Entertainment Featured Hacks Mac Music Productivity

Applescript: Fade iTunes to Selected Track

Ever playing music for other people from iTunes? And want to change the song without everyone noticing? Trying to do a manual fade is tough. This script lets you select the next song you want to play, and then fade the volume out and in to that track. Download:

property initialVolume : null
tell application "iTunes"
set speed to 5 -- lower means slower fade
if sound volume = 0 then -- if volume is all the way down, fade in
set initialVolume to 60
repeat until (sound volume) is greater than or equal to (initialVolume - speed)
set sound volume to (sound volume + speed)
end repeat
set sound volume to initialVolume
else -- fade out, skip to selected track, fade in
set initialVolume to (get sound volume)
repeat until (sound volume - speed) is less than or equal to 0
set sound volume to (sound volume - speed)
end repeat
set sound volume to 0
play selection
repeat until (sound volume + speed) is greater than or equal to initialVolume
set sound volume to (sound volume + speed)
end repeat
end if
end tell


Summit Sunset

Summit Sunset, originally uploaded by Rex Pechler.

Driving over HWY 17 in my Acura CL-S… Stopped to watch the sun set
over the tree-topped mountains.


Applescript to Remove Artist Names from Track Names

I just realized I never posted this online. I did this a couple months ago, and have been using it frequently (because I’m a chronic music pirate).

I occasionally get a bunch of tracks in iTunes that have the Artist Name in the Track Name as well. For example:


…and it’s just a pain to go through and remove all the artist names from each track title… the task is a prime candidate for automation.

Usage: Select songs in iTunes (it will skip songs that don’t have the artist name in the track name), Run the applescript (I use QuickSilver for this). Result:


So, here’s my applescript: (download)

tell application "iTunes"
set these_tracks to the selection
if these_tracks is null then display dialog "No tracks are selected."
repeat with i from 1 to the count of these_tracks
set thisTrack to (item i of these_tracks)
set originalName to the name of thisTrack
set theArtist to the artist of thisTrack
if originalName contains " - " then
if originalName contains theArtist then
set newName to characters ((count of characters of theArtist) + 4) thru end of originalName as string
if (characters 1 thru ((count of characters of theArtist) + 4) of originalName as string) contains theArtist & " - " then set the name of the thisTrack to newName
end if
end if
end repeat
end tell


From the top of a Redwood

From the top of a Redwood, originally uploaded by Rex Pechler.

I’m on top of a funky tree in the meadow below the UCSC Music Center…

I took this with the Camera PRO iPhone app, which allows you to take
photos with a self-timer. I clipped my phone to a high branch to get
the shot.

I’m actually not too happy with this self-portrait, but Camera PRO
only let’s you use the self-timer 5 times before forcing you to pay
$20. In fact, I tried to purchase the app, but the purchasing website
is very clumsy on the iPhone. And I’m still waiting for my activation


My Courses for Winter Quarter 2008

I’m taking 3 awesome classes. Music and the WWW, Marketing, and Accessibility.

For Music and the WWW, I’ll be researching Music Discovery on the Internet. Things like and Pandora. For the final project, I’ll develop an interactive website, but I have to use original content so I’ll be making some music myself.

My Marketing professor is the craziest and most intense I’ve ever had. He’ll start each lecture with “storytime,” where he tells us about doing business in one of the supposed 178 countries he’s been. Yesterday he talked about dancing with a Chinese drug lord on the top of Victoria Peak in Hong Kong, in the Police Chief’s Mansion with 7 Rolls Royces in the driveway. And he’s promised to take us to the “Promised Land.”

I just had my first Accessibility lecture, where we’ll be learning about disabilities and technologies to overcome them. My professor does research in guidance systems for the visually impaired among other things, but this General Education class is more focused on the social impact of disabilities than the technological. My interest here is Web Accessibility, and how I can take that into consideration when I’m developing websites.

Feel free to contact me if you’d like to know more about the course content.

Found Hacks Media Mobile Personal Web

Blogging from the iPhone

I’ve been looking for a way to blog from my iPhone, especially because I wasn’t having much luck with the WP-mail plugin that allows you to post by email.

Anyway, I’m writing right now on my iPhone using a plugin called WPhone, which you can find here:

You can now expect a lot more posts from me here!

Ideas Organization Personal

New Obsession: Tracking Personal Metrics

Listen to me read this: [display_podcast]

I have recently become obsessed with keeping track of things… like, what music I listen to, where I go, and what I do. The main reason is to create an archive, because as much as I would love to have a journal (diary) to look back on, there’s no way I’m going to do it. And so I can piece together an implicit journal by tracking my various activities. One looming project is to come up with a way to collect and browse this data.

For music, I’ve recently started using again. Here’s my profile. is a social network built around discovering music. It integrates with iTunes to track what songs you listen to, and posts that online for your friends to see. There’s even an application for hacked iPhones that tracks what you listen to on the go. There’s a direct benefit from using this service, and that is music recommendations, which you can play like a radio stream… and rate to improve the suggestions.

To keep track of where I go, I carry a very small GPS datalogger. This device just tracks its location coordinates every few seconds, and I download these files to my Mac frequently. You can view the tracks in Google Earth, which I’m using at the moment as a library for this data. This is cool not only for traveling, but also excercise (biking, running, even skiing).

You can also geotag photos with this GPS device… which will a fun part of browsing this ‘digital diary’. Imagine a globe, maybe in Google Earth, that you could spin around, and zoom in on, that showed every photo you’ve ever taken, right where you took it.

As far as keeping track of what I do, I’m relying on Twitter at the moment. (My page there). The website’s built around answering the question “What are you doing right now?,” as frequently as you wish. It has evolved into more than that, a new global communication platform… but most users still post the interesting things they do each day.

So, imagine all of these things, (location, music, photos, activities), recorded automatically for you, and put into a calendar. Something you can review and browse. Or have it email you a personal, ‘what you did in previous years on this day’ type email. And everything’s on a map. Because you carried your GPS around with you.

Another thing about this ‘digital diary’ is that all the automatic data might be enough to encourage you to add your own additional data… like your weight. Or more exercise details. Or private diary entries.

Would you use something like this?


My Resolutions for 2008

  1. Lose 20 pounds. (Don’t we all? I want to be fit enough to enjoy parkour)
  2. Get organized. (GTD, and variants)
  3. Blog consistently. (Here, at Rex.FM)
  4. Take more photos. (And geotag them… Look out Flickr!)

I’ll probably be covering my progress with all these things here. Even the fitness stuff. It’s the only way I’ll do it.

Mac Productivity

Mac 101: Keyboard text selection

I use these all the time… especially holding Option or Command while using the arrows to move the cursor around.

To select text you hold down the SHIFT key and then use the arrow keys or HOME, END, PAGEUP, and PAGEDOWN. The left/right arrow keys (plus SHIFT) will increase the selection one character in that direction, if you hold down the OPTION (⌥) key the left/right arrows will select an entire word in that direction, and if you hold down the ⌘ key the left/right arrows will select to the beginning or end of the line. The up/down arrow keys (plus SHIFT) will select a full line up or down; with the OPTION key held down the up/down arrows will select a paragraph. The HOME key (plus SHIFT) will select all the text to the beginning of the document and the END key (plus SHIFT) will select all the text to the end of the document. Finally, the PAGEUP and PAGEDOWN keys (plus SHIFT) will select a full “page” up or down.
Mac 101: Keyboard text selection – The Unofficial Apple Weblog (TUAW)

You only need to hold Shift if you want to select text. Without holding shift, the aforementioned key commands will just move the cursor around. You probably don’t realize how much time you waste trying to point with that Trackpad on your MacBook.

Mobile Web

Facebook for iPhone… Still Incomplete

I just saw a post by Robert Scoble, where he mentions the iPhone interface for Facebook that Joe Hewitt created. Facebook for iPhone looks pretty slick, I’ll admit that. But it is also missing a ton of essential features.My top wishlist / feature requests:

  • Commenting on photos
  • Edit Profile info
  • Message people from their profile
  • Groups

These are all things that don’t work on the current iPhone interface, but seem like a serious missing feature. Now, I’m not sure who to point my finger at, but I’m disappointed that there’s been no apparent improvement to the iPhone interface since it was released about 6 months ago.