Running a Dash

I signed up on Wednesday to run my distance first race ever1. I’ll be running in Henry Weinhard’s St. Patrick’s Day Dash, a grueling 6.11km race taking place on March 14th in the Queen Anne area of Seattle.

The race starts (3rd and Mercer) and finishes (5th and Harrison) by the Seattle Center and follows this route:

Some other people from Convergence are also going to be running it, including JoEllen, who I went to Haiti with and who sent out the original email, and Robert, and maybe Rebecca? Dad is also running it, which should be fun.

With only a little more than four weeks to go, I thought I’d better start practicing now (cramming doesn’t work as well with races). I devised an aggressive, but hopefully achievable plan for training.

Week Thursday Sunday Tuesday
Week 1 5/1 x 4 7/1 x 3 10/1 x 3
Week 2 12/1 x 2 15/1 x 2 17/1 + 12
Week 3 20/1 + 10 22/1 + 5 25/1 + 5
Week 4 27 30 35


Explaination:
5/1 x 4: Run five minutes, then walk one minute; repeat four times
17/1 + 12: Run 17 minutes, then walk one minute, then run 12 minutes
27: Run 27 minutes

I broke out my Nike + iPod Sports Kit and set out on the first day of training:

I think one of my biggest problems right now is keeping a consistent pace. Based on how I ran, my goal is to run about a 5 minute kilometer (about an 8 minute mile). In order to keep pace, I determined that I need to take 167 steps per a minute2. I already have many the estimated BPM data for many of my songs in iTunes. Thus, for Sunday’s run, I’m going to try running to songs that are in the 160-170 BPM range and hopefully that will help with consistency.


  1. I ran 330m hurdles in high school a couple of times junior year…seven years ago 

  2. http://www.benson.com.au/default.asp?contentID=665 

Moving iTunes

In preparation for my trip, I wanted to move my entire iTunes library computer from my tablet (Daedalus) to my netbook (Nautilus) so I could listen to music while I was traveling. Unfortunately, I’m of the anal-retentive type when it comes to managing my music. Specifically, I must keep track of my play counts and ratings. I have no idea what I’m like this way, it’s my thing, just go with it.

I decided the best way to this would be to copy my entire iTunes folder over the wired-network, essentially duplicating my entire music library on my netbook, which is the computer I’ll be bringing for my trip. I used TeraCopy to move the files, which took about two hours. I get the files onto Nautilus, but then I run into a bit of trouble with iTunes.

iTunes keeps thinking the music files are located in C:\Users\AndrewFerguson\Music\iTunes, however, for various reasons, I’ve put them onto the D drive at D:\iTunes. After dinking around1 for a while with iTunes, trying get my music, play counts, ratings, playlists, and podcasts all imported, I conclude that iTunes will not be helping me in this endeavor and that I’ll either need to put the music into C:\Users\AndrewFerguson\Music\iTunes, which I can’t do for various reasons (including the fact that I don’t have enough space on that partition), or just reimportant my music and lose all my beloved data.

To me, neither of these solutions is adequate. Then I have a stroke of genius. I remember that *NIX systems have something called symbolic links or symlink, for short:
From en.wikipedia.org:

A symbolic link merely contains a text string that is interpreted and followed by the operating system as a path to another file or directory. It is a file on its own and can exist independently of its target. If a symbolic link is deleted, its target remains unaffected. If the target is moved, renamed or deleted, any symbolic link that used to point to it continues to exist but now points to a non-existing file. Symbolic links pointing to non-existing files are sometimes called orphaned or dangling.

The only question remain was: Would Windows XP Home support my cunning plan? As it turns out, the answer is yes! Although it took a bit of massaging.

First, I had to download a program from SysInternals called Junction. This brings up a side note, what everyone else calls symlinks, Microsoft calls junctions. I don’t know why, they just do.

Second, I had to create the C:\Users\AndrewFerguson\Music\ file structure, which is basically just a bunch of empty folders. Not a huge deal and only a minor inconvienence.

Finally, I opened up a command prompt and typed in

junction c:\Users\AndrewFerguson\Music\iTunes\ D:\iTunes\

and got the following response:

Created: c:\Users\AndrewFerguson\Music\iTunes\
Targetted at: D:\iTunes\

I fired up iTunes and my music played! When I’m done at the end of my trip, I can just copy the iTunes Library file back and all my ratings and play counts will remain intact.


  1. yes, that’s the technical term 

Technology Understanding Fail

One of the great things, I think, about today’s current state of technology is that if there’s something that I need and it doesn’t exist, I can create it. Case in point, there was a group1 who added and published MP3’s to their website on a weekly basis, but had no Podcast to distribute it. Thus, if I wanted to listen to these audio files on my iPod, I would have to manually download it every week, add it to my iTunes, and then sync to my iPod.

Of course, I would not stand for this. So I wrote a simple script that would check for a new audio file on this groups server2, download the files to my server, and the generate the appropriate XML needed to bring the file into iTunes. Insta-podcast.

Anyway, being the nice and sharing guy that I am, I decided to unleash my little XML podcast feed to the world. And all was well. A few people found it, including the Apple iTunes store, and I was pretty content. Eventually the group get’s their act together and publishes their own XML podcast feed. I see this and do something called a “301 Moved Permanently” redirect. In short, if you were using my XML podcast feed, your program got a nice message that says, “Hey! What you were looking for isn’t over here anymore, it’s over there. Furthermore, it’s never coming back here, so you should just always go check over there from now on.” I figure cool, I did something good. They never notice (which is how it should be). All is right with the world.

Well, a couple years after all this goes down, I get an email:

Hi,

I recently found out that you submitted the ABC podcast to iTunes. While I am sure you were doing this to be helpful, it does not allow us to edit the submitted podcast in iTunes. We need to be able to do this, please remove the podcast so that we can submit it ourselves.

Thank You,

Bob

I do some poking around and, to humor the guy, send a request to the iTunes Music Store requesting that the feed be removed. Remember, I’ve done a “301 Moved Permanently,” so I shouldn’t be having this issue. Just to be sure, I remove everything…including the redirect. Any future requests for this resource will now result in “404 File Not Found” error.

A couple months go by, and I get another email from the guy.

Andrew,

I just checked the podcast again, and it is still listed under your e-mail address in the iTunes store. Would you mind following up with Apple?

Thanks,

Bob

At this point, I know the problem can’t possible be on my end. It has to be this guys problem. So I do some more checking and research. And respond back:

Bob,

I did some poking around and here’s what I’m thinking. The podcast has been completely removed from my site for several weeks now and accessing it produces a 404 error (whereas it used to just be a 301 – Moved Permantely redirect). However, when I check iTunes, I see the latest podcasts. This makes me believe that iTunes is in fact fetching the content from your server and not mine.

Looking at the XML formatting for your podcast (http://www.abc.com/podcast/meetings/meetings.xml), I noticed that you are not using the iTunes specific tags (http://www.apple.com/itunes/store/podcaststechspecs.html), specifically the “<itunes:author>” tag.

My thinking is that iTunes has decided to cache the information and that’s what you’re seeing. If you were to update your XML file with the iTunes specific tags, you should be all set.

Does that make sense?

I check the next day and the data on iTunes had been updated. I never did hear back from Bob.

About a year later, the group decides they’re going to outsource their entire podcast to another company. They post a podcast say, “Hey, we’ve moved feeds…here’s how to find us again.” Which is fine, I guess3. However, there was a much better way. I did a bit of research (seriously, about five minutes) and sent Bob another email:

Bob,

I noticed that you guys changed the URL for the podcast and are asking people to resubscribe. As a thought, you could set the current podcast URL send a 301 – Moved Permanently instead of having people resubscribe as it will automatically tell the program that the URL has changed and it should update its records with the new URL (which is actually the entire point of issuing a 301).

iTunes and the iTunes store support this nomenclature in addition to a special “<itunes:new-feed-url>” tag.

For more information on the iTunes redirect: http://www.apple.com/itunes/whatson/podcasts/specs.html#changing

For more information on sending 301 headers with ASP:
http://www.wrox.com/WileyCDA/Section/Redirecting-HTTP-301-Status-Codes-with-ASP-NET-and-IIS.id-306460.html

Merry Christmas,

Andrew

They never did implement my idea. And Bob never did email me back. Sometimes I think it would have been better to have kept the podcast, rather then let them run it. It never ceases to amaze me the monkeys some groups will let control their network. As of the time of this posting, Bob still works for ABC Group.


  1. historians of this blog may know who I’m talking about 

  2. they happened to name their files in a sequentially predictable manner 

  3. The danger here is that you risk losing subscribes when you ask them to perform a required action. Thus, if you make the action automatic, you don’t risk losing subscribers. It should be a “no-duh” point, but often people miss it. 

The Finer Points of Configuring Your Airport Express and Error 10057

I was recently having an issue with my Airport Express. I was trying to set it up so that I could play music through it. I got it to join my network, but I couldn’t connect to it in iTunes. When I went to go reconfigure it, I found that I also couldn’t connect to it…even though I could see it. I kept getting an error message:

An error occured while trying to access the Apple wireless device. Make sure your network connection is valid and try again. Error 10057

The problem turned out to be a subtle configuration setting with my WiFi. My network is set for WPA with TKIP encryption. However, it appears that Airport Express doesn’t really like to play well with TKIP. Switching the encryption to WPA with TKIP and AES (also called TKIP+AES) fixed the issues. Presumably, setting the network encryption to WPA with AES would also work.

I tried confirming my findings, however I wasn’t able to find anything in the manual or tech specs.

Hopefully, this post helps someone else with a similar problem.

Today’s Definition of Irony

Today’s Definition of Irony is brought to you by Amazon.com‘s new Amazonmp3 service1:
1234onamazon.jpg
…for having the top MP3 song as Feist’s 1234, also known as ‘that cool song that Apple uses in their new iPod commercials’.

This may or may not be made funnier (more funny?) by the fact that 1234 is only #4 in the iTunes Store:
1234onitunes.jpg

1From en.wikipedia.org:

On September 25, 2007, Amazon launched a new music store (currently in beta) which sells downloadable tracks, all in the MP3 format and most recorded at 256 kilobits per second Variable bitrate (VBR).[16] The Amazon MP3 Music Service: Terms of Use legally restrict use of the music, but Amazon does not use DRM to enforce those terms. Most songs cost US$0.89 or US$0.99, and most albums cost between US$4.95 and US$9.99. Participating record labels include EMI and Universal, as well as many independent labels.

Iain Torrance

Iain Torrance, chaplain to Her Majesty the Queen and president of Princeton Theological Seminary, gave the sermon at UPC today and it was simply marvelous. What a great speaker. He’s also hip too! He recounted how on his way to Rome last week, he listened to Julius Caesar on his iPod, which he purchased from iTunes.

Would You Pay 5 Cents For a Song?

It appears that someone in the world actually has a smart idea. Selling songs for 5 cents each! How cool would that be? I think it would work too. I have roughly 4000 songs. At the current iTunes rate of 99 cents a song, I spend about $4000. Ain’t going to happen. However, at 5 cents, I would only spend $200. Now that is not only something I can handle, it’s something that I would be willing to do. I would bet a very large sum of money that this would literally bring file sharing of music to a complete stop, practically overnight.

From slashdot.org:

irikar writes “An academic at McGill University has a simple plan to stop the plague of unauthorized music downloads on the Internet. But it entails changing the entire music industry as we know it, and Apple Computers, which may have the power to make the change, is listening.”

Heck, I bet people would even pay for all the music they’ve already taken too! I really hope this actually goes through. The economics are there and it makes sense for everybody. The only reason it wouldn’t go through is because the RIAA can make more money suing people.

Vertigio by U2

After a few week of hearing U2’s new song Vertigo on the TV in Apple’s iTunes + iPod commercial, I finally bought it. However, I used iTunes. This was the first time I used iTunes and I have to say that it was very quick and painless. I just searched for "U2 Vertigo" and it came up with the song I wanted. I had a free download, so I used that and 30 seconds later, the song was on my hard drive. It also automatically downloaded the artwork from the cover, so that was pretty spiffy. Apple’s iTunes Store is defiantly giving conventional brick and mortar stores a run for their money. Not to mention curbing illegal downloading to some extent.