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Random Blueß aka sucking for statistics

Entry 367 posted in: 1. General Mish Mash, 9. I, Pod

In my youthful days I was a member of a, then illegal, university radio station where the lefty management proudly believed that revolution would come if we played enough Lynton Kwesi Johnson records. The Jam and The Clash (Sandinista!, what else?) were politically correct choices as well. As a voluntary contributor I always tried to sneak in some Pink Floyd. One night, I still remember this as if it were yesterday; I programmed a tune from Rick Wright's Wet Dream album called Mediterranean C note. When the track got on the air, one of the self-proclaimed radical managers peeped in the studio. "Is that Pink Floyd?", he snarled. I confessed that his guess was close enough. "I have had a Pink Floyd period in my life as well...", he sighed as if it had been an ugly disease he recently got rid off. Then he strayed away probably contemplating the fact that the Cultural Revolution was still a long way to go with revisionist buggers like Felix Atagong.

A while later I was put on the graveyard shift where I met this bloke who mixed (hard) rock, (vintage) blues, jazz and folk in one radio show and who also happened to be a very big Floyd fan. He taught me that you could actually appreciate different styles of music and introduced me to sounds I had never heard before. Nearly 25 years later the first bands I stored on my iPod Nano were The Beach Boys and Iron Maiden. They fit nice together.

For those that have never been on my MySpace spot - can't blame you for that, actually - I will hereafter give my iPod 2007 Greatest Hits list:

  1. Manik Shamanik (System 7)
  2. Hello (I Love You) (Roger Waters)
  3. God Only Knows (The Beach Boys)
  4. Le Soleil Est Pres De Moi (Air)
  5. Message From The Country (The Move)
  6. Burning Of The Midnight Lamp (Rotary Connection)
  7. Perpetual Dawn (Ultrabass II) (The Orb)
  8. Country Girl: Whiskey Boot Hill/Down, Down, Down/Country Girl (I Think You're Pretty) (Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young)
  9. Wouldn't It Be Nice (The Beach Boys)
  10. I Think I'm Paranoid (Garbage)

2007. Last year's iPod statistics were biased, to say the least, because for the first few months my player practically lived on a Pet Sounds Iron Maiden diet. When I finally had enough tracks on my iPod to put the thing on random play the distance between the first dozen of high-ranking records and the rest was so big that only minor changes would take place from month to month. And of course I cheated as well by listening four times in a row to Roger Waters' Hello (I Love You), without doubt the best track he recorded in the last two decades or by making System 7's Manik Shamanik my morning train wake up tune.

2008. With 700 tunes transferred to my pc (still several thousands to go) I have decided to give only pure chance a chance. Starting from the first of January, well actually a few days later, I let the Nano shuffle menu decide what songs to pick as a kind of experiment in iPod randomness. At the end of the year I will know what the apple scruffs had in store for me.

The technical geeky stuff

Although the iPod is set to random the synchronisation between player and pc isn't.

As my hard disk contains more tracks than my player, and new tracks will be added on a regular basis, only a selection of tunes will be uploaded / deleted whenever I charge the battery. Some songs will have a bigger chance to stay on the pod than others or to put it into Orwellian terms: all tracks are equal but some tracks are more equal than others.

iTunes has this nice ability called Smart Playlists. I have created 7 playlists that are automatically updated whenever I synchronise. You can stop reading here if you want, the next is really boring:

Popular. This playlist contains the 50 most popular tracks. As I did a reset on the first of January this list started filling itself with each song that was randomly chosen by my iPod player from the other playlists. These debuting 50 songs may have a statistical advantage, as they will be picked up at the next synchronisation. And the next. And the next...

Confused, Wait till you read the rest of this chapter. I'm only starting...

Antiques. This playlist contains the 50 'oldest' tracks of my collection, sorted by the date I last listened to them. Basically this list was made to create a rotation schedule and to make sure that every song in my collection will be played from time to time. As my iPod statistics were reset on the first of January this list was empty to begin with. I found it amusing when I observed that this list started to fill itself after all places in Popular (see above) had been taken. The 50 songs on this list may have a statistical advantage as well, although that effect may wear off later in the year.

New. The title says it all, doesn't it? This list contains 50 songs that have never been played before. As everything was reset in January this means that all songs in my collection carry the 'new' flag. Recently added songs have an advantage, which makes sense, if you ask me.

Zero rating. In the beginning I didn't bother to rank my songs with the 5 star system iTunes offers. Only in October I meticulously started giving points. This list contains 100 tunes that haven't got points next to their name. As more and more songs will get a ranking - I check every tune that passes the pod - this list will get less and less important. When I write this 145 songs out of 701 haven't got a rating yet.

Three Stars. This list contains maximum 60 tunes that have a 3 stars ranking. This list is unique, meaning that songs appearing here do not appear in any other list. Counting at 58 it is almost full.

Four Stars. This list contains maximum 80 tunes that have a 4 stars ranking. This list is unique, meaning that songs appearing here do not appear in any other list. It is complete.

Five Stars. This list contains maximum 100 tunes that have a 5 stars ranking. This list is unique, meaning that songs appearing here do not appear in any other list. For the moment it only contains 59 songs.

So what about one and two stars?

I use the 1 star to rank songs that may safely be deleted from iTunes. In other words, these are garbage. Not Garbage of course, whose I think I'm paranoid rates 5 stars, has made the 2007 top 10 list but has utterly failed to be chosen.

Two star songs are bad, but not bad enough to be deleted. They will only appear on the Antiques list, unless of course they happen to creep into the Popular list. To my disgust three 2 star songs are in the top-pop list. The random generator picked Hey Stoopid by Alice Cooper (actually that songs merits a two and a half ranking), the syrupy Gary Moore ballad Separate Ways (yuck!) and the truly horrific Nip it In The Bud by the B52's. These will haunt me for the rest of the year.

That reminds me. I still have to upload Lynton Kwesi Johnson. Just for old times sake.

 Note: I just remarked that the above mentioned Rick Wright Fan Site (that I found when writing this post) uses one of my entries on Wikipedia. Neat, not! It takes a thief to catch another one, I guess. Back to text.

If you liked this post - you might be interested in this one as well: iPod December Stats