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Request for feedback/comment/criticism (the proper amount of suckage)

You suck.

Did not perform the "proper amount of suckage"

Keep the Ritalin handy, this one’s a doozy.

I finally stopped and took a moment to “Google myself” (always do this with protection, in private, hopefully **fully clothed) just to satisfy curiosity and to see what people were saying about the old playlist thing when I wasn’t around. Well, what I found was less critical than I’d imagined or hoped for. But I did find some constructive criticisms alongside the usual bits of musical opinion, which I know is impossible to satisfy across the board. See, when I receive and collect tracks for the monthly playlist, I divide my brain into several parts. Many of them do NOT agree with my own personal musical tastes, let alone everyone else’s. There are a few exceptions, of course. I avoid most major label stuff. I tend to shy away from music that sounds like it’d fit right in on the local “we play what we’re told” radio stations. And I have a personal “no Nickleback/Coldplay” rule.  So if I hear a track that sounds like it’s original, well-recorded or well-written yet would NOT end up on my player, I include it anyway. This means about 1 in every 20 people who download my playlist will feel the same way about it. Multiply that by 10 tracks and .. well.. that’s 10 tracks that will be skipped/deleted by those same people on every single playlist. I expect that.  (I end up trimming my OWN playlists down to about 15 tracks within a week, that’s 55 tracks deleted!) But when those same people go on message boards and complain that not ALL of the tracks are to their liking, I don’t take it personally. I just chalk it up to.. I dunno.. people who don’t really have the time to think posts through. When I download Blalock’s or Dakradha’s playlists (BOTH well worth checking out if you somehow have not already), I do NOT keep all the tracks. But I don’t go around whining about it. I expect a certain level of suckage from all of these playlists, including my own. Getting that balance is the real trick, and not taking it personally when you don’t bat 1000 is key! I think those two (and other) playlists are ACES and really do a great job of getting that balance right. Pleasing everyone is NOT the key. That’s called top 40/mainstream radio. If you want that, you’re in the wrong place.

Now, while you read this I may come across as a bit harsh. I LOVE criticism. But hate taste-related criticism, for the most part. There are things that just simply suck, and sometimes it takes some of us years to notice. I’m not going on a name-naming spree here, but chances are if the band’s song has a lead female vocal (who dresses like Vampirella but shares more opinions with Barbara Bush), followed by a pseudo-rap male vocal after (or during) the first verse and the first time you heard it was during the closing credits of like.. a Michael Bay movie, you have found the epitome of suckage. If that means I’m a harsh asshole for pointing it out, so be it. AND there are things that suck relatively. I know people who hate Dirty Projectors. Do they suck? No. But those people simply cannot stand them. These same people are also fully aware that Dirty Projectors are NOT a sound-alike or a corporate approximation based upon demographics data. Something about them simply strikes these people as “off” in some way, causing them to dislike the sound DP produces. To each, as they say, his or her own. I guess what I’m trying to say is.. if you love Coldplay and write to me asking for more Coldplay, I won’t be a rude ass and call you stupid. But I still will not include a Coldplay song. Besides, Coldplay has what they call “major penetration” (read: stuffing our bumdaleebums) already. They don’t really need exposure (unless said exposure results in the loss of extremities).

The criticism I really, really appreciated was the technical stuff. Well, comparatively. Stuff about ID tags, file naming conventions, m3u files, folders, etc. That’s some feedback that I can USE. Many problems have been solved and changes have already been made. But I have a short list that I’d like to have some feedback on, just to get an idea about preferences. Maybe you can even help me solve some of these issues.

1. ID tags and various artist “albums”: Back when Criznittle was still doing his playlists, one of the things I looked forward to every month was the cover art for the playlist itself. I never even noticed it until I got an mp3 player that had a color display. The Creative player I had displayed the art AND based on the ID tags, recognized that month’s playlist as a single album, which was great. Then, when I started to run out of space and purchased a small  *Zune, the trouble started. Because the artists were all different, yet with the same album name (Indie Rock Playlist or Indie 69, or whatever), the Zune recognized EVERY SINGLE TRACK as an individual ALBUM. … Pain.In.The.ASS. So far, I have not figured out a way around this, even though I’m sure the solution is so simple I’ll kick myself when I figure it out. If YOU have figured it out, let me know. Please. I have no idea if this is a Zune-only issue, or if iTunes and newer Creative players like the Zen do this or not since I only have an older Zen and I have never owned an iPod. The simple solution is to forget tagging the tracks with “Indie 69 Month Year” and leave the tracks bare with the original album , single or EP name intact. I could do this and still keep the album cover art. Would anyone appreciate this, would it make things easier as a listener, moving tracks around from place to place and trading them? I want to do my best to make the experience you have with the playlist the best I can make it. “Getting credit” for the thing means shit-all to me. It’s about the music.

2. The 98.7% Problem: About one in a hundred downloaders of the playlist halt at about 98.7 to 99.6% and keep downloading the same tiny bits of data, over and over while they seed. And I think I figured out why, but I’m only 98.8 to 99.7% sure. Let’s say you download a huge text file in a torrent. The torrent completes and you read the text file. You’ve completed some college, so you think it’s time to put some of that “learnin'” you did to use and make corrections to this obvious plebe’s diatribe about Bigfoot and the UFO connection. You make the corrections, but when you check the torrent, it’s downloading again!! Whaaa?? But it was 100% before! When you change the file, it’s no longer the same file you downloaded in the first place. And I’ll be gosh-darned if the torrent swarm likes this one itty bitty bit. As a result, your client tried to re-download the file. Now, I’m not sure if all clients do this. I think uTorrent avoids it by making hash-re-checks manual after complete downloads. I’m not sure about all clients. So, you ask, what does this have to do with the mp3 files in the playlists? Well, last time I checked, many.. MANY people allow certain players like winamp and Windows Media Player to do what they please, where they please and when they please. Not me. I allow programs to do what I want them to do, when I want them to.. ONLY. But since you’re not me, and I’m not you, there’s a good chance that when you finish the playlist download, you start listening to it. And when you do, your player of choice establishes a connection  to the Interwebs and tries to “fix” the tags/album art, etc. depending on what you’ve enabled or what the program has enabled by default. STOP THAT!! Ok, sorry. Didn’t mean to lash out there. I just miss the old days when it was assumed WE should be the ones who decide what we want “fixed” and programs were not set to “do whatever the fuck you want to my files for whatever reason” by default. Is there a fix for this? Yeah, like there’s a fix for computer viruses and malware. In other words, PEBKAC. But it would be nice if folks like Microsoft would go back to the old way of setting post-installation defaults. Either that, or what I’m seeing has absolutely NOTHING to do with these programs and more to do with specific torrent client programs/versions. I recall one client that used to ADD files to torrents to advertise the client itself. What a stupid move.

3. The File Naming Problem: This is the tough one. Half of the people who give me feedback like things the way they are. 25% more want it to be different, and 25% of them want me to do it alphabetically like Criznittle did. That was my ONLY criticism of Crizz’s old playlists. The whole idea of a playlist, to me, was putting the songs in an order that made sense, that varied in a certain way and never lingered too long on one sound, one style or one genre. Here’s the way it’s done now…

00001-Band_Name-song_title.mp3

The number of zeros at the beginning (it’s maybe 1 zero too long for a 69 track list,honestly) is done so that EVERYONE sees the songs in the right order, no matter what file or folder system they use. If it were only 1 zero or NO zeroes, in windows folders or libraries, as well as using alternatives to windows explorer (not IE, explorer) it would sort it like this, which SUCKS–

You're doing it wrong!

BUT.. add the zeroes and it looks like this:

Huzzah!

Which does NOT suck. Notice how the files are in numbered order in the second image? That’s not because they were sorted wrong. In both cases, the files were sorted by “file name”. By adding any number of zeroes, windows and other alternatives to file explorers built into the windows OS (like Explorer) will sort the files by number. If the number of files reaches 100 or more, add another zero. THAT is why I do THAT, just so THAT is clear. Is it clear? Thought so. I know it seems I’m being a bit “testy” (or is it testey, or teste or tsti-tsti?), but I’m honestly not, fucker.

As for the *underscores* between names and words, those are there for a reason as well. If you’ve ever used anything like USENET, and tried to use popular tools to post.. say… this file…

Nickleback-We Suck The Life Out of Suck.mp3

You would notice that after all that hard work being either ironic or spreading absolute shit around the Internets, you would have ended up posting this:

Suck.mp3

Why? Good fucking question. Well, old file systems and operating systems not run by giant corporations sometimes don’t like empty spaces in file names. Sometimes they even fill them in with things like this:

Nickleback-We$%Suck#^The(*Life#%Out^%of##Suck.mp3

And I happen to know some people who use those other operating systems or even like to USE USENET from time to time. And I’ll be continuing to respect those people. If, however, these systems have ALL figured out a way to deal with empty spots between characters in filenames, please let me know. And I mean ALL of them. Until then, the way I name files is going to remain exactly the same. (maybe one or two less Zeroes) Any expert solutions? Like using dashes instead? Well, then it makes it a bit harder to distinguish between the band name and the song name. Like this:

00001-we-take-time-is-enough.mp3

So what if the band name is We Take and the song name is “time is enough”? OR.. what if the band name is We Take Time and the song is “is enough”?? See what I mean? Is this all starting to sink in now? Took me a long time to actually think it through and figure it out a few years ago when I first started dealing with files in the various Internet “realms” and file/operating systems out there. It’s simple yet complicated, flexible yet fairly rigid in some ways. In other words, a serious ass-pain. Now, some would argue ” that’s what ID tags are for, stupid”. Well, not all of us want to refer to the tags in a file to figure out a band/song name in passing.

4. This song/band/style sucks: Kindly, softly and gently Fuck off and go away. It’s called “delete” for a reason. Keep the stuff you like and delete the rest. No-one can please everyone all the time. And if they try, like I said earlier, you end up with radio the way it is right now. Just think about it for a moment. That part of you that thinks you’re the hipster genius, that part of you that forgets that tastes vary and has crowned himself the arbiter of truth in art? That little fucker ruined radio. Fuck him. I hope he joins the little boy-child version of you in your head and just kind of fades into the background noise where he belongs with those fuzzy memories of  “hands-on-confessional with touching”. If, however, you’ve figured out that the delete button/key works really well and that you’re not going to (or are expected to) like everything.. great. You’re the reason why I do this. And maybe you’ll surprise yourself from time to time. Like I have. Now.. here’s an exception to this rule. IF you think one genre is over-represented or another genre is under-represented on my playlists, I want to hear from you. Any and all help is wanted and desired to preserve that balance I’m striving for. The rest of you? Perhaps you should include music right alongside religion and politics as subjects to avoid at dinner, because your approach to the subject is a bit douchey. Music matters, but taste is impenetrably chaotic and far too diverse to pin down, no matter how much or little your skinny jeans are impeding the blood supply to your head. Yeah, that one. My best advice to you is to like what you like and keep the music criticism either constructive, deconstructive or objective, avoiding trend and appreciating fashion from a comfortable distance. Identify ephemera if you think you can, but know that often the only way to see it truthfully is in hindsight. You only have to look back to the 80s to realize this, gazing back at the critical darlings of the era and sometimes only seeing bland flamboyance(4 stars for “Big Country”? Really, Mr Loder??) while others seen as bland at the time, or predicted soon to be dated withstand the test of time(early 80s Gabriel for instance, early ***Flaming Lips or early Cure).

If you love sampling new music and just simply deciding for yourself? Please, please give me feedback and criticism in comments. I want to make this thing better, always.

And for those gnashing, dream-crushing, horrible hipsters out there who naively assume everything they love is the opposite of ephemera…..

“Taste is really just a stink that’s closer to your teeth.”

And if all of this just makes you think I’m an annoying asshole, or that I take this or myself far too seriously? Effort and giving a shit is often mistaken for this type of thing. Work it out and..

Get in line.

Seeya.

.

*** Yes, the world often forgets that The Flaming Lips did in fact begin in the 80s. Formed in ’83, first album in ’86. Those first albums were brilliant and overlooked.

** Also called a “dry Google”.

* I LOVE my Zune. Seriously under-rated player, IMHO. In spite of it’s minor issues, I’m in love with it and it’s very durable with a  long battery life. My only caveats are the various artists album issue and the podcast problem. (if a podcast does not include “podcast” in the IDv3 tag, it doesn’t sync) But those are tiny problems. Overall, my experience has been positive even though I maintain a slightly distant love/hate relationship with Microsoft. They love me for actually paying for their product, MULTIPLE times when I could have just as easily called them and lied to get it free. And I hate them for putting me through so much bullshit after giving them so much of my money over the years and being so loyal. Ahem. Just installed my first Ubuntu system last month and I must say it’s a VERY satisfying experience so far with far fewer headaches than I anticipated.

Photo Credit:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/givingkittensaway/53864354/

Creative Commons – Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic

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Props to @Craigyferg (TV’s Craig Ferguson,The real king of late night.) for the “proper amount of suction” vacuum cleaner ad reference. If you read this and wonder.. what the hell is all this about and why did I inspire such a thing? Don’t think too hard about it. I did and my brain is a little mushier than it was a few hours ago as a result. Your results may vary, ….or not. By the way, I fully support the Robot Skeleton Army and it’s co-leader, Geoff Peterson. I pledge my sword and life to your cause. Isn’t that what they say? (or does a little hairy guy have to say “..AND ..MY.. AXE!!” for it to be official?) Also, the air conditioning in the hollowed out volcano is a bit wonky. Mind having it looked at? I know your domination plans are just getting underway and this is all new to you, but I’ve been a henchman before and I’ll tell ya, you do NOT want a bunch of sweaty, frustrated henchmen when it comes time to dispatch them to the cities of the world alongside the robot skeletons. You and I both know where slightly overweight men’s sweat tends to accumulate, and it’s not under the CHIN…. if you know what I mean. Ahem. And I think you do.

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oh

balls.

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