Posts Tagged ‘library’

I wonder if many will remember the small task I gave myself half a year ago? When I commenced that “project”, I projected 1.5 years for the entire project to be completed. Well, it is done; I had finished tagging/correcting/organizing/updating/revamping/re-ripping my music library ahead of schedule. It was frustrating at times, almost futile but I persevered. Today, I present my new iTunes library:

Go on, expand this thumbnail 😉

It took a lot of effort & perseverance, not to mention time. The irony of it all is now I literally have to search for non-western songs using the appropriate characters, i.e. I can’t easily locate my Japanese or Korean titles any more. Despite all the hassle, I’m pretty pleased with the end-result. The end of this task is succeeded by another frightening one: synchronizing my iPod to this new library. Frightening, as I have a lot of application-specific data on my iPod & I’m afraid sync-ing to a new library will wipe the iPod clean. Nonetheless, it had to be done (otherwise I clean up my library for?). So with much trepidation (& adequate backup of critical materials wherever possible), I proceed to connect my iPod to the new library for the first time. I shall share a few of my observations for anyone who likes to tinker with iTunes and iPod synchronization.


The Observations

I was perplexed why the new iTunes library didn't immediately try to overwrite my iPod with "emptiness" upon connection; then I realized I'd this option "unchecked" all this while. In fact, I'd advise everyone to leave this option unchecked to safe-guard against any unintended synchronization.


Connecting my iPod Touch to the new library does not initiate a sync automatically as I’d the “Prevent iDevice from syncing automatically” option unchecked all this while.

EDIT: I strongly advise to leave that option unchecked to prevent any “accidental” syncing. Do note however, leaving this option unchecked does not mean setting your iPod into “Manual management” mode; unchecking the option simply means a sync will not start automatically.

[ I was hoping the apps that are currently already on my iPod will not be wiped off, and then re-sync-ed afterwards. This is because once these apps are wiped, their application-specific data will be gone too. To prevent this, with my iPod connected, I right-clicked on its entry in iTunes “source list” & select “Transfer purchases“. Then I realized uploading 100+ ipa files from my iPod to my new library ain’t as speedy as I thought (even though it was done over an USB connection). I interrupted & just dragged all my 177 ipa files from my old library’s “Mobile Applications” folder, literally onto the “Apps” section (again in the iTunes “source list“). This imports those apps just fine & extremely speedily (since there’s no longer any uploading from the iPod involved; it’s simply copying the ipa files from my old library folder to my new library folder). So what will happen to the set of apps already on my iPod (associated & uploaded previously with my old library), since I didn’t “transfer any purchases”? Read on…

Amazingly, even though I’m using iTunes with a new library that hasn’t even sync-ed with my iPod once, it seems to be able to detect the sub-set of apps that I previously indicated (via my old library) I wished to sync to my iPod. Example: suppose with my old library, I’ve selected 10 apps out of the full 177 apps that I wish to sync onto my iPod Touch. Even though I haven’t sync my iPod to this new library once, it “knows” which 10 apps were previously picked to exist on the iPod. & the good news? When I select to “Sync apps” between the new library and my iPod, it does not wipe and then re-sync those apps that are already existing on the iPod. Which means all data preserved! Yeah! ]

NOTE: please read the 2 paragraphs in [ ] as a set, lest you miss out anything & your (applications) data get wiped. & I wish to iterate: the above experience relates to Mobile Applications only.

UPDATE: per my knowledge gained from iLounge forums, Apps (& Photos and PIM data) only will not have their “Sync checkboxes” checked by default when you connect an iPod to a new iTunes library. Hence the reason why the existing apps on my iPod are left untouched until I explicitly chosed to “Sync Apps” from the new library. Even then, when iTunes detects the apps that I wish to sync onto the iPod, were already on the iPod, it will not wipe them then re-upload, essentially preserving any application-specific data.

Source (look for the lines, “You’ll find that the settings for Apps, Podcasts, Photos and Info are left alone (unchecked) on the new computer, and that data will remain in place unless you specifically enable those options separately …”, & “That’s exactly it.  The warning uses the language “Erase and Sync” as that is the perception of the average user. The fact that existing content is left alone is really just to save time…“)

Another thing I learnt is that iTunes treat each type “certain groups” of content as an individual library between itself and the iPod. Example: after great success with the Apps syncing, the next thing to do will be to wipe all the existing music (with their outdated tags) off my iPod and re-upload songs from my new library onto the iPod. Naturally, since my iPod hasn’t sync music with this new library before, iTunes warned me in the rather cryptic manner, “All existing music on the iPod will be replaced with music from this iTunes library“. Yup, that’s one of the reason/warning why some folks realized sync-ing their iPod/iPhone to a new library causes all the existing songs on their iDevice to be wiped. But I’m more concerned about whether only the music on my iPod will be wiped and replaced, or will all existing data (which includes the apps that I’ve luckily preserved earlier on, my mail account settings, my notes, etc) be treated as part of one overarching “library” and be annihilated by this library replacement sync? Well, it turns out (as I’d pointed out earlier): music library is disparate from apps library, disparate from podcast library, disparate from photo library, etc. So while my music is refreshed/replaced, my apps (along with their data) are preserved. Again! Sweet!

Another very useful piece of information which I learnt from iLounge forums, is that sync decisions (unless you are doing Manual Management) made at the device’s tabs, are perpetuated at the content-group-level. Example: if you choose to sync Music with the library, your iPod music, movies, TV shows, ringtones, (audio & e-) books will be synced with the current library as well, but the sync settings that is in place for all other content types will be left “as is”/untouched. This is very important. As for which type of content are grouped together, basically it’s:

  • Music, Movies, TV Shows, Books, Ringtones
  • Apps
  • Podcasts / iTunes U
  • Photos
  • Info — Contacts, Calendars, Bookmarks, Notes (unless you are syncing your PIM information via non-iTunes channels, e.g. MobileMe, Exchange, etc)

Source (look for the line, “If you want to look at them as “libraries” then yes. It’s broken down like this:“)

Each of these tabs (representing each type of media that can be synced to an iPod Touch/iPhone) were unchecked initially when I just connect my iPod to the new library. Checking any one of them will bring up the warning prompt, "This iPod is synced with another library. Selecting erase and sync will replace all the contents of this iPod with the contents of this library". Any "erase and sync" ala a 'replace', is local to the content group. As for which content are grouped together, it's mentioned in the paragraph above.


In case I wasn’t clear, please allow me to elaborate. In the scenario illustrated above, if I “check” the “Sync Apps” checkbox, an “erase and sync” warning will appear, & if I approve it, all the apps on the iPod (that are incoherent with my new library) will be replaced with the apps from my library later when I press the “Sync” button at the bottom-right of the iTunes application. Apps that are coherent with my new library but already exist on the iPod, will not be “re-loaded. Likewise, if I want to replace all podcasts on the iPod with the set of podcasts from my (new) iTunes library, I will check “Sync Podcasts” & select “erase and sync”. Remember 3 things, however:

  1. The “replacement” (or erasing, for that matter) will not happen instantaneously when you click “Erase and sync“. This is because iTunes doesn’t know exactly what new set of media you wish to replace the iPod’s set with. Only after you select what playlists, apps, etc. you wish to put on the iPod and then click “Sync“, will the actual (erasing and) replacement commence. This point is erroneous, as per this source (look for the line, “This prompt appears only when“)
  2. Erase and sync” approvals are localized to each media type the content groupings except for “Music” and “Movies“. Any decisions you configured for music will be acted upon with the “Movies” segment as well. I think this is because Music and videos are treated as one library. UPDATE: please refer to content-grouping a few paragraphs above.
  3. If you have authorized your current library & there are purchased content on your iPod, besidesErase and sync“, there’ll be a “Transfer purchases” button which allow you to transfer purchased content from your iPod back to your current library. However, I’m not sure whether all purchased content (which means apps, songs, TV shows, etc) will be uploaded, or you will have to do it content-type by content-type. UPDATE: yup, I’m still unsure whether all types will be transferred back at once.

This is the exact sub-menu where you will import your OPML file. I'm surprised this isn't elaborated on Apple's iTunes site. Perhaps Mac veterans are acclimatised to dragging-&-dropping stuff from anywhere to everywhere.

Talking about podcast. I managed to import all podcast subscriptions into the new library without any hassle at all. I’d exported them as an OPML file previously, which is the export file type you want if you wish to “save” your subscriptions. Note though: podcasts refresh settings, how many episodes to retain, etc are controlled by your iTunes preferences and not part of this OPML file (I’d checked my OPML file for clues).

Last but not least (for this section), if you are the type of reader that desires even further details, breakdowns, elaborations, scenario explanations, you are in luck: please enjoy the back-&-forth between 1 of the administrators of iLounge forums and me. Trust me, it’s a solid read.

Source (huge thanks to jhollington of iLounge forums, for his/her relentless explanation)

Anything new (& not widely elaborated by tech blogs) with iTunes 10?

For the new “Album list” view, some folks are confused when album artwork for their albums with lesser than 5 songs do not show up in this view. To force the album artwork in this view to show up no matter how “complete” one’s album is, please tweak the setting as shown below:


Just in case you are wondering why some album artwork are displayed while others are hidden.


I also noticed with iTunes 10 (if you have been tracking this bug & it has been fixed by version 9.2 of iTunes, please notify me), the mobile applications (ipa files) will not be forced by iTunes to reside on the same drive as where the iTunes library database files are stored. This bug will be very familiar to those who store their media content in an external hard disk but have their database files retained on local hard disk. Previously, try as they might (to manually shift those ipa files to their external volume), the moment they update their mobile applications through iTunes, an (updated) copy of the ipa file will be stored locally. Now, even my ipa files are stored externally.

Smart Playlists


This light-coloured column on the left side of iTunes is commonly referred to as the "Source list". Near the bottom, one will observe the "feeder/component" smart playlists are further encapsulated into folders for cleaner organization.


As with my iTunes library, my approach to music appreciation on my iPod is revamped. At this moment, I’m using Smart Playlists to re-iterate through my song collection. Unlike a regular (more meaningfully referred to as a “static”) playlist, smart playlists generate their resultant list of songs dynamically using “conditions” the user set. I have been trying to create the ultimate smart playlist based on the best of what these sites can offer.

The tricky bit about conjuring one single ultimate from all these, is to ensure the criteria that each list is based on, wouldn't have semantic errors when all are combined.


Before I delve into the conditions, my ratings scheme are as follows:

  • ★★★★★ – very rare will a song be issued this, unless it is superb, or holds special meaning to me.
  • star – my “fail” rating for a song; this song must explicitly piss me off to be awarded this.
  • ★★ to ★★★★: so songs that “pass” can only be awarded these ratings. ★★ means a song is just bearable, 3 stars means its average while a ★★★★ title will deem it “quite good”. Again, it is very, very hard for a song to get ★★★★★

And here are the [smart] playlists:

UPDATE (11 Nov 2010): Apparently the way iTunes evaluate nested smart playlists, is counter-intuitive to conventional (boolean) logic. I realized something was going on when my master spl isn’t really updating/rotating/refreshing songs in its list. Posted my spl logic onto iLounge & 1 of the veterans were quick to point out iTunes’ flawed “logic” in this specific aspect of spl. The discussion & in-depth explanation can be viewed at this iLounge thread from this point onwards. Anyway, I’ve since corrected my master spl, as well as updated a few of my component spls to better reflect conventional “design”. In addition, the exclusion of “latest_additions” spl content (to prevent double weightage) has been surfaced from all rated component spls to the master spl level to remove “bad form/design” at the component spl-level. Updated versions of the respective spls are displayed directly below their old verions.


Short-list music that I have not rated. Purpose is to encourage me to rate my music, even songs that I'd played but didn't bother to rate.

Collects the music I acquired within the last 1 month gets uploaded, and yet not bore me too quickly by ensuring the same song do not get played twice within 3 days.

This is OUTDATED && INCORRECT. Allow me to give a 2nd listen to poorly-rated (less than 4 stars) that I actually like enough to not skip them more than 10 times. To elaborate, a 3- or 2-star song that I keep skipping will not be given any second chances.


The previous "rating < ★★★" condition isn't proper design, as it will inadvertently include unrated songs, which are already captured in another spl. The updated rating criteria implies that I'd explicitly rated these songs before. In addition, a 2 month cooling period ensures these "barely-there" tunes get a proper, unbiased re-evaluation.

This is OUTDATED && INCORRECT. Surface any music that I heard less than 10 times or haven't hear in half a year


"rarely_heard" spl has to be corrected to circumvent iTunes' flawed logic,

This is OUTDATED && INCORRECT. Super nice music that has been rated and not in latest_additions (if I leave out this part, a newly-added song that has been rated, may have double its weightage). Only songs that haven't been heard in a week can be played again. Besides this 5-star list, I also have 2-star to 4-star lists. Those other 3 lists are similar except songs in 2-star cannot repeat until 2 months later; songs in 3-star list cannot repeat till 1 month later; songs in 4-star list cannot repeat till 2 weeks later. In other words, more highly-rated songs are allowed to repeat more frequently (which makes sense, to me).


As mentioned in the "UPDATE (11 Nov 2010)", the exclusion of the "latest_additions" spl is surfaced to the master spl level as it is illogical (or more appropriately, "bad form"?) to have the exclusion at this level. This exclusion is propagated to all "rated" spls. When someone looks at a n★-list, the list should contain all the n★ songs. You may be eager to point out that if that's the case, shouldn't the "Last Played" criteria be surfaced to a higher-level list as well. Well, that is a future decision.

This middle-tier playlist is obsolete. Groups 2* to 5* songs into one sub-list for easier "integration" into master list later on

This is OUTDATED && INCORRECT. If I rate a song 1 star AND also skipped it more than 10 times, obviously I detest it.


Not only is this tweaked to account for iTunes’ flawed nested spl logic, but I have also updated the logic to be an “OR” instead of an “AND”. This is because I found that I very rarely 1-a song, which means too few songs fall into this list, hence the “OR” logic will enforce a more stringent level of quality in my final list.

This is OUTDATED && INCORRECT. Sync random picks of songs (up to 7GB) from the earlier sub-lists. Explicitly leave out detestable songs (those 1*)



As you can see, to make iTunes' flawed nested spl logic evaluate the way conventional wisdom dictates, one has to go about a very lengthy workaround. In addition, I learnt that the "Playlist IS/IS NOT" criteria can be directly applied to a folder of playlists; rendering my "rated_already" 2nd-tier playlist redundent.

Ultimately, this one single master list (sync_to_iDevice) is the only list of music I sync to my iPod. To put it succinctly, it will greatly encourage rating of songs while churning through the rated ones, & keep the hits fresh by not repeating them too often based on how much I like them. However, there’s a bug with this system that I’m unable to solve yet. For those who want to figure it out, don’t peek at the solution:

There is no guarantee that at any time, there will be songs from all those sub-lists synced to my iPod. E.g. it is possible (though very unlikely) that at any moment, there may be no songs from my latest additions on my iPod, etc.


Smart playlists are also useful for weeding out songs with incomplete tags, e.g. songs with missing artwork


However, I’m unable to use Smart playlists to isolate songs with missing lyrics (& other more advanced tags not recognized as SPL criteria). Then how? How will I know which songs are missing lyrics? Well, it’s nice to have a super powerful mp3 tagger that allows regex/boolean expressions to filter by all sorts of tags/criteria on-the-fly: the extremely powerful (in other words, verify the tagging options very carefully) MP3Tag.


For "proper/advanced" tagging purposes, can't go wrong with MP3Tag. Just need to refresh your tags within iTunes after you update/correct them externally.


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:


**********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.


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)


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.

Juz in case u still have doubts…

Posted: April 7, 2008 by ralliart12 in academia
Tags: , , , , ,

…that Computing may not be so integrated with Calculus & Mathematics…

Wall of statistics literature, just shelved on the opposite of Computing books…wat a coincidence…Btw, todae’s the 1st time I borrowed books from NUS library!!!