Daily Archives: February 7, 2007

Stuck in a tunnel

Not only did I not manage to get away from the office early today, but the train journey home has been fraught with problems. And there’s no sign of a flake of snow so far.

The train has been stop/start all the way out of Waterloo. Eventually the driver explained that the on-board computer was detecting that one of the doors was open, and applying the brakes – obviously an issue with one of the microswitches.

Once we’d got to Woking, they made a decision that it should be OK to continue. If I’d had any sense, I would have jumped off and waited for a working train at that point. Except, of course, we would then have got stuck behind this one.

Right now, we’re stopped in a tunnel. The brakes have apparently locked. They are trying to override the computer. The doors are “completely safe”.

If I don’t make it back, tell my family what happened to me.

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Songbird, iTunes, Last.fm, Mugshot… sigh…

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been mentioning some forays into organising my digital music collection, and ways in which I’ve been sharing my playlist. 

To recap: I was introduced to Mugshot, which made me want to be able to share my playlist. To do that I started using iTunes. Then I got into last.fm. Currently I have all three living in some kind of harmony.

I’m not truly happy with iTunes. I don’t have an iPod, I don’t really want to be organising my library around iTunes, it doesn’t cope well with streaming stuff from my server at home, I’m not sure it tags properly, the album art is held in some kind of horrid proprietary format… you get the picture. And I don’t like DRM, but then neither does Steve Jobs (great counterpoint article to the current hoopla, over here).

Songbird seems to be the perfect answer. It’s a new music player built on the Mozilla platform. Stephen O’Grady talked about Songbird back in December, amongst other things. It essentially lets me manage my music my way. It has extensions, including a last.fm / Audioscrobbler plugin. It is brilliantly integrated with the web – find a page with links to music files, and you can add them directly to the Songbird library… it will download them in the background. You really should check out the screencast for a nice overview. The only thing missing is the whizzy flippy album cover eye candy that iTunes provides.

Well, not quite the only thing. I have issues with Songbird, too. First up is that Mugshot doesn’t integrate with it. I didn’t think that this would be a problem, as Mugshot knows about my last.fm profile… but it actually doesn’t seem to pick up what I’m playing from there, only from iTunes itself when it is running on my laptop. Next, although Songbird has an Audioscrobbler plugin, it is… temperamental… and doesn’t work quite right. It also doesn’t let me browse radio streams from my last.fm neighbours, or mark tunes as ones that I love, both of which the “official” last.fm client software can do. But hey, Songbird as a whole is only at version 0.2.x, so maybe I shouldn’t be expecting the moon on a stick.

Oh, and on top of all that, I’ve been trying to use Media Monkey to organise my ID3 tags and embed album art. That is a bit hit-and-miss… my eclectic taste in some obscure artists seems to be defeating even the smartest tagging software.

So for now, I’m back on iTunes for ripping and playing, the last.fm client for scrobbling, and Mugshot remains in my life. And I keep Songbird handy for those times I want to leech a whole load of free tunes.

While I’m here, I just want to mention that the latest version of the Mugshot client (for Windows) seems far, far more stable. It integrates nicely with Firefox, and I haven’t yet seen one of the random low-level library crashes that was bringing the app down regularly in the previous version. If you are interested in taking a look, I’d be delighted to have you in my network.

Go for a walk in London

This is an interesting new take on the major pedestrian routes in London.

Hands up who isn’t reminded of the Tube map?

 According to the Space Syntax site:

The first aim of the London Pedestrian Routemap is to encourage walking in London. It does this by providing a simple, memorable picture of key walking routes in the Capital. At present there is no such map. The Routemap shows how key places connect by straightforward routes of varying character.

I like the look of this. I don’t think it is likely to replace the A-Z, but the approach is very cool. The only thing I’m slightly unsure about is the choice of names for some of the routes. I don’t associate the central/eastern end of what is labelled the “Shopping route” as being anything to do with shopping, I start to think of that (combined with the “Northern route”) as the City.

I don’t get lost in London half as much as I used to, but I still get disoriented quite easily. I can never shake off the mistaken idea that White City lies east of Shepherds Bush, for a start. Confusing.

(originally via diamond geezer)