Sunday, February 25, 2007

The Ultimate iTunes Smart Playlist

Warning: This is a long long post and chances are you won't get a lot out of it, but I created it anyway since it's something I put some time into and I felt it should be documented.

Okay, so I use iTunes and my iPods (yes, plural) a lot. Seriously. Think about how much you think I might use my iDevices. You got it? Okay, now add a lot more to that. That's how much I use them. This post is meant to show that my time has not been for naught. I have created quite a few "smart playlists". If you don't know what smart playlists are, click here to learn. And I have combined a bunch of these playlists into what I call my masterlist. I'll explain my masterlist here.

Before I begin explaining the masterlist, let me say this. Yes, I know about party shuffle. It doesn't work as I would like it to. Hence I created the masterlist.

In general, I set up my masterlist to do the following:
  • Listen to a wide variety of songs - I want to treat my entire music library as one entity. I want all my songs that are 2 stars or better to get their shot at being played.
  • Keep things moving - if a song gets played or gets skipped, move it to the back of the line.
  • Always be exploring new music - put a special emphasis on listening to new songs (songs added in the last 6 months).
  • Listen to better songs more often - it makes sense that you'll want to listen to a 4 star song more often than a 2 star song. That masterlist should help with that.
My masterlist is based on these factors
  • song ratings - I set all my songs to 2 stars by default (as soon as they're added to my library) and then I adjust my ratings as I listen. My ratings system is as follows:
    • 1 star - not worth listening to ... basically ever. Each playlist is the masterlist will be set to cut out 1 star songs.
    • 2 stars - if this song comes on randomly, there's maybe a 50/50 chance you'll skip it. The song's listenable, but only under the right circumstances.
    • 3 stars - this is a good song. If this song comes on randomly, most likely you'll be pretty stoked.
    • 4 stars - this is a great song. If this song comes on randomly, it's extremely rare that you'd skip it. You are really into this song.
    • 5 stars - this song is unskippable. You'd be okay with hearing this song once a day for the rest of your life.
  • date last played - the last time a song was played
  • date added - date when this song was added to your iTunes library
  • play count - how many times a song has been played
  • date last skipped - last time you skipped this song. iTunes recently started keeping track of skip counts. If you fast-forward a song in the first 20 seconds of listening to it, that counts as a skip.
Soooooooo let's get onto the masterlist. It's an amalgamation of a bunch of other playlists. Click here to take a ganders at a screen shot. The playlists are:
  • (:O:) - this is my go-to playlist (the name (:O:) is meant to look like a head with headphones on). It's got all the songs that I would like to listen to during a workout or on the drive home. It's made up of a 3 other playlists:
    • (:O:) - this is a "dumb" playlist where I just pick songs I want to listen to a lot.
    • Hot List - songs that are 3 stars or better, have a playcount greater than 5, have been listened to in the last 10 days, haven't been skipped recently and are ordered based on what was added to the library most recently.
    • R. Adds 3+ 0-6 Mos. - songs that have been added in the last 6 months that are 3 stars or better.
  • Hot? - songs are the 2 stars, have been played more than 5 times and are chosen based on being added to the library recently. Maybe some of these songs should be 3 stars, eh?
  • LOP 2+ - songs that are 2 stars or better chosen based on being least often played (hence the LOP). I also make sure that these are old songs (not added in the last six months) and make sure that these songs haven't been skipped recently.
    • Note: I put the "haven't been skipped recently" check in lots of these playlists. This is meant to keep these playlists fresh. I don't want a song stuck in "LOP" for years if I'm skipping it each time it comes on.
  • LOP 3+ - similar mindset to LOP 2+.
  • LOP 4+ - same story.
  • LRP 2+ >6 mos. - songs that are 2 stars or better, are more than 6 months old and are chosen according to least recently played (LRP). I put in the "older than 6 months" thing because there are other playlists dedicated to songs less than 6 months old.
  • LRP 2+ PC>0 - songs that are 2 stars or better, have been played at least once (PC>0) chosen according to LRP. I make this PC>0 playlist so I know these 2 star songs have proven themselves.
  • LRP 2+ PC>5 - this is basically like the 2.5 star playlist. They're 2 star songs, but they're better than most 2 star songs as evidenced by the fact that they've been played 5 times.
  • LRP 3+ - you get the idea
  • LRP 3+ PC>19 - the "3.5 star" playlist
  • LRP 4+
  • MOP No Skippy - songs I listen to the most (MOP = most often played) that also haven't been skipped in the last 1 month.
  • NBP Not New 2+ - songs that are older than 6 months (hence the "not new") where the playcount equals 0 (NBP = never been played). Give these songs a chance.
  • R. Adds 2+ LRP 0-6 Mos. - songs added in the last six months that are 2 stars or better chosen by LRP.
  • R. Adds 2+ LRP 6-12 Mos. - songs that are older than 6 months, younger than 12 months.
  • R. Adds MOP 0-6 Mos. LRP - the new songs that have been played the most often.
  • R. Adds 2+ PC>0 LRP - new songs that have proven themselves by getting at least one play chosen by LRP.
  • No Skippy MRP 100 - 100 songs that have been played in the last week, have not been skipped in the last week, chosen by most recently played (MRP).
  • No Skippy MRA 100 - same as above, except chosen by most recently added (MRA)
So there you have it. Those are all the seed lists. You set up the masterlist to choose 1000 (or 100 or 10, whatever) songs in those seed lists. You can play that list. Or you can do what I do. Create a smaller playlist that pulls from the big masterlist. Click here to see mine. It also checks to make sure I'm not listening to songs that have been played or skipped in the last week.

Finally a note on the seed lists.
  • You can adjust the size of each seed list to "set the mood" of your masterlist. If you want to hear more 4 star songs, increase the size of your 4+ playlists. Then those songs will take up a higher percentage of the masterlist and you'll hear 4 star tunes more often.
This list allows me to listen to all 8,000 of my 2 star+ songs without really thinking about it. I like it.

Friday, February 23, 2007

sweetart jelly beans

it's that special time of year everyone when what i consider the best candy since the invention of the shock tart (now known as shockers) and the chewy spree were invented.

sweetart jelly beans.

i'm in trouble.

luke johnson

so i have a pretty common name. and as a result i've never had too high hopes of getting a very high google rank for "luke johnson". apparently now i can officially wipe those hopes clear thanks to this dude:

this is some weird shit, right? he's 27. he lives 100 miles from me and now has a firm hold on the phrase luke johnson at google: have a look.

oh i called him to say hi from one luke johnson to another. he was on another call, but apparently, as of 2/18/07, he has received 100,000+ calls.

if that's what it takes for top ranking, i'm gonna pass.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

American Idol

Let's talk about it. I watch it. I've seen most of the episodes in its American history. And there's one thing during the course of each season that annoys me to no end.

We're coming up on a crucial show. The show where the top X (I think it's 24 this season) sing for America for the first time. Up until this point, America's been watching the idols, but the idols have been singing for the judges. And it's the judges that have put them in the top 24. And when you watch next week's episodes, something's going to happen.

Someone is gonna get up on that circular stage ... and they're going to suck. It's gonna be bad. It's just gonna be horrible. And then the judges are gonna say what I just said except in their own little way.

Randy: "I just wasn't feeling it, dawg. You didn't bring it."
Paula: "I think you have a great spirit and it just didn't seem to be there tonight."
Simon: "If I'm being honest, it was like a horrible 8-year old birthday karaoke party in a dive bar in Bangladesh in 1964."

Here's what I would say in response to this: "IT'S YOUR FAULT, JUDGES! YOU'RE the ones that CHOSE them to be in the TOP 24! WHY did you pick this person!? THEY SUCK! AND YOU PICKED THEM!"

Next Tuesday. FOX. It's going to happen. And when it does, know that I'll be in my house screaming at the TV.

P.S. Another prediction: my viewership on this particular season ends when/if Chris Sligh gets the boot.

The Whitest Boy Alive

So I already praised these guys quite a bit in my Top 12 of 2006 article. But amazingly I've grown to love this album even more since putting it in my top 4. There's nothing much more to say here other than, if you have the means, get your hands on this album.

The Whitest Boy Alive - Dreams


My history with this album
The Whitest Boy Alive - Dreams.pngClick to zoom.

It's important to note that I don't dole out 5-star songs every day. In fact, I have 13,548 songs in my library and I have 65 5-star songs. That means that I've only deemed .48% of the songs I listen to as worthy of the 5-star rating. The Whitest Boy Alive recorded one of these songs.

Finally, here's the video for the 5-star song I mentioned.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Diagram of a Weekend

Looking back, I'm extremely satisfied with how I spent my weekend spanning from Friday, Feb 9 through Sunday, Feb 11, 2007.

-home at 4:30
-watch The Office
-5pm - run steve
-5:30 - gym: weights, stairmaster
-6:30 - more tivo
-7pm - pickup No Anchovies pizza with Dave
-7:30pm - watch Idiocracy

-up early with Steve
-8am - dog park
-9am - breakfast burrito from Nico's
-10am - warcraft
-11am - shave face, head, self-procured manicure and pedicure
-12pm - run to the Apple store, pick up cables to connect my macbook to my Dell monitor
-1pm - watch Cats/Ducks with Dave, Lubs, hang up posters framed around Xmas
-3pm - watch Idiocracy again with Lubs
-5pm - taxes, very decent return
-7:45pm - Pan's Labyrinth with Dave

-up early (but a little later) with Steve
-8:30am - dog park, listened to my LRP 2+ playlist on my pod, some good neglected songs
-9:30am - costco run, listened to the whitest boy alive album twice through while shopping
-->picked this up along with a crap load of food
-11am - watched Brick
-1pm - laundry, tax and document filing, general malaise
-5pm - run to the apple store, picked up this bad boy
-6pm - bulls/suns
-->finally learned how to use this service that everyone raves about:
-7pm - bulls/suns while flipping over to the grammys
-10pm - episode of the wire, season 2 and sleep

Weekends at home. I really like them.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Google ... So predictable

So I casually mentioned that this post (click here) will likely be ranked by Google soon.

Soon has arrived. Click here.

Informed consumers

Something you need to know in order to appreciate this story ... Subway offers up daily deals. With each day of the week, you can get a 6" sub combo meal (sub, chips/cookies/soup, soda) for $4.29. For example, Wednesday is turkey day so you can fork over $4.29 and get a 6" turkey sub, chips and a soda.

I do this basically every Wednesday.

Today is no different. I hit subway to get my crazy bargain. I notice the woman in front of me is also here to cash in on the deal. She's getting a 6" turkey sub. One problem, though. She gets to the cash register and the dude asks "Do you want to make this a meal?" She replies "Nope, just the sandwich and chips." I consider speaking up, but I don't. Dude rings her up for $5.04. She pays and leaves. I then pay $4.29 for the same thing she got, but I received a soda in addition to the sandwich and chips.

Here's another way of looking at it.

The woman in front of me paid 75 cents so that she didn't have to be bothered to receive a soda and then throw it in the trash. She paid Subway to keep one more soda in their inventory instead of giving it to her.