c) Without adding any content, update the path of iTunes “Home” folder to location alpha.

Check state: verify Preferences that all configuration tat conflicts with current active library is UNchecked, i.e. “allow iTunes to…”, “Copy…”, etc

d) Test import new content (1 full album) into freshly-created iTunes library, i.e. drag the album into the “Automatically add to iTunes library” folder.

Check state: Does the new content end up in:

i) I:/iTunes_Media/iTunes_Media/Music/content_artiste/content_album/song.mp3, or

ii) I:/iTunes_Media/content_artiste/content_album/song.mp3

If (ii) is true, this implies action (d) configures iTunes to recognize & accept “iTunes_Media” folder ==I/iTunes_Media“. If (i) is true, it implies iTunes is an obstinate application (becuase it die die wanna create another iTunes Media folder even though I set aside one nicely for it already).

Actual findings? None of the above!

Yes, iTunes does accept the exact location I update under “Edit > Preferences” as the new “iTunes Media” folder DIRECTLY, but it creates another “Music” folder (to store my music content) under it!

This could be confusing, so allow me to illustrate with a screen capture:

Now that the upper "Music" folder == "iTunes Media", it is 'expected' that iTunes create another "Music" folder UNDER it, when I import music content

Lastly, I noticed as long as the actual location of your “iTunes Media” folder matches the path configured in the library database, you can move your iTunes library.itl file anywhere & use the “press-Shift-key” method to launch your iTunes library & it will still be able to find all the media without issue, i.e. can playback, ratings, play count retained, etc. In other words, the location of the database files isn’t material, but the location of the “iTunes Media” folder (some call it iTunes’ “Home” folder) must be there where iTunes database expects/remembers it to be, in order for media access.

As long as the location of "iTunes Media" folder matches the path stored in your "iTunes Library.itl" file, you can launch your library from anywhere.

For any new machine, perform the following in sequence:

1. Install DropBox & ensured iTunes library DB folder is downloaded completely. Connect external volume & assign it the appropriate drive letter.

2. Install iTunes & launch it with “Shift” key depressed to select the current itl file inside DropBox folder.

3. Perform step (c) above, but this time round, configure the preferences to your liking (since at this time, my very 1st library’s preferences is arcane & irrelevant).

4. Test importing & iPod sync-ing as required.

**********END of method, back to CURRENT media overhaul workflow**********


UPDATE #2: Adhere to preceding procedures (aka “See above“)

#1. Create a new, separate library on my production laptop by pressing the “Shift key” during the launch of iTunes (to choose which library to use, follow the same step). For my next system re-format, my music content will all be stored on an external volume. Once the new iTunes_Library.itl is generated, close iTunes & shift entire “iTunes” (most top-level) folder to external volume.

Side-bar #2: When multiple libraries exist & is detected on the same iTunes installation, every launch will be initiated with the last library used.

Since now my newly created secondary library is missing, i.e. the system last remembered it as created on local  hard disk  but now it resides on the external volume, iTunes will prompt me for its location & once I referred it to the itl file’s new location on the external volume, it will re-establish within itself where my 2nd music library is. Although 2 libraries can co-exist, multiple preference configurations are not permitted on a single iTunes installation. As of the moment, my current 1st main music library has the setting, “Keep iTunes Music folder organized” Unchecked. This is because at the present moment, I do NOT want iTunes to “automatically” re-structure my music collection into its “artiste-album-songs” format. The challenge is, for my new library, I have due considerations & believe the iTunes way of organizing music files is “proper” after all; however, if I check that option, this setting will carry over to my main library with immediate effect & the next time I use my main library, iTunes will start organizing the music files on my laptop HDD into its structure which is not my choice for my current library.

So how? One may ask? How can I configure iTunes one way for my current music library usage & still have the automatic music file organization on the new, 2nd library I’m currently building for the future? Will it turns out, iTunes version 9 has this special folder function, “Automatically add to iTunes folder” (this “watched/monitored folder feature has been on other music player software like MediaMonkey for ages). So I can have “that” option UNchecked for both my libraries (so that iTunes will not mess with my current music folder structure when I use my current library) & yet when I drop a folder of songs into that special folder on my 2nd library, iTunes will STILL execute this new addition to the 2nd library using its “automatic way of organizing the folders into artiste-album-song_rename”.

UPDATE #4: Unfortunately, if you discover you tagged something wrong after importing the songs, even when you correct the tags, iTunes will not re-organize the folder hierarchy, as long as “Keep iTunes Music folder organized” is UNchecked, even if the songs were imported via the “Automatically add to iTunes folder” channel.

Example: I imported a folder of Andy Lau songs into my library, unbeknownst to me, some of the songs had their “Artist” tagged as “Andy Lau“, while some had theirs tagged as “Liu De Hua“. Naturally, the 1st time round I imported them, 2 separate folders were instantiated, since to iTunes, those were names of 2 distinct artists (this is expected, & acceptable behaviour). The downside is, even if I re-tagged all those songs with “Andy Lau” as the artist, iTunes will no longer re-organize & consolidate all them songs into a single “Andy Lau” artist folder (because I’d “Keep iTunes Music folder organized” UNchecked remember?)

Well, you may suggest that I check that option when managing my future library & uncheck it right before launching/using my main, current library. The thing is, iTunes preferences persist across libraries, & one day I will forget to uncheck that option, launch my main library & lose all my current music folder structure to iTunes’ re-organization (which I don;t want, as of yet). Which brings me to another update:

UPDATE #5: My future iTunes library has “I:/iTunes_Media” as iTunes’s “Home” folder. This setting persists even when I switch back to my main, current library. Which means, if I’d my external volume connected while launching/using my main, current library, all new content will end up in that folder on the external volume! Which messes up the whole scheme of things! Arghz!

#2. Using Winamp’s Auto-Tagger function to retrieve & embed accurate tags into a redundant set of my music collection (I will still leave my active set untouched) on my external volume. This function is preferred as it will compare the audio signature of the songs to Gracenote’s online database & hence is independent of the existing tags of each song, i.e. inaccurate/incomplete tags will not render the automatic tagging moot. In Winamp’s implementation of audio-signature-comparison, its interface also errs on the side of safety so visual review on my part is necessary & very much welcomed. It can also do multiple songs at once.

Selectively update tags of songs individually or all at one shot

Side-bar #3: There is another tool named “MusicBrainz Picard” that will first use a song’s incomplete tags (whatever it has) to ID the song against online database & populate the unfilled tag fields; if the “seed” tags are insufficient to ID the song, this tool will try to use the audio signature hash technique (like Winamp) to perform the identification. Only down-side is, Picard doesn’t populate “Genre” tag fields.

Source

Direct link to how to tag songs with Picard official documentation

UPDATE #6: Here’re some updates with regards to ID3 tags:

  • the “Album Artist” in Windows (7) Explorer = the “Album Artist” field in iTunes 9
  • Modifying a ID3 tag field using Windows (7) Explorer will update BOTH the v1 & v2.3 version of the ID3 tags on the song (if the song has both versions of tags embedded & if the field exists in both tag versions). If you update the tags via iTunes, only the v2.3 tags get updated. This is surprising.
  • the “Contributing Artist” field in Windows (7) Explorer = the “Artist” field in iTunes 9 & the “Artist” field in ID3v1 tags (changes in any of the 3 fields will affect the other 2 respectively)
    • However, iTunes Media folder organization will only adhere to the value saved in the “Album Artist” field [if you change the value of “Contributing Artist” in Windows (7) Explorer, the “Artist” field in iTunes or the “Artist” field in a song’s ID3v1 tags, no folder re-organization will occur]

UPDATE #7: Some updates with regards to workflow:

Decided to retain all non-music content within a sub-folder named “non-music” beneath the main album folder (& take strict precautions to import songs only). The exception is “m3u” playlist files. Have read elsewhere if you import a folder of songs & there’s an “m3u” playlist inside, your library may have duplicates and/or the tags of those songs you just imported could be screwed, etc

Source 1 | Source 2 | Source 3 | Source 4 | Source 5 | Source 6

UPDATE #8: Some raw, unprocessed data on how to back up Smart Playlists & Podcasts subscriptions:

Source 1 | Source 2

UPDATE #3: I’d a hard time locating the “acoustic fingerprinting” button in Picard. The few albums I tested with it had poorly-tagged, non-recognizable Asian characters, so the look-up via existing tags didn’t work well. So I tried to use the “submit audio hash” method & after some web searches, finally know it’s the button “Scan” in the latest version of Picard. Furthermore, generating the hash for one song takes a while, & I’ll understand if the more in-depth audio signature means higher chance of getting a match, but alas! I couldn’t get matches using both methods of lookups via Picard. Winamp’s Auto-Tagger is faster & more successful, in my experience.

#3. Lastly I will use this handy software called “AlbumArtDownloaderXUI” to retrieve 600*600 cover art for my songs & use iTunes to embed the cover art into each song. It is necessary to add cover art using a specific method in iTunes to ensure it embeds the image into the song file itself. Allow me to establish the non-embedding method 1st followed by the “correct” method of embedding.

Check out the list of sources (on the right) that it "polls"

do NOT add your Album Art by pasting it onto this corner at the bottom left of iTunes

Some of you may have an “album art preview space” at the bottom-left corner of your iTunes setup. If u drag-&-drop, or copy-&-paste an image onto this space for a song, the image will NOT be embedded but added to iTunes proprietary folder cache. When you transport your song files around, the album art will not be available in other applications like Winamp, MediaMonkey, or even Windows explorer. To embed, one must right-click on a song > “Get info” > paste the image file onto the empty space demarcated for album art. To verify if the embed is successful, copy solely that song file onto another location & see if the album art can be viewed in Windows Explorer without using any fancy applications.

Only pasting via the "Get Info" context menu will EMBED the artwork into the song file itself (hence portable)

If meta-tags & album art are TRULE EMBEDDED & PORTABLE, they should be detected at the operating system-level

Side-bar #3: So what happens if some of my tags are discovered to be inaccurate after it has been imported into the new lTunes library? Well, just:

  1. update the tags using Winamp (or your tool of choice) outside of iTunes,
  2. Right-click on the corrected song within iTunes library (alternatively, you can select all the songs & proceed with Step 3 to force a refresh/”re-read” of all tags updated outside iTunes)
  3. Click “Get Info
  4. Do NOT modify any tags/values/album art from the prompt that appears (unless with intent)
  5. Click “Okay” & iTunes (library) should detect the updated tag of the corrected song & update it’s internal DB accordingly (tested & proven, on my machine)

Source

Finally, I will process album by album using my workflow above. Probably I will process 3-5 albums per day when I have no school work & add the folder into my 2nd library’s “Automatically add to iTunes” folder on my external volume. With 2700 album folders, if I’m quick I will need close to 1.5 years to accomplish this project. In addition, any new music I obtained must be processed using this new workflow from here on, otherwise corrupting my previous effort.