Dealing with iTunes freezing up in Windows

Righty, fair enough, this post isn’t really along the lines of most of my other ones, but it has to be said that I’ve been particularly faithful to iTunes in the past, and I’m fairly certain I’ve blogged about things that have bugged me which I’ve fixed / resolved in one way or another. Tonight I decided to finally sort out another annoying ‘feature’ of iTunes, whereby it would freeze up every time a new song started playing.

As a quick background on my situation, I’m on a 64-bit Windows 7 install, but I’m fairly certain I’ve been suffering this throughout my time on a 32-bit Vista install as well. Whilst I obviously can’t be completely certain, the following has resolved the issue for me, and at least to me, it makes sense.

I’ve used Google Desktop for some time to index my system to make it searchable. I long resisted using one of these ‘always indexing’ applications, but I gave in a few years back when I got a decent computer, powerful enough that any slowdowns caused by constant indexing are negligible. My opinion now is that it’s a real life saver – and you should certainly consider installing it.

There is a caveat with these indexing tools however, and it’s pretty obvious: it likes touching all your files. Especially the ones you’re currently working with. This leads to frustration when I compile code, test something, and then want to send it off to the Windows equivalent of /dev/null – the files are being indexed by Google Desktop, and Windows packs a sad. When I’m doing a lot of compile/test/delete cycles, I normally turn off Google Desktop for a few hours – it makes life easier.

So, getting onto the iTunes freezeup issue. For whatever reason – I never looked into it – iTunes writes out to an XML file every time a new song plays. I’m sure you can see where this is going: it seems like there is a little bit of a tussle going on between iTunes and Google Desktop, leading to this iTunes freezeup.

Fortunately, the solution is simple: in Google Desktop (or your indexing system of choice), simply go into the preferences, and tell it to not bother indexing the following file:

c:\users\<account name>\appdata\roaming\apple computer\itunes\iTunesPrefs.xml

Of course, replace <account name> with your windows user name.

After doing this, everything works far better for me in iTunes. I probably won’t have another complaint for six months 🙂

I hope this helps.

Dell, and how not to create online forms for addresses

I just purchased a new Dell laptop. I quite like Dell, but their online process leaves a little to be desired, as shown in the image below:

Why are there only four ‘State and Country’ options, those being Auckland, Christchurch, Rotorua (?) and Wellington? I conveniently don’t belong to any of those ‘states’, although I do live in Palmerston North, which is located in New Zealand.

I actually had to ring Dell up, wait on their phone system for 10 minutes, and then be told “I always tell people Michael Dell didn’t study his geography – just choose Wellington”. I then asked – how do I specify Palmerston North – she wasn’t sure – so I just added it in the line above my suburb.

My order is now being shipped to:

3a Huata Place
Palmerston North
Riverdale
Jonathan Giles-Ph:06 3551198
4410
Wel , New Zealand

Which is some frankenstein city that spans over 200 kilometres. Additionally, my suburb (Riverdale) now subsumes my city (Palmerston North), which are both subsumed by the fact they are apparently located in ‘Wel’, New Zealand.

Ah well, here’s hoping it turns up here…but if anyone sees a lost looking courier in the next few weeks, can you point them my way?

How Not To Obfuscate Email Addresses – SourceForge Edition

I like to be active in the open source community. I join mailing lists, help where I can, and am of course always on the lookout for interesting topics of conversation. A lot of the mailing lists I subscribe to are run by Sourceforge. It’s a great site and it fosters a lot of good projects.

The problem is, I don’t much like spam, which is why I’m amazed with what I found today. I went to the mailing list page for one of the projects I work on as I wanted to hyperlink to a specific discussion so that people who aren’t subscribed to the mailing list can read a specific email discussion.

I was happy to see that SourceForge obfuscates the email addresses in the table shown on screen. For example, my name and email address comes up as ‘Jonathan Giles <[email protected]…>’ at the start of each email. ‘Great’, I thought, until I went to click on the url to the email I wanted to bring up. It has the rest of my email as part of the url. To test this out, I went to the SourceForge front page, chose the current ‘project of the month’ (ehcache), and went to the mailing list. Lo and behold, with the mildest of mental stimulation I could easily ascertain every email address. If I were a little bit unscrupulous, I could quite easily write a spider to crawl SourceForge and build a highly targeted spam list (highly targeted as we know the population is almost entirely developers).

As an example (and all apologies to picking on one person), I offer Jason Novotny’s email address, derived as such:

  • Jason Novotny <[email protected]…> is shown as his details attached to any message.
  • The URL to one of his messages is this.

The important part of that url is this:
[email protected]pinksheets.com.

Notice the @pi…. matches up with @pinksheets.com. Poor Jason, and poor anyone who uses SourceForge and doesn’t much appreciate spam. It’s probably no wonder I receive so much email along the lines of ‘Cheap OEM Software!!!1! Photoshop $1!!!’ – they know I am a software person.

I wrote this blog post in the hope that the SourceForge people would fix this, but of course, I’m realistic – I’m just one person. If you don’t like your email address being so readily gleaned from SourceForge, let them know – link them to this post if you want.

Disclaimers:

  1. Of course, I’m aware of the hypocrisy of this – after all, my email address is pretty well published over there to the right. But the web is not just me – and I’m sure some people want to be a little more guarded than I am.
  2. Also, I’m well aware that posting to a public mailing list removes any hope of your email address remaining private, but the ease with which a spider could crawl SourceForge is quite amazing. Signing up to mailing lists requires a bit more cunning for a spammer to collect.

Books I need to buy

This post is to (geekily) proclaim my excitement at the news of a second edition of Effective Java being released to publishing. This book is an excellent book for advanced Java developers wanting to learn the little nuances of the language. I would recommend anyone keen to learn more about Java to buy it, I certainly will be buying the 2nd edition. Apparently it is completely rewritten to focus on the features in the latest Java 5 and 6 releases.

The other book on my programming to buy list includes Java Puzzlers, which is a question and answer style book that really tests your understanding of Java nuances.

The other book, that I’ve already discussed in this blog, and highly recommend is Java Concurrency in Practice. I really found this book a great book to discuss the new concurrency features in Java 5.

The common feature between all these books? Joshua Bloch. I swear I don’t buy books because of his name being on them, but I think it can be accepted that any book that does grace his name is worthy of reading if you are a Java developer.

Finally, don’t worry, those Amazon links aren’t there for me to get advertiser revenue (or any commission), so click away without any feeling of being duped. If you know any good Java books, please let me know!