•2009-06-10 • Comments Off on 50,000?

We decided to do some hoarding at work, but what to hoard? Given our laziness precludes us from picking up actual physical things, so we decided to go with mp3s. Who doesn’t love mp3s? And I hated it the last big party we had when kin yah bruthah searched for a song and couldn’t find it. Sounds great? But how to do it?

I ain’t Jake. I listen to the same 150 songs over and over when I have no Ron and Fez on the iPod. I found out how by actually paying for some software, and knowing some people.

  1. DJ friend named Jimmah (who hates music)
  2. A Minion to rip DVDs (~$79 for a Patriots Ticket as payment)
  3. Tuneup Media iTunes plugin/addon ($30 lifetime)
  4. Random Website with 2700+ Mashups ($15 paypal donation to cover bandwidth/Download them all Firefox Plugin
  5. TuneBite (DRM Stripper) later upgraded to the full AudialsOne (full suite $60)

Jimmah has a good collection of all the songs white people ask for at weddings/graduations/spring flings and winter formals. I showed him Tunebite which strips the DRM from all the music he has bought from various sources. That made things much easier for him, and lead me to looking into more music. Jimmah had also bought a long time DJs’ dvd backup set of all his music – ~25,000 songs. Jimmah never bothered copying them off, and I wanted it, so we gave The Minion a Pats Ticket and told him to rip them all to an external hard drive. He did.

I took the disk and imported them into iTunes. While I had a decent amount of new songs, 25K+, a boatload of them were no artist, track 01, track 01_1, etc… I was just about ready to delete over 4,000 tracks as I was not gonna listen to them and name them by hand when I found the miraculous TuneUp!. I have no idea how it works, but on ripped or downloaded mp3s I would say it has a >97% success rate on identifying a ‘track 01’ with no artist, etc… and filling in the proper title, artist, album, year, cover art and genre. Instead of deleting the 4k tracks, I updated almost all of them. I then de-duped them manually (File > show duplicates > select > delete > suck.)

Jimmah then found a great collection of mashups here. While most aren’t that great, it seemed worth the $15 to download them all. I get great amusement from mashups.

Now we are up to ~26,000 tracks. Tunebite has a  stream capture for some music websites, like last.fm, pandora, etc. I spent a couple of nights playing top 40 radio stations on last.fm and captured about 200 songs for R. That seemed to work pretty good. However the software kept nagging me to upgrade, which annoys me in software I paid for. I decided to upgrade any way, looking into this “radio tracker.”



Pick a genre. Set your throttle (with my cpu/memory/fios broadband speed I set it to 25 stations.) First night I did top 40. Woke up to 2,000 new songs. I imported those and switched to 80’s. By the time I got home from work, another 1,500 songs. It filters out songs it knows it had already downloaded, and after discussion with a co-worker I poked around some more and found a folder scan. This keeps it from downloading songs you already own as well. (Typos and slight name differences do get downloaded, but still saves a boatload of work.)

I am now at 34,780 de-duped and cleaned up songs. My goal now is for 50,000. Granted, the longer I use Radio tracker, the less songs I get as the same songs start replaying. But if I can get the top few thousand from each decade, I will be set.

One feature I didn’t mention – Music finder. Go to that tab, click on artist and a list of thousands of artist come up. Double click on the artist or one of their songs, and whenever that song or artist comes on one of the thousands of internet radio stations, it will record it for you. O-mazing.

Snooth Helps You Find Better Wines

•2009-06-10 • Comments Off on Snooth Helps You Find Better Wines

This is not original content. This post was found in an rss feed and is being shared using Google Reader. All credit goes to the original author. The original entry can be found here.

Snooth is a search engine and social network for wine lovers covering everything from wine reviews and rankings to vineyard and varietal information.

If you’re at all interested in wine, beyond just buying whatever is on sale and at least better looking than a jug-o-swill, Snooth can take care of all your wine-related curiosity. At Snooth you can search for wines filtering by price, location, vintage, and more. You can build a personal cellar of wines you’ve enjoyed and that you would like to sample, Snooth will build a recommendation list for you. The recommendations are based off of the millions of other Snooth users and the wines they have enjoyed. Check out the video below for an overview Smooth, you’ll come for the smooth jazz and stay for the mountain of wine-related information.

Snooth recently released an iPhone-friendly version of their site which—aside from some very minor potential formatting issues—works just fine on other mobile phones with suitably large screens. I tested it on my HTP Touch Pro with Opera Mobile without any issues aside from the navigation buttons being a little squished. If you have your own favored wine or food related sites, we'd love to hear about them in the comments below.

The Web’s Most Dangerous Search Terms

•2009-06-09 • Comments Off on The Web’s Most Dangerous Search Terms

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Many people use the “I don’t search for warez or porn” defense when it comes to avoiding malicious software and links online. It turns out that the most dangerous search terms are often much more benign.

McAfee, of the anti-virus fame, had their researchers comb through thousands of popular keyword searches. After analyzing the frequency with which they found malicious software at each link they compiled the results. Surprisingly the common “bad” searchs that people associate with a guarantee of getting malicious software like searching for pirated software or pornography rank fairly low on the risk scale. Apparently the people behind malicious sites like to cast a wide net and use things like lyrics to popular songs and free screen savers to lure people in.

Check out the white paper at the link below for the full charts and more information about the study. Extra paranoid now? Make sure to check out our Hive Five on best malware removal tools and best anti-virus scanners.

becuz alarm systems r 4 pussies submitted by every1

•2009-06-05 • Comments Off on becuz alarm systems r 4 pussies submitted by every1

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Shared by shay

Cate? Maggie?

becuz alarm systems r 4 pussies

submitted by every1

20 Years

•2009-06-04 • Comments Off on 20 Years

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It was 20 years ago today that the Chinese government killed 2,000 to 3,000 of its own citizens for the crime of demanding their own liberty. This iconic photo is about all that’s left of them.

George Orwell said, “If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face—forever.” He’s all too right. Last century, an estimated 262 million people were murdered by their own government . That doesn’t include the hundreds of millions more killed by opposing governments during war.

Today ought to be a day to celebrate and promote human liberty, and to remember the abuses governments have heaped upon their subjects over the centuries.

So go find your own metaphor for the government tank pictured above.

Then put yourself in front of it.

The Fallacy of Locally Grown Produce

•2009-06-01 • Comments Off on The Fallacy of Locally Grown Produce

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Traveling SalesmanThe famous Traveling Salesman math puzzle is much more than just a fun game. It’s a dramatically illustrated way to understand the efficiencies involved in product distribution models. The problem works like this: Take a map and draw dozens of dots on it. The salesman’s task is to define a driving route that visits each dot, with the minimum driving distance connecting them all. He has to visit so many locations, and he wants to burn as little gas as possible. Obviously this is something that people are looking at harder than ever today.

There’s a very cool piece of freeware software that uses a genetic algorithm to solve the Traveling Salesman problem. It’s by Michael Lalena and is found at http://www.lalena.com/AI/Tsp/. Draw dozens (or hundreds) of dots, and the software will start with a random route and then refine it iteratively until it’s super efficient. It’s fun trying to stump it with a zillion dots in a pattern that appears to be hard to traverse, and then to see what a surprisingly simple curve it finds to visit them all.

Many years ago I did some consulting for a company that was then called Henry’s Marketplace, a produce retailer built on the founding principles of locally grown food. They had grown from a single family fruit stand into a chain of stores throughout southern California and Arizona that stuck to its guns and sold produce from small, local farmers. It’s a business beloved by its customers for its image of wholesome family goodness, community, and healthful products. (Henry’s has since gone through several acquisitions and is now called Henry’s Farmers Markets.)

Part of what I helped them with was the management of product at distribution centers. This sparked a question: I had assumed that their “locally grown produce” model meant that they used no distribution centers. What followed was a fascinating conversation where I learned part of the economics of locally grown produce. It was an eye-opening experience.

In their early days, they did indeed follow a true farmers’ market model. Farmers would either deliver their product directly to the store, or they would send a truck out to each farmer. As they added store locations, they continued practicing direct delivery between farmer and store. Adding a store in a new town meant finding a new local farmer for each type of produce in that town. Usually this was impossible: Customers don’t live in the same places where farms are found. Farms are usually located between towns. So Henry’s ended up sending a number of trucks from different stores to the same farm. Soon, Henry’s found that the model of minimal driving distance between each farm and each store resulted in a rat’s nest of redundant driving routes crisscrossing everywhere. What was intended to be efficient, local, and friendly, turned out to be not just inefficient, but grossly inefficient. Henry’s was burning huge amounts of diesel that they didn’t need to burn.

You can guess what happened. They began combining routes. This meant fewer, larger trucks, and less diesel burned. They experimented with a distribution center to serve some of their closely clustered stores. The distribution center added a certain amount of time and labor to the process, but it (a) still accomplished same-day morning delivery from farm to store, and (b) cut down on mileage tremendously. Henry’s added larger distribution centers, and realized even better efficiency. Today their model of distributing locally grown produce, on the same day it comes from the farm, is hardly distinguishable from the models of Wal-Mart or any other large retailer.

Here’s where it seems counterintuitive: If you look at the path traveled by any one given box of produce, it’s much longer than it used to be. It no longer travels in a single straight line from farm to store; it now travels the two long sides of the triangle in its path from farm to distribution center to store. But quite obviously, this narrow view omits the overall picture, where the stores are all stocked with produce that got there much more efficiently.

Locally grown produce is rarely efficient. Apply a little mathematics to the problem, and you’ll find that the ugly alternative of giant suburban distribution centers accomplishes the same thing – fresh produce into stores on the same day it’s picked – but with much less fuel burned.

This even extends to local farmers’ markets like you may have in your town, where all the family farmers personally bring their produce to the market to sell. Imagine a map with the market in the center, and the round-trip routes driven by all ~20 vendors radiating out from the market, like the arms of a starfish. Applying our Traveling Salesman model to this map, it’s clear that the farmers’ market is the least efficient model possible, if you are measuring efficiency in terms of delivery miles driven and gallons of diesel burned. To properly restructure this model to be as efficient as its proponents believe it to be, you’d drive a single truck in a calculated route to visit each farm in the morning, sell all the goods in a single store, and then discard or donate the leftover food (why double the driving miles to return perishable goods to the farmers?).

Don’t get me wrong, I love farmers’ markets. We go to our local one sometimes and it’s a fun family event for us. We love the giant, wonderful tomatoes and strawberries that you can’t get at the supermarket. I’d hate to see the experience replaced by the efficient alternative I just described, but then, I understand that farmers’ markets are more of a premium boutique community experience than an efficient (or “green”) way to buy food. The real reasons to enjoy your farmers’ market have nothing to do with it being somehow magically environmentally friendly. It’s the opposite.

Too often, environmentalists are satisfied with the mere appearance and accoutrements of environmentalism, without regard for the underlying facts. Apply some mathematics and some economics, and you’ll find that a smaller environmental footprint is the natural result of improved efficiency.

Netherlands runs out of criminals, has to shut prisons

•2009-05-29 • Comments Off on Netherlands runs out of criminals, has to shut prisons

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The Netherlands (where most drugs are cannabis is legal) has so few criminals that it is now faced with the choice of shutting down its prisons and laying off the staff, or importing criminals from other countries like Belgium on a contract basis:

During the 1990s the Netherlands faced a shortage of prison cells, but a decline in crime has since led to overcapacity in the prison system. The country now has capacity for 14,000 prisoners but only 12,000 detainees.

Deputy justice minister Nebahat Albayrak announced on Tuesday that eight prisons will be closed, resulting in the loss of 1,200 jobs. Natural redundancy and other measures should prevent any forced lay-offs, the minister said.

Netherlands to close prisons for lack of criminals

(via Futurismic)

Kid keeping a lending library of banned books in his her locker

•2009-05-26 • Comments Off on Kid keeping a lending library of banned books in his her locker

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Javier sez, “A teenager asks Yahoo! Questions whether maintaining a lending library in his school locker is illegal (as opposed of merely in contravention of school regulations). A school friend asked to borrow off him The Catcher in the Rye, one of the books in the banned list, and one thing led to another…”

This happened a lot and my locker got to overflowing with the banned books, so I decided to put the unoccupied locker next to me to a good use. I now have 62 books in that locker, about half of what was on the list. I took care only to bring the books with literary quality. Some of these books are:

The Perks of Being a Wallflower
His Dark Materials trilogy
The Canterbury Tales
The Divine Comedy
Paradise Lost
The Godfather
Interview with the Vampire
The Hunger Games
The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy
A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court
Animal Farm
The Witches
Shade’s Children
The Evolution of Man
the Holy Qu’ran
… and lots more.

Anyway, I now operate a little mini-library that no one has access to but myself. Practically a real library, because I keep an inventory log and give people due dates and everything. I would be in so much trouble if I got caught, but I think it’s the right thing to do because before I started, almost no kid at school but myself took an active interest in reading! Now not only are all the kids reading the banned books, but go out of their way to read anything they can get their hands on. So I’m doing a good thing, right? Oh, and since you’re probably wondering “Why can’t you just go to a local library and check out the books?” most of the kids are too chicken or their parents won’t let them but the books. I think that people should have open minds. Most of the books were banned because they contained information that opposed Catholicism. I limit my ‘library’ to only the sophmores, juniors and seniors just in case so you can’t say I’m exposing young people to materiel they’re not mature enough for. But is what I’m doing wrong because parents and teachers don’t know about it and might not like it, or is it a good thing because I am starting appreciation of the classics and truly good novels (Not just fad novels like Twilight) in my generation?

Give that kid a medal and a full-ride scholarship to the best library school in the country, please!

Is it OK to run an illegal library from my locker at school?

(Thanks, Javier!)

The Geek Guide to the Upcoming Fall TV Season

•2009-05-24 • Comments Off on The Geek Guide to the Upcoming Fall TV Season

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By Casey Lynn
Contributing Writer, [GAS]

You may recall that last Fall we gave you the heads-up on some new, potentially geeky TV shows. Of course, as a whole that batch didn’t fare so well; Eleventh Hour, Life on Mars, My Own Worst Enemy, and Knight Rider (shocker!) all got the ax. Only two turned out to be hits: Fringe will be returning to NBC in the Fall with new cast member Leonard Nimoy, and the second season of True Blood begins airing on HBO on June 14.

Now that the major networks have announced their Fall line-ups, here’s hoping that this year’s new science fiction and fantasy shows will be more successful! Below is a rundown of some new shows that geeks might want to set their TIVOs for in the Fall, along with news on which old favorites will live to see another season.

Day One (NBC)

Described as a cross between Cloverfield and Lost, this new science fiction series is about a group of apartment dwellers in California dealing with the end of the world. It was created by Jesse Alexander, a former producer for Heroes, Lost, and Alias. The small band of survivors include a former marine, a computer genius from MIT, and a couple of obligatory hot girls, who have to try to rebuild society while unraveling the mystery of why the event took place. Also, this show isn’t starting until the Spring. Apparently NBC is looking to push this one hard because they’re putting it into the comfy Heroes time slot.

Eastwick (ABC)

Based on the 1987 film and/or the John Updike novel, this show is another version of The Witches of Eastwick. It stars Rebecca Romijn (remember the blue body paint and strategically-placed prosthetics in X-Men?), Lindsay Price (from the newly canceled Lipstick Jungle), and Jamie Ray Newman as suburbanites with supernatural powers. I can just hear the elevator pitch for this one: “It’s Harry Potter meets Desperate Housewives!”


In the recent tradition of classic Sci-Fi reboots, V is a new version of the 1983 miniseries about a race of aliens called “the visitors” that arrive on Earth. The reboot stars Elizabeth Mitchell from Lost as a Homeland Security agent and the gorgeous Morena Baccarin (Inara from Firefly) as the leader of the aliens, and at least the pilot features another one of Joss Whedon’s pet actors, Alan Tudyk. The producer is the same guy who did The 4400, but the producer of the original series is not involved. The trailer actually looks pretty good; maybe this one is stepping up to fill some of the void left by the end of Battlestar Galactica.

Vampire Diaries (CW)

This newest in the line of the CW’s teenage dramas is based on a series of YA novels that were published in the early 90’s. The story centers on a high school girl torn between two vampire brothers, one good and one evil. This one’s kind of a no-brainer, an attempt to cash in on the recent Twilight craze. Even the books’ author wrote another book in the series after a fifteen-year hiatus. The show will probably be a hit, but if you’re over the age of sixteen, I’d just skip it and watch True Blood instead.

Also, don’t forget: there are some new shows coming up from the SciFi channel as well.

And the news on the existing geeky TV fare out there? Along with Fringe and True Blood, Heroes (NBC), Chuck (NBC), Big Bang Theory (CBS), The Mentalist (CBS), Ghost Whisperer (CBS), Numb3rs (CBS), and Dollhouse (FOX – yay, that one was a nail biter!) have all been renewed. Meanwhile, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles (FOX), Pushing Daisies (ABC), and Reaper (CW) have been canceled. And Medium, which was canceled by NBC, has been picked up by CBS.

For an idea of what the schedule looks like for now, TV Guide has a handy grid.

Related posts:

  1. The Geek Guide to New Fall TV
  2. Flight of the Conchords Season 2 Premieres Online
  3. Geek TV: BBT Takes on AoC

Boston Police Dept. will report all zombie attacks

•2009-05-22 • Comments Off on Boston Police Dept. will report all zombie attacks

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Boston Police Dept. will report all zombie attacks screenshot

This story can only be spuriously related to videogames by putting a Left 4 Dead spin on it, but it’s just too awesome not to write about. A short Twitter exchange between a concerned citizen and the Boston Police Department revealed just how dedicated the boys in blue can be, as they pledged to inform the world of any zombie attacks they come across.

Boston_Police: INJURED OFFICER: Officer from district 4 transported to Beth Israel Hospital, human bite to arm, suspect in custody.

willcady: @Boston_Police if that was a zombie bite, would you tell us?

Boston_Police: @willcady Yes, absolutely

With so many videogames based on zombies, we should be more prepared than anybody else to tackle the undead menace when it comes, and it will definitely come one of these days. As skilled as we may be at introducing flesh-eating ghouls to the business end of a shotgun, however, it’s great to know that the police will be looking out for us with the rotting apocalypse arrives.