Jamie Thingelstad's personal website

Month: November 2009

iTunes Smart Playlist: Three Plays

I’ve written before about some of the ways I use Smart Playlists in iTunes to enjoy my music more. I’ve got a large music collection with 1,463 albums containing 19,392 songs. I have a challenge keeping new music highlighted in this big pool of nearly twenty thousand songs. Today I had an idea for a Smart Playlist that I’m finding very useful.

I call the playlist Three Plays and the basic idea is that any new track added to my collection should get three plays before it gets shuffled into the general archive. The playlist works like this:

Three Plays Smart Playlist

The criteria are pretty straight forward:

  • The first five rules are all about restricting the content to just music. The “stream” rule makes sure that no Internet radio stations I’ve manually added in iTunes show up. I’m using my No Playlist Playlist here to pull a bunch of content out. I’m also excluding Jazz and Classical because I listen to them differently than other genres.
  • The 6th rule is the critical one, show me tracks played less than 3 times, and combine that with a limitation to 50 items selected by most recently added. Show me new stuff that I’ve listened to less than three times.
  • The rating rules help me kill a track if I just don’t like it. Give it a 1-star or 2-star rating and it goes out of rotation right away.
  • The last rule is really slick to keep things fresh. Without it you would be listening to the same new stuff over and over until you listen three times. Not good. This spreads the listens out over time.

I’m finding this really useful and a great playlist to just fire up when I sit down at the computer. Give it a whirl and see what you think!

Canon, let me lock my mode!

I’ve been absolutely loving my new Canon 5D Mark II. It’s a serious camera and having a full-frame sensor means I’m shooting a lot with my Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM lens. Together though, that combination weighs over 5 pounds and I rarely want to put that around my neck. I tend to sling the camera over my shoulder instead which actually works quiet well, with one really big problem.

Canon 5D Mode Dial

The dial pictured above is the mode dial. It is one of the most important controls and pretty much changes everything about the cameras behavior. I tend to shoot mostly in Av mode when I’m out and about. When I sling the camera over my shoulder with the 70-200mm lens I carry it “upside down” so the lens hangs in a natural way. Unfortunately, that means this knob will rest against my side, and as I walk it can move into a different mode!

You then lift the camera and shoot only to realize you are in some crazy mode and the pictures are horrible!

If there was ever a control that could use a small, flip-lock this is it. It needs a safety.

Ugly Bug in Mac OS X Address Book?

I don’t have an official bug report for this but I’m seeing a very ugly bug in Mac OS X Address Book or some part of the applications that work with its data. In short, it seems that in some situations Address Book can duplicate all the images associated with contacts, multiple times.

I keep really important data in my Address Book and as a result I do a weekly manual backup in addition to Time Machine backups. Look at the size of my weekly backups in this screenshot.

Address Book Backup File Sizes

In a two-week period the duplication happened multiple times. From October 24 to October 30 it happened twice increasing the size of all images from 17 to 34MB and then again from 34 to 64MB. It happened again doubling from 64M to 120MB! The culprit here are the images associated with contacts and stored in ~/Library/Application Support/AddressBook/Images. This behavior is on my Mac Pro which is synchronized with MobileMe to my MacBook Pro and iPhone. However, the error isn’t the same on all synchronized Macs. Looking in the images directory on my Mac Pro there is 130.5MB of data with 8,782 files.

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Simply great songs from the The Avett Brothers, I and Love and You.

Ridiculous Web Surveys

It amazes me when I actually attempt to take a survey on the web how poorly designed they are. Most of the time I disregard them, but sometimes a product that I like runs a survey and I would like to offer my feedback. I got one of those recently and on the third page, which by the way is already two pages too long, they present this screen. The question being asked is, in essence, “what one feature do you most wish the product had?”


To answer this they provide a list that is so long that it expands over the entire browser. In fact, that screen shot only shows about half of the options available. On a 30″ monitor I could not get all the options on the screen at one time. Ridiculous. Dumb. Failure.

At that point, I give up on the survey, and decide it is more fun to write this article. Sorry Strategic Vision, no feedback from me.

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