O2 Xda Orbit … nearly a review

O2 XDA Orbit - it's a PDA, a phone, a GPS, a Radio ... everything!

It was my intention this evening to write a review of my O2 Xda Orbit, the mobile/cell phone / PDA / GPS / radio device that I got about a month ago.

But instead I’m spending my evening performing a hard reset and reinstalling everything, for the second time this month. And I’m not even going to say how many times I’ve had to perform a soft reset. A day.

That, I guess, is a review in itself.

Software review: Mp3Tag

Screenshot of Mp3tag software

I’m not ashamed to admit that I am a little obsessive with keeping things in order, neatly categorised and (usually fairly) tidy: books, cassettes, CDs, clothes, files, folders and even MP3 tags. Which is why I love this piece of software: Mp3tag by German programmer Florian Heidenreich.

What it does

Mp3tag is a simple piece of freeware (donations are welcome) software that allows you to simply, and quickly edit the ID3 tag meta-data information contained within your MP3 files. This is the information that stores details about the title, artist, album, year, track, genre and each track.

I would get frustrated that sometimes after ripping a CD to MP3 I’d discover that the CDDB data was wrong, or not up to my (rather particular) standards. (A recent example: I ripped Satchel’s debut album EDC and discovered that the person who’d uploaded that data to CDDB had labelled it as a Brad album.)

Of course, every one of my installed MP3 players (WinAmp, iTunes and Windows Media Player 11) has the ability to edit this information but I wanted a fast standalone application that I could run independently of my media player and after a quick search on the mighty Google I stumbled upon Mp3tag and I’ve been delighted with it for the last couple of months.

Simple to use

Using it is simple:

  1. Start Mp3tag
  2. Select a folder of MP3 files
  3. Select the files you wish to edit the ID3 tag data for
  4. Make your adjustments, eg add a year, correct the spelling of the album title, and change the genre to all the files within your chosen album
  5. Click Save

Options

Of course it also does a lot more including allowing you to choose between ID3v1, ID3v2 or APE metadata, and use data from an online CDDB database, but my favourite facility is the ability to change the filename to match the tag information (Tag – Filename) or vice versa (Filename – Tag). You can also change the case of tag information (lowercase, Mixed Case, Sentence case or UPPER CASE). Fabulous!!

It’s the versatility, usefulness and simplicity of this application that brings me back to it again and again. That and my slightly obsessive-compulsive nature. And my inability to proof-read MP3 tags when I’m ripping them in WinAmp to start with.

In second place…

Incidentally, of the media players I have installed I find the tag information editor in iTunes to be one of my favourites, followed by Windows Media Player 11, and lastly WinAmp. I use WinAmp the most but its tag editing facilities sadly have a long way to go before I’ll stop using the wonderfully useful Mp3tag.

Error’d: Psion synchronization dialog

Ah, yes. Here’s my favourite user-unfriendly Windows dialog.

This is what you get when you try to synchronize Microsoft Outlook with a Psion 5mx using Psion’s very own PsiWin 2.3.3 and have deleted quite a few of the entries before synchronization:

Synchronizer dialog box

For those of you who can’t read tiny, compressed images of text, it says:

Synchronizer

The Synchronizer has detected 63 missing or deleted items in the Psion. Do you wish to continue and delete the corresponding items?

Click No to retain the items on the other machine.

Click Yes to delete the items on the other machine.

Click Cancel to stop synchronization.

Note: If you have deleted the same item on both machines, it cannot be replaced.

There are a number of reasons that I consider this a terrible dialog box:

  1. Don’t make me think!

    I cannot tell at a glance what I’m supposed to do, without having to read all the text and then work out what on earth it all means. In other words, it’s not intuitive.

    (Following Mike’s comment) What I want is a dialog that I can look at and immediately understand what is being asked of me. I can then spend my time valuably deciding on whether I want to keep that potentially-important data or not. Rather than spending valuable time simply trying to comprehend the text on the dialog box!

  2. Too much text

    Closely related to the previous point: there is too much text. Images would have really helped here; images with the number of missing/deleted items beneath it, perhaps?

  3. Badly labelled buttons

    The text tells me to “Click No to retain the items”, “Click Yes to delete” or “Click Cancel to stop the synchronization”. Why not just label the buttons: Keep items, Delete items, and Stop?

  4. Which machine?!

    The first instruction in the dialog says “Click No to retain the items on the other machine”.

    Which machine?!

    Every time I encounter this dialog I have to stop and work it out, and it always takes me ages: okay, so there are 63 items missing or deleted on the Psion, so the “other machine” must be the PC … right? … right??! So do I want them also to be deleted on the PC? Why could they not just have said: “Click No to keep the items on the PC”?

Confirmation

Once you get past that dialog and decide that yes, you do indeed want to delete the items permanently on both PC and Psion you’re then given the option to back out:

Psion confirmation dialog 2

Confirmation

About to permanently remove items from both PC and Psion.

Are you sure?

The options now, at least, are a more intuitive yes or no. It’s just a shame that you have to practically melt your brain answering the previous question to get there!

Sadly PsiWin is no longer in development — version 2.3.3 (build 149) came out in 2001, and still works with Windows XP, and up-to-and-including Office 2007 — so there is no opportunity to campaign to improve these dialog boxes.

Unless someone is handy with a hex editor … anyone?

Update

Following Mike’s helpful comment below, which made me explain myself a little better I’ve mocked up the following dialogs using Microsoft Visio:

Mock-up of Psion sync dialog box

I have created two here, which (I hope) makes it clear which machines are being referred to and what to do. At a quick glance I can tell on which machine the data is missing or deleted and on which machine’s data I’m being asked to decide. The buttons are also better labelled.

(ErrorĂ¢â‚¬™d entries on this blog are named after the popular Worse Than Failure feature.)

Sunrise

Sunrise over Anstruther
Sunrise at 04:58 this morning.

I was awake shortly before 05:00 this morning. Lying in bed I was aware of a bright red glow from behind the curtains. Assuming that it was not a fire but the sun I grabbed my PDA/camera/phone and captured the photo above.

From the rising of the sun to its setting,
God’s glory is proclaimed in all the world.

From Celebrating Common Prayer, Morning Prayer for Thursday.