Tangerine is a new beta app for the Mac that has one major aim – to create playlists for iTunes based on the Beats per Minute (BPM) of a track. It also wants to do that quickly while looking good at the same time. First impressions are that it manages all three.
Once installed and running Tangerine will locate and analyze your iTunes library. There are issues if your library is located on an external drive but mines detected without a problem. The analysis is very quick – Potions website states around 3 tracks every second but obviously the anaylsis will be dependant on your library size and your encoding quality. Once analyzed it’s then down to you to create playlists based on the BPM that’s been associated to the mp3 file.
By using sliders to easily change the criteria it’s easy to make varied playlists – from fast paced workouts to slow burners. Once complete the playlists is displayed and you have the option of saving it in your iTunes library. Another nice feature is the ability to write the BPM values back to iTunes allowing you to use the BPM within iTunes itself.
All the basic functionality worked well but there were one or two quirks especially with the BPM analysis. It seemed to mark some real slow tracks with very little beat with a high BPM. However it didn’t mark any of the faster tracks incorrectly so hopefully this can be addressed before official release. The look and feel of the app though is terrific. Once the playlist has been generated it is shown in the Tangerine window along with it’s album art. There are also some nice speech bubbles used to show track info. Playback controls (more accurately playback info) could have been displayed with more clarity though – again something that could be addressed before 1.0 release.
Some features I’d like to see – ability to use a playlist as a source for the newly generated playlist rather than the whole library. I’d also like to pick genre or ratings (you can select use predominately higher ratings) and base new playlists on those criteria. Actually I can pick genre or ratings – you just need to add a rule in the preferences which you can enable/disable to you liking. Nice. I guess the one thing it really does need is a readme…and a help file.
This is a really handy app for gym bunnies or runners that want to tailor there playlists to not only good songs but songs that match their pace. I’ll be using it to generate some game based playlists – high for racing games (or Lumines), low for something like golf. One little point to finish on – the installation screens on Mac are great and Tangerines is one of the best. Enjoy.
I mentioned Preloadr a few days ago and finally got round to giving it a proper test. It’s an image manipulation tool which is integrated with the Flickr photo sharing website. Once you have granted access to your Flickr account you can easily select an image via sets or tags for editing.
The options available are extensive for an online only tool. You can crop, rotate and mirror your images and also add text. You can view the images histogram and also alter red, green, blue intensity. Layer support is also available along with the ability to scale and move images within a layer. Finally there are a number of filters including blur and sharpen as well as ‘Auto Contrast’ the results of which you can see below. The more helpful red-eye removal is not currently available but it is an early beta.
The only snag I found was that I couldn’t upload the saved changes back to Flickr which is a bit of a fatal flaw – hopefully this is just a temporary issue. For quick editing on the move away from an editor this was more than adequate though I’d still prefer a USB stick and Irfanview. It did highlight that I don’t pay enough attention to making the most of my snaps – the lightning image after applying the filter was dramatically different. I’ll give the Adobe Lightroom beta a try.
First screen from my freshly installed Vista Beta 2. After partitioning my drive to allow for dual booting with XP and getting an iso image to finally burn correctly I installed Vista tonight. It took around an hour and a half to install but this was unattended so you could wander off and watch some football while it churned.
Flickr set is up although with only a few screens to begin with. Quick impressions – boot time is long, looks to be more security aware, couple of nice window opening effects, alt tab nice, speed seems ok which was surprising, Windows Update managed to install all my drivers which considering the pc is two years old was pretty impressive, XP still works, there still some Win 95 icons in there – it’s not crashed yet. I’m really wanting to test out day to day functionality like search, robustness etc as I’ve almost made my mind up that my next pc will be a mac…the beta will be a good test before I switch. More updates when I’ve used it in anger.
Ok – first night with it. Not done much except install Office Beta and also anti-virus. Thought I would use AVG free but once downloaded I tried to run it but Vista wouldn’t let me install – there are issues that might break Vista and I should contact the suppliers to pester them for a fix. Sigh. Microsoft though have sorted out a PC-Cillin anti-virus package that runs for the length of the Vista beta – that installed with no issues.
Tried Media Centre – worked OK although it seemed to crash on building my music library. Started it off well before the England game tonight but by half-time it stil hadn’t doen anything. Stopped the program, set-up library via Media Player 11 and it seems to be ok now. It’s either really slow (pc left unattended for 90 minutes yet failed to import 5000 tracks) or it crapped out.
Saying that system feels really usable. Office works well and one O/S has loaded it doesn’t feel any slower than XP. Need to delve into search though and see how that works. Pop-ups asking for permission to run apps and install programs is a tad frustrating too.
Beta 2 is out and can be downloaded here. Flickr set of screenshots highlights some of the new features. So far I’m impressed. This marks one of the biggest changes to Office in years. New is the ribbon at the top of the screen for easy access to features that are required for the currently selected task. In the brief play tonight it felt far more intuitive than Office 2003 – a real step forward. The ribbon will be a love it or hate it feature – those that are used to Office as it stands today may feel uncomfortable with the change.
Excel has had the 64000 row limit removed and the chart formatting options are quicker and slicker than before. Table handling has advanced and data can be more easily manipulated. Outlook has seen very little change although the searching (once you download a beta of Desktop Search) is now more integrated with the product. The rest of the apps see the ribbon applied and easier to use themes although Visio hasn’t had the same makeover as other apps – new functionality is available but no ribbon.
One snag is I haven’t been able to activate easily – hopefully this will be sorted over the coming days. Looking forward to seeing how open the new file formats are and if Access has changed much since I last used it in anger.
The IE7 Beta 2 Preview is now available to the masses – http://www.microsoft.com/windows/IE/ie7/ie7betaredirect.mspx. While many of the new features have been available for the last 2 or 3 years in Firefox or Opera it’s good to see the Windows O/S default browser catching up and becoming a much better tool for the average user who would never think of changing from IE.
So – whats new? The list below are the main features (links to Flickr piccies where possible)
- Tabbed browsing is the biggie. Browse the web in a much more efficient manner. Easy to open new tabs and there’s a nice Quicktabs button that shows all tabs as small screens allowing you to easily pick the one you want.
- Rendering – much improved. Support for png’s and better css standardisation. My site is looking pretty OK considering it’s IE. Binary Bonsai which has always struggled in IE is looking not too shabby. Pity MSN UK’s website looks shabby – a bit embarrassing.
- Phishing filter. Will highlight a dubious website and also allows you to check against a list of known phishing sites. Should improve security alongside a pop-up blocker and also a nice tool for checking which add-ons are currently running in IE. This will make it easier for users to remove spurious search toolbars that they have installed over the years.
- RSS support. Using the now adopted RSS standard icon you can add feeds to IE and then check via a feed view. Great to have this as built into IE instead of having to add a separate program although it’s fairly light on features.
- Search engine selection. You can now add various search engines – Google, Yahoo, AOL as well as Amazon, EBay and others. Nothing special but good to see Microsoft opening out their software away from MSN defaults.
- Cleaner interface. Makes for a bigger browsing window.
These features alone should have been added to IE a long time ago. It’s only thanks to the in-roads that Firefox has made that has forced Microsoft to release an updated browser. Thank heavens for competition especially as it’s the majority of users not in the ‘know’ that will benefit most from the final IE7 release.
Windows Live Messenger
Been using this for the past 3 days – this is the new name and new version of MSN Messenger. Interface is much the same as before with a bit more polish and easier to use features. You can search from within Messenger to including one option to search ‘Near Me’. Enter Games and a search window for Glasgow (which is near me) will launch showing a map and addresses for Game related stores near me – hello CA Games. You can also search your desktop from here – maybe time to switch back to MSN Desktop Search as having the search box in Messenger makes more sense than on the toolbar especially as I always have Messenger running.
There are also extra options to be had when chatting. One is Music Mix which allows you to share a music playlist with whoever you are chatting with. Sounds OK but in practise was slow to download my currently playing track and also made the Messenger app pretty unresponsive. Another allows you to share a map search, another allows you to watch a video together from MSN. All tat in my book.
One feature I did like was Sharing Folders. Turn this on between you and a contact and a folder will be kept in sync on each contacts PC. Drag a file onto your contacts name and the file will be synchronised into yours and theirs folder. Makes file transfer so much easier and you no longer need to wait for the contact to say yes to the file.
Think of Digg with less geeks and more general news and you’ve got Web 2.0 (blah) app Newsvine. Three main activities – Read, Write and Seed. Read articles and comment on them to your hearts content but also control the content – the community keep alive the stories they like by voting on them.
You can also Write your own articles and they will appear like other news stories so users can comment and vote on their favourites. Seeding articles is basically linking articles from the web. They will appear within Newsvine as well and be subject to the same voting and commenting as the previous two. The main difference from other sites is that authoring and seeding can earn you money. If you add value to the Newsvine site then you earn some dollars. Interesting concept – open up journalism to the masses but surely it will end in tears as wannabe journalists write up misspelled articles in the quest for fame?
A video from CBC that can be grabbed via bit-torrent shows the very same online mechanism in South Korea – it’s amazing the amount of money an amateur can generate but South Korea is the most connected place on the planet. Still – shows the potential that this model has. I’ve been pretty impressed so far with the content and the news that I’ve found.
The above apps are still in Beta but I do have invites left for both of them – if your interested leave a comment and I’ll drop you an invite.