Einträge mit dem Tag ‘Winter’

Der große Frost ist wohl vorbei, aber hier habe ich noch zwei Impressionen vom vorletzten Wochenende (leider nur in Handy-Qualität).

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Der Winter ist da! Nachdem das Wochenende mit um die Null Grad unangenehm feucht war, ist es heute frostig und trockener. Außerdem erwartete mich neben der Haustür ein Päckchen: über's Wochenende ist der zweite Band von Pepys eingetrudelt! Ich hab's im Bus gleich ausgepackt ... Jetzt muß ich nur noch einen Monat aufholen, dann kann die Echtzeit-Lesung losgehen. Der Verkäufer hat übrigens nicht übertrieben, indem er den Zustand als sehr gut beschrieb -- das Buch sieht aus wie neu.

Im Institut angekommen, überrascht mich das Thermometer an der Pförtnerloge dann doch: --6°.

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Zur Abwechslung gibt es hier mal wieder etwas zum Anschauen: das obligatorische Eulenbild.

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Wer eine Eule hat, muß ihr ab und zu kleine Geschenke mitbringen. Dieses hier ist weiß und winterlich.

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Weil ich spontan keine Lust auf Twitter habe, muß ich meine 160-zeichigen Belanglosigkeiten hier kundtun:

Es schneit. Dabei war doch gestern noch Herbst.

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War das heute nicht ein grandioses Wetter? Strahlendblauer Himmel, eine kräftige Frühlingssonne, und eine ganz herrliche Schneelandschaft. Ja, eigentlich habe ich die Nase erstmal ziemlich voll von Schnee, aber wenn er dick und weich wie Puderzucker ist statt einer ekligen Mischung aus Matsch und Eis (und wenn ich nicht fahrradfahren muß), dann mache ich da glatt eine Ausnahme.

Heute war jedenfalls ein toller Tag, und jetzt freue ich mich auf den Topf mit Kartoffeln, der gerade auf dem Herd steht. À propos Kartoffeln: heute habe ich dem Kartoffelstein nach längerer Zeit wieder einen Besuch abgestattet. Der Ausblick war wirklich herrlich; da habe ich gleich ein Bild gemacht -- für Eule.

Aber euch will ich es auch nicht vorenthalten.

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Dumb Thoughts

Whenever I enter our company's precincts these days, I am reminded of ice cream: a packed layer of snow, sprinkled with dark grit, looks just like chocolate chip ice cream; a thin layer of slightly dirty snow on top has more or less the colour of nut ice cream.

On Music

Never mind. I meant to tell you something totally different. It is about iTunes, the program I use to listen to music, and to keep my music library in order (and for a podcast or two). I have not yet bought anything from the iTMS, and nowadays, my iPod is used but rarely. So, I could just as well use a different program. On the other hand, iTunes works very well, it is integrated into the OS (on the Mac, that is), and I do not know of any real alternative.[1]

Out of tune

Nevertheless, there are some things I do not like. Mostly, these are minor points. For example, you can change the toolbar[2] to suit you likings in almost every little utility; this is functionality provided by the operating system, so application programmers do not have to work too hard to include this in their program. Not so in iTunes. Or take Smart Playlists[3]: You can combine several criteria by either and or or, but not by both[4]. It is possible to work around this problem[5] by combining several Smart Playlists.


Two points are, however, a bit bigger: the way iTunes works with albums, and with ratings.
iTunes' ratings are quite simple -- and that is the reason it looks a bit slapped-on to me: You can rate each track with one to five stars. These will be shown in your track lists, and you can use them in Smart Playlists[6]. That is about it. Wait, there is something else: when rating a complete album, the stars are copied to all the album's (unrated) tracks. They will be shown as outlines to remind you that the track as such has not been rated. Likewise, an album will be rated from the combined ratings of its tracks.[7].

So far, so good. Such a simplistic rating seems to me to belong to the 90s[8]. My average rating is slightly better than four -- a prime example of grade creep. This is where I would like to see something completely new. I do not know exactly how it should work; however, the fundamental idea is to take away the need to give absolute ratings. Instead, one could for instance perform relative ratings between two tracks; the application would then calculate absolute ratings for all titles. Or maybe the rating is calculated incrementally, and you rate it up and down each time you listen to a track.[9]. Or maybe there is a totally different idea. Some engineer is bound to have a great idea.[10]

Albus, -a, -um

Now, I have to admit I am pretty old-fashioned. Since mp3 and similar formats have been accepted, the music business seems to have shifted toward single tracks.[11] Albums are more or less dead.

Well, not for me. I still like to listen to whole records: the tracks belong together, forming a whole that is more than its parts, and sometimes, they even tell a story.[12].

Fortunately, albums are not totally gone: iTunes will group tracks by album, putting the cover art next to the list of tracks. You can also instruct shuffle mode to play whole records at a time rather than single tracks. Finally, there is the indirect rating system I mentioned above.

However, I think there is still much room for improvement. For instance, I like to use Smart Playlists, to look for highly rated tracks, of for ones I have not listened to for a while. Sometimes, only isolated tracks from various albums will be collected in this way: I might have stopped listening in the middle of an album last week, so its first tracks are two weeks more recent than the last ones; or maybe, I have rated several tracks differently even though they belong to the same record, and now only a few can be found on my five-star list.

I would really like Smart Playlists to work better with albums: wouldn't it be great to have a list of albums collecting dust rather than just isolated tracks?

[Edit: English]

  1. Again: on the Mac. The situation may be different for other operating systems.
  2. That is, the upper part of a window, where you will find icons serving as shortcuts to important commands.
  3. Automatically compiled, rule-based collections of music.
  4. Say, I cannot select all titles I like especially well and that are either from the 70s or belong to the folk genre.
  5. Apple Mail does it, too.
  6. For example, you could create a list of all tracks with four or more stars.
  7. Unless you have explicitly rated the album already.
  8. I am tempted to say: to last century.
  9. I may have been less than clear: a new track is given an average rating, say, 3. Once I have listened to it, I think it is better than that, and iTunes increases its rating to 3.5 or so. After listening for the second time, I still think it is underrated, so it increases to 3.8 -- and so weiter in smaller and smaller steps.
  10. I have added something to the wish list:

    What I would like to see in a future iTunes version is a truly innovative rating system. Instead of assigning a fixed number of stars per title, something that evolves as I build up my library and listen to music would be great.

    For example, once I have assigned preliminary stars to a new title, iTunes might allow me to compare it to other titles with a similar rating (say, while listening to the track). iTunes could then adjust its rating accordingly. Globally adjusting ratings in order to use the full spectrum of one to five stars might also be useful. Currently, the average rating in my library is slightly above four stars, however it is hard to correct this manually.

  11. Except for concerts, that is.
  12. And I like vinyl. But the drive does not fit into my Mac. Sob.
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Auf den Bergen ist es kühler als im Tal -- das weiß eigentlich jeder. Der Physikus mag sich zunächst fragen, wieso eigentlich: immerhin steigt warme Luft ja nach oben. Dann aber fällt ihm die adiabatische Expansion ein, und schon passen Theorie und Empirie wieder zusammen.

Hierzulande -- das heißt, ziemlich genau in der Mitte Deutschlands -- hält sich das mit den Bergen allerdings sehr in Grenzen. Der Brocken ist zwei Tagesmärsche weg und würde mit seinen gut 1100 Metern in den Alpen doch eher untergehen. Die stadtnahen Wälder liegen deutlich niedriger. Heute war ich doch sehr überrascht, daß bloße zweihundert Meter Höhendifferenz den entscheidenden Unterschied zwischen nassen Straßen und Eisglätte ausmachen können.

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nurmi lumessa
oder so

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