Dec 15, 2006

Wired reviews MP3 tag editors for Windows, Linux, and the Mac.

The best MP3 tag editor I've found is amarok, which is in most ways the best MP3 player I've found. It's the only editor I've used on Linux where you can do something like take an entire album by "-gershwin-" and change it to "Gershwin", so it fits in with your other Gershwin album correctly.

The only use case not covered is to take a bunch of MP3s and guess the tag attributes from the filenames. You can do it one at a time, but there's no "perform on all selected MP3" option for that functionality.

Unfortunately, I've had technical issues with Amarok taking up a lot of CPU just sitting there doing nothing, and the way it plays MP3 with separate engines isn't working well for me.

It's a pity, because it also has what is rapidly turning into a killer feature for me: The ability to rate things on a five-star system, in half-star increments. I know that iTunes and some other players can do that too, it's just that I thought it wasn't an interesting feature and didn't care. But I've realized that once I've got things rated, then I can do things like "delete everything with less than two stars", which will probably cut the disk space my collection takes down by perhaps a third at no musical cost to me.

Dec 14, 2006
There's a story, almost certainly apocryphal, of some famous writer having a dream where he wrote a poem, and everyone lauded it for its subtle insight and wisdom. He woke from the dream, and quickly, before the dream faded, grabbed pencil and paper and wrote it down. Then, satisfied that he'd preserved that gem, he went back to sleep.

Read the rest (524 words)

Dec 14, 2006

CNN's got a video about people's confusion with Obama vs. Osama, but it doesn't seem possible to link to it. This will at least take you to a page with the "Obama, not Osama" video link for a bit. (Oddly, searching for "Obama, not Osama" does not return that video as one of the results.)

Being named "Barack Hussein Obama" is at least a bit of a problem, and the instinctive politician reaction is to try to shy away from it, but I'd suggest the best thing to do is the exact opposite. Make sure every time from now on that Barack Obama is mentioned that Hussein is front and center. By the time the nominations and the election roll around, that'll just be his name; all the jokes, stories, and problems will be a thing of the past. If he shys away from it, the issue will always be something that can be slyly brought up. If there's any time to do that, it's now, when it basically can't hurt him to speak of; what are they going to do, organize a recall election based on the premise that the voters were unaware of their chosen candidate's name?

In fact, isn't what's going on suspiciously like that plan?

I hope it works. Disqualifying presidential candidates because of their middle name is just stupid. I doubt I'd ever personally vote for him, but I'd rather have the strongest candidates possible on all sides.

Dec 13, 2006

Our household has taken on a new resident: A genius cricket.

While crickets are very good at naturally taking up positions that are hard for humans to reach, this cricket has located quite possibly the best possible position in the entire household: Deep inside our furnace, as near as I can tell. I haven't made visual contact yet so I'm not sure, but he's definitely in the furnace room.

Crickets are known for their chirp (which only male crickets can do; male wings have ridges or "teeth" that act like a "comb and file" instrument).... Crickets chirp at different rates depending both on their species and the temperature of their environment. Most species chirp at higher rates the higher the temperature is (approx. 60 chirps a minute at 13ºC in one common species; each species has its own rate). - Crickets

Definitely a male. And since he's in the furnace, it's pretty warm. When he chirps, he's really going at it.

The reason I say he's a genius is that that is the one spot in the entire house I absolutely can not get him. The only option is to spray a poison at him, but I can't spray anything into a furnace with a pilot light without risking a lot more than some annoying chirping. And he seems to know better than to wander out of his safety zone. Even our cricket-seeking cats can't get at him.

Dec 13, 2006

Honey, this one's for you:

Not a morning person? Take solace — new research suggests that "night owls" are more likely to be creative thinkers.

Scientists can't yet fully explain why evening types appear to be more creative, but they suggest it could be an adaptation to living outside of the norm....

Scientists scored each [group of Morning, Intermediate, and Evening people as they] completed activit[ies based] on originality, elaboration, fluidity and flexibility factors. Evening types aced each test based on these criteria, while morning and intermediate type people struggled to get scores over 50. - Night Owls Are More Creative, Says Study

Via dangerousmeta.

This is an odd result, but if the reporting is accurate, a fairly strong one. I don't think I buy the tentative explanation at all, though:

"Being in a situation which diverges from conventional habit — nocturnal types often experience this situation — may encourage the development of a non-conventional spirit and of the ability to find alternative and original solutions," lead author Marina Giampietro and colleague G.M. Cavallera wrote

I can't speak for everybody, but my "non-conventional spirit" was fully developed when I was still stuck in the early morning paradigm imposed by my entirely conventional school. If there is a link, I don't think it's cause and effect between "creativity" and "night owl"; it's going to be a cause C underlying both.

The journal is for-pay and at $30 an article I'm not likely to buy the real study when it comes out in February, so no primary-source love here. Another article will also appear in that journal issue:

We administered measures of fluid and crystallized intelligence to Morning- and Evening-type adolescents who were tested either during a morning session or an afternoon session, at times chosen to reflect the limits of the average school day schedule. For the fluid intelligence measures, there was a synchrony effect, with better performance at times that matched individuals’ preferences. A composite measure of the subtests used (block design, digit span, and vocabulary) computed to a 6 point difference in IQ estimates. We also assessed the behavioral adjustment of these participants and found heightened levels of maladaptive behavior for Evening-type adolescents. Adolescents tested at their nonoptimal times of day and adolescents who are Evening-types appear to be at risk for poor academic performance and Evening-types appear to be at risk for behavioral adjustment problems. - Time of day, intellectual performance, and behavioral problems in Morning versus Evening type adolescents: Is there a synchrony effect?

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