Sunday, September 26, 2010

Smart Playlists in iTunes

Smart Playlists are one of the main reasons I like iTunes so much. Below is just such a favoured Smart Playlist.

This controls the music I listen to day to day. It defines the following rules:
  1. Give me music from my general music collection.
  2. Add items from a separate Smart Playlist that contains un-played podcasts that I consider to be music e.g. ABC Radio National's In the Night Air, KEXP's Music That Matters, Mixtape Show Hip-Hop, The 20min Mixtape Show, IndieFeed: Hip Hop and Alpa Pup's sadly defunct Alternative Hip-Hop Lounge.
  3. Don't include items I have rated 1 or 2 stars. 
    1. I delete items rated 1 star. I never want to listen to them again!
    2. Generally I want to keep items rated 2 stars, but don't want to listen to them again on my device. Usually they are part of some collection I want to keep as a whole.
  4. Don't include items that I have listened to two or more times.
  5. Don't include items that I have listened to in the last eight weeks.
  6. Don't include items that I have skipped over previously (usually means I didn't want to listen to them and was not prepared to actually take the device out of my pocket and rate the item).
  7. And lastly, out of the 30GB or so that match these conditions, choose a random 5GB to put on my device.
Some useful links for Smart Playlists:

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Know when you are using WiFI vs 3G on your iPhone

I first got a data plan with my Nokia N95 8GB - just $5 for 50MB a month because frankly it isn't a good "Internet" machine. YouTube never worked over 3G and browsing the web on the N95's tiny screen and navigating with "physical" buttons was slow, clunky and painful. When I was given an iPhone 4 last week (thank you Süheyla and Talya!) I wanted to test just how much of a 3G Internet hog I could become, so I upped the plan to $15 for 1GB a month, to kick in during the next billing period (a couple of weeks or so from now).

In the mean-time, I found a couple of cool Internet radio applications and began using them at work and home - where I have access to Wi-FI. Today I checked my 3G Internet usage and found I have a bill for $256.97 for 125.48MB excess beyond my 50MB per month (excess Usage 0.20¢ per KB). I rang my supplier to explain the situation and asked to be forgiven for the debt. Politely enough I was refused and given a $20 discount instead.

It was explained to me that the iPhone has a feature: if the Wi-FI gets disconnected, it automatically switches over to 3G. I was horrified; under normal situations I would think this a cool feature, but not while I have only 50MB a month!

So here is my lesson; maybe you can learn it too.

How do i know if my iPhone is using Wi-FI or my Data Plan? On the top left of the screen, to the right of your supplier's name is an icon. This symbol means you are currently using your 3G data plan:

This symbol means you are currently using a Wi-FI network:

See page 21-22 of the iPhone User Guide to see what all of the possible icons mean - including EDGE and GPRS, which are other forms of Internet connectivity offered by certain suppliers.

Great - but it didn't save me, since obviously my Wi-FI disconnected at some point and automatically switched over to my 3G data plan. I have since found that you can stop that from happening too (iOS 4, iPhone 4): go to Settings > General Network > turn off Mobile Data. This will ensure that from now on, I will only be able to use Wi-FI for Internet - at least until my 1GB plan kicks in.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Test slideshow

Text above the slideshow.

Text below the slideshow.

Human Landscapes from My Country

For Süheyla, with love.

Haydar Pasha Station,
spring 1941,
On the steps, sun
                                    and confusion.

A man
         stops on the steps,
                 thinking about something.
His nose is long and pointed,
and his cheeks are pockmarked.
The man on the steps,
                  Master Galip,
                           is famous for thinking strange thoughts:
"If I could eat sugar wafers every day," he thought
                                                           when he was 5.
"If I could go to school," he thought
                                     at 10.
"If I could leave Father's knife shop
before the evening prayers," he thought
                                            at 11.
"If I could buy a pair of yellow shoes
so the girls will look at me," he thought
                                            at 15
"Why did Father close his knife shop?
And the factory is nothing like this shop,"
                                                                he thought
                                                                at 16.
"Will my pay go up?" he thought
                                      at 20
"Father died at fifty -
will I die early too?" he thought
                                     when he was 21.
"What if I get laid off?" he thought
                                     at 22.
"What if I get laid off?" he thought
                                     at 23.
"What if I get laid off?" he thought
                                     at 24.
And out of work from time to time,
he thought "What if I get laid off?"
                                     till he was 50.
At 51 he thought: "I'm old -
                   I've lived one year longer than my father."
Now he's 52.
He's out of work.
Stopped on the steps now,
        he' lost
                in the strangest of thoughts:
"When will I die?
Will I have a bed to die in?
                                        he thinks.
His nose is long and pointed.
His cheeks are pockmarked.

Spring comes to Haydar Pasha Station
wih the smell of fish in the sea
                           and bedbugs on the floor.

Excerpt from the very beginning of Human Landscapes from My Country, an Epic Novel in Verse, by Nazim Hikmet, translated from the Turkish by Randy Blasing and Mutlu Konuk.

ISBN 0-89255-273-5, Published 2002, Persea Books.

Pictures from Carol Guillaume' album Railway Stations and Marco's Gallery.