Feb 11

Adventures with iTunes Match

This post is about bit rate and mono files while using iTunes Match. For those of you who don’t know, for a small fee ($25/year) my entire music catalog is moved to the Apple servers and I can play it on up to five devices. The service will sync my playlists and keep track of the play count. The best part is any file that “matches” in their database that is less than 256k in my collection, is easily upgraded with just a few clicks. That’s worth the first year fee alone. The service is limited to 25,000 tracks (I have about 15k) and the audio quality music be a minimum of 96kbps.

I have hundreds of dharma talks by Thich Nhat Hanh in my collection. These will not “match” with iTunes but I am able to upload them to the cloud if they meet the 96kbps criteria. Unfortunately, many of these files are below this threshold. Fortunately, it is possible to trick iTunes into uploading the files by “converting”

them to MP3 files with a higher quality. Obviously, the files won’t actually have a higher quality but they will meet the criteria. To keep the files small, I “upgraded” them to 96kbps and then deleted the original files. In the case of mono files, the custom setting had to be adjusted to 192kbps to get the mono files to threshold because of how iTunes handles importing files. It took a few days to get everything converted and uploaded to the Apple servers, but all tracks are now in the cloud.

My next project is to get everything synchronized between the two home computers and the one work computer. I noticed some discrepancies between the track numbers on each of the computers. Shouldn’t be too difficult. Seeing a winner with iTunes Match. Are you using this service? What has been your experience?

Feb 10

REI Treats This Customer Right

An REI store recently opened in Santa Barbara, so shortly after Christmas I went there to spend my gift money on a new pair of shoes. It was January 2. I bought the shoes for $99 and have been happily wearing them since. A week or two after my visit, it came to my attention the shoes were on sale for $49. I was curious about their exchange/return policy and intended to follow-up with the store as soon as possible. Unfortunately, because of work and transportation issues, it took until today (38-days after purchase) to finally get into the store to inquire.

Upon arrival I learned that they have a 30-day policy on price changes and that I would need the receipt (which was at home in Ojai). Plus, the shoes were now only $35!

It took all of 30-seconds for the store management to review the circumstances and authorize a refund for the difference. Wow, what a treat. Thank you. This is truly how customers should be treated by a retail business and I don't regret for a minute signing up for an REI membership.

Good work Santa Barbara REI. I'll be back.

#miscjoy

Google+: View post on Google+

Dec 22

Thoughts on Path

I signed up for Path last year when they launched. It was an odd product at the time because you were limited to 10 friends on the social network. Intriguing, but it didn't really go anywhere. I posted a while but then drifted away.

Last month they relaunched with an updated app and a different approach to the sharing process. I have to say the new app is really great. It's clean, intuitive, and unique (at least until Facebook released their timeline). I would/could use this exclusively. I highly recommend giving the app a try; you won't be disappointed.

Up to this point, I've been using as a private journal and not adding friends (with very rare exceptions). I can write things that I wouldn't necessarily write on a public social network. Of course, at any time I can option to share out to Twitter, Facebook, or FourSquare. The photo tool has filters and actually create a Facebook album when pushed there (unlike my other favorite photo app Instagram).

So now I'm in a quandary. More people are discovering Path, which is great, but I've been hesitant to add people to my Path and I don't really need another social network to monitor. I've enjoyed the privacy with the option to share.

I am curious what the philosophy of the new Path is for the company. Obviously, they are not highlighting the small network of friends aspect, though it still feels that way to me.

I'm staying limited for now, but will remain open to expanding later. Are you using Path? How are you creating (or not) a network?

#miscjoy #iphone #path #networking

Google+: View post on Google+

Dec 12

A Bitter Harvest: California, Marijuana, and the New Jim Crow

I highly recommend listening to this radio show exploring themes of racism, drugs and legal disenfranchisement. The discussion centers around California marijuana growing and the apparent inequities between white pot farmers and and widespread incarceration of African-American men throughout America. It’s a thoughtful discussion and one worthy of hearing and considering, particularly for white Americans. The show was ably created and produced by my step-brother Chris Moore-Backman.

Listen or Download

Dec 04

Apple Photo Stream Should Be Simple, Right?

It's taken a month or two of tinkering, and I think I finally have an understanding of how the Photo Stream works. Like other Apple products I've experienced in the past, this was perhaps too simple for my mind to grasp.

The first challenge arose when I tried to delete a picture from the Photo Stream. You can't. What you can do is reset the entire steam from iCloud. However, you must also remember to turn it off on all connected devices as well. For the record, Photo Stream keeps a rolling 30-days of photos (or 1000 pics).

The second issue had to do with getting photos onto my Mac. I could continue syncing when connecting to computer, but this seemed kind of silly to do in conjunction with the Photostream. What's the point of the Photo Stream if it doesn't backup to computer as well. Well, it does backup but one needs the latest version of iPhoto to accomplish. Launch the App Store and turn over $14.99 and an updated version appears. Lovely.

It took a while, some money, and a few inappropriate photos, but now I understand. It does keep the rolling 30-days of pics/videos, and it does sync between all devices, and most importantly, one can configure Photo Stream to auto backup to iPhoto and create monthly events.

Still can't delete, so if I take more inappropriate photos then I have two choices. Reset the entire steam (on all devices) after the fact or turn off Photo Stream temporarily on the iPhone taking the picture. The Photo Stream doesn't sync photos taken when it's off.

Though this has probably been covered elsewhere, I hope this helps a few of you.

#miscjoy #apple #iphoto #software #stream

Nov 14

iTunes Match versus Google Music

Am considering iTunes Match ($25/yr), especially since the Google Music (currently free) web app is having trouble on iDevices. For example, it's showing a blank screen when browsing via Album or Artist. But, I'm gonna try using gMusic app first (only $1.99) before making decision. I've essentially shut down my SubSonic server and will rely on a service rather than self hosting. Most likely I'll try Match at some point too, but annual fees are starting to add up across the Internet services I'm willing to pay for.

Where are you landing? Google Music, Amazon Cloud, iTunes Match, or other?

#miscjoy #music #Google #Apple

Nov 02

Friends of the Library

This week I’ve been working closely with our local Friends group. They have been in place for over twenty years and they operate under the umbrella of our district Foundation. This allows the Friends to operate fairly independently, with their own bylaws, without the ongoing burden of a full 401(c)3. As an entity of the Foundation, our Friends group is allowed to raise their own funds. In these times of fiscal uncertainty, the Friends have been a lifeboat for our library, as well as our students, by supporting services well beyond those funded by the State. For example, our library is open on both weekend days funded in part through this organization. The other large project they undertake is an annual Textbook Scholarship program for students.

As the Library Director, my role is to be the liaison to the Friends group and provide a vision for the type of library we would like to have at Santa Barbara City College. The Library does most of the administrative aspects of the Friends, such as collecting money and sending letters and announcements. I also must cultivate a relationship between myself and the members of the Board. One element that is particularly important is I am in regular contact with the Board president – this makes certain we are on the same page as we move forward with projects. The Friends operate through a 7-member board alongside a wider body of Council Members who contribute annual dues to fund the projects. In order to help keep them larger body engaged, we hold three luncheons per year with a special speaker from campus – typically a professor who is doing something interesting or unique, but who also has a relationship with the library.

There are challenges associated with a functioning Friends group, but the passion and creativity of the Friends of the Luria Library has created a positive exchange. Simply because we are in Santa Barbara, doesn’t mean that our Friends are all huge donors to the college. In fact, the percentage of large donors among the Board and Council is very small. They are passionate about student engagement, student success, and the library.

Next steps…completing the Friends web site.
#miscjoy #libraries

Sep 18

Mindfulness, Technology, Education, and Parenting

You might assume I was in my element at a conference dealing with mindfulness and technology – you assumed correctly! It was a blast to sit and use my iPad and iPhone during this mindfulness conference in Mountain View just a stones throw from Google. The Wisdom 2.0 Youth conference is an offshoot of the previously held Wisdom 2.0 conference. The subtitle for the conference was How Do We Raise Children in a Hyper-Connected World? For Parents, Educators, Teachers, and Concerned Citizens. The lineup of speakers included folks from Google, Twitter, and leaders from the mindfulness in education field, all skillfully put together by Soren Gordhamer.

I’ve been to many conferences – mostly technology and/or library related. I have also been to many retreats and led mindfulness activities – mostly Buddhist in nature. This conference was unique for me because it dealt with mindfulness from a purely secular perspective and aligns itself very easily with the applied ethics theme/effort that Thich Nhat Hanh has been exploring the past couple of years. Though I arrived a little uncertain, because of my experience as a practitioner and educator, I was not disappointed with the presentations and panels. I now have a better understanding of what has occurred in bringing mindfulness into schools and what challenges these leaders experienced.

What follows are my notes and thoughts from a handful of the presentations.

Continue reading