Year: 2006

Rojo & Feeds 2.0

RSS feeds appeal to me not just as a useful medium for reading serialized content, but also as representative of a kind of “dumb” handling of data, the separation of content from presentation, modularity, all that stuff, which I just appreciate aesthetically. And as I found an increasing number of the sites I visit providing feeds, I wanted to take advantage of this to corral all my reading into an easy, one-stop repository.

But, when aggregating any significant number of feeds, the more frequently updated ones inevitably bury the others, the latter of whose content is probably more important because of its infrequency (see: kbps). So I was overjoyed when I noticed that Rojo accounts for this in several intelligent ways. First, it shuffles the most recent posts of all your feeds together toward the top of your “wire” (a fake term I’m using), allowing infrequent content to muscle its way to the surface and avoid being lost. Second, it keeps track of how users interact with all the articles it serves, whether they clicked on a link in it, or marked it as interesting, or bookmarked it, and pushes those articles closer to the top of your “stream” (a fake term I’m using).

Pretty cool, and I now can’t imagine the internet without Rojo.

On the horizon is a new service, Feeds 2.0, which promises to take this same idea further. Feeds 2.0 pays attention to the content of articles you tend to click on, taking into account both which feed they’re from and key words they contain, to deliver content that is more relevant to you specifically to the top of your “wire/stream” thing. Not only that, but it groups together articles that it determines to be about the same thing, so that those memes clogging up Boing Boing, Waxy, Digg, &c. can be easily compared and ignored.

Unfortunately, Feeds2 is only in private beta at this time, so if you’re interested I recommend signing up for an invitation. I signed up what feels like forever ago but was probably closer to six weeks, and I still haven’t heard anything. Suffice it to say I am trembling with anticipation.

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Intelligent browsing in foobar

Collecting my thoughts here…

foobarSo, ironically, music is becoming increasingly difficult for me to listen to. As though worrying about an extensive gauntlet of tagging procedures isn’t enough, I just have too much damn music. Browsing alphabetically through upwards of 500 artists is not the best way to go looking for something when you have no idea what you want to hear.

I’ve auditioned various methods of tweaking foobar to ‘deliver’ music to me more or less automatically, and I’m close to having something ideal. The playlist tree component allows for dynamic tree structures (which, unfortunately, can only be rebuilt manually or every time a new song begins); using the titleformatting language, I’ve generated five queries whose purpose it is to ‘coax’ certain albums to starker visibility from the featureless and indifferent music library, to greater or lesser success.

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Setting up a BitTorrent Tracker

So I’ve spent the last couple days trying frantically to get a BitTorrent tracker installed, mostly for the use of my internet acquaintances, their friends, and my friends. Really just a dedicated alternative to YouSendIt and all those other bullshit file sending sites that always have one catch or another.

So, just as a test, I installed OpenTracker, a bare-bones tracker that has no interface, just an announce url. It worked, to my amazement, with minimal effort, but the fact that anybody with the announce url could use it bothered me, and the idea of having searches and invites and requests and all the other bells and whistles of ‘real’ torrent trackers was too tempting and, I felt, within my reach.

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Slightly Streamlined mp3 Tagging Flowchart

I used to require four programs for getting all my tags exactly how I want them: The GodFather (with AllMusicGuide patch), the MusicBrainz Tagger, Mp3tag, and foobar2000. The GodFather was always the first and worst part of my tagging procedures, being slow, refusing to write APE tags, and relying on the Internet Explorer engine.

Now I’ve eliminated both The GodFather and MusicBrainz from the whole grueling process, boiling it down to just Mp3tag and foobar2000, thanks to an AMG-scraping script and a MusicBrainz-scraping script for Mp3tag. The only drawback is that the AMG script doesn’t retrieve album descriptions (which I truthfully won’t miss a bit), and that the scripts use different tag field names (MOOD instead of TONES) to store some of the more frivolous metadata.

However there is some promise in the relative simplicity of Mp3tag’s scripting language, which, with enough knowledge of regular expressions, seems to be capable of parsing anything out of an http request.

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AllMusic’s Tone Intersections

In a previous post about A Flat Hierarchy for Subjective mp3 Tags, I described the arduous and marginally rewarding task of tagging my entire library with as many ‘tones’ tags as AllMusic was able to provide. With foobar2000 0.9 final now less than a week away, these tags may prove useful soon enough. But a few weeks ago, impatient and curious, I decided to put them to another use:

tones intersection chart

By creating a tones/tones tree structure in foobar, I was able to count how often each ‘tone’ intersects with every other ‘tone.’ What you see above is the beginning of that data collection, which I ultimately planned to analyze in…some way.

After Googling around for ideas on tag clustering, I came across gCLUTO, a free piece of software that would, miraculously, do exactly what I needed — namely, magically figure out how best to cluster each tag with related tags. I figured four clusters would be a comfortable number, based on earlier reading I had done on a two-axis theory of musical emotion (intense/relaxed and positive/negative).

topographical cluster visualization

Unfortunately, my computer simply couldn’t handle even constructing and deconstructing the foobar tree without freezing up for about 45 minutes each time. Plus, collecting all this data would have meant hours and hours of work, for a goal whose benefits weren’t very clear to me at all, as well as a halt in incorporating new downloads into my library. It was a pretty exciting couple days while it lasted though.

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