Mountain Lion

This bit about Apple’s new version of OS X. Emphasis mine.

Apps have been renamed for cross-OS consistency. iChat is now Messages; iCal is now Calendar; Address Book is now Contacts. Missing apps have been added: Reminders and Notes look like Mac versions of their iOS counterparts. Now that these apps exist for the Mac, to-dos have been removed from Calendar and notes have been removed from Mail, leaving Calendar to simply handle calendaring and Mail to handle email.

Well how about that.

Checking iTunes Library: The Scariest Window Mac Users Will Ever See

Sometimes iTunes crashes. Sometimes something else crashes and forces you to restart your Mac with iTunes running. Usually it’s no big deal. It happens.

But sometimes when that happens and you restart iTunes after your Mac boots you get this window:

The scariest window mac users will ever see

The scariest window ever.

Because here’s what it means. Something REALLY FUCKING BAD just happened to your iTunes library file. This file keeps track of the location of all your music, how many times it’s been played, what you’ve rated it, and a bunch of other information.

And if that file gets corrupted you have to start over again. You can try to rebuild, but it doesn’t always work. Or it doesn’t work well at all.

This has happened to me once. I was lucky to have a copy of the library backed up by Time Machine, but I had to re-add everything I added in the past day. However, if you don’t have a backup – or a recent backup – you are at risk of losing either a small amount of iTunes activity or everything.

If there’s one thing that needs to get fixed in iTunes 10 (or iTunes X, as I think it could be called), this is it. Yeah – iTunes needs to be a little faster and leaner. But more importantly it needs to be reliable and keep this information safe.

microKorg Editing – Hardware Synth Software is BLAH

I’m thinking of writing a longer post about the state of hardware synth editor software – but the below is interesting to me.

Here’s a quick video demonstration of someone using the Windows version of the microKorg editor.

Now check out this shot from the OSX version.

microkorgpatchproperty.png

You basically drill down into each patch – and since every property is a new window it gets real messy real fast. It’s a lot different than their Windows software.

The current microKorg OSX software also hasn’t been updated since 2002 – yet the microKorg is still one of the most in-demand synths today in 2008. 6 years – no development.

Here’s an example of patch editing on the OSX microKorg software:

microkorg_drilldown.png

Which is similar to our old buddy, SoundDiver:

sounddiver_microkorg.jpg

Perhaps Korg asked the eMagic people to make a modified Sounddiver for the microKorg – and since SoundDiver isn’t actively developed anymore it has stagnated.

Granted – It seems like it’s been that long since the Windows Software was updated, too.

I think this whole hardware synth editing problem could be fixed if hardware synth developers started doing the following:

  1. Put a CD (or download code) of the VSTi or Audio Unit version of the same synth in the box
  2. Let users edit the synth through the software synth interface
  3. Let users load those settings they make on the software directly to the hardware synth in an easy way that doesn’t mention anything old-skooly, like ‘sysex’)

I might buy a lot more hardware.

The iTunes “Last Chance” Playlist

If you’ve read the iTunes Zero article you’ll know that I’m very meticulous about everything in my iTunes library – and chances are you probably do the same things.

One of the other problems you may be facing is that there’s SO MUCH STUFF in your iTunes library. How do you handle it all?

Here’s what works for me – the “Last Chance” Playlist.

The Process

Here’s the method I use when I add new music to iTunes and homogenize it into the library:

  1. Everything new goes into a static Process playlist. It’s a holding cell for me to verify the metadata before I’m comfortable unleashing it into the wild. Consider it the GTD inbox for iTunes.
  2. Music that hasn’t been listened to shows up in the Playcount = 0 smart playlist.
  3. 3 months after that first listen, music shows up again in the Only 1 Listen playlist. This is my opportunity to make sure that the assigned rating is what I want it be, because after that it’s banished into the iTunes abyss, until the special day when it arrives in theā€¦
  4. Last Chance playlist.

You’re Up For Review, Tune

Why do this?

The purpose of the Last Chance playlist is to listen to tracks in shuffle mode, out of context, in order to rate each track on its own. Let’s take a look at its properties.

lastchanceplaylist.gif

The Last Chance smart playlist is the last hurrah of a misfit song. If after two years I still don’t like the song enough to give it a 4-star or higher rating, in it goes to the huge library, likely to be skipped over and ignored for the rest of eternity.

But, there’s the chance that after 2 years I’ll suddenly realize the genius in a song, and grant it a 4-star or higher rating and save it from the 82 gig (as of this writing) Rancor pit.

Rancor

And with a 4-star or higher rating, the track enters regular rotation in smart playlists that rely on ratings.

This works for me for the following reasons:

  1. Anything I’ve already rated on the extremes (2 stars or less, or 4 stars or more) doesn’t really change for me – but I’ve still got my eye on those 4-star rated tracks.
  2. 3 listens should be enough for me to know if I like a song or not.
  3. 2 years (or 1 year) is far enough out for a song to be removed from the popular culture of the time to realize I like a song because it’s a good song, and not because it’s in a car insurance commercial or something.

This is what works for me. Storage is cheap these days, so if you set up a system with this and other smart playlists you can keep only the good stuff on your iPod and regular playlist (or Party Shuffle sources) and not have to delete anything based on the idea that you might like it years from now.