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My Favorite Bands (A Scientific Approach) Part II

Previously, I listed my favorite bands based on the number of songs they had in my “Favorites” playlist. A highly correlated yet uniquely distinct measurement is a listing (by last.fm) of the songs I’ve listened to. Having been a member for a couple of weeks now, I figure the sample might be apporaching statistical significance, so it must be time to write about it. I say that this list highly correlated because I generally randomly play songs from my favorites list, so of course bands more frequently on this list will show up more often, on average. However, I have been known to want to listen to specific songs as well, which seems to be the reason behind the disporporionately high ranking of Harvey Danger, among others…

Key:
Rank Band Plays

1 Linkin Park 85
2 Evanescence 38
3 Harvey Danger 29
4 Metallica 22
5 Burkhard Dallwitz & Philip Glass 18
6 U2 17
7 Silverchair 16
7 Collective Soul 16
9 The Smashing Pumpkins 15
9 Screaming Trees 15
11 Santana 14
11 Alice in Chains 14
11 The String Quartet Tribute To Linkin Park 14
11 WMEA (Washington Music Educator’s Association — All State!) 14
15 Stone Temple Pilots 12

Yeah, yeah, I know… Linkin Park shows up twice. So sue me.

Harvey Danger — Little by Little

Harvey Danger’s latest album, Little by Little is excellent — and its free! Go get it now, and listen to the first song. If you don’t like it, you’re weird. :-D

Wine, women and song: I tried them all
it did not take me long to figure I’d unlock the door to happiness
I figured wrong (with a capital R)
All the baggage I brought wouldn’t fit in a mid-size car

Music and Homework

Recent favortes
Weezer – Beverly Hills
DHT – Listen to Your Heart – both the dance mix and the slow mix
Michael Andrews ft Gary Jules – Mad World (From the Donnie Darko soundtrack)

In other news, the parents are trapped in Atlanta for the night due to a delayed flight due to bad weather. And writing that just now made me say, “Oh crap,” because I had yet to make arrangements for them to be picked up – since I will be at work when they arrive tomorrow. Fortunately, I have good friends and they put up with me calling them at 11:30.

It looks like it will be a late night doing my Chem E homework. Here’s a sampler of why I think I’m going to hate this class before too long (somehow, it hasn’t gotten there yet):

A 150-lbm astronaut took his bathroom scale (a spring scale) and a beam scale (compares masses) to the moon where the local gravity is 5.48 ft/s2. Determine how much he will weigh (a) on the spring scale and (b) on the beam scale.

Disregarding the gender-stereotypical astronaut for now, here was my response:

I strongly object to the term “weigh” being used to refer to comparing masses as with the beam scale. This seems sloppy and terribly imprecise, even if it is colloquial terminology.

I then went on to solve the problem, which, in case you were wondering:
(a) 25.5-lbf
(b) 150-lbm (even though the book states that the answer is 150-lbf, this is wrong, as I explained above)

Foobar 2000

For music playback, I prefer Foobar 2000, a feature rich, highly customizable, minimalist music player. Eschewing crap like skinnability for useful features like total customization of the local and global shortcuts (ie system wide shortcuts, even when the program is not foreground), Foobar 2000 is the champion’s choice for music playback. It supports all of the major formats out-of-the-box, has a clean and minimalist UI with two main branches (default and columns), and has a nearly limitless plugin architecture. As for myself, I use the default layout with a heavily modified displayname settings that hearken back to my WinAmp 2 days in the format of:
(Composer) Artist - Album - Track - Title
My display string checks for and conditionally displays each of these fields, so in the case it is missing (as in a downloaded piece of music), the display doesn’t look bad, but intelligently shrinks. For example, if the composer is missing or is the same as the artist, it is omitted along with its parentheses. So instead of looking like
() Screaming Trees - Dust - 01 - Halo of Ashes
It is much more pleasant and looks like:
Screaming Trees - Dust - 01 - Halo of Ashes

Also built into Foobar 2000 are an intuitive single-file ID3 tag editor and a powerful script-based “Masstagger,” a ridiculously useful tool for adding ID3 tags from filenames, changing filenames based on ID3 tags, and other such fancy things. But the kicker comes back to the fact that every command available can have a shortcut. Because I am a WinAmp 2 junkie (may its soul rest in peace), I use the keys z, x, c, and v to control the playback. Z goes back, X starts and pauses the player, C moves forward, and V stops playback. Also like Winamp, I use J to search for a specific song in the playlist.

Since my windows key is so underutilized, I made these same keys global shortcuts, when pressed n combination with my windows keys. So, while doing anything, from word processing to blasting terrorists with an Colt in Counter-Strike, I can start, stop, and navigate through my music without leaving the foreground window. Finally, I implemented the space bar as “jump to random file in current playlist” and made another global shortcut for Win+space. The result is basically total control over all of my music listening without ever interfacing the always-slower GUI.

And, to bring this post full circle: The UI is a simple rectangle. No rounded-corner nonsense; no bright colors. Just a utility that does exactly what it is supposed to, the way it should be done: unobtrusively, and exactly how I tell it to. I guess this is why “I am Debian.”

Random Sampling

The new heatmap (see sidebar) led me to the fact that I’ve largely ignored the music category since creating it many months ago. Using foobar2000, I thought I would randomly jump around my favorites playlest and see what comes up:

  • Silverchair – Cemetary
  • Screaming Trees – Dying Days
  • Beastie Boys – No Sleep Till Brooklyn
  • The Truman Show Soundtrack – A New Life
  • WMEA All-State 2000 Jazz Choir – Nature Boy
  • Eve 6 – How Much Longer
  • Three Doors Down – Kryptonite
  • Cake – Short Skirt, Long Jacket
  • Fastball – Out Of My Head
  • Charlotte Church – Summertime

(what!? No Linkin Park?)

Best. Headphones. Ever.

Sennheiser PX 100

Props to Erik for the heads up.

My Favorite Bands (A Scientific Approach)

Discussion of favorites are very often dominated by fickle emotions and very little hard data. Well, earlier today, I decided I would figure out which bands were my favorite by a more scientific means. I took my carefully crafted “Favorites” playlist from foobar2000, my computer music player. Then I sorted based on the number of songs by each artist. Here are the results (top 15 only):

  1. Linkin Park – 61 songs
  2. Evanescence – 22 songs
  3. U2 – 15 songs
  4. Nirvana – 13 songs
  5. Pearl Jam – 12 Songs
  6. Smashing Pumpkins – 12 songs
  7. Silverchair – 11 songs
  8. Metallica
  9. Stone Temple Pilots – 9 songs
  10. Screaming Trees – 8 songs
  11. Alice In Chains
  12. Collective Soul
  13. Santana
  14. Bush
  15. Alanis Morissette – 7 songs
  16. Eve 6

I was actually somewhat surprised U2 did so well. But they do have a lot of good older material, so that made sense in retrospect. I was also surprised that Collective Soul did so poorly – but really they only had one brilliant album – their breakout 1995 self-titled release. Nevertheless, I am confident that this will cause me to reevaluate some of their music, and perhaps add it to my list.

This post also premieres a new category – “Music.” YaY!