Walt Mankowski

All glory to the hypnotoad

Fixing Grayed-out Albums in iTunes Match

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This afternoon I tried to play an album I hadn’t listened to for a while on iTunes, but when I tried to add it to Up Next I noticed the tracks were grayed out. This was an album I’d ripped on another machine, and none of the tracks were local. Oddly, I could add the individual tracks to Up Next, but I couldn’t add the entire album.

The songs played fine from iTunes Match, and while I was listening to the album I did some poking around to see if I could figure out what the problem was. Eventually I noticed that the songs on the album had been unchecked. In fact, it appeared that every one of my remote iTunes Match tracks had been unchecked!

Unfortunately there doesn’t appear to be any way to mass-check 100s of tracks, so here’s what I ended up doing. First, I made a smart playlist with the rule “Checked is false”. Then I spent the next 10 minutes or so clicking 100s of checkboxes. You could also just check the boxes in the Songs view, but then you have to keep scrolling up the window and that quickly gets annoying. The advantage of using a smart playlist is that the list will auto-update, so you can just keep clicking the top line.

Lucky ‘Hawks

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Indisputable proof from today’s Philadelphia Inquirer that Holy Family University has the best college basketball team in the country:

If only Holy Family were in the Division I tournament instead of being D-II… You see the transitive property is never wrong. Holy Family beat Philadelphia University to win its conference title, and Philly U. beat La Salle in an exhibition game, and La Salle beat Dayton and Dayton beat Vanderbilt and Vanderbilt beat Kentucky and Kentucky beat Duke and Duke beat Virginia Tech and Virginia Tech beat Virginia and Virginia beat West Virginia and West Virginia beat Kansas.

So although the Jayhawks may be the top overall seed, clearly Kansas gets lucky it doesn’t have to face Holy Family.

Misspelling Names

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It’s the end of the winter term at Drexel, and last week there were student presentations in my PI’s class on Cell and Tissue Image Analysis. The more senior people in the lab try to go to the presentations to see what they did and offer tips for their final papers due the following week. A new grad student in the lab did his presentation on Thursday, and afterwards I offered him a tip.

“Hey,” I said, “You misspelled ‘Michel’ in your presentation.” René Michel is the author of a denoising algorithm we like in my lab.

“Oh, does it have one L?”

“You shouldn’t guess. You need to look it up. It’s important to get people’s names right!”

“Right, right, but does it have one L or two?”

“I’m not going to tell you. This isn’t a guessing game. You need to look it up in the slides and get it right.”


Why do I care so much about spelling people’s names correctly in your papers and presentations? Like the brown M&M’s in Van Halen’s dressing room, they’re a red flag. If you can’t even take a few seconds to copy-and-paste someone’s name correctly, there’s a good chance you’ve been sloppy with the rest of your work as well.

Also, once you reach grad school, the person in question might be the one reviewing your paper!

Finding Large Files in Rdiff-backup Logs With a Perl One-liner

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I run daily backups every night on my Linux server using rdiff-backup. I run it with the --print-statistics option, so when it finishes it prints a report on how much got backed up that night. Here’s the report from last night:

StartTime 1399705262.00 (Sat May 10 03:01:02 2014)
EndTime 1399708900.87 (Sat May 10 04:01:40 2014)
ElapsedTime 3638.80 (1 hour 38.80 seconds)
SourceFiles 2432094
SourceFileSize 133411718441 (124 GB)
MirrorFiles 2427458
MirrorFileSize 130053518207 (121 GB)
NewFiles 4866
NewFileSize 3366380132 (3.14 GB)
DeletedFiles 230
DeletedFileSize 30021766 (28.6 MB)
ChangedFiles 1395
ChangedSourceSize 5451992626 (5.08 GB)
ChangedMirrorSize 5430150758 (5.06 GB)
IncrementFiles 6525
IncrementFileSize 214658652 (205 MB)
TotalDestinationSizeChange 3572858886 (3.33 GB)

The thing that caught my eye was the last line. Normally the TotalDestinationSizeChange is a few hundred megabytes, but last night it was 1000 times that. I couldn’t recall changing any files that big yesterday, so I wondered what might have caused it.

TA Training

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I’m keeping busy this winter teaching the second half of a three-quarter Intro to Java course. For the most parts my students are doing well, but I’m sorry to report that my TAs are struggling to master some of the more advanced features of the department copy machine.

“Hey,” I said last week to one of them who had a big stack of quizzes in front of him, “did you know that you can get the copier to staple those for you?”

“In fact,” I added helpfully, “did you know that if you’d printed those on both sides of the page, you wouldn’t have even had to staple anything?”

No, I Will Not Fix Your Computer

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Dear neighbors,

Just because I “know computers” doesn’t mean I can fix yours. This is especially true if you’re running Windows 8.

In Korean.

Hugs, Walt

Brothers, Baseball and Beer

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I was at the Phillies game last night with my brother Steve for his birthday. We were sitting out in center field, and in the sixth inning Chase Utley hit a ball right at me. I thought the ball hit the top of the fence, but it turned out that the guy sitting 4 rows in front of me made the catch!

He held up the ball and everyone celebrated, but then someone from security came over and wanted to talk to him. It turned out that the Braves thought he’d reached over the fence to catch the ball, and there was a long delay while the umpires checked the replay. You can watch it too and decide for yourself.

So what do you think happened? Do you think the umps made the right call?

If you look closely you can see me in the clip. I was sitting directly behind the guy who caught the ball, but because of the camera angle I’m at about 1:00 from him in the video, and Steve’s to the right of me. It looks like I was holding my beer, which might’ve been fun if the ball had been hit just a little bit higher…

This clip has been edited, and the whole thing took about 5 minutes to resolve. But they had the full clip up last night and I was able to watch it when I got home from the game. (I never saw the catch in person because there were too many people standing in front of me.) Tom McCarthy, the Phillies announcer, got it exactly right even before they showed the first replay. The guy who caught it was sitting 2 rows from the fence, and he couldn’t physically have reached over the fence if he’d wanted to. (I walked down and checked later on.) It just looks like he did because the camera was 400 feet away and depth of field squashes everything together.

By the way the beer I was holding at the time was a Victory Alley Brewing Co. Lager, which the interwebs tell me is really a Victory Lager. But I didn’t know this at the time. My initial impression was “this is what Bud would taste like, if Bud were actually a good beer.” Victory Lager’s really a helles, not a pils, but hey, close enough. If you’re looking for a light, refreshing lager to drink on a hot day or night at the ballpark, or if you want to save a few bucks over the fancier microbrews (they have it on draft for $8/pint in Ashburn Alley; cheap by ballpark standards) I recommend trying Victory Alley Brewing Lager.

Article Processing Charge

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Today Iva Lipovic of Rijeka, Croatia (or possibly Shanghai, it’s hard to tell) emailed me on behalf of a company named InTech to invite me to submit a chapter to their forthcoming book Graph Theory. Iva added:

Please note that if your chapter is accepted for publication, the payment of an Article Processing Charge will be required to cover the online and offline publishing costs.

And the charge is only €640! Sound totally legit to me…