Monthly Archives: December 2008


In 2008 Liza began speaking.

In 2008 my grandfather died.

In 2008 I was a guest at a conference dedicated to internet memes.

In 2008 I saw my friends become the parents I always knew they could be.

In 2008 I flew back from California to go to Misty’s grandfather’s funeral.

In 2008 the U.S. had an historic presidential election.

In 2008 two of our best friends became pregnant again.

In 2008 the world’s economies tanked.

In 2008 Eli played soccer.

In 2008 I was a guest at an SF conference to talk about real science.

In 2008 we didn’t have friends over as often as we used to.

In 2008 I had intense and meaningful conversations with good friends.

In 2008 Misty’s grandmother died.

In 2008 some of our friends got divorced.

In 2008 some of our friends got married.

In 2008 we re-connected with a friend we’d last talked to five years ago.

In 2008 I sang Christmas music with my church’s choir.

In 2008 I got a new nephew.

In 2008 we traveled to Japan with two of our close friends.

In 2008 Israel stepped up rocket attacks on Palestine.

Let’s see what 2009 brings.

Vacation Time!

We’re off until some time after the new year for the vacationing and the playing etc. etc. Don’t trash the blog while we’re out.

Christmas Wishes

Mary holds the tiny Christ child who will grow beyond her sight.

Merry Christmas and a Happy Holidays to all. I wish you the gift of days spent with those you love.

A Sign of the Times

For Christmas today, Eli got a remote controlled car. It was some kind of Dodge, and the package proudly states that it was an official Chrystler licensed product.

Two minutes after I put batteries in it, it stopped working.

On the plus side, we’re now eligible for $10 billion in bailout money.

Not Santa! Not Santa!

You know what gets me in the mood for Christmas? Scary Christmas songs.

Yes, yes, mall Santas are frightening, but are they as frightening as this song?

The Coolest Christmas Ever

Hey, remember when Arsenio was cool? Remember when New Kids on the Block was cool? What if the two of them were mixed together in a 1990s mélange of super-coolness?

That, my friends, is funky, funky. It is, in fact, twice-baked funky.

Review of Element Case’s Liquid Case for the iPhone

Hey, look what I got to review: a Liquid case from Element Case. Here you can see my encased iPhone menacing my poor old SLVR.

An iPhone in an Element Liquid case menaces a Motorola SLVR. Grr. Argh.

It’s a hard plastic case designed for either generation of iPhone. You drop your iPhone into the case and screw a bezel on to hold it in place. The tiny hex-head screws means you won’t be popping the case on and off easily. For normal use that’s not a problem, as all buttons and slots are available, but you can’t dock the iPhone with the case in place.

The $100 sticker price is eye-popping — that’s half the base cost of an 8GB iPhone 3G — but the price is offset by its rugged design and customizability. You can choose the color of both the case and the translucent flip lid. You also get to choose what graphic you’d like laser-etched on the front. You may notice mine is sporting a sweet DCTV logo.

The Element Liquid case for iPhone, with the lid artistically slid to one side.

The lid is held on by magnets at the four corners, and can be attached to the back while you’re using the phone. While that obscures the camera, if you don’t use the camera all that much, it shouldn’t be a problem.

My iPhone felt well-protected in the case. I didn’t feel like the iPhone was going to slip out of my hand the way my caseless phone did, and I didn’t have to collapse my thumbs as much to type thanks to the case’s extra thickness. The thing is armored like a Sherman tank.

The Element Liquid case for the iPhone standing up.

Of course, then you end up with a Sherman tank in your pants, and despite what my spam emails claim, it wasn’t all that thrilling. At first I didn’t much care for the added bulk when I was carrying it around, but over the two weeks I’ve tested it out I grew accustomed to it. It didn’t end up being as big of an issue as I first thought it would be.

To sum up: it’s extremely rugged, sports an eye-catching and customizable design, and adds enough thickness that it makes the iPhone easier to type on. On the downside, some controls like the sleep button are harder to get to, and that thickness adds bulk when you’re carrying it in your pocket. Should you buy it? If you don’t mind paying $100 for a case, you’ll have a well-protected iPhone in a case that will draw attention. I’d be interested in trying a Griffin Clarifi case for taking close-up pictures of business cards and napkin sketches, but I’ve enjoyed the Liquid case enough that I’m going to keep using it.

How to Make Mp3tag Embed Album Art From a File and Convert Replay Gain to Apple Sound Check

Since people asked, here’s how I make Mp3tag embed album art in the mp3 tags and convert Replay Gain to Apple’s Sound Check.

Both require a new set of actions. If you go to Convert > Actions, you’ll bring up the action list and can create a new action group. For album art, make a new action group. Add the “Import Cover from File” action to the group. Enter the name of the file that has the cover art in the next pop-up window. For me, that was “cover.jpg”.

For converting Replay Gain to Sound Check, create a new action group and add two “Format Value” actions. For the first, set the field to “COMMENT ITUNNORM” and the format string to “$if($eql(%_extension%,mp3),$rg2sc(%REPLAYGAIN_ALBUM_GAIN%),)”. For the second, set the field to “ITUNNORM” and the format string to “$if($eql(%_extension%,m4a),$rg2sc(%REPLAYGAIN_ALBUM_GAIN%),)”.

A Very Baroque Digital Music Setup That Nonetheless Has No Actual Baroque Music In It

How I go from physical CDs or purchased mp3s to my music library:

  1. Rip the CD with Exact Audio Copy, which converts the album to mp3s using LAME.
  2. Since EAC uses freedb to populate each song’s metadata, that metadata is often wrong. Fix the metadata using the MusicBrainz Picard tagger.
  3. Normalize album volumes by using foobar2000 to encode Replay Gain information in mp3 tags.
  4. Get album art using Media Art Aggregator and save it to a file in the directory with the mp3s.
  5. Embed the album art in the mp3s’ tags and convert Replay Gain data to the equivalent Sound Check value using Mp3tag.
  6. Move the music to our Linux server.

And that’s how I re-invented iTunes!

Like all crazy complicated systems, it didn’t start out that way. Back when I began the Great CD Ripping Project, my requirements were simple: turn my CDs into mp3s and put them on our Linux server so Misty and I could access them through SMB. iTunes did crazy things like put album art in each mp3, increasing their filesizes, and I was using foobar2000 as my audio player. We didn’t even have much in the way of mp3 players, just a couple of iPod Shuffles. So all I had to do was rip the CDs using EAC and LAME.

Then I read about Replay Gain, and since foobar2000 had Replay Gain scanning built in, I started doing that. And, hey, wouldn’t it be nice if I had album art stored in the directory with the mp3s? foobar2000 would happily read a cover.jpg file and display it instead of depending on art embedded in the mp3s. That’s when I added Media Art Aggregator’s predecessor, Album Art Aggregator.

The iPhone was the final straw. Now I had to have the album art stored in the mp3’s tags, plus Apple had its own alternative to Replay Gain. Lucky for me I could put actions together in Mp3tag to put the cover.jpg files in the tags and to convert Replay Gain to Apple’s Sound Check.

Hey, at least I can be snooty about how much better LAME’s mp3s sound than iTunes, and how Replay Gain lets me adjust volume on a per-album basis. Right? Right?

The Dream

Yes We Did.

I want my only memory of this past election to be of two different friends, both white, both male, one older, one younger, both born and raised in the South recounting to me at different times and places that they voted for this man on the content of his character and not on the color of his skin.