Saturday, December 02, 2006

Petony Show - Episode 2

Head on over to and check out Episode 2 of the hilarious Petony Show. In this episode, Petony do a favour for Fidel and get caught up in a race to acquire a very rare breakfast cereal.

In the coming weeks look for more episodes, including an introductory primer to the world of Petony, an XMAS special, and Episode 3 where Petony get into a battle with their neighbours over their lawn care habits.

Friday, November 10, 2006

The Petony Show

Wow, so, yeah, been awhile. Although apparently people are still reading - good!

Well, here's something to whet your appetite and keep you entertained for weeks to come -The Petony Show!

Follow Petony in their RAWKtacular adventures as they defeat THE MAN and his evil schemes. It's a weekly(ish) podcast with hilarious adventures, great music, and all around good fun.

So, subscribe, listen, enjoy, tell your friends.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Music Tagging Hack in iTunes

So, if you're like me, organizing a vast array of music and trying to have any kind of meaningful navigation and playback is a nightmare. Browsing by artist or album or genre just doesn't cut it. Genre is a ridiculously restrictive way to categorize music, and unless you're trying to get to something specific, artists and albums is also useless.

So, why on earth doesn't iTunes support tagging? No idea, but I can't be arsed to wait around for them to implement it. My music needs organization NOW. (Btw, I'm sure there are other programs that do it, but I can't be arsed to deal with them either!)

Taking advantage of one of the unused fields in the track info, and the iTunes smart playlist feature, we can hack together a pretty useful tagging system that vastly exceeds the pathetic genre categorization.

The basic premise: utilize the 'Grouping' field which is unused in 99% of all audio files I've seen to implement our tagging feature. By editing a track’s info (or a group of tracks) we simply enter a series of tags into the 'Grouping' field. I used commas to separate them just to make it more readable. (You can get to the ‘Get Info’ function by either right-clicking on PC or CTRL-clicking on Mac)

Tagging using the Grouping field

Now, since iTunes doesn't have support for this out of the box, we have to use the smart playlist feature to create some 'filters' for our music. And of course we can use these as convenient playlists, and build up some really sophisticated logic for choosing songs to play but that's another topic.

So, we fire up the "New Smart Playlist" feature and simply add a few conditions. In this example, I create a "Canadian Indie" filter that will display all my Canadian Indie music. I simply set the field to 'Grouping' and the condition to 'contains' and then enter the tag in the value field. Voila! Instant tagging in iTunes.

Creating tag filters using smart playlists

Now, this isn't a particularly interesting use of either tagging or the smart playlist feature but rather a basic example to show you how it works. What would be more interesting is the really detailed qualitative filters you can get going. For instance, if I created a filter for all "Long" songs. Or all "Horn" songs. Or if I felt that song reminded me of summer, and I tagged it "Summer", I could then create a playlist of all my "Summer" songs.

You can see how this very quickly exceeds the ability of your plain old Genre field.

And of course if you are really into it, you can chain those smart playlists together for some really interesting results.

So, anyway, I'm sure it's probably been done, or there's a plug-in, or something, but as someone who is constantly battling with a massive collection and am frustrated by restrictive organization methods, this little hack provided a vast improvement in my ability to both organize and listen to my music.


Friday, April 07, 2006

Some counterpoints to why Ruby on Rails won't become mainstream

A guy called Cedric, has posted a well thought out critique of Ruby on Rails on his blog. He’s not criticizing the framework itself, but rather the reasons why it will never become mainstream. Sure it’s based on nothing more than his personal opinion, but it’s thought-provoking nonetheless. And of course, being a recent convert to Ruby on Rails, and having been continually impressed with it as a tool, I’d like to offer some counterpoints:

“Anyone who wants to succeed in the Web arena must have a compelling story to tell to these programmers, something that will convince them to switch to Rails on technical grounds but that will also be an easy sell to their management.”

Now, he says Rails, but he’s actually talking in this point about Ruby, and how hard it is as a language. Maybe true for programmers who are using PHP and VB. But now, if all you know about programming is VB and PHP, well, you’re not really a programmer then are you?

Anyone familiar with any object oriented language can pick Ruby up in a day. Its syntax is a little different (ie. cleaner) than something like C++, but yet it offers the same flexibility as scripted languages.

Oh, and a compelling story? Ruby can be a replacement for Perl-based utilities (build scripts, etc.) with the added advantage of having easily maintained code, readability, modularity, etc. Sold!

“Ruby on Rails is just too advanced.”

Boy, he really doesn’t have much faith in programmers, eh? He also mentions that regular developers just can’t understand the flow of the code. Now, I’m not going to say that I’m out of the ordinary or anything, but I don’t even work as a Programmer as my day job (anymore) and I get it. It’s clever, yes, but it’s not too clever. The true genius of this framework is that it can be completely overridden. Don’t like how it handles something in the default case – change it.

If anything, I think what he’s getting at here isn’t that programmers aren’t bright enough to “get it”, it’s that they’re too stubborn or indoctrinated to “get it”. Hell, I find myself doing things the long way around all the time in Rails, and after battling for awhile, I realize, “Shit! I can do this in one line of code!” Duh.

“All fanatics of dynamic languages are quick to point that they don't need an IDE to use Ruby, Python, Groovy or other. …This is nonsense. Ignore these people, they don't understand how the real world works and how developers think, and they are one of the reasons why so many great technologies never make it to the mainstream. Don't ever be ashamed to need an IDE or to ask for one.”

Alright, well, name-calling aside, let’s just drop a few names: Komodo, Radrails, Textmate.

Sure some (like Radrails) are pretty early-days. But Textmate is simple, slick, and elegant. And Komodo is a full-fledged IDE used for more than just Ruby on Rails. It even costs money – how’s THAT for credible?

He points to the lack of debugger and source control integration. Komodo offers those things. And Ruby itself has a debugger. It’s no Visual Studio, but it’s usable and fairly decent as far as web debuggers go. Where’s the PHP IDE with Visual Debugger? Huh.

I enjoy a good IDE as much as the next guy, but the lack of one is hardly a limiting factor. Having developed PS2 games using little more than KDevelop, a command-line debugger, and some prints – irb seems more than adequate for debugging some web apps using a framework that does most of the work for you.

“This is a crowd convinced that it has found the ultimate answer to everything, and they are not afraid to let you know.”

Ok, well maybe I fall into this category. I just can’t help it. Ruby and rails has actually led me to enjoy programming again. There is so much WRONG with computers that it’s so refreshing when something is actually RIGHT that you want to shout it to the hilltops. It’s the same reason Apple people are fanatics.

“Ruby on Rails has pretty much nuked the field of Web development in Ruby, and I wonder if it's such a good thing.”

Fair enough. But at the same time, it has also ignited the field of web development in Ruby. There is far more activity in that field now than there ever was, and people are writing plugins, engines, extensions, tools, and all sorts of amazing stuff for Ruby and Rails, and that is definitely a good thing.

I’m really a fan of the whole DRY philosophy, and I think it applies to the community as a whole and not just for a single project. What Rails offers the community at large is elegant solutions to solved problems. So that instead of having to beat your head against the wall creating your own system for database interaction, you can focus not just on your application, but possibly give back to the community by sharing your own solutions.

I know competition breeds innovation and wonh wonh, but sometimes becoming truly adept and skilled using a tool, and taking that tool to its absolute limits will yield far superior results than just constantly trying to re-invent the wheel because there is always a “better” way just around the corner.

Rails isn’t perfect obviously, but it’s pretty F’in good, and I’m really curious to see what can be accomplished with a tool like this when I don’t have to waste my time implementing solutions to solved problems.

Enterprise capabilities and scalability unclear.”

I think he’s probably right here - it’s not clear how well something like Rails scales at an enterprise level. But mainstream and enterprise-adopted aren’t the same thing. Are companies running their mission-critical systems using PHP and MySQL? Yeah, didn’t think so either.

Now, I’m not sure there’s some kind of explicit mission for Rails, but my guess is that enterprise adoption is less important than community adoption. And there is room for a solution that addresses the needs of the masses while still leaving out the Enterprise market.

Lack of support from Internet Providers.”

Early days. PHP also wasn’t installed on every web server when it first came out. This isn’t something that prevents Rails from ever becoming mainstream, it’s just the reason that it’s not mainstream YET.

So, anyway, I’m not disagreeing with him, I’m just trying to provide some counterpoints to his points. That was a mammoth of a post, but hopefully it makes up for the fact that it’s been awhile since I posted here. You’ll have to forgive me, I’ve been busy holed up with Ruby on Rails.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Michael Geist dummies the recording industry...again!

The saga continues:

Now, the pollster responsible for the results that show P2P isn't actually hurting sales of records is slamming Michael Geist for his analysis of their results. Well, in response to their pathetic spin (what did I say? spin spin spin!) - Michael has dummied them again with his rebuttal.

Seriously, does the music industry EVER get tired of being WRONG?

Give it up already. You're embarrassing yourselves. It's just...sad.

Monday, March 20, 2006

The CRIA admits they are wrong, quietly

Sheesh. Holy slow news....weeks. Anyway, interesting summary of a CRIA study on consumer buying habits by Michael Geist on his blog. Basically, the CRIA study shows that P2P has almost no impact on CD buying habits, and that those engaged in it actually bought more music. It was only one minor factor amongst a whole host of other reasons why people did or didn't buy music.

Funny, seems like that's what everyone has been saying the entire time. Should be good to watch the industry backtrack and spin this one.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

More Guitar Heroes!

Well, it's been a week since I updated. It's been a shockingly slow news week lately. But, finally, the gaming news we've all been waiting for was released by one of the executives at RedOctane:


RAWK. Not just a sequel, but genre specific games. Five or six even! Our cup definitely floweth over. I can only hope that Guitar Hero 2 or one of its associated genre games comes out sooner rather than later. It'll probably be the fall, but we can dream that maybe at E3 they'll announce something sooner.
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