Born Sleepy

I’ve tended to go back & forth in my working life between gainful employment as a full time wage slave, and the happy go lucky life of a contractor.

On the one hand, the camaraderie that comes with working in a small team on a project that you’re all passionate about is hard to beat.

On the other hand, the freedom to choose what you do, and how & when you do it - and not to be frustrated by ego trips, politics, and plain old bad judgement… is hard to beat.

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May 18, 2013

“Nigel Farage has a point”… isn’t a phrase that I thought I’d ever find myself thinking, let alone uttering in public.

There’s no doubt that there’s a delicious irony in Mr UKIP finding himself the victim of some - what shall we call them - intolerent views, robustly delivered.

There’s also no doubt that he’s milking it for everything that it’s worth.

As for UKIP themselves, and their views, I have no time for them*.

I’ve also no idea whether he was really barracked by genuine students, or a bunch of anti-English idiots (see here for my views on that sort of thing).

However, I do think that we mustn’t lose sight of the fact that Scottish nationalism is, well, nationalism.

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My iTunes music collection has over 1400 albums in it (no doubt plenty of people have more, but still, that’s quite a lot of music).

A couple of years ago I decided to re-encoded all my CDs as Apple Lossless, since the physical discs were going into storage and I wasn’t sure when I’d see them again.

I store my collection on a mac mini, which is my media server. However, I also had a copy on my laptop, which I kept as AAC 256k, to save space (and because, frankly, it’s hard to tell the difference).

I like using the meta data tags properly, and I hate it when people abuse the Album tag to indicate what disc it is (by adding “[Disc 1]” on the end), when they mark an album as “Compilation” when it’s a collection of songs by the same artist (for me that tag is only supposed to be used to group together tracks by different artists), or when they use the Artist tag to name check collaborators (by adding “feat. Joe Blogs” or whatever), so you end up with one album scattered across multiple artists (if you’re going to do that, use the Album Artist tag to unify the album under the main artist).

Over the time that I’d built up the collection, I had spent a lot of time editing the meta data to get it into the format I wanted it. Unfortunately, re-encoding everything undid a lot of this work, and left me with quite a few duplicates - some with my “correct” meta data, some with the rubbish tags from the internet.

I managed to clean up a lot of the problems on the mini, but of course that didn’t fix the laptop. Worse, thanks to iTunes match, the problems started to multiply again. iTunes Match on the mini has become confused on multiple occasions and “forgotten” me, so I’ve had to add the entire collection to it again. At which point it started adding duplicate AAC copies of every album where I’d edited the meta data.

I guess that this is because it had matched different encodings of the same tracks on different machines, in some cases with different meta data. The upshot is that now on my mini I’ve ended up with two copies of a lot of stuff, with both the correct and the incorrect metadata - and my iTunes match collection is now in an almost unbearable mess as a result.

I try to remove the duplicate, but they’re not always easy to spot unless I fix the meta data problems first, because they get filed in different places. I attempt to delete these duplicates from the cloud at the same time, but I’m quite scared that I’ll end up removing the only copy of something from the cloud too, by accident.

It seems to me that the root of this problem is that there’s no ‘authoritative’ place to view your match collection as it exists in the cloud. That and the fact that match seems to take the approach of avoiding touching your meta data whenever possible - which sounds sensible but isn’t if you end up with the sort of mess I’ve got.

What I badly need is a way to view the collection on the web, remove duplicates, clean up meta data, and then sync these changes down onto all my machines. I’m really not entirely sure how it deals with meta data changes right now - I suspect that it basically does nothing, which means that if you ever re-sync your collection, you end up with duplicates again.

For now, things are so messy that what I’d really like to do is delete everything from all but one machine and from the cloud, and start again. Except that I don’t really trust that everything that needs to be stored in the cloud is, and that it’s in the correct format, with the correct data, and that deleting it all from most places wouldn’t end up with me losing stuff.

In a word: “aaaaaaaarrrrrghhhh!”.

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Ever since Facebook woke up and started a series of relatively major changes to its user interface, I’ve been finding it frustrating to use.

I’m not alone of course - many people have said the same. I’m not from the “all change is bad” school of thought, so it wasn’t just that a few buttons had moved around - which seems to be the gist of most of the criticism I’ve seen and heard.

For some reason, I just started to enjoy using Facebook less. The stuff it showed me seemed less relevant, and I felt less engaged.

I’ve been puzzling for a while about why exactly this is, and I’ve come up with a theory.

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February 29, 2012

Stephen Fry writes:

“On a wholly different note, is it just me, or are the big internet players all getting rather nasty and styleless at the moment? Google is irritating the crap out of everyone with its new rules and protocols. It has also, quite literally, been caught with its hand in the cookie-jar.  Spotify has lost all the world’s affection and respect by locking itself into Facebook. Facebook continues to startle everyone with new depths of asinine redesign and security madnesses. And Twitter, Twitter has taken Loren Brichter’s (@lorenb) quite brilliant original Tweetie client, turned it into the “official” Twitter app for desktop and mobile devices of all stripes and is slowly stripping it of all useful functionality and the almost lickable glide, ease and sweetness of use that first brought it to everyone’s attention. Maybe Dick Costolo (@dickc) and Biz Stone (@Biz) of Twitter and other players in these huge entities all feel that it is payday – time to cash in. Maybe they know something we don’t about the future of banking and need liquidity now.”

Nope. Not just you Stephen.

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