Snitter, Font Choice

Snitter is a pretty clean Twitter client. Except for the font in this menu:

That is pretty ugly… Is that Times New Roman? Fortunately, I don’t have to see it very often. And, installing updates for AIR apps has proven to be pretty painless. SO, maybe this will get fixed soon!

(I ‘tweet’ regularly on Twitter, here.)

Entertainment Found

Daft Punk, Alive

Daft Punk is promoting their upcoming album, Alive, with this embeddable widget. I like Daft Punk, and embrace their use of of the web… here’s their widget:

After thoroughly checking out the widget, I’m not impressed, and I’ve removed the embed. I’m not happy that there are so few samples of the tracks, and it’s pretty much just a fancy advertisement. Especially after Radiohead’s latest promotion tactics (letting you choose your price for their latest album), I would expect something more innovative than this from Daft Punk.

I’ll leave the link, because I still think it’s interesting.


A Smarter Shuffle for iTunes

Apple has the digital music industry in a stronghold, but how can they innovate to keep us happy?

Listening to my iPhone on shuffle on my walking commute this morning, I got to thinking about how Apple’s over-marketed shuffle feature could actually live up to the hype.

Here’s the idea: Think Pandora, but better, and with your own music. What I mean is Pandora’s system for suggesting music, but more automated and without having to give a thumbs up / thumbs down explicitly. A key concept is that a playlist’s total quality is not just in terms of the quality of each individual track, but also the order in which the tracks are arranged. So, if you hate listening to indie rock right after ‘gangsta’ rap, your media player could learn this and prevent you from such discomfort.

How it would work: You listen to your iPod/iTunes on shuffle like normal, skipping songs when you feel like it. iTunes keeps track of how long into a song you skip it, and records this data in the track’s metadata along with the ID of the previous track. iTunes would also keep this metadata in its index.

So, when you first hit shuffle, iTunes picks a random song. Then, if you skip that song quickly, the next track will be dissimilar from the previous track. If however, you listen through the whole thing, iTunes will pick a similar track, based on whether that song was played through in a similar succession before.

Track selection would probably be best if it relied on multiple criteria, including, for example, tags. The ability to assign tags to your music is something I’ve wanted for some time, but that’s a topic for another discussion. Still, tags would help a track selection system to better calculate similarities between genres.

There’s a lot of tweaking that would have to be done, but I think the introduction of a smarter shuffle would help Apple maintain their lead in the digital music market.


Distorted Reality

Yep, this is really a 3D object, but this is a 360 degree view. It’s from one of my favorite Flickr contacts practicing an awesome technique. Check out Seb Przd.

Tags: ,

Personal Productivity Web

Google Reader unread count zero for once

I know this isn’t really something worth blogging about, but I’m pretty excited to have finally gotten my Google Reader unread items count down to zero. I don’t think this has ever happened since I first started using it… I originally signed up for just too many feeds. Anyway, here’s a picture of my achievement…


Climb a tree!

New tree, originally uploaded by rpechler.

Seeing as today is Blog Action Day, I thought it would be fit to post about my favorite thing to do outdoors… climb a tree! The one in the picture is on the UCSC campus, and it was actually pretty sappy, so make sure to wear clothes you can get sap on. Take pictures!

Hacks Mac

Applescript: Number Selected Tracks Sequentially

I think you can tell from the title what this simple applescript does. I’m sure this code could be made much shorter, but I’m really a novice, and this works pretty well, albeit there are no foolproofs.  

Here’s what it does: You select some songs that are already in order (how? see below), say 12 songs that you already arranged. You then run the script… it numbers them 1 of 12, 2 of 12, 3 of 12… and so on up to 12 of 12. You now have a nicely organized album.Album not in order?

Instructions: Select all the album tracks. Make a new playlist from selection (cmd+shift+N). Click the title bar above the first column, in other words: sort by number in playlist. Then, you can rearrange the songs as you like. Now select all the songs, and finally run the script.Ahh, finally some home-brewed automation for sorting out this messy iTunes library. 

--Number Selected Tracks Sequentially
--A simple applescript from Rex Pechler

tell application "iTunes"
if selection is not {} then
set sel to selection
set these_files to {}
set numtracks to the count of sel
set trackcount to 0
with timeout of 30000 seconds
repeat with this_track in sel
if class of this_track is file track then
set trackcount to trackcount + 1
set the track number of this_track to trackcount
set the track count of this_track to numtracks
end if
end repeat
end timeout
set count to 0
end if
end tell

Download: the applescript as text or as a binary app.


Google Calculator still amazes me

At my school, we have a daily upload limit of 2 GB to prevent excessive filesharing. I’ve found various ways around this for using BitTorrent, but I’ve gotten in trouble a couple times as well. Anyway, one of the easiest ways to prevent going over the limit is to set a maximum upload speed in your BitTorrent client that would be equivalent to 2 GB over 24 hours. Normally calculating this is a little tricky for me: I always get confused by the KB versus Kb thing, and such differences really make me doubt my calculations. Anyway, I just typed “2 GB / 24 Hours” into a Google search. Here’s what I got:

That was so much easier! I love you Google Search!


SkypeOut Toll Free is Free

Yeah, okay, OLD news… but I was just on the phone with Apple iPhone Support, and I couldn’t use a landline. Apparently, dialing US Toll-Free numbers with Skype via SkypeOut is free(!). I don’t know if you need SkypeOut credit to make the call, but probably not. And it was pretty good quality too (the woman I talked to apparently got my email address right). Oh and I used my favorite bluetooth headset, the Plantronics 510 Voyager, which makes using Skype really comfortable.

Anyway, so until I get a working iPhone, my SkypeIn number is (831) 331 4416

Mobile Personal

My iPhone Won’t Turn On

So my battery got low yesterday afternoon. I was away from home and didn’t get to charge it until after dinner. It wouldn’t turn on, so I plugged it in. It still wouldn’t turn on, even after 10 minutes. I tried doing a reset unplugged, plugged into my MacBook Pro, and plugged into the wall adapter… all to no avail. I left it plugged into my Mac all night and it’s still dead. I googled “iphone won’t charge”, “iphone won’t turn on”, but it looks like no one else is having this problem.

I decided to call Apple iPhone support (1-800-MY-IPHONE) this morning, and talked with a nice woman named Christina. She had me try a couple resets again, and was surprised that didn’t work. I’m back at school in Santa Cruz without my car now, and it would take a bus and a train to get to the nearest Apple store, so I opted for repair by mail. She offered a temporary service phone for a $29 fee which I agreed to because it “may take up to 10 days” to get my phone shipped back. Oh, and the ’service phone’ is an 8GB iPhone… =D

Anyway, although I’m not too excited to not have a phone for a day or two, this repair service so far sounds pretty convenient.

Update: Apparently they couldn’t fix my phone (?!) so I got a brand new one. Maybe they couldn’t tell that I had installed AppTapp and a bunch of other apps and messed around a bit (I didnt ever unlock it though). Anyway, they send me a brand new phone, and it was all very easy. What other phone makes you want to plug it in to your computer all the time so you have a complete backup? Seriously… All I had to do was swap out the SIM and it was like I had my phone back again! Thanks Apple!