Thursday, December 27, 2007

iTunes features wish list

  1. I wish iTunes had an on-off toggle for "Allow simultaneous downloads from the same server." Right now I am subscribed to three podcasts, each with scores of previous shows I want to download. If I click "get all," all the episodes of podcast 1 queue up in the Downloads list, then all the episodes of show 2, ... Then, iTunes downloads episodes from server 1, three at a time, until it's through that list, then moves on to server 2, ... The problem here is that the sending server becomes the bottleneck: I may have plenty of bandwidth to spare, but if the server is lower-bandwidth, it slows me down. Plus, it's just good netizenship not to deluge a single server with multiple requests. I've wasted time in the past manually reordering the Downloads list. What an unecessary pain!

  2. I wish iTunes had tags as well as playlists. This came up around Christmas music: I wanted song sets like: instrumental vs. with vocals, pop, classical, good background music, funny, etc. When adding a new song or album, it would be much simpler to check off a bunch of tag links (as with or Amazon), rather than drag each song to multiple playlists. I think this would be just another way of looking at the same thing (i.e. the underlying data model of playlists is probably a lot like the data model for tags would be), but sometimes it's more natural to open the information window and add tags.

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Thursday, December 20, 2007

About Vacuum Cleaners

Why vacuum?
1. Aesthetics
2. Preserve your carpet
3. Health

1. Aesthetics is easy: your carpet looks better if it is not covered with dust, soil and hair.

2. Preserve your carpet: dirt degrades carpet and shortens its lifespan. But, according to the Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI), overly-aggressive vacuum brushes can also damage carpet.

3. Health is a lot harder. The health benefit of vacuuming is supposedly less dust = healthier lungs. In the last 10-20 years, the focus of health concerns has shifted to the sub-micron particle size.

One would think that a vacuum with a HEPA filter would be the best, but according to Consumer Reports, "many with conventional filters perform just as well."

Judging from the results of This search on pubmed, academics can't find much evidence that vacuuming carpets reduces levels of allergens, and report that vacuuming can even worsen airborne allergen levels!

The main problem is that the bag and filter can only catch the dust that reaches them. Every vacuum cleaner leaks dust into the room air. Some are better than others; the range measured many orders of magnitude in one Quest labs study.

1. To keep your carpets looking good with minimum damage to the carpet and your lungs, choose a vacuum with the CRI Seal of Approval for one that passes minimum standards for Soil removal, Dust containment, and Carpet texture retention.

2. For allergen control, vacuuming is worthless at best. According to this 2006 abstract, a good thing might be to spray your carpets with a 15% solution of alum in water.

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