2013 — 21 February: Thursday

Brightly dawns the new-born day.1 I saw an orange-red globe more or less above the trees on the local horizon a few minutes ago. I've tried listening to the news, but I shall be returning to music. It's slightly less surreal.

It's a sweltering -2C on my front porch, though that hasn't stopped nearly a dozen of 'my' daffodils deciding it's the season of yellow merriment. They do this every year, of course. Christa planted the bulbs there many years ago. Now that's surreality for me — her song may have ended, but her melody lingers on, as it were...

Long may it do so.

Speaking of songs...

... I've just started tinkering with the file export facilities of the mp3tag tool. Although it's not actually been my "tool of choice" for tagging (I've got into the habit of using Poikosoft's Metadata editor, which is integrated with the CD-ripping tool I've used for years now) the templates it uses for its HTML file exporting are easy to get at and lend themselves to tailoring.

Here, for tiny example, is Leonard Cohen's son, as represented in my little collection (just as a test file):

MP3 list

Needs work, obviously, but shows promise.2

As does the sub-editing here:

The three planet's are the only one in orbit around their star. None seem particularly hospitable, with all orbiting closer to their sun than Mercury does to ours.

Simon Sharwood in El Reg

I gather this lady has come in for a bit of stick, I assume for what she said in her lecture. But I found her essay fascinating. Source and snippet:

Now flunkeys were moving among us with trays and on them were canapés, and these snacks were the queen's revenge. They were pieces of gristly meat on skewers. Let's not put too fine a point on it: they were kebabs. It took some time to chew through one of them, and then the guests were left with the little sticks in their hands. They tried to give them back to the flunkeys, but the flunkeys smiled and sadly shook their heads, and moved away, so the guests had to carry on the evening holding them out, like children with sparklers on Guy Fawkes night.

Hilary Mantel in LRB


Nearly time I wasn't here. Mind you, had I set off punctually I would just have missed Mr Postie. That's life.

Here's a snapshot of the tentative design (if that's the word) of my MP3 list generation. Now, if I could only work out why it eats two apostrophes and sets file type HTML rather than SHTML I'd be a happier bunny. With two less bits of post-generation hand-tinkering to do. Also Cloudfare is screwing around with the CSS file, dammit!

Before I shut down...

... BlackBeast to fit the newly-delivered pair of USB3 front ports, I can now demonstrate the "best so far" (and probably good enough3 for now) set of MP3s for the letter "A" and then see what else Mr Postie found to hand over. Besides a care-home invoice that's now adding £1 per 'session' of Holy Communion. I had no idea dear Mama was now Catholic, but family Mounce is (of course) a broad church that's long operated a policy of "don't ask, don't tell".

So, what else ya got, Mr Postie? A film (from the people who did "Juno") and two complete TV shows to try out:

BD and DVDs

And a pair of books:


Should keep me quiet for a bit. Right. Off with the power. Where's that earthing strap? [Pause] Excellent. I now have a pair of USB3 ports conveniently under the DVD drive on the front panel, and the 'awkward-to-get-at' pair on the back. I shall reserve those for longer-term connections, like the external 3TB backup drive.


... I expect to be offline for a goodly portion of the day while a BT engineer is fiddling with my electric string to change it over to a "fibre to the cabinet" connection. Of course, if it all goes horribly wrong, I may be offline until after the weekend, I guess. But, heh? That's the hi-tech life, isn't it?

Speaking of hi-tech...

... here's how I integrated the exported data from 'mp3tag' with Molehole's CSS and SSI mechanisms to make sure the generated web pages adhere to my house style.

First, I added a tad of new local 'style' info to get it generated into the 'head' section of the SHTML files that are going to hold the generated MP3 data. That background colour, by the way, is a value I literally picked up from the bottom edge of the bar you can see across the top of every molehole web page. Don't ask...

<style type="text/css"><!--
	.title { font-weight: bold; padding: 7px; margin: 0px; color: #000; }
	.odd { background-color: #d4ce9c; }

Next, I defined an "mp3list" table attribute to bung into my global CSS file to sort out text alignment and sans-serif font within the table that contains the MP3 data fields...

.mp3list {
	font-family: Verdana, geneva, arial, helvetica, sans-serif;
	text-align: center;

td {
	text-align: left;

Finally, here's the little SHTML template that — in conjunction with the 'export' capability of the mp3tag tool — does the actual list magic. It loops through all the subset of selected MP3 files, extracting just Artist, Track title, and Album from the metadata, and writing out data lines of alternating background colour:

<h1>MP3s, sorted by artist — Letter "A"</h1>
<p>Date generated: %_date%</p>
<table class="mp3list">
	<th class="title">Artist</th>
	<th class="title">Track title</th>
	<th class="title">Album</th>
	<td$if($odd(%_counter%), class="odd",)>$replace(%artist%,&,&)</td>
	<td$if($odd(%_counter%), class="odd",)>$replace(%title%,&,&)</td>
	<td$if($odd(%_counter%), class="odd",)>$replace(%album%,&,&)</td>

Crazy though it now sounds, I used to do this sort of stuff for a living. I must have been mad.

The boss of Sainsbury's has...

... just emailed Christa to reassure her "as a valued customer" that they sell beef uncontaminated by horsemeat. I suspect I never got around to cancelling one of her store cards...




1  Or something to that effect.
2  A succinct summary — it occurs to me — of many of my school reports in days of yore.
3  I cured the apostrophe-eating by using a hard-wired character entity with the ASCII code. I cured the file type by specifying ".shtml" rather than ".html" on the generated file. I cured the Cloudflare problem on the external 'molehole' page by watching it disappear all by itself while Len and I were chomping our Indian meal for a couple of hours. That's my kind of debugging.