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Thursday 29 January 2015

How to install the Minecraft OreSpawn mod on Windows

Installing mods with Forge

Now I know this has nothing to do with SongKong or Jaikoz but I'm hoping this saves someone a bit of time and avoid them pulling their hair out.

Minecraft and OreSpawn

My kids love Minecraft and they have been bugging me recently to install a mod (not something I had done before), in particular the AuraSpawn mod , well I promised I would but the instructions made it seem rather more complex than it actually was.

Turns out they actually meant OreSpawn , this is actually quite a fun mod with loads of new animals and monsters including various dinosaurs and Godzilla. And to install this mod and various other mods you also need to install a mod loader called Forge. Neither OreSpawn or Forge currently work with the latest version of Minecraft but when you run as Forge it automatically runs the correct version of Minecraft for you.

Installing Forge on Windows 8

  • Use a browser that doesn't mess with .exe files such as Firefox (Internet Explorer renames them)
  • Select this link to select the latest version of Forge (currently works with Minecraft 1.7.10), you have to wait a five seconds for Adfly to finish, then click Skip Ad in the top right hand corner to download the installer
  • Double-click on the installer to start it, ensure Install Client is enabled and click OK
  • Now start Minecraft Launcher,  and the Profile dropdown should now list Forge, select this profile
  • Select Play starts Minecraft as the correct version and you'll notice a new option called Mods
  • Exit Minecraft 

Installing OreSpawn on Windows 8

  • Now download OreSpawn itself, you can go to the OreSpawn website or just download the 1.7 version from here, once again you'll have to wait 5 seconds before skipping the Ad.
  • Open the Downloads folder in Windows Explorer
  • Open another instance of Windows Explorer and enter %appdata% into the address bar double click on the .minecraft and then the mods folder within it.
  • Drag and drop the orespawn zip file from the first  instance of  Windows Explorer into the mods folder of the second
  • Restart Minecraft Launcher, click on Play and then click on the Mods option to check it now contains the OreSpawn mod,
  • Now create a new world and you'll have a host of new spawn eggs, try spawning a Criminal to see a little political joke.
Its worth noting that once you have Forge installed you can easily install other Forge compatible mods as well.

Wednesday 28 January 2015

Improved Discogs Artwork Coverage with SongKong 3.9

Better Discogs Artwork Coverage

 Discogs has a concept of primary artwork and secondary artwork, primary artwork contains the front cover art and secondary artwork was used for other images such as the back cover or sleeve inserts. It used to be that an editor could specify whether an image was primary or secondary. But now when editing the first image is always considered the primary image and all other images are secondary images, this order can be modified by dragging and dropping the images in Discogs to make a different image the primary image.

However the Discogs data dumps contain many releases that only contain secondary images and no primary images. The precise reason for this is still unclear but whereas SongKong previously ignored secondary images meaning no Discogs images was found for these releases SongKong 3.9 now makes use of the secondary image if a release contains no primary image but does contain secondary images.

For you this means even better image coverage

Improved Matching

We deal with some more difficult matching problems in this release the key ones being:

For multi disc releases grouped one folder per disc SongKong could incorrectly match just one of the folders to a MusicBrainz release and not the others if MusicBrainz only contained a single disc version, even if  the complete release was available in Discogs. Now when matching multi-folder groupings if it fails to match the folders to MusicBrainz SongKong attempts Discogs match before breaking into subfolders and matching each folder to MusicBrainz only if no Discogs match is found.

If you have iTunes configured to make a copy of all songs added to it (the default) then any songs with no metadata are added to the Unknown Artist/Unknown Album folder. SongKong now realizes that this folder does not represent an actual album and therefore should be treated as one.

A silly assumption crept in somewhere that if all songs are by different artists then it must be a Various Artists compilation but this is often not true such as in this album - and this prevented SongKong matching albums when it should have. 


Various Fixes

 We also have a host of bug fixes across  various parts of SongKong, full details at the Issue Tracker

Tuesday 20 January 2015

Jaikoz 8.1.1 with Artist Sort Names fixes and new Windows Installer

Today we release Jaikoz 8.1.1 , this fixes an important regression that caused Jaikoz to no longer add the correct  Artist Sort and Album Artist Sort values for your songs, instead it was just using the Artist and Album Artist values.

We also fixed another issue with sort names, a release such as Ravenous is credited to both Damon Albarn and Michael Nyman , yet previously Jaikoz would only use the sort name of Damon Albarn as the value of Artist Sort, now it considers both names giving a sort name of Albarn, Damon & Nyman, Michael instead of just Albarn, Damon.

Jaikoz tries to weed out duplicate songs when matching a folder of songs to an album, but it was incorrectly identifying songs with the same name but actually different track lengths as the same song - when they are actually different songs, such as the two versions of L.O.V.E on this release.

For Windows users Jaikoz now comes as a self-extracting zip, just like we did in the latest version of SongKong . This means just double-clicking on the installer will do a complete install. But because Internet Explorer has an annoying habit of renaming .exe files we keep the standard zip version of the installer as well, much easier to move to a better browser such as Firefox though.

Full list of fixes at the Issue Tracker

Wednesday 14 January 2015

Lot of improvements in SongKong Music Tagger 3.8

Today we release SongKong 3.8


We have improvements to the Windows installer, its now a self-extracting archive


If your database was corrupted you could try and recreate it by using Empty Database but this did not always work and you had to manually recreate the database folder,  this is now handled by SongKong.

Matching Improvements

There are some bug fixes and  improvements to matching itself. SongKong was not always doing its Acoustid double-check to ensure that songs had not been matched to a song with a title that didn't match the songs Acoustid, this is fixed.

SongKong had an issue when matching fields with a quote in it, this could prevent potential albums being returned, now fixed.

SongKong tries to weed out duplicate songs when matching a folder of songs to an album, but it was incorrectly identifying songs with the same name but actually different track lengths as different songs, such as the two versions of L.O.V.E on this release.

Improved Match Song only to both match more songs, and to be careful when matching songs when you already have a song with a different title.

We also fixed a bug that when renaming files from multidisc releases from a folder per disc to one folder per complete album we were left with folders  that should have been deleted.

Report Improvements

The Fix Songs report now comes with extra instructions on how to navigate it, and errors are now timestamped

The full list of fixes in this release can be seen here

Creating a Self-Extracting Installer On WIndows

With SongKong 3.8 at last we have a self extracting and installing installation for Windows. But what does this mean, and how do you do create one ?

Self Extracting Archive

A self-extracting archive (sfx) requires no extraction application to be installed on the users computer because the extractor code is in the archive itself. So not only does the user not have to actively unzip the archive but you do not have the problem of not having suitable software to unzip the archive. This does mean that you will get a different user experience depending on what application was used to create the self-extracting archive in the first place.

Self Installation

A simple sfx can extract itself with a double-click, but then the extracted files still need to be installed by double-clicking the setup file, so its a two stage process. However some sfx solutions allow the archive to be installed to a temporary space and then an exe started automatically to perform  the installation.

Creating an Sfx for SongKong

I looked at both 7-Zip and WinRar, I found the instructions for 7-Zip unclear and the resultant archive looked a bit amateurish, but with WinRar I found it surprisingly easy as follows:

  • Install WinRar
  • Select SongKong installer files, right click and select Add to Archive
  • Use Browse.. to create the archive in the folder above
  • Change Archive Format to Zip
  • Enable Create Archive Format
  • Select Advanced tab
  • Select SFX Options
  • Select Setup tab
  • Enter setup.exe into the Run after Extraction field (this is the name of the program I want to run)
  • Select Modes tab
  • Enable Unpack to temporary folder
  • Select text and Icon tab
  • Enter 'Unpacking SongKong Installer'
  • Select OK
  • Select OK
  • Sign the songkong-windows.exe to prevent Windows complaining when you download and install.
Now having it working via the GUI I would prefer to automate this in the script, but that is a job for another day.

Thursday 8 January 2015

Jaikoz 8.1 Bug Fix Release

Today we release Jaikoz 8.1, this is very much a bug fix release.

Remaining regressions from the Jaikoz 8 release have now been fixed  

Manual Correct From MusicBrainz was not showing metadata matches, only acoustid matches - this is now resolved.

Match to Specified Release was no longer letting you override warnings about track durations and acoustid title matching. This has been fixed and extended to allow override when matching by Catalogue No or barcode as well.

Correct Metadata from MusicBrainz could fail if you had music files directly in your root folder (i.e / on OSX or C:\ in Windows), now fixed.

NullPointerException at Match to Specified MusicBrainz release if release has release date but not release country now fixed.

Further Performance and stability improvements

Jaikoz using more memory as songs are fixed, this regression was introduced in Jaikoz 8.0.2 as aprt of another fix.

Performance improvements have been for dealing with matching large releases.

The full list of fixes can be found here

Wednesday 7 January 2015

Draconian new EU Vat Changes

Not a technical post but please take the time to read this, its important.

VAT Overview 

Until the end of 2014 VAT (Value Added tax) is added to most purchases within Europe when you buy something. Currently this is about 20% but the rate varies between country and there is no VAT at all some items but the VAT rate is always set at the rate of the companies country. VAT make products more expensive and adds an administrative/accounting overhead to companies, but most EU countries set a threshold so that if your EU Sales are less then the threshold you do not need to charge VAT. This allows micro-businesses to compete with larger businesses who have many benefits of economies of scale not afforded to smaller businesses.  

JThinks position

JThink is very much a microbusiness - for over seven years I have been designing, developing, marketing and selling my software. I don't make a fortune but I make enough to support myself. In the UK the VAT threshold is currently £81,000 so as long as my EU sales are less than that I do not need to be VAT registered.

Luxembourg is the problem 

Unfortunately Luxembourg and companies such as Amazon  have been abusing VAT for a number of years. Luxembourg set their VAT rate to only 3%  for products such as books and e-books and then companies such as Amazon registered their EU operations in Luxembourg so they could charge VAT at only 3% undercutting their competitors. Despite the low VAT rate Luxembourg receives a surge of tax that it would not have got otherwise.

New Draconian legislation introduced by the EU

So how does the EU sort this out, does it punish Luxembourg directly, no it introduces new draconian VAT rules starting January 1st 2015 that make no sense and punish small businesses. As a further kick in the teeth for the next few years the additional VAT raised will be given to Luxembourg to compensate them for their loss . Coincidentally the current president of the EU is Jean-Claude Junker , from 1995 to 2013 he was the Prime Minister of Luxembourg.

This is better explained by the HMRC than the EU but I shall attempts to sum it up in a few sentences

1. New rules mainly effect e-services such as e-books and software
2. VAT is now based on the customers countries not the companies country.
3. The VAT threshold is removed for any sales outside a companies country

New rules effect e-services such as e-books and software

If you look at the documentation and examples the focus is very much on telecommunications and ebooks, after all the main driver of this leglisation was originally the Amazon issue. However software has been quietly added the mix so this affects Jaikoz and SongKong

 VAT is now based on the customers countries not the companies country.

This means that depending on where the customer is based the VAT rate will be different. Countries such as Italy have recently slashed the VAT rate on ebooks so that their citizens are not greatly impacted by the change but so far there have been no such reductions for software.

It also means that companies have to record additional information about the customers location, thankfully today the deadline for implementing this additional information has been extended from January 1st 2015 to June 30th 2015 so I don't yet have to make major changes to my order processing system, but I may have to if Paypal doesn't get onto this. However I do have to charge VAT starting from January 1st , so nothing has changed there.

 The VAT threshold is removed for any sales outside a companies country

This is real killer for companies such as myself, if I sell one copy of my software to a cusotmer based in Denmark then I have to charge VAT.  Perversely it is now less expensive to supply software to customers outside of the EU then within because not VAT is charged. So as EU citizens expect the prices of many items to rise. The one area where the HMRC has backtracked is that I now may maintain my threshold for UK sales, so UK customers do not need to pay VAT.

How does this affect Jaikoz and SongKong ?

Unfortunately I cannot afford to absorb this cost myself, nor take different revenues based on where the customers resides so I have had to pass on the VAT costs, as it is I have not increased my price for a number of years. This is a tax that goes directly to the EU and make things more difficult for micro businesses so the tax will  now be added at purchase time.

Can I avoid paying this Tax ?

If you are a VAT registered business then you can always claim back any VAT charged.

This tax is only payable to those of you based in the EU but not the UK. If you are based anywhere in the rest of the world such as US, Australia or Japan there is no change.

One idea is that if you have a generous friend who resides in one of these countries maybe they could purchase the software and give it to you.

If like me you think this is step in the wrong direction you can find out more about it at http://euvataction.org/ this includes a petition that can be signed here


Sunday 4 January 2015

Matching Classical Releases

Matching Classical albums gives us some challenges that we don't usually have with Pop/Rock albums.

Very Long Song Titles

Classical releases can often have long titles because according to the MusicBrainz Classical Guidelines if they are part of a work they should contain the Work title in each song title, for example here. And Operas should contain each act or scene as in here. This means when matching existing song titles it takes longer because there are more words to match, it is also harder to match because these guidelines don't reflect as accurately what is written on the cover as for non-classical releases.

Very Large Releases

Because many classical composers catalogues are out of copyright it is inexpensive for music publishers to release large box sets  of a composers output. One such example is the 100 CD Complete Works Beethoven release. Its actually too large to show reliably in MusicBrainz so instead I show the results of a search .Trying to match songs to large releases is invariably more time consuming than smaller releases because there are so many permutations to consider, actually expotentially more.


Both of the problems are addressed in SongKong 3.7 together with some more improvements, full details here
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