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What to Do When iTunes Doesn’t Find Track Names for CDs You’re Ripping

I ripped some CDs today, and was very surprised to see this in iTunes:

Ember

iTunes uses the Gracenote CDDB database for CD lookups, and, for 99.9% of the CDs I’ve ripped, it finds the correct albums. (One notable exception is CDs from the Brilliant Classics label.) It finds this metadata because almost every record label uploads it to Gracenote. (Yes, Brilliant Classics is very lazy.)

Cover600x600The CD I was ripping is Philip Glass’s latest release, The Complete Piano Etudes, on his own label Orange Mountain Music. (Amazon.com, Amazon UK) I’ve ripped other Philip Glass CDs shortly after they were released – this disc is only a few weeks old – and always gotten track info. So this one is surprising.

If you don’t see track info, you can enter it yourself, and then upload it to Gracenote, so others who rip the CD will get your tags when they rip it.

To do this, select the first track on a CD in iTunes, and then press Command-I (or Shift-I on Windows). Fill in the fields that display in this window; at least the song name, artist and album fields; if it’s classical music, also enter the composer. If there are more than one discs, click the Add Field menu and add the disc number field.

Info window
When you’ve finished entering the data for one track, press Command-N, or click the next button at the bottom left of the window. Enter the data for other tracks, and then click OK.

Next, click the Options menu near the top-right of the iTunes window and choose Submit CD Track Names. This sends the information to Gracenote. iTunes will confirm that the data has been sent.

Gracenote uploaded full

Sony Pictures Employees Now Working in Air-Gapped Offices

the-interview-poster-preview-101292.jpg

There is so much to say about the Sony hack, whether it has been perpetrated by the North Koreans or not, but everyone else is saying it, so I’ll just let them go ahead. I found one thing interesting about the situation: according to TechCrunch article, Sony Pictures employees are now working in air-gapped offices; offices with no internet connection.

“That is what a major corporate security breach sounds like: the squeal of a fax machine and the low murmur of co-workers now required to talk to each other instead of depending on email or instant messages.”

I can understand that they’re worried about more intrusions, but they would do better to hire some computer security experts and get on with things. I did note this interesting tidbit:

“”… A couple of people had their computers removed but people using Macs were fine,” she said. She said most work is done on iPads and iPhones.”

iTunes 12: Where’s the Repeat Button?

Sometimes you’re playing an album you love, and you like it so much that you want to repeat it. There used to be a button in the iTunes window – in what’s called the iTunes LCD, which shows information about what’s playing – that let you do this. In iTunes 12, that button is gone, and you only see a Shuffle button, just to the right of the album artwork:

Itunes lcd

Well, the Repeat button may be gone, but the Repeat feature is still there, tucked away in a menu and sub-menu. Click the Controls menu, and you’ll see Repeat; click that to choose All, which repeats the entire album or playlist until you stop playback, or choose One to play the current song over and over, until you simply have to turn it off.

Repeat

As Jacco points out in a comment below, you can also bring up a menu with Shuffle and Repeat options by right-clicking or Control-clicking just to the right of the artwork, where the Repeat button is:

Screen

Interestingly, the Repeat button appears in the iTunes LCD if you turn on Repeat:

Ember.png

This suggests that its absence may be a bug in iTunes, and it will be restored later. Even if you click the button to toggle Repeat, or choose Controls > Repeat > Off to turn off the Repeat function, the button remains visible until you quit and relaunch iTunes.

Apple’s Handoff and Continuity Work Now; So What?

I wrote about a month ago about my travails getting Handoff and Continuity features to work on my Macs and iOS devices. With the exception of my MacBook Pro, which does not work at all with these features, all my other devices – my iMac, iPhone, iPad Air 2 and iPod touch – work. It’s clear that the problems are on Apple’s side; something to do with devices being correctly registered with their servers.

Handoff

But now that they do work, so what? While these are certainly gee-whiz features – the ability to start an email on one device, then finish it on another; accessing a web page on one, then viewing it on another device – there’s really not much point. With the exception of text messages and phone calls, I think I’ve used these features about twice, not counting testing.

While these features are a good idea on paper, how often do you really want to start an email on your iPhone then finish it on your Mac? If your Mac is close enough for Handoff or Continuity to work (I still don’t know which is which; Apple should have just one name for these features), then you’d be more likely to start the email on the Mac.

Handoff2

The only times I’ve used it was when I was looking at a web page in the living room or bedroom, then realized I wanted to see it on my Mac, such as to order something. I went to my office, then accessed the web page. But I could have done that with iCloud Tabs, which works (more or less) well.

I really can’t imagine using these features with Pages or Numbers documents, because if I’m creating a document, and I’m near my Mac, then I want to use that. If I’m just editing or viewing a document, it often doesn’t matter which device I use. And since I store them either in iCloud or Dropbox, I can easily access them from any device.

So this is another example of a feature that looks good (remember the fast user switching cube animation, that Steve Jobs happily explained that they do it “because we can?”) but that really doesn’t have much real-world application. I wonder; do you, dear readers, use these features, other than for text messages and phone calls?

Help a Good Samaritan Return Your Lost iPhone, iPad or Mac

You know it could happen some day: you might lose your iPhone, iPad or laptop. If you’ve activated Find My iPhone (or the similarly named feature for other devices), you’ll get an approximate location for the device, but if it’s in an apartment building or office building, or if there’s no Wi-Fi or cellular access, you might not be able to track it down precisely.

If someone finds your device, it would be good to make it easy for them to get in touch and return the device to you. There are plenty of Good Samaritans out there, and it’s worth preparing your device so if one does find it, they can contact you.

Essentially, you want to add contact information to your device, in a way that anyone who turns it on can find your name, email address and phone number (obviously not your iPhone’s number), and get in touch. An easy way would be to paste a sticker on your device, but that might be ugly and it could wear out. Why not add contact information to the lock screens of your Macs and iOS devices? It’s easy.

Read the rest of the article on Macworld.

In What World Does a Record Producer Think that This Kind of Compression and Clipping is a Good Thing?

Nils Frahm, Says, from the album Spaces. There’s no excuse for this kind of clipping. Presumably, the engineer or producer thought the music was too soft at the beginning, so compressed it heavily, resulting in excruciating clipping and distortion near the end of the track.

Clipping

To be fair, it’s the only track on the album like this; there’s one other track that has some clipping, but most of them are very quiet. But this one is painful to listen to.

OS X Tip: Increase Icon Size in iTunes, Mail and Finder Sidebars

If you find the icons and text in the sidebar of iTunes, Mail or the Finder to be too small or too large, you can change their sizes. But the setting isn’t easy to find; it’s not in the preferences of any of those three apps; it’s in the General pane of System Preferences.

Prefs

Choose a size from the Sidebar icon size menu: you can choose Small, Medium or Large. Here’s how the three sizes look in the iTunes sidebar:


Medium  Small  Large

Note that the above screenshots are a bit larger than what you’ll see, depending on your display, but the scale between them is accurate. I scaled them at 50% from screenshots taken on my retina iMac.

This setting applies to other Apple apps, such as iPhoto and a few others. Try the setting in each of the apps you use; you’ll find the right size for you. However, it’s a global setting, and if you want to use Small in iTunes and Large in the Finder, you’re out of luck.

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