About Me

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Gurgaon, Haryana, India
I look at life with detachment and distance, like a window shopper. Not only I study the window but also my own reflections in it.

Scripting Music

Friday, October 09, 2009 1 comments

Labour of Love is a Waste of Time

I am fond of Hindi film songs of 1950 to 1970's. I have been collecting Mp3 songs of this period, for last 9 years. The collection has now grown to 7,000 songs.
(A photo taken by me: "Seven Thousand Noses""- Like my Music Collection)

Many like minded friends have shared their archives with me. Because of diverse sources, the songs were not having consistent or uniform "Tagging". It was a daunting task to clean tags of 7,000 songs. I have now completed that. Let me share with you the pains and pleasures of this labour of love.

MP3 is a compression protocol for crunching up a song file so that it takes up a smaller space on the computer with a minor loss of fidelity. In addition it carries lots of information embedded in it about the song. This information could be: Title; Artist; Album; Composer; Year; Lyricist; Genre; Album art; Lyrics; etc. This information is stored in "Tags” at the beginning of the song file. Music Programs like Windows Media Player use these tags and build up a database of your Library of song files.
Since I got my songs from diverse sources, the tagging information was not consistent. Moreover there is mo standard tag to put name of the film of the song. I put it in Album. The songs I had, the titles were erratically crammed with film name, artist, Composer, year with all sorts of brackets/ dashes/ underscores/ equal signs etc.
One way was to edit each song by song for all the 7,000 songs - obviously an impossible task – but still a must for a few songs. I therefore used program scripts. Although I am no longer that ace a programmer I once was, yet I still retain the unerring nose for debugging a program - it’s almost instinctive. I can also fill in the gaps in my knowledge of new current programming languages by intelligent guesswork based on my past knowledge.
One interesting script was to transfer film name written in brackets in the Title to Album tag without the brackets and delete it from the Title.
Other was a script for Titles having film name and title separated by dash or equal sign.
One was for removing song numbers from the Titles.
And many others similar oddities.
I use "Media Monkey" software for managing my music collection and "The Godfather" (TGF)software for batch conversion of tags.
Finally I used Media Monkey to clean up multiple entries of same film names or same artist names due to different spellings or different capitalisation.
Now I am ready to weed out duplicate files of same song by using the "Find Duplicates"facilitiy of TGF software. I finds out duplicate even if there is mis-spelling etc.
I was at it hammer and tongs many hours each day for last one month – to the utter depression of my better half. You can well imagine the efforts I had make to keep her in good humour by other means.

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Recognising Faces

Friday, October 02, 2009 5 comments

Software That Sends Chill Down The Spine

Recognising faces is such an amazing God-given gift that we fail to realize the complexities of the process. Only when we try to build machines to do this, that we realize the near impossobility of the task.

(On the left, is me @ 13 Yrs of age, 1963, a school group photo. Notice the determination in the eyes. I love this boy!)

Picasa, the photo software from Google has added face recognition in its recent version 3.5. I tried it on my 5,000 odd photo collection. Let me give a rewiew of Picasa's face recognition abilities.

I am computer world's senior citizen. I wrote my first computer program in 1969 on a 2nd generation machine which filled a big hall in our college. Since then I have kept pace with various fast paced changes in the technology. During the course of these 40 years, I have put all my music (7,000 songs) and photos (5,000) on the PC. The photos represent a vertable history of my life and my times. Oldest photo is of 1954 - when I was a 4 year old toddler. It has been a herculian task to maintain this treasure, specially due to transfers and changes of computers and software.

I downloaded and upgraded Picasa 3.5. On opening it started the task of recognising the faces in my stock of albums.
It asks you to name the faces it recognises and asks your confirmation wherever it has any doubt.
The accuracy is amazing. It not only recognized 'me' with or without beard - that I keep growing and shaving from time to time, but it could recognize my son's childhood photos and linked these to his adulthood face. A normal person who has not seen my son grow would not be able to do that!
Rather than successes what sent a shiver down my spine was its errors. It confused between my son and faces of myself, his mother and sister. That means that it can discern genetic signatures. DNA tests may become redundant.
I thought that the software appeared to be "God's hand". But such horrorific ideas vanished when it also made silly mistakes like confusing between a female face and a face of a bearded policeman. I felt relieved and granted myself a smile. The software doesn't have "God's hand" but is all too human. Even that is a disturbing achievement!!!

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What For Am I Here?

Thursday, September 17, 2009 0 comments

The Purpose of Our Existence

One of the quest for which this blog is written is "What for am I here?". In seeking lifelong quests, we should not restrict ourselves to hand-me-down answers not even from this blog. Such answers are however definitly helpful to draw your own answers.
Some people do feel that there is no grand purpose in our existence. We are here just for existence merely? To get born, live and die? At best leaving progeny to carry our genes ahead.
I feel that this is only partially true, but what we do to pass time on this planet is also important.
"Geeta" says we all have come to this earth for a specific purpose - which it terms as "Swadharma" - our unique individual duty! This "Swadharma"also changes with time. As you grow old this swadharma also unfolds into something new. Its not static.
But How do We know our "Swadharma". I have found that there is no easy answers. But its not difficult. Be alert and be introspective. Be vigilant of your own feelings.
"Swadharma"is easily idenfied as that work that gives you most pleasure and fulfilment. The one you want to do again and again.
But it cannot be physical pleasures - eating etc. It will mostly be connected with people directly or indirectly.
It could be creation of physical assets for some? Like buildings, bridges etc. But indirectly its because of Humans that will benefit by it.
Even Big tycoons who earn money for themselves - actually serve humanity by creation of wealth for others by trickle down effects.
So what is your Swadharma? Have you fealt that glow of satisfaction after doing somework other than physical pleasures?

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