.mac, MUG development, more

Tuesday, 2004-11-02; 01:31:00

Treat this as a "techno-tidbits" entry. :)


Well, in contrast to my other blog, this blog's primary purpose isn't for me. I already know exactly what I write about here in this blog, and there's no need to write it down on "paper" or to sort out my thoughts on any of this. It's just here to express my random tech observations, opinions, and tips to anyone who wants to read them. In that vein, this blog will remain in English.


I have to say I'm very grateful for the storage boost to .mac. It's very, very nice to have a 250 MB combined storage for e-mail and iDisk storage (which I currently have set to 50 and 200 MB respectively), rather than only 25 MB (5 MB for e-mail and 20 MB for my iDisk) which I had previously. This is surely more significant to me than it is to other .mac members, and it's related to why I only had 25 MB of combined storage before rather than 115 MB as most members had. Let's just say that my .mac account is now on par with other .mac accounts, feature-wise. Cost-wise, well, that's another story. ;)

Oh, and by the way, local .mac synching in Panther is *STILL* messed up. Don't turn it on, or you risk having stuff inadvertently deleted on your iDisk. I almost lost my whole Ellipsis Productions website because of this stupid bug.


The latest version of Memory Usage Getter is coming along very nicely, and it's feature complete at this point. I've sent it out to my beta testers, many of whom haven't responded back yet. Hopefully it won't take too long to put the finishing touches on this version so I can get it out the door -- specifically, besides beta testing itself, I need to update the help files, have my localizers update the existing translations of both the program and the help files, and get good toolbar icons (*ahem*). I actually did the majority of development on this version in the past few days, and since it's been almost a year since I last update MUG, I thought I'd put it on the fast track and get it out ASAP. I plan to provide a 2.5.1 update soon after version 2.5 is released, to implement some much more minor but nonetheless useful features. Activity Monitor may yet have some competition!


Also, I need some beta testers for a small little app I've tentatively called "CDDB Lookup Helper". All it does is look up the appropriate CDDB info for the current song you're playing in iTunes. However, in contrast to iTunes' CDDB lookup feature, this app doesn't rely on the music file being a fresh rip of a CD -- it takes the track name, artist name, and album name and uses them to do an appropriate lookup at the Gracenote website. All that's required is the track name -- the artist name and album name are only used as supplementary information. If there's only one album that matches the existing info, then it transfers all other appropriate data to the ID3 tag of the song that's playing -- specifically, the track number, the total number of tracks on the CD, and the year the CD was produced. It actually corrects the track name, artist name, and album name if appropriate (e.g.: "tatu" becomes "t.A.T.u"), as long as it actually finds a match. If there are multiple albums that match the existing info, then it displays a sheet with the first 10 appropriate choices, and then transfers the info from the selected album to the ID3 tags of the currently playing song. (And, if you're wondering, if the current playing song changes after the initial lookup, it will still transfer the ID3 tags to the correct song. Sorry. :) )

The only problem is that there seems to be a lot of variation in the results for the searches, so the app fails to parse many searches correctly. I'm actually doing a bunch of scanning through HTML, which is a bitch, but it seems the only way to do it. I did a bit of testing with my own library and tweaked the app so it's more tolerant, but there are still some glitches here and there. If I had a larger set of searches that I knew failed, I could more easily correct the problems. That's where beta testers come in. :) (However, I must say it's cool to have all the correct information now, especially since Sofa has retrieved a bunch of album art for me.)

I think this app will come in handy for many people, especially perfectionists like me who like to have pristine ID3 tag information, and who don't want to enter any of the info in manually. Also, apps like Sofa that automatically fetch album art require (obviously) an album name, so this can help in the case where your songs don't have album info. I'm working on getting genre support (at least, according to how they're categorized at the Gracenote website), supporting more than just the first 10 search results, having prefs to exclude some existing information (e.g.: a search might fail with track+artist+album info, but might return results with just track+artist or track info), and to lookup information for multiple songs at once instead of just the currently playing song. An advanced feature that might be in store later on would be info caching so that some searches will be faster if you've already looked up info for another song on the same album.

But anyway, if you're interested in such a utility (requires Mac OS X 10.2 Jaguar or later, iTunes), shoot me an e-mail at simX at mac dawt com.


Is it me, or is some of my e-mail not getting through now that I'm here in Italy? I've sent out a lot of e-mails, but I haven't received responses from many of them. I have received responses from some, but I'm not sure exactly why a large part of my e-mails have gone unanswered. It seems to be independent of which e-mail account I use. Bryce, Duncan, Hiroto, have you received my e-mails? I just want to make sure.


About transferring the playlists and relevant ID3 tags of an iTunes music library from one comp to another: there is a minor-ish problem. Your play count and date added for all your songs will be messed up. That means that many smart playlists won't be as useful as they were on your main computer. When I get back home from Italy, I plan to write a little AppleScript that rectifies this problem.


And one last thing -- if you're a developer and you use Xcode, make sure you don't have any slashes in the folder names that lead to your project. If you do, errors and warnings will not show up in your Build Results window, because Xcode will have some trouble in parsing the build transcript for use in the Build Results window. Just remove the slash (that is, a slash as it appears in the Finder, but a colon in reality) from the path of the project file, and errors/warnings will appear anew in the Build Results window. Bug filed!

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