Debug iTunes

For most people, I imagine this utility isn’t very useful, but it came in handy when I wanted to create a album art mosaic for my mix (almost done!). You plug in a URL from iTunes, and it spits back a bunch of XML, including, for me, the URL for the album art, as well as URLs for the 30 second previews on that page. The guy who figured this out reported that it’s very useful for saving previews of the videos that iTunes sells now. NBC just jumped into the fray and is selling episodes of Law & Order, The Office, and Surface, and clips of the Tonight Show and Conan O’Brien. In addition, since they own USA and SciFi, shows like Battlestar Galactica and Monk are also available. Plus, vintage shows like Knight Rider, Dragnet and Alfred Hitchcock Presents.
I will resist the temptation to quote Knight Rider and instead say that those are “Just the facts, ma’am.”

iTunes Music Store Inconsistencies

Listening to the iTunes New Music Tuesday Podcast last night, I heard that the new album from The Darkness was out on iTunes. So naturally I cruised on over to listen to some preview clips. I immediately noticed the price: $13.99!!! Are you kidding me? There’s only ten songs on the album, and usually in that case iTunes sells the album for $9.90, rather than the usual $9.99. What a crock. But now I know why. They include with your album-only purchase two extras: the video for the first single “One Way Ticket”, and a digital album booklet. It’s not just PDF liner notes though. No, a new company called TuneBooks has a whole new format for digital liner notes, which they claim “combines traditional visual elements – liner notes, cover art and band collateral – with custom-designed interactive art and media to create a new visual experience.” Not to mention adds at least $2 to the price of the album (assuming $9.90 for the songs themselves, plus $1.99 for the video, that leaves about a $2 difference in price). That had better be some damned interesting liner notes. Definitely passing on that album for now. It’s enough to drive you back to buying CDs again!

Free Music

How does 125 free songs sound? Sign up for a free trial account from eMusic today, and you get exactly that. The only catch is that they may or may not be songs you’re interested in. eMusic specializes in Indie labels, and doesn’t really have any major label artists. But if you’re into bands like Iron & Wine, The New Pornographers, or The Decemberists, they’re all on there. You do have to give a credit card number, and make sure you cancel your account before the trial period is over, otherwise they start charging you monthly.
I’ve already found about 80 songs worth downloading, and I’ll be using them to create my special Christmas mix CD. It’s not a holiday music CD, just something I’ll be giving to people as a present, filled with music that I think is cool, that you may not have heard of. Let me know if you want a copy sent to you.
Also an e-download that’s free, “God’s Debris” by Scott Adams, the Dilbert creator. I haven’t read it, but you might find it interesting.

Synopsis

Imagine that you meet a very old man who—you eventually realize—knows literally everything. Imagine that he explains for you the great mysteries of life—quantum physics, evolution, God, gravity, light, psychic phenomenon, and probability—in a way so simple, so novel, and so compelling that it all fits together and makes perfect sense. What does it feel like to suddenly understand everything? God’s Debris isn’t the final answer to the Big Questions. But it might be the most compelling vision of reality you will ever read. The thought experiment is this: Try to figure out what’s wrong with the old man’s explanation of reality. Share the book with your smart friends then discuss it later while enjoying a beverage.

‘Lost’ Podcast

Another episode of ‘Lost’ is on tonight. I love that show, very interesting. And now they just started a podcast, featuring interviews with cast members, as well as the writers talking about the previous episode. It looks like they are going to release them on Mondays. Definitely worth a listen, if only for the fact that they debunk some of the stupid theories going around on the message boards. (Spoiler alert, if you haven’t watched last week’s episode: Some of the over-analyzing geeks thought that Shannon was stabbed, not shot, and by someone other than Ana. The writers clearly state on the podcast that Ana shot Shannon, and it will affect the Lost-aways for the rest of the season. Case closed. Sometimes what they show you on the screen is in fact what happened. Sheesh.)
On a side note, I got one of my co-workers into the show this season (he started watching with the recap of Season One that preceded this year’s season premiere). He’s already asking me, “Does anything ever happen on this show???” Ah yes, the perils of being a ‘Lost’ fan. Nothing happens, unless it’s the season premiere, season finale, or someone dies. That having been said, I’m looking forward to seeing what the backstory is with the ‘tailees’ (the people who were in the tail section of the plane).

The iPod Bartender

The FREE iPod bartender packs 230 drink recipes onto your iPod, in notes form, separated into sixteen categories.
Some day soon, I’ll get around to building my bar, and the iPod will have to have a docking station built-in so I can look up the recipes. Awesome.

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Life is Random

The five songs I heard on my iPod on the way to work today, in “shuffle” mode:

“Love on the Rocks with No Ice” – The Darkness
“My Life” (live from the Millenium Concert) – Billy Joel
“The Way You Look Tonight” – Frank Sinatra
“Hey Mama” – Black Eyed Peas
“Leave” – Barenaked Ladies

Pretty rough transition from Frankie to the Peas, but that’s part of the fun of the shuffle.

Annoyance

My luck is back to normal now. One of the songs I downloaded with my free iTunes code is now just plain free to everyone. So everyone hop on iTunes and get the Kaiser Chiefs: “I Predict a Riot.” It’s actually pretty good. Enjoy, since you don’t have to waste your iTunes code on it.