NFO Creator for Boxee Box

I’ve had a few movies that BoxeeBox has been unable to identify lately. It is really annoying especially if you ever move source files around on your LAN. I have so much content I can;t cram it all onto a single source without paying a fortune. A while ago I started using my own cover art because BoxeeBox would lose them from time to time. Now, when BoxeeBox has a tough time identifying a movie I use NFO Creator for Boxee Box. This has proven to be pretty flawless. This site is highly recommended. Handwriting your own NFOs is just plain silly and a waste of time. Having your own NFOs allows you to also add the information of your choosing instead of relying on BoxeeBox. For the truly anal retentive you can tweak your descriptions to your heart’s content.

With the future of BoxeeBox very uncertain this may become a necessary tool in the future. My hope is when the first generation BoxeeBox is abandoned by D-Link, they make it usable for LAN content and ditch the Internet streaming features which are the cause of a lot of trouble. This seems almost improbable given D-Link’s history. One can only hope.

Last.fm

The last.fm audioscrobbler client is good, except when it’s not. I changed my password over a month ago and I forgot the change it in the client. Does changing a password improve security? (Hint: No.) It also hasn’t bothered to tell me that it has been failing to auth to last.fm for two months. Nor has it bothered to tell me that it has cached 13,000 tracks. Neither has this awesome software bothered to tell me it has been more than a month since the last successful connection to the mothership. The only reason I noticed was because it was using lost of memory. It was using 300 MB of RAM. That’s a lot for a usually tidy client.

Once the outdated password situation was rectified it dutifully decided to submit 13,000+ cached scrobbles. Mind you it only does that 50 scrobbles at a time. I decided to take a screenshot because it was moving so slow. It is going to take about 35 minutes to submit all the scrobbles.

It would be awesome if the last.fm devs would add such a cool feature such as “can’t connect.” I guess that’s hard or something.

 

Update.

I’m not sure if it is coincidence or not but last.fm melted down right after I started my 13,000 scrobble submission.

 

Pretty funny either way. Needless to say my 45 minute estimate turned into an eight hour ordeal. Good thing I went to bed and gave up watching it.

Holy Music Batman!

It has been a while since I last counted my music. My CDs are gathering dust in boxes and the botched attempt to re-rip everything into FLAC format died after the first box. And yes, I actually have an APE file; no idea where I found that. I’m sure I missed some rather obscure audio format I have buried in some directory. This surely covers 99.9% of my audio files.

$find / -type f -iname “*.ogg” -o iname “*.mp3” -o iname “*.aac” -o iname “*.flac” -o iname “*.wma” -o iname “*.ape”|wc -l

$find /music -type d | wc -l

$ du -c *.ogg *.mp3 *.aac *.flac *.wma *.ape | tail -1

1116505110523 bytes (=1,064,782.25 megabytes)
118,120 files

Just when I thought I was done. I missed a whole NFS mount. I need to add:
187791097030 bytes
10990 files

So the new total is:
1304296207553 bytes (=1,243,873.79 megabytes)
129110 files

The Official Logo for mp3

The Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft Society that licences MP3 charges quite a bit. No wonder they have a 2 billion dollar annual research budget. I also noticed they get a little uppity when you write MP3 instead of mp3.

229 songs and 891 miles

Some of the gang set out on a weekend trip. We headed to Butte Montana on our motorcycles. Our excuse for this ride was Evel Knievel Days. This is a celebration of Evel Knievel and his craziness in his hometown in the middle of nowhere.

We met up on Wasatch Blvd in Salt Lake City. The gang included Lea, Petey, Todd, Q, Rick, Ben, and Tatanka (that became my nickname for the trip). After topping off our gas tanks and sampling some kind of bagel ball from the nearby bagel shop we were on our way. Our first destination would be Evanston, Wyoming. This is only about 75 miles and it took us a little over an hour to get there. We used I-80 and passed through Park City. It was mostly hot and there was one obnoxious driver determined to run me over while he yapped away on his cell phone. We try to limit each stint to under 100 miles and only once did we go above that. We stopped for fuel and a beverage. Gas is a lot cheaper in Wyoming. The Flying J Travel Plaza in Evanston is the ticket to success. More importantly though we were now off the Interstate. This is where the real riding and fun kick in. Driving a motorcycle is fun, it is even more fun when you can do it on back roads.

Once again on the road. We did a good job of forming a nice zig-zag formation in our group. Everyone falls nicely into line except for Todd. He doesn’t seem to like it when I ride next to him. One the road you can barely hear anything because the motorcycles are so loud. Most of us strapped on our iPods and cranked up the tunes. For this trip I got out the Shure SE530’s for maximum quality. I mean I did rip everything in FLAC for heaven’s sake.

About a half hour outside of Evanston we stopped in a small town called Woodruff, UT. The road we are taking (WY-89) winds back and forth across the Utah-Wyoming-Idaho-Montana borders. Once again we stopped for fuel and another drink. Interestingly enough the iPhone was the only device that worked, thank you very much.

Our next stop would be almost an hour north, Cokeville, Wyoming. Once again the iPhone prevailed in all it glory over the inferior Blackberries. For road trips I have a windshield on my motorcycle that Lea helped me put on. It makes riding long distances very nice. The only one who did not have one in our group was Ben. I think he might be reconsidering that decision. Not only does it make riding easier, the windshield also protects you from the zillions of mosquitoes that usually smash into you. The down side being you have to clean off you windshield frequently as there are zillions of mosquitoes smashed into it. My routine quickly became fill with gas, clean windshield. get a drink.

Back on the road again. This part of our trip was filled with valleys of rolling hills with dramatic rock faced mountains in the background. The views were fantastic. This stint ended in Alpine, Wyoming at a hotel called the Flying Saddle where we would spend the night. It sat right on the Snake River and my room overlooked that river. We went to the nearby steakhouse and had a not-so-good steak. Our waiter was Tony. He often managed to disappear for long periods of time and we had to hunt him down a few times. I’m pretty sure he was not only serving us our food but killing it, cooking it as well. The restaurant is called the Flying Saddle Steakhouse. Not very good. Best to be avoided. The best part of our evening was some old lady at a nearby table got mad at us for being too loud. I’m pretty sure of two things. Her husband is miserable, and her husband wanted very much to be at our table having a good time instead of being with her.

The next morning we got up and headed to a nearby Cafe called Yankee Doodles Cafe. It was fun and the breakfast was tasty. Q and R ditched us to meet up with Q’s father-in-law Kyle. This would be a recurring theme on our trip. After getting back on the saddle we continued our northward trek. Cruising along the snake river meant that the area was nice and green. There were large reservoirs and and streams we passed by. By this time we were in Targhee National Forest so the pine trees were thick. The views very some of the best of the trip and the curves were awesome. We tried to use by-way as much as we could to have a more scenic route. It was fun to maneuver the motorcycle along this road.

Our next stop was almost two hours away. Ashton, Idaho. The fun part of this stop was, we got to see the state record setting brown trout in a nearby fishing supply store. They also had huckleberry ice cream.

Again another two hours more north. This time to Ennis, Montana. We ate lunch at the Ennis Cafe for which I am in no way responsible for. L made an “executive decision” to eat here. Man, this placed sucked so bad it was scary. If you are ever in Ennis, don’t eat here. Really, don’t eat here. There were a surprising number of people stopped in this little town.

Another 90 miles and we arrive our destination for the day. Anaconda, Montana and the Fairmont Hot Springs Hotel, just outside of Butte, Montana.

Evel Knievel Days takes place in Butte Montana. Montana is a wondrous place where the citizens still believe that the government should really be a part of their life. This festival takes place on the downtown streets where people openly consume alcohol, and yet no one is out of control. The police don’t really care about speeding and yet chaos has not ensued and everyone seems to be just fine. I wonder when people will wake and realize that more government, let alone government is not the answer. Anyway, there was lots of fun stuff going on like the X-Games, and daredevil stunts.

We had a great time.

Las Vegas

Las Vegas

Early last week the snow was piling up and so we decided to head for warmer weather weather. Las Vegas seemed like the perfect place. Only a couple of ours away and plenty of fun things to do, but more importantly, warmer. S. and I headed out with L. and L. for a weekend of fun.

Along the way we decided to name our tour. So we came up with, “The Seven Deadly Sins Tour.” Remember those list of sins from the Old Testament? Things God doesn’t like. There have been many versions of the list over the last two millennium. We settled on the Pope Gregory I revision. Dante’s list would have worked well also, but he manages to come up with ways to punish the extravagant, as the wasteful are punished in the fourth circle of hell.

So how did we do?

  • Lust
  • Most people think of this as sexual, but it can be almost anything. Lust is an inordinate craving for the pleasures of the body. I suppose going to the the gym everyday would qualify.

  • Gluttony
  • We managed this one with flying colors. Way too much food.

  • Greed
  • It was Vegas right?

  • Sloth
  • I think we can get a passing grade on this one as well. Perhaps, sleeping in late? Oh wait, the whole trip was an avoidance of of physical or spiritual work.

  • Wrath
  • There was a host that we were unhappy with. Oh, and those annoying guys flapping their smut fliers on the sidewalk on the strip. Definitely not happy with them.

  • Envy
  • I really wanted to eat all of L.’s doughnut holes.

  • Pride
  • Thinking you can predict the future.

All in all not a bad attempt on such a short notice. I guess next weekend we’ll have to go for the Seven virtues contrition and misdeeds plan. Good times.

last.fm finally fixes something

last.fm

last.fm charts have been broken for more than a month now. Today they finally started to render again. To bad there is no other game in town. Winamp has its Orgler but that is a Windows only solution that requires Winamp Media Player to work. the last.fm approach is much smarter. Of course they don’t make a media player like Winamp, so they are platform and client agnostic which helps their popularity.

Ever since CBS bought last.fm things like this have been happening. Probably as a result of a desire to show a profit they cut staff who keep things like this running. Hurray for corporate overlords who are clueless.

Songs created from Disney and Pixar Movies

A nineteen-year-old in Australia made this song using nothing but sounds and scenes found in Disney’s “Alice in Wonderland.” A certain appreciation of modern down tempo chill out music helps. Think Portishead, Air or Boards of Canada.

This one is even more impressive. The video for this track ‘Upular’, is composed using chords, bass notes and vocal samples from the Disney Pixar film ‘Up’

What exactly does Comcast own?

Comcast

With the recent news that Comcast is creating a joint venture with General Electric to own NBC Universal everyone is arguing, pontificating, and prognosticating about the impact of the merger will have on media, television and the Internet. For the its fiscal year 2008, Comcast has a market cap of $50.36 billion and a Enterprise Value $78.89 billion, so it is quite large. Last year Comcast had an Operating Margin 20.24% and a profit margin of 8.76%. (source) Comcast has been trying to become completely vertically integrated for a long time. If you recall in 2004 Comcast made a surprise, unsolicited offer to buy Walt Disney Co. for $54 billion, a deal that would create the world’s biggest media company at the time. Earlier I listed a partial list of the myriad Comcast assets. That wasn’t good enough so this time let’s take a look and try and come up with a definitive list of what exactly what Comcast owns with some detail added. This will give us a better picture into what they are trying to accomplish and who they are going to compete with.

Obviously the two largest aspects of Comcast are:
Comcast the Cable Company almost 25 million customers.
Comcast the ISP 14.9 million Internet subscribers and 6.5 million VoIP customers.
These two are really the same company but I think it is important to call out how big they are as individual business units.

Other regional cable companies owned by Comcast that are operating under their own name:
Patriot Media Comcast acquired Patriot Media in April 2007 for $483 million.
Susquehanna Communications (Suscom)

Comcast Interactive Media
Plaxo has pulse 40 million users
Fandango which exclusively markets tickets for 16,000 venues Fandango ranks among the nation’s biggest Web properties, typically bringing anywhere from 8 to 12 million visitors a month, with 9.3 million in July of 2008.
Fancast Comscore recently pronounced it number three in Web-based TV entertainment, drawing in over 11 million unique visitors in October
TV Everywhere, an experiment in making its offerings “free online and on-demand” over the ‘Net (free to its cable customers, of course)
The Platform, an online video management company that helps clients stream their video on Web or mobile sites.
Daily Candy Reports say Comcast bought the company for $125 million in 2008.

Other Internet Properties
Comcast.net, which integrates much of this stuff (especially Fancast) into a single portal alongside the company’s e-mail, voice, and TV offerings.

Comcast Spectacor
GuideWorks The idiots who make the DVR OS
TVOne (African-American-oriented programming)
TVWorks makes software to run the cable systems
Ovations Food Services You’ve got to feed them
New Era Tickets They have to buy a ticket somewhere
ComcastTIX or they can buy it here
10 annually televised figure skating programs on NBC with Disson Skating
Global Spectrum which manages 23 sports like the Wachovia Center and Wachovia Spectrum in Philadephia, they also build stadiums
Flyers Skate Zone community skating rinks
SMG, formerly known as Spectacor Management Group the largest company in the world for managing publicly owned facilities like sports arena. This list is starting to get long.

Sporting Teams
Philadelphia 76ers
Philadelphia Flyers
Philadelphia Phantoms

Sports Programming
The Comcast Network formerly CN8, viewed in four states and 20 DMAs
Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic
Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia
Comcast SportsNet Chicago
Comcast SportsNet West
Comcast SportsNet Northwest
Comcast SportsNet New England
Comcast SportsNet Bay Area
Comcast SportsNet California
SportsNet New York (joint venture with the New York Mets and TWC)
MLB Network (joint venture with MLB and other providers)
Charter Sports Southeast (in part with Charter Communications)
The Golf Channel (73 million subscribers)
Charter Sports Southeast (joint ventyre with Charter Communications)
Comcast Sports Southeast (partial ownership)
Big Ten Network (partial ownership)
The Mtn. (MountainWest Sports Network)
NHL Network (partial ownership)

Other programming
Comcast Television (formerly Comcast Local) available in Michigan
E! Networks
E! Entertainment (85 million subscribers)
Style Network (51 million subscribers)
G4 (57 million subscribers)
Versus (66 million subscribers, formerly OLN)
AZN Television (formerly International Networks)
ExerciseTV
FEARnet
New England Cable News
Current TV (partial ownership)
Pittsburgh Cable News Channel (partial ownership)
PBS KIDS Sprout (partial ownership)
TVOne (mentioned above, owned by Sprectacor)
Comcast Entertainment Television (CET) available in Denver and Colorado Springs

Movie Studios
MGM Pictures (partial ownership)
United Artists Corporation (partial ownership)

Comcast Spotlight This the advertising division of Comcast that serves more than 80 of the nation’s 210 designated market areas (DMAs)

iN DEMAND (pay-per-view and subscription video-on-demand services)
Music Choice produces music-related content for digital cable, cell phones, and cable modem subscribers
Pittsburgh Cable News Channel (with WPXI)

Comcast is an investor in both Clearwire and SpectrumCo wireless ventures. Other Clearwire investors include Intel, Google, Time Warner Cable, and Bright House Networks. Source for this article include Wikipedia, Comcast, freepress, arstechnica. Thanks.

So now we know that Comcast is big, really big. Comcast clearly understands the coming future of its markets and the demands of its customers. It is trying to control all the outlets that viewers will have into its vast content production capabilities. Comcast is being run by smart people, and I’m certain they understand the future is all about the Internet. We have a lot of questions ahead of us that demand to be answered. So the next question is, what does NBC Universal own? After that we have to ask ourselves who is Comcast competing with and how might that competition be changed by the merger?