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Saturday, 28 November 2009

New release: build 20091121

A new release is ready for download and installation/upgrade.

Unfortunately I was having a couple of wisdom teeth removed last week, so there were fewer fixes than expected! General anaesthetic plays havoc with the brain...

The big new feature is that embedded art can now be removed as well as added. As ever, you specify this as a rule. If you add art to your collection with art embedded inside it, and you have told bliss you don't want art embedded, it will strip it out for you. This is useful for working with players that don't support embedded art. Some people also don't like the duplication of the same image in every music file.

We also rearranged the 'installed' page. We've made it so it appears in a grid rather than a list, using up a lot less screen real estate. Here's a sample:

This gives more prominence to your art. Looks a lot better, hope you agree!

Finally we made some improvements so bliss retries its album art sources if the source reports a temporary problem. This makes the installation yet more 'automatic'.

The new release is available from from the downloads page on the website. Give it a try and give us some feedback.

Saturday, 21 November 2009

New release: build 20091114

We've uploaded a new version!

The primary fixes are to support compilations and albums with many different track artists. Some users were reporting that bliss was treating each track as a different album. We've fixed this now.

We also gave the Google image search some steroids; it now returns more than four results, and we also cleared up the nasty image overflow layout problem.

Oh, and we found a problem with installing art for one specific album. But don't worry... it's hardly a common album... an album called 'Revolver' by some band called 'The Beatles'. I'm sure that one didn't affect anyone... (Sorry!)

The new release is available from from the downloads page on the website. Give it a try and give us some feedback.

p.s. if you are upgrading your version of bliss, then the best way is to uninstall the old version, then reinstall the new one. Don't worry: your licence information and your existing settings will be preserved.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Discovering new album art with bad tags

Music files, like MP3s and other formats, contain 'tags' which indicate the name of the track, the album from which the track comes and so on. The quality of these tags in your music files affect the ease and accuracy of automated album art download. The ideal tags are to have the album name tag populated with just the album name and likewise for the fields that describe the artist.

In the real world, however, I encounter polluted tags all the time. Very common examples are extra characters to denote multi disc albums ("Disc one" or similar). More exotic variations exist, such as adding the year of release to the album name, or the record label.

These tagging approaches may be less than ideal, but they exist. bliss has to work with them.

bliss copes with existing 'bad' tags in two ways:
  1. It manipulates the tag to improve the likelihood of an accurate match
  2. It uses 'fallback' sources for art (such as Google) with a higher likelihood of match which are presented to you to double check
With these approaches bliss manages lots of automatic cover art installations. In addition, it works with your existing art. So, say if you have a rare recording with art not found on the Web, it will use that existing artwork to make sure your music collection follows the rules you've defined. Maybe it will embed the art in your music files, if it isn't already.

Give bliss a try by downloading and let us know how you get on!

Friday, 6 November 2009

First release

Over the past month or so our beta testers have been probing and prodding bliss to find any problems and provide feedback for new features.

I'm pleased to say I've just uploaded the first release of bliss open to the general public.

The release is available at our download page.

This version can:
  • Embed album art in all your digital music
  • Save a file, named as you prefer, in an album's directory
  • Constrain the album art downloaded to certain size ranges
  • Allows you to ask bliss to lookup new art for any existing incorrect art you have
So why use bliss?
  • It's fully automatic. That means its faster than manual approaches to installing album art
  • You work at a 'rule' level - you specify how you want album art installed
  • You can install it anywhere on your home network. Some users are already installing it on their home server, where their music is located
I decided that bliss would be licensed 'per fix'. This means you pay for batches of fixes to your music collection. I chose this because it enabled us to start with a low price, shows an obvious relationship between what you pay and the value you get, and also, going forward, you would only be charged for the work bliss does to your music. For those who want more freedom, there's also an unlimited fix option.

Over the coming weeks and months I will be adding more features to bliss. In addition, we will be implementing features suggested in our UserVoice forum, so if you have an opinion, get posting/voting! I am aiming for a new release each and every month.