Older blog entries for pphaneuf (starting at number 302)

Stupid music players...

So I updated my version of Max (an excellent CD ripping application for Mac OS X) and tackled my music collection, which has been in a bit of disarray for far too long. No wonder I've been listening to so much Einstürzende Neubauten, all their tracks were there at least twice (because of the umlaut in the band name, plus possibly more copies in the song names themselves).

After some ponderings, I decided that I'd switch to a folder per album, without an intermediate folder for the artist. I'm still not sure about that, but that's probably the easiest to mess with.

The new version of Max, among other things, added support for album cover art. I thought "hey, why not? iTunes 7's cover art browser is pretty swanky, I like swanky", which proved to be a rather frustrating train of thoughts, when all was said and done. Bloody iTunes. Bloody Ogg Vorbis. Bloody everything.

While Ogg Vorbis does support embedding cover art, Max didn't do it. Not that it would have helped with iTunes, this probably not being part of the standard QuickTime meta-data (not that iTunes was worth ass at using QuickTime meta-data properly). But iTunes has its own database to index meta-data, including a folder where it caches cover art. I figured that I could just manually set the cover art in iTunes, and that it'd go there (don't worry, I wouldn't have done that by hand for my whole collection, iTunes can be scripted very easily, thankfully).

But no. It see QuickTime content, thinks "hey, I don't support cover art for those!", and just ignores any cover art you set (even though it let you set it in the "edit meta-data" dialog!). Bastards.

But I'm not completely pissed at iTunes (yet), since it still seems to be working better than Rhythmbox (which I use at work)! I deleted my existing music from the library, meaning only to remove it from the Rhythmbox database. Surely, it would ask my opinion before doing something that cannot be undone, right? iTunes does, so, I'm good, right? Nope, everything gets thrown in the wastebin, which didn't seem to offer an obvious enough "restore" option (but I've been known to miss obvious buttons before, so maybe I'm just cranky). Yeah, sure, the files aren't lost, but they're all together in a gigantic mess. Great.

Okay, so after having given up on that anyway, I looked again in the music directory, to find that it had left some files behind? That's kind of shoddy, isn't it? There's two explanations, and neither put Rhythmbox in good light: either it "missed them" while deleting them, or, more likely, didn't import them in the library in the first place.

The latter being especially fun, as the process to import music in Rhythmbox is as follow: use the "import folder" option, look at the number of songs in the status bar, use the "import folder" again, look at the number of songs again, repeat until the number stabilizes. Wow. Just think if find (or your backup system!) was this unreliable. I'm not worrying too much, this is only my music player, but still, that's pretty craptastic.

Not to mention that the "automatically import music in a certain folder" option in the preferences doesn't seem to do anything? Or anything noticeable anyway...

On top of this, for all iTunes' pre-Mac OS X suckiness in the plugins department (you can only make visualization plugins for it, period), Rhythmbox somehow manages to do worse, by not having plugins at all, and being only barely scriptable (as opposed to iTunes, that can be 100% controlled via AppleScript). Thankfully, they have incorporated Audioscrobbler support, because I'd have would have had to stab myself (by which I mean use XMMS, which is just about equivalent).

Bloody hell, welcome to the motherfuckin' 21st century...

Syndicated 2007-01-22 16:56:48 (Updated 2007-01-22 17:01:08) from Pierre Phaneuf


I was planning on going out clubbing yesterday night, so I took a nap. I got up more than 12 hours later. Okay... Maybe I'll try again tonight. :-P

Now, off to get a haircut.

Syndicated 2007-01-20 11:30:51 from Pierre Phaneuf

Once in a while...

Yeah, a meme... I know, I know...

This one has extra appeal to me, since I like movies and it reminds me of one of my favourites in its format of "top five" lists, which is nicely self-referencing. First, my top five favourite movies:

  1. Lost in Translation
  2. Blade Runner
  3. Léon
  4. High Fidelity
  5. The Crow

Then, my top five "guilty pleasures" movies:

  1. Ghost Busters
  2. UHF
  3. Real Genius
  4. Empire Records
  5. Love Actually

Finally, I disobey the law, in my traditional fashion, by not tagging anyone. If you like it and find it fun, feel free to do it! :-)

Also, if you reply to this post, I'll tell you at least one reason why I like you, if I feel like it. Again, if you like, feel free to do it in your journal as well.

Syndicated 2007-01-20 11:23:32 (Updated 2007-01-20 11:25:39) from Pierre Phaneuf

18 Jan 2007 (updated 18 Jan 2007 at 15:05 UTC) »

I'm famous! Err...

Apparently, one of my photos is going to be on the print poster for a conference happening in Montreal, the 3rd Canada-America-Mexico Graduate Student Physics Conference!

Montreal Skyline (original)

Syndicated 2007-01-18 10:12:49 (Updated 2007-01-18 15:00:55) from Pierre Phaneuf

18 Jan 2007 (updated 18 Jan 2007 at 11:08 UTC) »


The other day, walking to work, I saw a poster advertising Misstress Barbara. Naturally, I got interested, so I took a photo of it, to have the date, venue and other info.

I just looked it up now, turns out it's in bloody Girona (Spain), four hours away by car! Argh. This is even worse than stupid Tournefeuille!

Syndicated 2007-01-18 09:34:12 (Updated 2007-01-18 11:00:18) from Pierre Phaneuf

Hey, that's better!

I'm doing better, this last little while... I'm actually doing decent stuff at work, even though I'm finding the academic roots of the software grating at times.

In the past, I was under the impression that academics weren't as good as the engineers at getting stuff done, but I thought it was because they spent too much time getting things all just right, finding "100% solutions". It's not entirely wrong, but is somewhat mischaracterized. When they do start coding, they do get stuff done. The trick is that their "100% solutions" aren't for the system, but usually just focused on a particular problem. Also, they tend to stop when they solved that particular problem to their satisfaction, having proven their point. So they're shoddy as well, but in a different way than the engineers. Instead of having an overall shoddy, but complete product, they have one aspect quite spectacular, but the rest is all out to lunch, I wouldn't really dare call it a "product".

But that's annoying, as a general concept, it means that I don't really sit well with either engineers nor academics! Damn.

In other good news, I received my bank statement from December, and while I was a bit worried that I had overspent, it turns out that I didn't, being an overall cash-positive month? Oh well, no complaints here!

I checked out a new coffee place that had a, hmm, let's say "slightly less French" air to it, which sounded promising, as far as getting non-burnt coffee. I had moccacino, which is a first around here (and contributed to the "less French" feeling), was somewhat weird, but still tasty.

On the way back, I stopped by a used CD stored called OCD.net, finding the relationship between OCD and record collectors, ahem, telling. Picked up some Placebo must-haves ("Without You I'm Nothing" and "Sleeping With Ghosts"). Yum, Placebo...

Syndicated 2007-01-16 21:58:47 from Pierre Phaneuf

Pleasantly surprised

There was a few times where I wanted to lend DVDs to co-workers, but since all those I have are region 1, I couldn't really do that. I figured I could rip them and lend those instead, but didn't really spend the time, expecting this to be a arduous process of figuring out DeCSS junk and what-not.

But no, I was quite pleasantly surprised by HandBrake, a GPL program that has everything worked out for you, end-to-end, with just enough control without flooding the user with countless knobs with which to screw up everything. Two thumbs up, highly recommended.

Syndicated 2007-01-14 02:19:42 from Pierre Phaneuf

New Year Eve 2007 in Barcelona

Better late than never, as they say... ;-)

[info]azrhey and I got up at some ungodly hour in order to catch the bus at 7:00. Seems like we took off a bit late, and missed the city bus going downtown, so I called up a cab. This, in Toulouse, is always an adventure in randomness. In a metropolitan area of half a million inhabitants, at 6:43 in the morning, on a Sunday, of New Year's Eve, no less, there's probably four cabs in town, I would estimate. No such thing as hailing a cab here, if you see one (and really, you never do except at the airport and the very few cab areas), it's already busy. The driver was, accordingly to our rather high level of urgency, the slowest and most indecisive you can imagine. But I must not be in the right head-space for this place, because once we arrived, the bus driver wasn't even there and we really only left at something like 7:20.

Upon departing, the driver promptly took a wrong turn, right in Toulouse, but managed to do a quick recovery. This was better than what he managed when he took another wrong turn in Barcelona itself, oh well. Arrived at Plaça de Catalunya a bit after noon, just in time for some quick luncheon on the plaça.

We walked up the Passeig de Gràcia to head to the Sagrada Familia basilic, seeing crazy houses and the Weirdo Museum on the way. One will quickly notice that there is not much carpet in Barcelona: I suspect the architects smoked all of it, sometimes around the beginning of the 20th century, the carpeting never fully recovering after even a century.

Sagrada Familia
Originally uploaded by pphaneuf.
The Sagrada Familia is quite impressive. You're probably not considering how impressive it is, but I assure you, it is quite the building. Amazingly huge. I'm not really a religious person, but I'm fairly sure god talked to me there. What he said was "you should get yourself a wider angle lens". Okay, that might not have been god, but still, wow, it's incredibly big. Now, if only they could freakin' finish it so I could take a decent picture (once I get a wider lens, of course!)...

We then took the metro toward the beach. Buying the tickets was a bit funny, because the automated ticket vending machine used one of the classic Mac "alert" sounds. Okay, haha, but it wasn't just at the end when it tells you to get your tickets, no, it's when you press any button! Toot. Toot. Toot toot. Toot. Toot. And there was a newspaper stand right beside it, the guy working it has nerves of steel, let me tell you! The metro itself is kind of cool, on rails. The first one we took was pretty modern and had fully connected cars, rather neat. The second one was pretty old and was a bit like taking the old TER train, just underground.

Originally uploaded by pphaneuf.
Then, the Barceloneta, the most famous of Barcelona's beaches. I had this plan of taking my shoes and socks off, roll up my pants and walk a bit in the sea, but I decided against, mainly because I had no towel. The water was surprisingly warm, though, I could totally have done it (the Crotch Threshold, though, might have been quite difficult!).

Barri Gòtic
Originally uploaded by pphaneuf.
We walked along the promenade, toward the Cap de Barcelona and the Ciutat Vella. From there, we walked into the labyrinthine Barri Gòtic, where we found strange things, such as a empty Dunkin Donuts box (proof!) and a restaurant held by a Québecois, called "Quebec" or something similar (being a wordplay on "what to drink?"), unfortunately a bit too expensive.

A beer and some walking later, we reached La Rambla, on a search for dinner. We found the Museu de l'Eròtica instead. After that, walking some more demonstrated that there was indeed a lot of people in town that night, and they were filling the restaurants. But we found the Dunkin Donuts!

We eventually managed to get a table in a not-so-cheap restaurant, having crazy sangria and steak. We bought some sketchy Spanish sparkling wine from an equally sketchy street vendor, then headed up to the Plaça de Catalunya for the stroke of midnight. I popped the cork of our bottle high in the sky, a German girl gave us streamers, we cheered with a group of English, and there was rejoicing. I dropped a quick call to a favourite person, then we headed down La Rambla again, where the celebrations kept going.

After a while, there was some sitting in a café, having some beer, where it was getting clearer to me that I didn't drink quite as much as I once did. Whee! Another lesson was that when embarking on this kind of trip, one should take a roll of toilet paper with him. Also, to withdraw more money before festivities kick off (and ATMs are dried up).

Eventually, we went back to bus stop, where the bus showed up after some more confusion and lateness. I was sleeping soundly through the whole thing, but [info] azrhey tells me the driver got lost again so badly that he stopped to get his GPS device from the holds. Why he was keeping that in the holds rather than with him is up to your imagination...

While I didn't dare bring my DSLR there, some others did, including this guy, who took some nice photos that give a good idea of the mood. He had been to the NYE party at Times Square the year before, and says "the night was definitely wild compared to NYC and was a nerve-steeling sight to see".

Syndicated 2007-01-14 01:30:00 (Updated 2007-01-14 02:06:22) from Pierre Phaneuf

The American Lifestyle

The American lifestyle frankly sucks. The media is generally shit. The food stinks. We spend too much time in traffic and too much time taking care of a badly built McHouse that has the ergonomics of a coach seat on a discount airline. Add to that the lack of health care (just listened to a Stanford lecture about the American Couple that cited a study that determined that the single biggest predictor of long-term marital happiness is whether both partners have health care), the enormous wealth-gap between the rich and poor, blisteringly expensive tertiary education, an infant mortality rate that's straight out of Victorian England, and a national security apparat that shoves its fist up my asshole every time I get on an airplane, and I don't think that this country is much of a paragon of quality living.

America has lots going for it -- innovation, the Bill of Rights, a willingness to let its language mutate in exciting and interesting ways, but the standard of living is not America's signal virtue. — Cory Doctorow
That said, most of Canada has health care, much cheaper education, I didn't get too much fisting (to [info] azrhey 's dismay, it would seem), the media isn't good, but not nearly as bad, and decent food can be found in the bigger cities... And from what I can see around France, being stuck in traffic is hardly exclusive to the Americans.

Syndicated 2007-01-13 20:43:13 (Updated 2007-01-13 20:45:26) from Pierre Phaneuf

12 Jan 2007 (updated 13 Jan 2007 at 15:05 UTC) »

Reason #46231 why daylight savings are stupid

They're changing it in the US and Canada this year. The governments are controlling time. I feel this should be restricted to Time Lords.

As part of the fun, Microsoft will not update Windows XP and older (only Vista will have it), and in true "I am a slave to the machines" style, are recommending such workarounds as specifying the time again in appointments made in Outlook, for example. Clever, eh?

Syndicated 2007-01-12 10:11:55 (Updated 2007-01-13 14:17:25) from Pierre Phaneuf

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