Monday, February 20, 2017

Bliss for music libray management

So I've become pretty "knee-deep" in an upcoming post; something that I've been working on for many years as a matter of fact. It has to do with me, my personal music collection and how I've moved from cassette tapes to compact discs over the years to now having everything digitally available on my home network. PLEASE NOTE: I still love 'owning the media', but because I am always on the go, in different places all the time, so having everything in portable format is great. You ask, "Why not just stream it?" I know that seems to be what the thing to do is today, but I guess I consider myself 'old school' and like to 'own' my music from the first track to the last!

The reason for this post (and the piece of software I am about to tell you about) is because I was trying to understand why some of my album art was not showing up on my Ford Sync 3's head unit in my (2016 Black Friday purchase) truck. Well after a quick Google search, I came across a blog post from Dan at Bliss. Basically this article mentioned without the proper ID3 tags and image size, the info/album art limits what will show in the Sync's display unit. This really prompted me to finish this cleanup/migration effort of mine that has been in progress for years.

Bliss is one of those apps that is a key player now in the management of my music collection. It used to be TuneUp, but seeing the support for that product is pretty much dead, Bliss has filled that hole. I like that the application supports the macOS platform (as thats my OS of choice) but also has flavors for other operating systems as well. After installing, it basically runs a 'server' type service on your local machine that you configure to point to a 'watched folder' so it can scan, analyze and report what may be wrong with the media. Whats also greta about it is you can customize what you want this tool to do down to some semi-granular detail.

Settings such as album art size is a key thing you can set. In my case, I wanted to make sure album art was no larger than 500x500 pixels, yet no smaller than 300x300. This way, it would render in my car deck (old school term right there, huh?). It can assist with locating or even uploading album art if you are missing it altogether. Pair that with proper ID3 tags (metadata tags) along with a standard file naming convention, it can turn a mess of a collection into a well organized one. Take a look at the before and after screenshot of all my "Lo-Fi" music files!

If you are someone like me and had a mess of a digital music library collection after burning all those compact discs and such, Bliss truly made this whole process a breeze.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Concert review: AC/DC (1 year later)

OK, so there has been alot that has happened in the AC/DC camp in the past year, but I decided to finally publish my review on the show they did (just weeks) before Brian Johnson left was outed by the band. I've been sitting on most of my words in draft form here on my blog since the event, not knowing when the best time to post this would be. With it being a year later, I think its an appropriate time.

To start, I've seen AC/DC once before - back on June 27 1991 as a matter-of-fact, at the ol' Met Center in St. Paul, MN. I was in high school then and attended the show with my great friend, Gary. I remember that concert pretty well. I actually still have some "Money Talks" Angus cash from that show! Fast forward ~30 years later - guess who I went and saw them again with? YES, Gary (along with a couple other great friends - Tim V. & Patrick M.)! I want to say this concert was one of the best shows I've seen in years. Maybe it was because I got to re-experience it with an old friend as well as witnessing the "shock-and-awe" on my others friends' faces as they experienced them live for the very first time. All I know is I was smiling ear to ear for a long time during this show.

Although it wasn't exactly the best day to see a concert, Valentines Day (February 14 2016), it was still very well worth it. To describe the atmosphere, the arena was packed! The blinking, red, light-up Angus devil horns souvenirs (mainly purchased by female fans) had illuminated the open arena space and lit the place up like little red stars in the night sky (kinda romantic, eh?). And by the amount of open space the Xcel Energy Center offers, it was pretty damn cool to look at.

The stage was pretty generic, a stack of vintage Marshall cabinets, 3 high by 6 wide, filled the left and right side of the center stage/drumset. The stage itself had a left, right and middle wing as well as a long center walkway that reached out to the middle of the venue. As someone that has a seen a few shows, I could see there was something 'special' at the end of that walkway awaiting the audience at some point in time of the show... (yeah, Angus guitar solo time!)

As the lights dimmed, the crowd immediately roars in response. The trifecta of huge video screens to the left center and right of the stage light up with a montage of astronauts in space landing on a distant planet then exploring for a bit only to come across a glowing vessel with the AC/DC logo on it. In a few moments that vessel is in space making its way to planet earth.... north America, Minnesota... St. Paul.... Xcel Energy Center! In a flash, just as the vessel crashes, out comes the band!

They opened with their latest hit, Rock or Bust which got the crowd roaring even louder than before. At this point, It was all smiles. Mesmerized by the ever-moving Angus Young on guitar and the body contorting, high schrill-of-a-vocalist sounds of Brian Johnson, I was having a blast. To watch these guys at their age (in their 60's) move and play like this was absolutely fascinating. As someone in his 40's at this point in time, I could only imagine what it feels like playing for 2 hours at that age. I bet it takes a few days to recover (no wonder they have a few days off between shows!)

Although the ticket was rather spendy ($160.00 - Club level, Section C22), I truly feel this was probably THE BEST SHOW I have seen in many, many years. The performance these guys put on was absolutely fascinating to watch, they didn't miss a beat when they played and truly proved why they are one of the biggest rock bands in history. I smiled almost all the way through the first handful of songs as I watched my friends rocking-out to each song, hit after hit. If this is the last time I see Brian Johnson and Angus Young, I am 100% content and very happy I saw them one last time.

See below for the set list (taken from as well as some photos taken by yours truly as well as some curated by others at the show and captured via Twitter the night of the event.

Rock or Bust
Shoot to Thrill
Hell Ain't a Bad Place to Be
Back in Black
Got Some Rock & Roll Thunder
Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap
High Voltage
Rock 'n' Roll Train
Hells Bells
Given the Dog a Bone
Sin City
You Shook Me All Night Long
Shot Down in Flames
Have a Drink on Me
Whole Lotta Rosie
Let There Be Rock (w/ Angus Young guitar solo)
Highway to Hell
For Those About to Rock (We Salute You)