Saturday, April 01, 2023

Duskfall: Chaos Queen, Book 1

Some people take a drug that gives them special powers. However, the drug is extremely addictive. There is a vampire girl who associates with them. There is a religion. A girl is a priestess in it. There are records from the religion that are stored on metal plates. (Hmm. The author did go to BYU.) There is some special translation efforts. There is an attempted hanging, a rescue and other big conflicts. In the end, somebody consumes a large amount of the "power drug" to help defeat the bad people. This is fantasy. There were bits that were interesting, but I just have trouble staying engaged in longer fantasy works. I guess I prefer a world that is a little more familiar.

The Weight of Blood

The Weight of Blood is structured as a podcast series detailing a devastating event that took the lives of most of the high school seniors in a small southern town. As such, we know a big climax as coming. The structure gives us plenty of time to explore the characters and understand why it happened.

Maddy Washington had lived a sheltered life with her father. He was trying to protect her from some dark family secrets (his mother had telekinetic abilities) and make sure she was raised with the good word. When she was older, she was forced to go to public school, where she was teased by others. Her father was white and she had been living as a white girl. However, racism was very alive in the small town. After her hair got wet, she was seen as black and the teasing got worse. 

The peak of teasing came when a spoiled rich girl mocked her by dressing in blackface in a school skit. This lead to the rich girl getting expelled and losing her college admission. The rich girl's friend also distanced from her. The friend was a smart girl who was working at upping her standing. She was dating the super-start black quarterback. The two were not expecting to go to prom, since the school had separate independent black and white proms. She encouraged her boyfriend to go with Maddy to prom to help make things better. 

The school tries to have an "integrated prom" for black and white students. (Though there is still a smaller "white prom" at the country club.) The quarterback agrees to ask Maddy out. However, he also decides he wants to get to know her. He talks to her and goes out for a milkshake with her. He realizes that he really does like her. She doesn't see him as some super-star and he can be himself around her. He can actually talk about himself and his interest, and not just be treated as a dumb jock. He becomes smitten by Maddy and loses interest in his girlfriend. Maddy is also attracted to him and is excited to participate in some "normal" activities with others. She based her experience on classic movies. He feels bad that he had not stood up for her earlier.

They go to prom together and are having a great experience, including their first kiss. They are voted prom king and king. However, it turns out that this was rigged in order for mean girl to pull a practical joke. As they are sitting on the "throne", buckets of white paint come down all over them. They are soaked and go out of the building. Outside, there are a few protestors and cops. As people are out there, the quarterback gets accidentally pushed into a trigger happy cop. This cop starts beating him. Maddy thinks he is dead and lets her wrath come out.

She is extremely upset. She raises cars in the air and throws them to the ground, she sends electric surges around. She stops a train and derails it. She causes a trail of destruction that kills most of the high school class. The internal hurt has become external.

Ironically, the mean girl only loses an arm. The smart girl also survives and secretly helps her to escape the town. (Though she never admits to it.) The cruelties of bullying and modern-day racism come alive in the book. The retaliation ends up taking the lives of many that were not active participants - but they did stand by while others did happen. Maddy Washington had a peak high followed by a peak low.

Friday, March 31, 2023

A Master of Djinn: A Novel

An early 20th century version Egypt has magic as part of its society. A murder occurs, and a woman detective is put on the case. She is also given a partner to work with her on the case, much to her chagrin. (However, she reluctantly agrees to work with her, realizing there are not many females that get the opportunity.) 

The society seems similar to our modern society. Concerns of westernization, gender equity and LGBTIA rights are all issues that come in to play in this "magical society". The big difference is the magic (and "fake magic") that are part of this society.

There are a number of topics of colonialism, slavery, and magic involved as the Djinn have their magical powers, yet are somewhat subservient. The British people in Egypt end up being troublemakers among a society that has come at peace with the magical presence.

Underneath all this magic and political commentary, there is a detective story. They do manage to uncover the source of the murder. There are plenty of twists and turns in the case (many involving the supernatural.)


Kids in a society have special "powers". One has "the voice" that takes over his voice to allow him to get out of any sticky situation. Another is always forgotten. One girl can control crowds. Some of them meet together as Zeros. The boy with the voice gets involved with a gang and then a bank robbery when attempting to get a ride home. The daughter of one of the robbers has powers (but is not part of the Zeros). Boy and girl both try to hide. (Boy hides with "anonymous" kid in a luxury penthouse.) Boy and girl meet. They eventually uncover powers of each other. There is another big event in the city that they use their powers on.


A society is powered by ice that is mined from a rift. There are poor people that work as mercenaries, and justify their behavior as being the muscle rather than the will. (The society is modelled on an extreme version of income equality of today.) One boy is tasked to protect a girl. Of course they become attracted. People want to get power to destroy the ice, which could help them control the world. The boy discovers that he was part of the genetic experiment that could help cure the rift. He willingly sacrifices himself, only to discover he can continue to live as society heals.  

Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Master of the Phantom Isle: Dragonwatch, Book 3

Seth joins the darkside in this third Dragonwatch book. A "dark unicorn" took him away and has him continue to run errands to support the undead and other dark creatures. Seth has lost his memories and is not sure who is telling the truth. He feels it is bad to have people imprisoned, so helps free the creatures and run other errands for the dark.

Meanwhile Kendra and others are working to free him and save the world. The satyrs continue to provide comic relief as they help out. On their adventures, they explore one of the most elaborate tree-house systems around. They also work on digging out a treasure while defending themselves from sea monsters. (There is a ship that gives somebody the power to control sand. This helps protect them from the enemies as well as bring up the treasure.) Later they use a potion to walk in the water at the bottom of the ocean as if it were land. The adventures continue to get more wild during this middle book.

Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Remarkably Bright Creatures: A Novel

In a remote seaside location in Puget Sound, an old lady has a part time job of cleaning the local aquarium. She befriends an octopus that she finds stuck in a power cord. This animal has a habit of sneaking out of its tank to go exploring. (We also get to hear some thoughts from the Octopus's point of view.) She is currently living alone, and still has not got over the mysterious death of her son many years ago.

Meanwhile, in California, a young man that never knew his father (and barely knew his mother) stumbles across an old picture of his mom with another guy. She thinks this might be his father. He traces him to the small town in Washington state, and heads up there. The airline loses his luggage (it ends up traveling all over the world), and he ends up buying a camper from somebody he met and uses it to drive from Seattle up to the small town. In the small town, he befriends the old man that runs the grocery store, and is able to live in the camper on his lot.

Back in the town, the old lady sprains her ankle. The young man takes over her job cleaning the aquarium. The lady comes back in to see how the aquarium is doing (and see the octopus.) 

The characters in the book develop powerful relationships with each other. The octopus also has his personality and works to help the humans in their relationships - sometimes doing things that the humans are unable to do themselves. The octopus knows the answers that the humans are looking for before the humans do. They all are much better with each other than alone.

Wrath of the Dragon King: Dragonwatch, Book 2

The dragons have declared war. They want full control and don't want to be controlled by humans. They are after a special stone that will all them this power. The humans don't want them to have it. They are seeking it also. However, the troll guarding it has other things in mind. Those that do something bad on their own are forever cursed by his game, but those that had something bad happen out of their control are restored. We also get to see many more fantastical creatures, such as talking animals and a living forest. The cousins gain the ability to see the magical creatures, but cause some havoc on their own. A "memory loss" door causes interesting things to happen. Like a typical middle book, it opens more questions than it closes.

Sunday, March 26, 2023

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

The Wizard of Oz is best known as the 1939 film. Before that, it was a popular 1900 children's book that spawned multiple sequels. The author wanted to write children's books that were not so extreme as the other popular children's tales he did not like. The movie appears to be a fairly faithful adaptation of the book. (There are some minor changes, such as slippers being changed from silver to ruby.) In the story, a storm carries Dorothy off to the land of munchkins. (These term seems to have been coined here.) The house kills the wicked witch, making Dorothy a hero. She meets up with the scarecrow, tin man and lion. All of them have struggles. They seek the Wizard of Oz to help them. he leads them on another quest. They later destroy another wicked witch, only to find the Wizard is a charlatan from Nebraska. However, in the process, they have actually gained the characteristics they wanted (aside from getting home.) He makes it home, and then after another adventure, she makes it home. There are some parts with the trees and monkeys near the end that seem to drag on a bit, but it is an entertaining tale.

Saturday, March 25, 2023

Michael Vey 8: The Parasite

The Michael Vey series seemed to wrap up fairly well in the previous book. The electric kids were able to get away from the Hatch and be on their own. This book starts with a quick introduction of the characters. It then sets up new adventures. The youth are now mostly regular college students. They are joining together for one of their first reunions as regular people. However, things go sour. One doesn't show up. Then others begin to disappear. They soon discover that there is a new plot underway to harness their powers. They discover how they are being tracked and uncover a horrible ploy of domination. And then the book ends with a setup for a future sequel.

Super-Infinite: The Transformations of John Donne

John Donne was an important literary figure from a few centuries ago. He wrote amorous work and sired many children. He also wrote about death and suicide and has been identified as a source for other suicides. (He portrayed suicide as an act of bravery at a time when it was condemned as cowardly.) He also enjoyed hyperboles like super-infinite, hence the title of the book. 

Friday, March 24, 2023


The Dragonwatch series kicks off where Fablehaven ended. Seth goes on a mission to return the sword, and discovers that he will have a future with Dragons. Back at Fablehaven, the kids are with both sets of grandparents. Things get interesting when their cousins visit. They don't believe in the fairy stuff. However, this eventually becomes a benefit when hunting for gold or playing a "super VR capture the flag".

Seth and Kendra do end up as caretakers of a dragon sanctuary. Alas, the dragons are not too happy with this. They have plenty of of challenges in the new adventures, and nearly die a few times. Back at home, the satyrs continue to provide comic amusement. This is a good book for readers already invested in Fablehaven.

Wednesday, March 22, 2023

How to Change: The Science of Getting from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be

Making changes in your own life is not a simple process. The first step is understanding what change needs to be made. Sometimes other people can assist in observing areas that need improvement. Maybe the quest to be the best interferes with the ability to be good. 

Then comes the hard part of doing something and sticking with it. It is easier to "change" if there is no past behavior to replace. If there is something in the past, getting a fake "fresh start" is often helpful. A special date or event can do it. New Year's resolutions are set at the turning of the year because they represent this "fresh start". Many fail. However, there are probably more that succeed at that time than at arbitrary dates during the year.

Gamification, peer pressure and nudges all help in the process. Rather than going directly to the hardest machine at the gym, starting with the most fun can be helpful. The "Spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down." It can even be helpful to combine the desired new behavior with something fun or an indulgence. One example was to listen to audiobooks only while working out. You can also look to others that have done what you want and follow their example. Thought it is important to make sure it is realistic. (Don't jump right in and try to follow the olympic gold medalist.)

Many of the ideas in the book sound familiar from similar books. There some interesting twists. Some nudges can actually make things worse. Putting best performers with worst performers in a military academy is worse than having randomly selected groups. Telling employees how much others save can discourage them from saving appropropriate. Giving students the option of hard deadlines (with penalties) increases performance. Giving savers an option for an account that they can't take out of improves saving. People are interesting and don't behave exactly as economists would have them do.

Fatty Fatty Boom Boom: A Memoir of Food, Fat, and Family

Are some people just destined to be fat? The author was born in Pakistan and her family moved to the United States when she was young. Due to some misunderstood advice she was fed half and half and later sticks of butter as a young child. She also adapted to an American fast food and junk food diet in the United States. When her family had first returned to visit Pakistan she was already a very overweight child. In school, she was the heaviest kid in her grade. As a teen she tried some exercise, but nothing really stuck. The all you can eat dining hall really did her in when she got to college. Eventually she had gastric sleeve surgery. It didn't help very much. She finally combined that with a personal trainer and was able to get weight off. 

In addition to her story of weight, she talks about her life in general. She grew up with a family of Pakistani immigrants. There were the challenges of life in one community that is very foreign to the dominant culture. Career choices and marriage were not necessarily in line with parental desires. She married young, then remarried (and had more children) when older. Pregnancies didn't help her body esteam, nor did life in the public eye. She was willing to work to help exonerate somebody wrongfully accused of murder - even if she would have to view herself on TV. 

Keys to the Demon Prison: Fablehaven, Book 5

The final Fablehaven book ends with a giant battle between the "good guys" and the demons. Leading up to it, there is plenty of trickery that leads to people accidentally helping out those on the other side. Adventures take the main characters all across the globe in a quest to prevent the opening of the demon prison. Alas, the effort is futile.

The fantastical elements come in full force here. There is teleportation, time travel, unicorns and more. The satyrs play a bigger role with plenty of comedy. Disregarded characters from the early books come back to play a role. It makes for a satisfying conclusion.

Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Fablehaven, Book 4: Secrets of the Dragon Sanctuary

Book four of Fablehaven starts with Kendra and Seth living a fairly normal life as teenagers. (Though they do have some bodyguards in place.) However, things quickly start to change. Kendra gets pricked by a stingbulb and ends up with a cloned version of herself. (There is eventually another clone.) There is also a magic knapsack that has a large expanded space inside. 

The culmination of the story is a trip to a dragon sanctuary to try to get a final key. The concluding chapters are impossible to put down. Mixed with the suspense are some great laugh-out-loud bits of humor. Things are relatively contained, but this is all clearly the middle step in an adventure.

Monday, March 20, 2023

Fablehaven, Book 3: The Grip of the Shadow Plague

Things are getting weird at Fablehaven. There seems to be a plague of darkness. People and magical creatures are turning dark. It will take some special magic to get things back to normal. Meanwhile, there is a quest to find other missing artifacts to protect a prison. Things do not go so well. However, they do bring back a person from the past to help in the quest to free Fablehaven from evil. They also get some more clarity on who is on the good side - but then get more confusion as well. There is plenty to look forward to in the next book.

Fablehaven, Book 2: Rise of the Evening Star

Book two of Fablehaven opens up new adventures in the typical "second book" manner. The first book seemed to bring things to a conclusion. However, new adventures are now coming. The book starts with the children at school. It seems pretty normal until a hideous boy shows up in Kendra's class. Only it turns out that only she can see his ugliness. Everyone else sees him as super cute. But once they try to kiss him, they are repulsed by his breath. 

Things continue on with further adventures. It becomes difficult to determine who is good and who is bad. Multiple times they think they are helping the "good guys", only discover they are working on the bad team. There are also plenty of adventures, with invisibility, fear potions, shrinking, and trading batteries with satyrs. There is some sly humor as well as fun adventure that opens up more things than it closes.

Stuff They Don't Want You to Know

Most conspiracy theories have some basis in truth. When people dismiss these theories out of hand, the proponents point to the facts and justify their continued belief in the theory. This book explores many common conspiracy theories and some of the facts behind them.

There are some people that see contrails as a means of poisoning the population. They point out that there are now more and larger contrails. The general public will dismiss this out of hand. Air travel is now much more common. Commercial aircraft are concentrated on certain routes, thus increasing the presence of contrails. The conspiracy theorists are not dissuaded. The US government has in fact conducted past secret experiments to see if there could be ways of impacting populations through the clouds. These were done during the peak of the cold war and were kept totally secret. Urban areas were a target (as they wanted to see if it could be done over soviet cities.) 

Other conspiracy theories connect a few "true" items to jump to a conclusion. There were rumors that Church's Chicken or a cheap sodas would poison blacks or make them infertile. These products were sold primarily in poor and black neighborhoods. If people wanted to target a certain population, these products would be a good way to do it. Past attempts at eugenics had targeted "inferior" populations for elimination. Put these two together and we have a conspiracy theory.

The book does a great job of providing the details behind many other conspiracy theories. Some conspiracy theories have a little bit of truth with a lot of conjecture, while others contain a significant amount of truth, with only a small amount of guesswork. The best way to debunk these is to fully understand where they come from and the parts of the theories that are true.

Saturday, March 18, 2023

Stellarlune (Keeper of the Lost Cities Book 9)

More struggles for the fate of the world. More teenage romance. And a cliffhanger ending. It feels like a story of preppy girls who just happen to be tasked with saving the world. The stakes keep getting higher. (The bad guys even cause some islands to disappear.) There are intertwined quests to stop the "evil" people while also to find the missing boy. It still is not clear why one side is more evil than the other. It seems that there is systemic rot in the Elvin system. Two groups want to fix it. There are some differences in values that seem to be relatively minor in the scheme of things. These Elves seem a lot like the contemporary humans they despise.

Cleaning up music library

I have a library of music sitting on various CDs and harddrives. Some of these tracks are not available on any streaming service. Some tracks were ripped from CDs. Others were purchased or downloaded. Others were recorded directly. There are also some with DRM, some that have been ripped or downloaded multiple times. And there are various backups of different versions of these. It is all a big mess. 

Google Music / YouTube Music

A good chunk of the music library was uploaded here. At one time there was a direct iTunes link. Other times it was manually done. There was also a limit to the number of files, so things were kept under that. (The number did change.) Files were also re-encoded to MP3 if they were not MP3. This could lead to some poor quality songs appearing as higher bitrate songs. The youtube libraries were the backups for files that seem to have gone awol.


Much of the library had been imported to iTunes. There were also purchases in iTunes, as well as podcast downloads. In addition, it was used to rip CDs. Older tracks purchased from the store had DRM. (Luckily, most of these were "free tracks" that were not that great.) In this case, I just deleted the .m4p and the video tracks rather than try to find the good source. The whole library did not fit on one of the old harddrives, thus it was split into a few pieces. A new library has been somewhat cleaned up and built from scratch.

AudioGrabber/Real Jukebox

These were used to rip CDs back in the late 90s. Real Jukebox created windows media files and produced a good number of "Garbage files". Audiograbber was better. I initially used the free version that only ripped some tracks. I later purchased the paid version to rip everything. A few years later, the paid version was made free. Oh well. Many of the ripped MP3s were burned onto CDs and old harddrives. At the time, size was a premium, so the quality is not all that great. Most of the songs ripped here have been re-ripped at a higher quality. However, it can be challenging to differentiate between the "re-ripped" vs. the "re-encoded from an old rip." Some of the original CDs have now become so scratched up (or destroyed) that a better rip cannot be made.

Other downloads and rips

Various other downloads are scattered about. Most have been incorporated into some of the libraries above. However, some of not. Some have appeared multiple times. Amazon Music and Freegal seem to be the worst at making things "different but same". The same track may have a slightly different title, or be a little longer or shorter.  I also used audacity to convert a lot of audiotapes and LP records to digital format. The quality of these can range from horribly muddy to really good. Included are tapes of DJing, mix tapes, spoken takes and all sorts of things.

The Cleanup

Prerequisite: get information about the song.

The mediainfo command works wonders. I installed it on mac or on windows bash (using apt).

mediainfo --Output=JSON . >output.json

This gets all sorts of useful metadata for each song. Then I just need to clear out all the duplicates.

I started with the current iTunes library. Then brought in all the old files to compare.

Quick clean:

I initially looked for any file with the same ARTIST, TITLE and ALBUM, with the same DURATION, BITRATE and SIZE. This is about as close as you can get to an exact match without taking a fingerprint. This would also catch tracks even if the filename changed. (This will often happen as files are imported into iTunes.)

Account for metadata changes:

The first pass gets the exact matches. However, iTunes and other tools also make changes to the metadata that is stored. Sometimes album covers may be embedded or not. 

Next step is to give the size a little leeway. I ended up at about 15,000. At first it was only smaller. At times, I would only go for source larger, then I decided I didn't care.

Clean up garbage

I still had a bunch of .m4p and .lqt tracks with DRM. I had tried and failed to extract the .lqt files with an old windows 95 VM and lqt player binary. (I even set the date back.) These are mostly easy to find tracks (many that were available elsewhere.) The .m4p were primarily free tracks from iTunes. I just deleted all of those, along with DRM protected videos. There were also a bunch of .sid files that I tarred up. They may be interesting to listen to with a sidplayer, but not necessarily as part of the collection. I did a wholesale delete of news podcasts, but kept some more "timeless" ones. There were other random files that were also cleaned up.

The tricky part

Now comes the tricky part. There are still plenty of duplicate and junk files that need to be cleaned up. Some require some manual effort, and different algorithms. 

Manual removal of poor quality rips

Some tape rips were just awful, and not worth maintaining. I added to my "to get later if I want" list. (Most of the music I cared about were already elsewhere.) There were some CD rips that had problems. Alas, these were often due to problems with the source CD, so a re-rip would not help. Noted and deleted.

Removal of old audiobooks

There were plenty of audiobooks I had already listened to. Many appeared in multiple places, with different encodings. (I had re-encoded them after speeding them up.) These were all cleaned up.

Fuzzy matching

Different tools seemed to mangle characters in different ways. Some limited titles to 30 characters. Others changed special characters. My work around was to remove any non-alphanumeric characters and construct a key with just the uppercase versions of title, track and album. This helped catch some variations.

bitrate and duration flexibility

If the duplicate has a lower bitrate, it can be deleted, even if duration differs by a few seconds and few percentage points. No need to hang on to all poor quality re-rips.

size compare

Find all files with the same bitrate and same duration. If they have the same file size or the same encode date, they are duplicates. This will catch files that have been renamed. I had to be conservative, because this could get some false matches that happened to have same bitrate and duration. 

encode date compare

Similar to above, but key off encode date. It seemed to have about the same results as above, since it was pretty much doing the same thing.

what's left?

  • A few .wav files. These were already converted to aac
  • Some .vqf files - some also in AAC
  • Messed up files - there were some .ogg and .mp3 files with no length. I deleted most of these small junk files
  • Files without ID4 tags. Some were in directories with album name, with Artist-Track as filename. Some magic regex extracted these names to find the match. 
  • and and the - some have one or the other. Others have &. Filtering out resulted in more matches.
  • .m4b files - some had DRM. 
  • .midi files 

...and the manual part

  • Reripped foreign language courses: I had ripped them multiple times with different tools. The names were different each time, as were the bit rates and encoding method. No easy way to find the difference short of manually going through. There was also an older version of these sitting around.
  • Old Nena CD ripped without album name. (deleted)
  • old low quality rips of madness songs without titles (deleted)
  • Mr. Holland's Opus soundtrack ripped at low quality with no ID4 and filenames with "Various Artists" as the artist.
  • Files that had "CD 1" in one place and "Disc 1" in another. Added normalization of those for the key.
  • Some lectures that had no metadata (and multiple copies) - added metadata to one version, and deleted the others.
  • Truncated files. Some files were much much shorter in one place. (Seems google music often did some of this mangling) And to make it worse, these often had differences in titles.
  • "Various Artists" being listed as artist name (Freegal...)
  • Items there were tagged as "skips" and deleted. Need to find those.
  • Some songs match, but were a few seconds shorter and a much lower bit rate. I tweaked the comparison to delete some of this junk
  • There were some non-duplicate files that needed to be added to library
  • I needed to use a limit when splitting "-" to catch songs with "-" in name...  Well, limit didn't quite work, but grabbing everything and joining got the job done (this missed my use case because it had a typo, but caught some additional songs)
  • Needed better stripping of extension to handle periods in filenames
  • Some tracks with lower bitrate, but a little longer than the should be (with the "source" tracks a little shorter than they should be.) I did a sample listen, then allowed for a 5 second longer "junk"
  • Sapphire Bullets of Pure Love without "Pure"
  • Go West single as -Go West Single #1
  • Text "sixteeen" vs 16
  • Best of Cream (from tape) vs Strange Brew: Very best of cream
  • Google music re-encodes of AAC. The AAC has a slightly lower bitrate. Delete MP3s that have a slightly better bitrate than the AAAC
  • There were a bunch of files without album names. I added a filter to ignore album name when filtering out. This can catch things you don't want to (like live vs. studio version), so it is used cautiously
  • Some more files in odd formats (like VQF)
  • Some with duration not showing up in metadata - but playing fine. Just doing manual
  • Some titles have "A" others don't. filtering out.
  • Some have [instrumental] or other things. Filtering out.
  • Some more truncation (reduced to 18 character titles after filtering)
  • Name changes (such as "Fingerprints" to actual songs)
  • Bad song name in the source (fixed source name)
  • Songs not containing all metadata (no duration, so we do a format check instead)
  • Retried with "size" and "encode date" and no album matching. No album seemed to catch a few more.
  • A lot of songs had "VARIOUS" as the artist. Made a variation to look those up without artist
  • Parenthesis in songs differed (added option to strip parens)
  • Some dups are technically a little better, but the source has metadata updates (keep the source)
  • small songs - there are some "junk" versions of songs. Allow deleting of songs <30 seconds if another exists
  • Some songs really were unique and were copied over
  • Some had mutliple artists in one place and a single in another. Did these manually.
  • Classical stuff in different languages, and with composer in different places. Just manual.

... and more strangeness with mediainfo

I loaded the few remaining songs into iTunes. I looked at had a comment indicating it was from But mediainfo did not show it. Mediainfo also identified it as a wav file. Very weird. I tried mpgtx, and it just barfed because it thought is was a .wav file. Strange.

and some other things

  • Some diacritical characters that are standard characters in other places (regex match)
  • Doctor to dr.
  • Google Music takeout songs had varying degrees of garbage. Some were truncated to various lengths. Others had artist and album swapped (may have been a source problem.) Other things were uploaded with "Track 1" as the name. Lots of mess to clean up.
  • There are some bizarre lengths on google music songs. I ended up looking up some to make sure I had the right one. There were some that were obviously super short junk. The longer ones were trickier. I had cases where I had the junk version in the library, while the good version was in google music.
  • Artist names that were slightly different, without track numbers.
  • Some takeout versions were much better than the versions I currently had in the library. This required some manual listening to find what I wanted to use.
  • There were a number of tracks that were ripped multiple times. I just figured anything with a bit rate of at least 128 was good.

And now what...

I went through the existing music library and added everything that was missing. There were actually a few cases where I was able to fix a "Bad" version with a better one. 

I had a second music library for "other stuff". This started out as just "books", but then I added "personal" audio and other things that I don't want cycling through with music, but want fairly accessible. 

Then there is the pile of "I don't need this very accessible" stuff, like the non-standard formats and super good versions.

I did a little google listening to see if some of these tracks without names could be identified.  Some could, some couldn't.

Friday, March 17, 2023

River Woman, River Demon: A Novel

 This book just showed up as something to read from Overdrive. It wasn't bad. It focuses on a woman who lived with her university professor husband and children in New Mexico. Then weird things happen. He goes down to the river near their home and finds a family friend dead. They all the police and he is arrested. This brings back memories for the woman from her past. She had been swimming with a friend when the friend drowned. She didn't think that she did it, but worries that she might have done something supernatural.

The story then unfolds as a crime drama with supernatural elements. The family members are all involved in some supernatural arts. We are not sure who had commited the murder. Was it something supernatural? Did the wife do it out of jealousy? Or the husband? There are many twists and turns and a few affairs before it finally comes to the unexpected conclusion. Multiple drownings and attempted drownings are all connected.

The Golden Shrine: A Tale of War at the Dawn of Time

Golden Shrine is historical fantasy set so far back in time that it doesn't matter if there is any historical part to it. The book felt like a bunch of modern characters meandering around in the distant past. It has been on my list to read for years, but I have been slow to get too it. I don't feel like a missed much.

Midnight's Children

People that were born right at the time of India's independence were special. The closer to midnight, the more extreme the powers. This book chronicles the history of India together with that of the people. One kid had the ability to read other people's minds. He would have to endure hearing all the "adult" thoughts of people around him. People didn't believe the powers. Eventually kids banded together.

Unlocked: Keeper of the Lost Cities, Book 8.5

Unlocked has a lot of "stuff" and a little bit of story. There are recipes, details of the characters and other whatnot. It was probably fun for the author to go back and explore the characters in details. The end has a story about a boy that gets some special powers. These powers can negatively impact others, and he feels it is something his evil mother will try to use to hurt others.