Monday, June 22, 2009

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

New Anchorbird page

This is page six of my new webcomic, Anchorbird, which is a collaboration with a ton of other Kubert School students and Penciljack members. Read it here:

Monday, June 08, 2009

iPod: Smart Playlists

I have around 50 gigabytes of music, podcasts, comedy albums, audiobooks, and videos in my iTunes library, and my iPod is an 8 GB nano. This means I can't fit nearly my entire collection on my iPod. For a couple years I simply went through my albums and manually dragged the ones I liked over to my iPod, but with that system I got sick of hearing the same stuff over and over. I figured there had to be a way to make it seem as if I could take my entire library with me, without actually doing it. And there is, provided you listen to your iPod on "shuffle" a lot. This system works with any size iPod, and depending on how many podcasts you listen to you can probably use a 2 GB iPod and never have any need of a larger one. I have my iPod synced to several Smart Playlists, and when I plug it into my computer it deletes music I've listened to and puts new stuff on, automatically. Here's what I do:

First, this system is dependent upon rating your songs. If you don't rate your songs, this is not going to work. Until I figured this stuff out I didn't rate my songs, but now I do for every single one of them. A lot of them I did in bulk: I would select all Belle and Sebastian songs and rate them "4 stars," for instance, then I could go back through as I listen to them and give them 5 stars or 3 stars as needed.

The way my ratings work is this: 1 star is for songs I absolutely hate... this is for tracks I want to delete out of my iTunes library ASAP. 2 stars is for filler tracks: skits and noise that are part of an album (so I don't want to delete them), but I'd rather they not come up in a shuffle. Tool and Pink Floyd tend to have a lot of these in their albums. 3 stars is for songs I don't really like but I don't hate them. 4 stars is for songs I like, and 5 stars is for songs I love: songs I get excited for when they come on.

I have a manual playlist dedicated just for podcasts, audiobooks, video, and comedy albums. This is 1 gigabyte, and is generally enough space that I have a lot left over.

I have another manual playlist called "New Stuff." This is 1 GB and is for new albums I've added to my iTunes library in the last few months. When I get a new album I add it to the end of this playlist and remove an album in the list to make room. I try to listen to all albums at least 5 times and rate all the songs before I remove them from the list.

Now for the smart playlists. The following are not synced to my iPod, but are important for the playlist that is synced to it.

5 Stars: 309 MB. This playlist is for 5 star tracks only, and only for songs I have not played in the last 2 months.

4 Stars: 338 MB. This playlist is for 4 star tracks only, and only for songs I have not played in the last 4 months.

0/3 Stars: 61 MB This playlist is for songs that either have not been rated, or songs that are rated 3 stars. The songs also have not been played in the last 8 months, so it's a good sample of songs I'm not that crazy about but haven't heard in a while.

New Stuff Shuffle: 108 MB This is a small sample of songs from my "New Stuff" playlist that haven't been played in the last two weeks, but nothing that has 1 or 2 stars.

Recent: 213 MB This is for songs added to my library in the last 6 months, that hasn't been played in the last 1 month. Nothing below 4 stars shows up in this playlist.

I also have a manual playlist called "Classic" which is just in case there's an album I haven't listened to in a long time that I get the hankering to listen to again. It stays empty most of the time.

Now, all the above playlists (except "Classic") get combined in a random order into a 1 GB playlist called "Play This!", which is the one that gets synced to my iPod. Playing it is like hitting "shuffle songs," but it shuffles through my entire iTunes library.

What all this means is that when I'm driving around in my car I hit the "Play This!" playlist. When I'm done, I plug my iPod into my computer and the stuff I've listened to gets taken off and new stuff is put on. It is, in essence, like shuffling through my entire iTunes library, but only for songs I like and haven't heard in a while, so it actually works a lot better than the "shuffle" feature.

All of this takes up a couple gigabytes on my 8 GB iPod, and it could work for a smaller iPod as well. Just reduce the amount of megabytes each of the smart playlists take up, although it's smart to have a higher ratio of 5 star tracks and lower ratio of 0/3 star tracks. This ensures that most of what comes up is going to be songs you like, love, or have just added to your library. If you don't listen to many podcasts, you can reduce the size of that playlist as well. You can also reduce the size of the "New Stuff" playlist or make a smart playlist to replace it that adds random songs that have been added to your library in the last few months. If you don't listen to podcasts at all, you can make this work with an iPod as small as 1 GB.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Annoucing Anchorbird

Anchorbird is the new webcomic by myself and several other people. The idea is we all take turns adding a page to the story, and nothing is planned out beforehand. Check it out at