Song Rating Spergatory

I still live in the dinosaur era of digital music management, in that I download and store full albums on my computer. None of this “cloud” silliness. Not yet, at least. All these downloads start to add up, so for the past 5 or so years, I’ve “actively” listened to my music; that is, I rate my music as I listen to it.

This comic from 2008 details the basics:

  • ★★★★★ – A song I could listen to over and over.
  • ★★★★ – A song I would play at a party.
  • ★★★ – A song I’d listen to on-the-go, but not with other people.
  • ★★ – A corrupted or misnamed file. I’ve got a smart playlist which acts as a to-fix list for these.
  • ★ – A song I don’t want on my iPhone, for one reason or another.

Out of 100GB of music in my library, only about 300 songs have a 5-star rating. There just aren’t many songs I could listen to repeatedly, and even then, they might get stale, prompting me to downgrade some to 4 stars.
4-star songs that I used to think were cool often get downgraded to 3 stars, because my taste in music (or taste in friends) has changed.
3-star songs are downgraded to 1 when I realize I get zero enjoyment from listening to the song.

I try to keep my library at 100GB, which is more than any music hoarder should ever need in the era of instant song querying via Google/YouTube. When I go over that amount, I take a few minutes to look at my iTunes smart playlist that contains songs whose album has an average rating of 1, and delete entire albums that contain no redeeming tracks.

On my iPhone, I make sure to automatically load any songs I haven’t yet rated. The remaining space is filled up by 3-, 4-, or 5-star songs with the oldest “last played” date. This ensures that my library remains “fresh.”

At home, I tend to play my entire library. That’s basically the only way I ever “upgrade” any songs from 1 star in case my tastes have changed.

Much like most of the content in this blog nowadays, I’ve written this here just so I can refer to something that doesn’t fit within 140 characters. So there we go. Feel free to chime in with any other music management suggestions if you got ’em.

Website Review: Treasure Island Music Festival 2010

mentioned she liked reading my rants on how websites are built, and since I’m in the website-building business, it makes sense that I’d have some insights on what’s what. This is not to say that I’m an authority on how sites should be built, nor am I the only one spending time nitpicking. There are sites that focus on the whole package, like Sitecritic.net and Web Pages That Suck – both of which, for some reason, have pretty bad UI – but are thorough and well-written. As a developer, not a designer, I’ll try to focus mostly on use of code, and how websites that look just fine could greatly benefit from a bit of code rewriting.

(I don’t know if I’m going to write even more than one of these, so I decided I’d stick this on my personal blog for now.)

The lineup for the 2010 Treasure Island Music Festival was released yesterday. I’m pretty excited about everything on day 1 (being more of an electronic than indie guy). The color scheme for this year is a little strange (reminds me of a rotten fruit salad) but otherwise I like the design they’re going for. I was a bit appalled when I took a look at the code and a hodgepodge of tables jumped out at me.

The tables, Duke! The taaabblles!

There’s a myth that the <table> element is an awful, taboo, even deprecated thing that shouldn’t even be thought about when it comes to putting a site together. It’s false: <table> is great for, well, tables. Spreadsheets. Charts of data. Anything that can be logically arranged in rows and columns. But I don’t see any spreadsheets on this page:

Rotten fruit salad

In fact, I don’t see any rows or columns at all, in a traditional sense. I suspect tables were used to “speed up” development, as this reeks of a “slice and dice” job, where the developer was given a mockup and he decided, for some reason, to splice it into tiny bits and shove it into a series of convoluted tables with rowspans and colspans.

Bottom line: splicing is baaaad. I can’t think of a situation in which splicing would be a good thing to do. When you splice a PSD into tiny images and scatter them throughout a page, you do a few things:

  • You waste time taking apart an existing design and putting it back together, when you don’t have to
  • You make a page hard to maintain – what if the design changes?
  • You increase the amount of HTTP requests by a buttload
  • You doom a page’s SEO value by increasing load times, removing any opportunities to make a page semantic and machine-readable

The developer, instead, could have exported the entire design as a single PNG (oh god, I just noticed that they’re all GIFs), set it up as the background of the main site container, and overlaid some absolutely-positioned lists, whose text content is hidden via CSS. That is to say, the site with styles disabled would look something like this:

Treasure Island Music Festival

October 16 & 17, 2010

  • LCD Soundsystem
  • Deadmau5
  • etc…
  • Belle & Sebastian
  • The National
  • etc…

And with CSS implemented, the site would still look like it does above.

I am generalizing in one area, though, and that’s with hover states. If you yearn for the days when your visitors could be whisked away to a magic cyberspace of interactivity, then I guess you gotta implement your danged hover states one way or another, so you do have to splice the PSD and save the images individually (or turn them into sprites, or something equally clever), and use CSS to specify what shows up when you hover where. Instead, this site uses a horrid cocktail of JavaScript and invalid HTML attributes (srcover? oldsrc???).

In general, this a site that, despite being functional and pretty-looking, makes me want to smack the developer upside the head. It lives in a world where <table>, <div>, and <img> are the only HTML elements worth using, substitutes CSS for deprecated/invalid HTML attributes, loads a million images when in a perfect world it wouldn’t have to load any (web fonts! SVG! etc.!…), and sacrifices any chance of being accessible to search engine bots or those with disabilities (no meta tags, no alt text, not a hint of semantic HTML usage).

Boy, this was kind of therapeutic. If you found this at all interesting, feel free to send me some more examples. I’m looking to rant about recent, small-scale sites that aren’t overtly horrible but could use some work. Or I’ll find ’em instead.

Songogo

Townage
Simple song I made in about two hours. I had the Cinematic Orchestra in mind – also Nifflas‘ music from the Knytt series. Finally, I wanted to use a small MIDI I made that I never ended up doing anything with. I also wanted to stick to basics, and stay calm, since a lot of my songs tend to get carried away for fear of becoming too repetitive. Take a listen!

Songo

Prestidigitation
Hey, it’s a song! Sort of final-bossy, also sort of onoken-y and TaQ-y. Brian says it’s F-Zero-Anime-y but I’ve never watched that BRIAN INFORMS ME NO SUCH THING EXISTS AND I AM PUTTING WORDS INTO HIS MOUTH!!! I THINK I WILL ALSO INCLUDE MY FIST. This is the first song I’ve finished since last summer. Jesus Christ! I should really get back into the swing of things.