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Clementine player for OS X

Leo Laporte recommended the Clementine Music Player on MacBreak Weekly a few weeks back and I’m very glad that he did. My CD library is ripped to FLAC. This was a choice I made after much deliberation. It offers the combination of lossless compression and cross-platform compatibility. It fits in well with my Squeezebox players at home and, on the PC, I was using WinAmp to play these files. On the Mac side I’ve been pretty much using my iTunes library and, when I wanted to listen to something that was in the larger FLAC library, I’d use Songbird. But Songbird was horrendous to use: it’s crashy, buggy and hangs all the time. So, when Leo mentioned Clementine, I jumped at the chance to give it a spin. And I can wholeheartedly declare that I like it! I haven’t learned all of its features yet, but for simply playing FLAC files, it plain old rocks!

Delicious Library

I have known of Delicious Library for a while now. Basically it’s an app for cataloguing DVDs, books and CDs. The beauty of it is the input method: using the webcam on a Mac, simply scan the barcodes of the media and it appears as if by magic in your library, with cover art if available and a synopsis from Amazon.

You may wonder what the point of this is, and if you are wondering, it’s probably not the app for you. However, if, like me, it made sense as soon as you saw it, read on…

I decided against it in its version 1 days. It seemed too lacking in features for my liking. It came into my mind again a few months ago and I was sure I would be able to find it as an iPhone app. Not so. It seems to me that this app would make far much more sense on an iPhone than on a laptop, especially for newcomers who have shelves and shelves of media to scan.

I logged in to the new Mac App Store a few days ago and Delicious Library 2 was on the front page. Given that I wanted to try the App Store (what other company can make you want to buy stuff to try the store?!), I thought I would make the jump and buy DL2.

The first thing to mention was my absolute disbelief that this app doesn’t have a tagging feature. I use Lightroom for photos and Clipstart for video, both of which use tagging to great aplomb. Not to mention Spotlight! So, I had to create shelves. Aha, I thought, they allow smart shelves. So I moved all the kids’ DVDs to their own shelf and then tried to create a smart shelf that showed all DVDs except those on the kids’ shelf. Imagine my dismay to find that there was no mention of shelves in the drop-down menus for smart shelves, so I couldn’t do what I wanted to do .

Next up, cover art. I’ll start by stating that I am absolutely amazed at some of the obscure material I have for which the cover art appeared. I’m not sure what they use as the back end, but it was truly amazing. However, for those media for which no cover art appeared, there was no simple and intuitive way to add one’s own. There’s a right-click option to search Google images for cover art and that works well, but then what? I tried dragging images into the library, but no. That would be a good feature to implement. I did figure it out: it’s done by enabling the sample Apple scripts and using the ‘Set Cover Image of Selected Media’ script. Simples, but not intuitive.

Next up: publishing. You can publish to Mobile Me or FTP. I use Squarespace for my website and there is no way of sharing to Squarespace that I can work out. FTP is clunky and so 20th Century, but that’s what I’m having to do. The whole publishing aspect of this software needs to be rethought.

And how about the social aspect? Surely it uses algorithms to find compatible libraries and allows you to interact with them? Er, no. How about Facebook integration, so you can Like your content and share it with your friends? No again. Twitter? No again. As with publishing, this needs to be overhauled.

So, in short:

  • needs tagging
  • publishing needs to be overhauled
  • social networking
  • iPhone / iPad syncing and integration

You’d think after all that I’ve said that I am not recommending this software. But actually I am. Like a typical nerd, I like cataloguing my stuff. Viewing a shelf filled with DVD spines for the thousandth time doesn’t inspire me; I don’t see the titles any longer. But viewing them on a digital shelf is like rediscovering them, the same as happened with my CDs when I ripped them all and started using iPeng on the iPhone / iPad to control music playback on the Squeezebox players. Same with books. There are bookshelves that aren’t easily accessible and now they don’t need to be. I like that.

I have published my library to my old website using FTP. That too is useful: I can give links to friends and family to see if there is anything they would like to borrow. Once they do borrow something, I can drag the title over their name (added from my Address Book) and keep track of who has what.

Overall I think this is an app with a lot of potential, but until they implement new features and bring it into the social media age, I don’t see it taking off in any big way. I’ll keep using it though and hope to see some updates coming soon.

My library is here:

Delicious Library

The software is made by Delicious Monster

Dead iPhone

My iPhone fell off my belt yesterday and was crushed under a car wheel 🙁 I don’t think it’s repairable. Back to the iPod Touch for a while then. I’ve got an appointment at the apple store on Tuesday.

Conf*cker

I just got this in my inbox. Very kind of them. And if I didn’t have the virus, they kindly sent an infected attachment so I could infect my computer. The sad thing is, there are dumbos out there that fall for this shit.

Dear Microsoft Customer,

Starting 12/11/2009 the ‘Conficker’ worm began infecting Microsoft customers unusually rapidly. Microsoft has been advised by your Internet provider that your network is infected.

To counteract further spread we advise removing the infection using an antispyware program. We are supplying all effected Windows Users with a free system scan in order to clean any files infected by the virus.

Please install attached file to start the scan. The process takes under a minute and will prevent your files from being compromised. We appreciate your prompt cooperation.

Regards,

Microsoft Windows Agent #2 (Hollis)

Microsoft Windows Computer Safety Division

 

Can’t install KB898461

You know it’s bad when you can remember a Microsoft hotfix number by heart. I’ve been working on this for two days now. Plenty of Google searches and lots of fixes, none of which worked. I shan’t list the pages I visited; Google can do that. But I did manage to fix it and have not found my fix anywhere so I’m posting it here in the hope that it helps.

I have an XP Home SP2 installation disk. I did a fresh install, then installed SP3 and then went to Windows Update. It found 3 that were required, Windows Installer, WGA validation and KB898461. 898461 would not install via update or when downloaded to the local machine.

I did a system restore back to factory fresh SP2 straight off the disk, but still no joy.

The fix was to uninstall Windows Uninstaller 3.1, then install KB898461 from the local machine. You’ll find the uninstaller here:

UPDATE:

I migrated my blog and the links have broken 🙁 In an attempt to find the solution again, I came across this, which allegedly fixes the problem as well. I haven’t tried it myself, so YMMV.

http://support.microsoft.com/kb/315353/en-us

4 cores

I love my quad core i7. It converts FLAC to VBR mp3 with LAME very fast!

Ubuntu 9.10

I just installed Ubuntu 9.10 (Karmic Koala) server edition on the music server and managed to get Squeezebox Server, as it’s now known, installed. I found this excellent guide:

Ubuntu Squeezebox Guide

I tried stable main (7.4.0) but it didn’t work due to some database conflict but testing main (7.4.2) worked. It looks good, although I’ve got no tunes in it yet as I have no idea how to create the disk space and make it visible from my Windows 7 computer. I know it will involve samba, which I have installed. On ClarkConnect, I could get a visual display of the server from the web browser with the included GUI or with Webmin, but Webmin is not available by default on Ubuntu and seemingly it can mess up one’s config files?

I’ve posted on ubuntuforums.org for some answers and hopefully will hear soon. It would be so nice to get this fixed up before leaving on Sunday and get the bits of computer cleared up off the floor and desk finally after three months. I miss my music server!

ClarkConnect

I have been trying to upgrade my ClarkConnect 3.2 server for the last few days and have just given up and decided to install fresh with version 5. Linux is hard. So now I’m sitting staring at this blue screen, playing with the new SquareSpace app for the iPhone and waiting for something to happen. How long should I wait before deciding that it’s hung and do a reboot? there is not even any sound of disk activity.

New Computer, again

Overclockers shafted me. They wouldn’t repair the motherboard. I just got it back from Gigabyte and they did repair it. But it took them so long that I ended up buying another system, this time from a decent reseller (Kustom PCs). I decided to go for the latest socket:

Asus P7P55D (socket 1156)
Intel i7-860
4GB G.Skill NQ Series DDR3 12800 (1600MHz)
Noctua NH-U12P CPU cooler

I also got a SATA DVD-RW drive, so I’m ditching IDE finally. No more floppy drive either.

I built it on Thursday night and it worked! So after about 3 months of having no computer, I’ve got a good one! I’ve got Windows 7 pre-ordered so I can’t really build the new system yet. I’ve got Win7 64-bit RC1 on it just now, but I’m not sure if it’s working. I’m having trouble copying data to the new hard drive and am getting a few hard drive errors. I’m a bit worried about corrupting my data so I should probably just leave it well alone until I get the retail version of Win7, either that or I should stick XP on it just for kicks, so I can see how much quicker it runs than it did on my old AMD64.

Computer saga continued

I got the processor back from testing last week. The retailer had tested it for 48 hours and there were no issues. The new video card I bought didn’t make a difference either, so I’m now down 30 quid for a video card that I didn’t need.

I asked Bill about it and whether he could test it for me. It’s disappointing that I’m supposed to be offering a PC repair service and can’t even get my own working without going to ‘the other guy’. The only think I can think that it would be is the RAM, but it seems unlikely that I’d get four dodgy DIMMs. Maybe though; they are all the same brand (2 kits of 2 x 2GB DIMMs).

It was Thursday I spoke to Bill and I’ve not heard back yet so I will phone OCUK on Monday and ask either if I can send the RAM back for testing (another two weeks) or if I can send the whole lot back and buy a bundle. Trouble is their bundles are all overclocked and I’m actually looking for stock or underclocked for reasons of cooling and quietness. If they agree, and I don’t think they will because they are not nice to deal with, I suppose I could discuss component options at that stage.

It’s really driving me nuts though. How long has this been going on? I waited literally for years to get this upgrade and it’s at least two months since I bought the new gear. If only OCUK were nicer to deal with and more helpful. I shan’t go into an anti OCUK rant just yet; they’ve still got a chance to redeem themselves and get a glowing report from me. One can only hope.

By the way, I’m quite enjoying MarsEdit as a blogging client. I shall post this straight to Vox and Sunbane then I’ll be off for ice cream and a decision of which movie to watch: Quantum of Solace or The Boat that Rocked.