Category Archives: media

Music Management

Collections are pretty fun. Most people probably tend to accumulate things, and the smarter ones tend to realize that organization is the only way that one’s collection will ever see effective use.

Kid Loco on KDE4/Dolphin

Kid Loco on KDE4/Dolphin

DJing relies pretty heavily on having and knowing a lot of music. It’s also probably the coolest collection-based hobby/profession. Stamp and rock collections just don’t cut it. It’s easy to find examples of organization taken too far, but luckily my hobby supports my misprioritization, and I have a very organized MP3 collection. So, here’s how I do it.

  1. torrent or slsk or audiograbber (w/ lame) my music
  2. Use MusicBrainz Picard to complete incomplete tags and cluster/manually tag most music. It’s a little bit different, but it’s ridiculuously automated and very handy for letting you know when you have an incomplete album, etc. Before this, I used PsychicMP3 and discogs pages.

    MusicBrainz Picard Automated MP3 Tagger on Windows

    MusicBrainz Picard Automated MP3 Tagger on Windows

  3. Optional: Automatically record most of the bpm info into the file with MixMeister BPM analyzer. Even if you’re just making a playlist for your workout, knowing the speed of the tracks can help you create a much more cohesive and flowing mix.
  4. I tag anything rare or unrecognized by MusicBrainz with Mp3Tag at this point. Also, MixMeister’s not so good on swing rhythms and some stranger time signatures, or bpms less than 80/greater than 160, so I check them in Mp3Tag with a javascript bpm tapper.
  5. For when I feel like being crazy, I’ll run MP3Gain or something. MP3Gain can automatically normalize your music so you don’t have super loud or super soft tracks. If you don’t know what you’re doing you can introduce distortion, though. Usually, if the track sounds ok, I’ll leave well enough alone.
  6. I check for untagged/low quality files that got through before I started doing all this with MP3 Check

I stick to MP3, 192kbps or higher, VBR or CBR. I like to keep the sample rate at 44100hz, as that’s what the DN-S1200s support. I get FLAC albums (when I can find them), for my real faves, but of course keep the MP3s for portability reasons.

As for folder structure, I’m a sucker for Artist/Album (Year)/Tracks. A lot of renaming and tagging software will move stuff around for you, so yay. Oh, and I have to say that one of the most consistently frustrating things about tagging music is having to pick a genre for a song/album. I wish I could just leave it blank, but I’m a completionist.

So, is this waaay too much work? Did you note that all of these tools are Windows-based (except for Picard!)? Luckily, I store my MP3s on my server and grab them with samba, but if Linux had these tools, you know I’d grab that ebuild. If I missed them, let me know. Also, Amarok2 not working on amd64 gentoo is ridiculous. Not only that, but when I got it working, it blew chunks compared to amarok 1. Too much focus on peripheral media, not enough collection- and tag-based power.

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Mix 1

My first recorded mix. I figured I was playing a lot of music, doin sweet stuff, so I might as well save it. I hooked up the decks to my Gentoo box running a newly compiled Audacity. The tracks are more or less random, though recognizable, and I’d say it’s uptempo, if not danceable, overall. If you need appx. 2 hrs of music and don’t feel like committing anything, this might be your lucky day.

About half an hour through I was graced by the presence of a somewhat inebriated Mr. Oltman, who had some interesting requests. I did what I could to make it work, but bear with the rest of it. It’s way more fun to mix with an audience, even if it’s just one. We had fun, so just think about that when it gets ugly 😉

Mix 1 – 3/26/2009

1:51 running time – 205MB 256kbps MP3

Tracklisting (Spoiler Alert!)

Highlight it for a better view.

  1. Mr. Scruff – Get a Move On
  2. David Snell – International Flight
  3. Hooverphonic – Electro Shock Faders
  4. Ladyhawke – Paris is Burning
  5. New Young Pony Club – Ice Cream
  6. Snoop Dogg – Sensual Seduction (Some Dance Mix of)
  7. Kid Cudi vs Crookers – Day n Nite (club mix)
  8. Mr. Oizo – Flat Beat
  9. Daft Punk – Phoenix
  10. Chemical Brothers – Hey Boy, Hey Girl
  11. Groove Armada – Superstylin’
  12. Kanye West – Love Lockdown
  13. Smashing Pumpkins – 1979 (New Originals mix)
  14. Benny Benassi feat. Sir Mixalot – Benny Got Back (Bass211 mix)
  15. John Legend and Andre 3000 – Green Light (MSTRKRFT mix)
  16. The Police – Roxanne (DiscoTech mix)
  17. The Glimmers – Cassette
  18. The Faint – Let the Poison Spill From Your Throat
  19. The Rapture – Olio
  20. Death From Above 1979 – Romantic Rights
  21. The Prodigy vs OutKast – Hey Ride
  22. Pink Grease – Superfool
  23. Spank Rock – Bump
  24. The Sneaker Pimps – Kiro TV
  25. The Prodigy – Warrior’s Dance
  26. Elite Force – Ghetto Fabulous
  27. Groove Armada – I See You Baby (Fatboy Slim mix)
  28. Royksopp – Eple (Shakedown mix)
  29. The Avalanches – Live at Dominoes
  30. Ragtyme – Fix It Man
  31. Kid Cudi – Maui Wowie
  32. dZihan and Kamien – Before
  • At first I wasn’t sure if I was going to keep the recording, so I was just futzing around at the beginning. International Flight was only in there for like a minute.
  • I really like Mr. Oizo’s Flat Beat into Phoenix; it works really well for a minimal beat mix.
  • Hey Boy, Hey Girl was a silly choice that I just included for the “Superstar DJs” lyric irony. I remember really not liking the transition into Superstylin’.
  • The Smashing Pumpkins to Benny Got Back cut was intentionally horrendous and sudden; I only did it to make Oltman lol, and it worked. Ben lol’d too, so I hope you can appreciate it.
  • I hope you caught the Green Light-Roxanne joke (Green Light && !Red Light). I don’t know if the humor makes up for the lame mix.
  • The Rapture to DFA1979 was a 25 bpm differential mix, so I ain’t ashamed.
  • I was really pleased with the Eple (Shakedown) and The Avalanches’ match. To the point where I _know_  I played with it too much, but that’s a mashup waiting to happen.
  • I got to use Ragtyme’s 1987 track Fix It Man. Took me forever to find the vinyl rip and it’s one of my faves.
  • I wish Kid Cudi didn’t have stock audio of farts peppering his new (unreleased) album.
  • dzihan and kamien bring us home with one of my old tyme favorites.

Anyway, the tracklisting and notes are good for me as they solidify the mix. I hope the tracklisting works for you. DJing’s not magic and I don’t intend on keeping secrets. If you need help finding any tracks, hit me up in the comments or email.

DJing is great (and so is the DN-S1200)

It just is. I’ve put together some sweet kit and hope to have mixes up in the coming months. For the record, here’s a sweet setup that’ll get you rolling for just one grand:

2x Denon DN-S1200 Compact MP3/MIDI turntables ($369 each)
1x Denon DN-X120 Compact 2-channel mixer ($168)
1x Pair of Sennheiser HD280PRO closed headphones ($74)
2x Kingston 16GB USB flash drives ($30 each)

I’ve got to say that ever since playing with their 3500 series turntables I’ve been anticipating my first turntables. Here are some features of the DN-S1200 that make it great for a starting DJ:

  • Price point – $370 is a very fair price for the features and for a product that came out late 2008.
  • Accepts USB flash/external hard drives – One per deck, up to 50,000 MP3s (or WAVs) each. These files are indexed and searchable on-deck by way of ID3 tags (including BPM).
  • MIDI Controller w/ built-in soundcard – With mappings for Traktor and other popular titles, you can plug it in to a laptop via USB and the laptop will play music out of the Main Out while allowing you to control the software with the scratch disc, etc. Amazing.
  • Ultra portable – This thing is super compact and light while feeling pretty sturdy in construction. This’ll let you move it around and use it without any specific dedicated space. The DN-X120 mixer matches as well.
  • Feature-loaded – I’m not going to cover them all, but you can plug in a keyboard to your turntables and search for music. You can connect your turntables to each other with a standard Ethernet crossover and share the keyboard between them. You can also upgrade the firmware just by slapping it on a flash drive and mashing a couple buttons.
  • Plenty of DN-S1200-specific tutorials – Ellaskins on YouTube has got a series on the DN-S1200. Yay for howtos.

Anyway, there aren’t a ton of reasons to get the DN-X120 mixer, but it is very compact, has almost everything you’ll need until much more advanced stages, and there’s even a rebate that will get you a free case specially fitted to 2 DN-S1200s and the DN-X120. Being able to move your stuff around safely will let you DJ a lot more freely and you’ll be a happier DJ. Still, weigh your options. I almost got a 3-channel mixer, but I decided to put that off until later.

I should mention in case anyone has a similar problem and is looking for a kindred spirit that one of my tables was defective when I got it. The scratch disc central hub was stuck/jammed. I called Denon and they were very swift/professional about the whole thing. We’ll see what the repair’s like when I get it back.

Also, here’s the keyboard I got. Collapsible, illuminated, spill-proof. Some day I’ll have the turntables to match.

I was thinking I’d upload mixes in the future, with the possibility of requests. Let me know if you have any ideas.

Edit: Added prices and links.

I drew some pictures

Here they are.

t&e update

Those who know me know that I’m a big fan of Tim and Eric: bigbig fan. Most recently, their Awesome Show Great Job! has delivered three seasons of fantastic shows. However, what are they up to besides the show, and more importantly, what should one watch when the show’s not airing new episodes?

Well, lately there have been a few videos for the watching. Eric has apparently been working on a few music videos, so let me get you some links:

T&E aren’t in all of them, in fact I think they’re only in the Ben Folds one. And I think that one might even have the real Ben Folds. Regardless, the style is priceless and very recognizable (Phantom Planet has a uke and a tiny cat [vs hat]). There are even some parts that could be claimed as overly similar, but you be the judge.  Also, the Polite Dance Song one has been out for ages, but it had to be included.

And if you haven’t caught the Vodka Movie miniseries featuring Zach Galifianakis, here’s another compilation for youyouyouyou

Enjoy, but hide your chubs!

Update: I couldn’t get enough of this either, but it doesn’t really fit anywhere.

On authority; documentaries

Between the last post and this one, I realized why I disdain my blog. Personally, I generally only happen upon blogs that are

  1. Not blogs at all.
  2. Webcomic-driven
  3. Authorities on a subject

Because this blog is 1) most certainly a blog, 2) presently lacking in humour and artistic skill and 3) written by someone who has no delusions of claims to authority, I realized that I probably wouldn’t find much merit in my own blog. That said, I’m going to strive to produce information on what I know/do best. At the end of winter break, I can comfortably say that my command over media (motion pictures and the like), is about as authoritative as I can afford to make it.

So now, without further ado, a brief review of some highly excellent and engaging documentaries. (with imdb links and ratings)

  1. Checkpoint (2003) – 8.1 – A must-watch documentary. No narration, just footage of the interactions between Palestinians and Israeli border police. There is very little violence, no deaths or serious injury, just a very sharp and clear image of a dynamic not seen anywhere else in the world. It humanizes not just the Palestinian plight, but also the Israeli soldiers, many of them younger than I.
  2. White Light, Black Rain (2007) – 8.4 – The film gives a very balanced and human-centered view of the 1945 Hiroshima/Nagasaki nuclear bombings. It steers clear of making too many assertions about modern-day implications, which makes it a very independent source, and it’s about time; this is likely the last generation that will have access to the human side that the film documents so well. All that said, if you’re not particularly interested in the subject, you may find some parts a bit tedious.
  3. Ralph Nader – An Unreasonable Man (2006) – 7.9  – I love me some Ralph Nader; I hate me some status quo. I found the film extremely informative and at times, even fun. It covers Nader biographically, with a particular focus on his role in the 2000 elections, where many claim he robbed Gore and stuck us with Bush.
  4. BBC Horizon – Allergy Planet – Not actually a feature-length documentary, it was probably the best BBC Horizon I’ve seen yet. Traditional, familiar style, but very engaging and interesting. Short and sweet.
  5. Walmart – The High Cost of Low Price (2005) – 6.9 – Another interesting one, but it lagged at times. The conclusion is predictable, but it might give you some perspective as to the degree. Also, it did go the extra mile by going to China and Bangladesh, which I appreciated.
  6. Who Killed the Electric Car? (2006) – 7.7 – Very nice presentation, and despite the seemingly small scope, pretty engaging. Most of the United States was and probably still is unaware of just how advanced the electric car had gotten by 1996. We probably still think it impractical, I mean, otherwise why would we only have hybrids? California had sweet electric cars because they had some interesting laws, then the car companies got the laws repealed, and then the car companies recalled the perfectly fine cars and destroyed them. If you’re into the environment and haven’t seen it yet, I highly recommend.
  7. Maxed Out: Our Credit (2006) – 7.4 – This film will probably disgust you, exactly the reason why you have to see it. For anyone curious as to how banks actually make money, prepare for the enlightenment. It’s not from you and me, payin’ our bills, reading the fine print, no, but rather the people who do it all wrong. The higher the risk the better. Note the date, note the financial crisis, note that you can get a better bead on what’s going on by simply watching a movie. (Short version: the less chance someone has of paying back a loan, the higher the risk for the lender. The higher the risk, the higher the rate. Rate = return. These high-rate loans were sold on markets for beaucoup bucks and never got paid back, duh.) I surmise that the low rating was because it had a couple draggy parts and because the whole issue had very few manifestations in the economy at the time.
  8. Confessions of a Superhero (2007) – 7.3 – Semi-interesting portraits of some people who dress up and act like superheroes (with whom tourists may take pictures) in Hollywood. Not tremendously informative, but you’ll see some characters for sure.

I watched some documentaries this last semester that were pretty good and the ones I would recommend there are Breaking the Silence – Truth and Lies in the War On Terror, The War on Democracy, and Where in the World Is Osama Bin Laden. I’ve only got one documentary left to watch, and that’s Taxi to the Dark Side. I’ve heard great things.