mp3 collection maintenance

I have a rather large MP3 collection.  The directories and files are named correctly more or less, but ID3 tags used to be a mess until very recently.  Two applications helped me to bring some order in that mess.

EasyTag, a GUI application, that helped me to fix lots of broken and add lots of missing comments to my MP3 files.  The smart thing about this program is that it can figure out a lot of data from the names of the files and directories, and that it can grab and replicate partial data from within the albums.

The second program that I wanted to mention, I just found out about today (thanks to Michael Stepanov’s delicious bookmarks).  It’s called tag2utf.  It’s a little Python script that converts the encoding of ID3 tags from koi8 or cp1251 (two most widely used Russian encodings) to utf8.  It’s very easy to install (the only requirement my system needed was python-eye3d library, which exists in Fedora repository) and use.  Just run it from the command line with no parameters and it will recursively look in the current directory for any files that have ID3 tags in non-utf8 encoding.  It will then give you a choice of two encodings to select from (koi8 or cp1251), a “skip” option, and a “manual” option.  All you will have to do is take a quick look at the files, and chose to either convert them from one of the two options, skip them or convert manually one by one.  You will have to make this choice for every directory with non-utf8 files.  Optionally, you can specify on the command line which directories to scan.  In case you need to convert from some other non-Russian encoding to utf8, the script is trivial to modify.

Both tools are excellent pieces of software.  It took me practically no time at all to fix my mp3 collection.  Now I can search it better, and all files display nicely in any mp3 player.  Brilliant stuff!

Longer video? Maybe.

Scobleizer believes in longer videos:

Advertisers also will pay a lot higher rates for those long-form ads.


Because someone who’ll watch a 30-minute video is HIGHLY ENGAGED. They are far more likely to become a customer than someone who just watches a two-minute entertaining video.

I think that “video” is too broad for this topic.  To consider only educational and entertainment videos, I see a huge difference.  I don’t believe that entertainment videos will become longer.   Entertainment is a sort of thing that doesn’t have to go either deep or long.  Thus it doesn’t need large chunks of time.  Educational video is a totally other story.  While there are many “howto” type of videos, many topics require more than 5 minutes to explain.  Take Google Tech Talks for example.  They are pretty popular and each one takes about an hour.

There is also this factor of production costs.  It’s much harder to create 60 minutes of high quality (and I don’t mean pixels or bytes) video material, than 10 minutes.  Or 5.  Filmmakers know that.  And the audience knows that.   While less and less filmmakers will risk it, and more and more of those who do risk it will produce crapy long videos, the audience will learn the benefit of a short video and will be more inclined into choosing shorter formats.

However, since I am not at all involved in any video production or distrubtion, I might be totally wrong on this.  Judging purely from my own experience.  And my own experience mostly comes from YouTube and Google Video.

Subscribe to PrimeHome channels with remote control

I’ve had PrimeHome for quite some time now. So I don’t know of this feature was there before or if it is one of the recent additions, but it’s pretty cool. Apparently, you can subscribe to additional TV channel packages with just a remote control. No need to call or drive to any of those PrimeTel shops, no need to fill any forms, and, most importantly, no need for any waiting.

Here is how it works. Go to the menu and select the channel that you don’t have but would like to. You’ll see a static PrimeHome screen, with a line at the top saying something like “Press red button to subscribe”. Press the red button on your remote control now. You’ll be asked to enter your PIN and once you do, your STB will reboot and you’ll have the channel enabled. You’re done.

A few things to keep in mind:

  • You can easily subscribe with remote control, but not unsubscribe. To unsubscribe you’ll need to visit their shop and fill the form. Maybe you can do it over the phone too – I’m not sure, but it’s for sure not as easy as subscribing.
  • When you subscribe with remote control, you don’t subscribe to a single channel, but a package of channels to which it belongs. Check the list of channels and prices for each package at PrimeHome web site before subscribing.
  • When you subscribe with remote control, you will be shown a warning that the minimum period for your subscription is two month. I don’t know if the same policy applies when you subscribe through phone or from inside of their office, but it’s worth knowing. If you get yourself an expensive package, you’ll have to pay for at least two month of using it.

That’s about it.

Recent movies

I have watched a few movies recently.  Here is a quick overview, since I don’t feel like writing a complete separate review of each.

  • Rambo.  I saw it in the cinema, on the big screen. And I have to say that I was impressed.  Really.  It couldn’t have been better than the “First Blood” by definition, but it was definitely better than the third part, and arguably better than the second part.  One of the scenes reminds the beach take over in “Saving Private Ryan”, while there are a couple of other pretty good fights.  John Rambo is still the same – quiet veteran, who is not so easily pissed off, but when he is, you better be on the other side of the planet.  In short: lots of blood, great body count, and an absolutely “must see” for the fans.
  • Inside Man.  I am totally biased here, as someone who enjoys heist movies.  But even if there was no heist, it would have still be an excellent movie.  The story is interesting.  The cast is excellent.  The directing is brilliant. And so is every other part of the film – from music through costumes and make-up to operators.  This is how I think movies should be: a little bit of everything – humor, sadness, food for thought, visual pleasure, and acting.
  • Poseidon. It was a good try at a bad movie.  I mean, there was plenty of effort in trying to make this film good.  Some good actors are in.  There are some expensive scenes.  Or at least some of them looked expensive.  There is a little bit of suspense at times.  But this film was bad by idea, not by implementation.  I mean, there is this Titanic story which can be tolled from a thousand perspectives.  And yet, in this film it was told from a perspective of a really cheap “end of the world” flick.  Oh, and the physics really sucked – from beginning to end.  But that is sort of expected in the really cheap “end of the world” flicks.

Elvis, Beatles, Nirvana, then who?

Matthew Sidney Long brings up an interesting point with a challange:

Please name me a band over the past 10 years who has come close to Nirvana in sheer impact and talent since Kurt put shotgun to mouth above garage in 1994? (and, I’m not talking about some indie band that hardly anyone listens to or some ring-tone fueled, Top-40 creation who no one will remember in 6 months. I’m talking IMPACT here, people. Combining art AND commerce. Both big AND authentic. Dig?).

My pick would be Rammstein, of course.  That’s the band that made an impact.  I don’t know if it was as strong as Nirvana’s or not, but I think it was pretty close.  As always, I very biased and subjective.

While I was trying to come up with the band, I had a thought about the strength of an impact.  And, as much as I love Nirvana, I have to admit that it was nowhere near the scale of Elvis and Beatles.  There were a few others in between that were larger than Nirvana too.

If Rammstein isn’t as big of an impact as Nirvana, maybe it has to something to do with my theory of sources.  Back in the days of Elvis and Beatles, there were much less sourcse of music available to an average listener, than it was in the days of Nirvana.  Think number of albums, songs, bands, radio stations, television, top-X lists and hit parades, music awards, DJs, Internet, peer-to-peer, mp3s, music shops, etc.  So, each band had a chance of producing a bigger impact back then.  In the last 14 years, since Nirvana, the number of sources only grew.  So, each band these days has even less of a chance to impact the world.

Either that, or the music industry is broken.  Or both.