Archive for November, 2011

5.0.1 is out

Tuesday, November 29th, 2011

This version mostly addresses smaller bug fixes that slipped past us with the initial 5.0 release (localization errors, fields not included in autofill) but also includes an important change to the new Amazon search sign up as you no longer need to enter an Amazon associate ID in version 5.0.1. If none is provided the program will enter a default Bruji ID.

For a full list of what’s new in this version, please refer to the release notes that appear when you use the ‘Check for Updates’ feature or go to the What’s New? page for each program: DVDpedia, Bookpedia, CDpedia and Gamepedia.

Meet the Doghouse

Saturday, November 19th, 2011

The new search options in version 5 of the Pedia programs now increasingly favour sites that provide media content instead of goods for sale. The advantage of this is that the data is largely user-contributed and open for sharing. However it also means that information like UPC and price is not necessarily included. We’re hoping Doghouse will bridge that gap in the future and provide the best of both worlds for all Pedia users.

Maybe you’ve already had a chance to check out Doghouse, the Pedias’ very own user-assisted online data repository which we’ve been building for the past year. Since the database is built exclusively with contributions from Pedia program users it is obviously still in its infant phase since we only just launched version 5 and even though our hard-working beta testers have been contributing data for months, there is still a lot of room to grow for Doghouse.

One of the major advantages of Doghouse is its international potential. Since users from all countries can contribute their data in their own language, this will create a truly global database with information from around the world for other users to search.

Doghouse returns results in the language your computer is set to, it would be overwhelming to receive multiple results in different languages. However if you are looking for an entry not in your language, Doghouse is smart enough to get you those results when the title matches nothing in your language. At the moment, non-English users will see results in their own language first, as well as matching results in other languages. Depending on your feedback and as the non-English contributions grow we will change that in the future. (That’s the beauty of it – we have full control over the Doghouse and its searches so we can set things to work in the best possible way for Pedia users. We’ve already tweaked our code in the last week in response to feedback and improved exact match returns for title and UPC searches.)

If you’d like to start sharing your own database with other Pedia users, begin by signing up for a username and password in the Doghouse menu > Settings. Contributions to the Doghouse appear anonymously but we do require a username/password combo in case someone starts uploading inappropriate or unrelated data it makes it easier for us cleanup.

Since your contributed data will be shared with other Pedia users we do ask that you only contribute those collections that would be useful to others, i.e. if you have a collection of home movies, please don’t send that to Doghouse since no one else will have any use for it. (Personal fields such as custom fields, location, comments, borrowed by, etc. are never included in the contributed data. Most fields found in the extras tab by default will fall in the personal category.)

If you’re interested in becoming a moderator for Doghouse to help us check entries for accuracy and quality, sign up here. We’ve also put together a little style guide for moderators which might also make an interesting read for anyone contributing data to get an idea what we’re looking for in Doghouse entries. Being a moderator lets you fix Doghouse entries when you spot a mistake; there is no commitment.

A big thank you to all the early adopters of version 5 who have already shared their data and especially those who’ve taken the extra two minutes to contribute an entry if they couldn’t find it on Doghouse. The next user looking for that entry will be pleased!

Search 5.0

Friday, November 11th, 2011

The search window is one of the features that has received a major make over with this new version, both in form and function. Let’s start by talking about the new UI a bit.

The biggest change for most users will probably be the way the search sites are accessed now. Instead of a drop-down menu at the bottom of the window, the search options are now integrated into the search field itself via the little magnifying glass. Click on it and you’ll be presented with the list of search sites.

From the screen shot you’ll also notice there are two new features connected to the search options: the option for recent searches (so you don’t have to retype titles or keywords) and the fact that only those sites you select in the Preferences/Sites show up in your list now so you can turn off any sites you’re not interested in seeing.
Previously, unchecked sites in the Preferences/Sites would not be included in the ‘Cascade’ search – which is now called ‘All’ – but they would still appear in the search site list.

The other big change is that the limiter menus at the bottom – Limit to, etc. – only show up when they are actually applicable now. So you always know what your search options are for a specific site. (This is also why when you choose the ‘All’ search no limiters appear since every site has different options. We might try and make the programs smarter about that in the future so that if one or more menu options match for the selected sites, they will appear for the ‘All’ search.)

The number of search sites has gone up considerably with this version. Each program now has access to at least 8 international search sites. This includes the Pedias’ own new database, Doghouse (we will write a separate and more in-depth blog post about that soon) as well as great open databases: Wikipedia and Freebase. There are also new program-specific sites: MusicBrainz and Discogs for CDpedia, BoardGameGeek for Gamepedia, OpenLibrary for Bookpedia, TMDb and the TVDB for DVDpedia. (And of course Amazon is still an option as well. Learn more about that in this post .)

Some of these new sites offer special search options geared towards their strength. We will dive into details for each site in subsequent posts, but for example MusicBrainz in CDpedia offers a great search by album title but no search by artist yet; we hope to include that in the future. OpenLibrary in Bookpedia lets you search using ISBNs (as the limiter says) but secretly if you enter the exact title of a book, including correct capitalization and punctuation, it can also perform a title search. Freebase has a very broad range of information for all media and offers search limiters by title as well as director/actor and you can distinguish between searching movies or TV shows.

Searching for TV episode information on TVRage or TVDB, you can open an ‘add manual’ window (Command-Shift-F), enter information into the Series, Season and Episode fields and use the window’s gear button to get a specific episode from either one of those sites. Alternatively you can also search for TV episodes by entering the series followed by the season and episode into the search field, like this:

This search will return: "Dexter" Season 2, Episode 3

Spend some time with these new sites to get to know their strengths and match which ones work best for you and your collection. Many of these new sites work better with keyword searches than UPCs so give that a try as well.

The new Amazon Search

Thursday, November 10th, 2011

Since the release of version 5 of the Pedias the Amazon search is no longer accessible automatically. Instead users have to sign up for their own AWS account. Please refer to the online Help files for more information.

Top Apps in The Mac App Store

Wednesday, November 9th, 2011

The response to the new version 5 has been incredible awesome. We are thrilled that users are sharing our excitement and showing it in the Mac App Store to boot. Three of our apps have taken 1, 2, and 4 top paid app spot under reference category:

For the all encompassing global category we are at 64 (DVDpedia) and 78 (Bookpedia). There is no competing with Angry Birds, not even on the Mac. The screenshot below is 5 minutes old and we are still gaining 🙂

Some users noticed that the About Box from the Mac App Store version number is 4.9.3, just a display glitch (It’s actually the 5.0 you have) and will be fixed in version 5.0.1 that we are preparing right now with a few tiny fixes.

Don’t let me distract you though. Continue your shopping spree, let’s see if we can we break the top 50 paid apps! 🙂

Are There Any Commas Out There?

Tuesday, November 8th, 2011

With version 5.0 of the Pedias several more fields have been turned into multi value fields. These are values displayed by a surrounding blue bubble. It makes it clear what is a distinct value and allows the program to leverage this information, an example is providing a better statistics count.

The character that creates a separation between items is the comma. In most cases the comma fits naturally, such as when it separates names (Joel Coen, Ethan Coen) or small word groups as in genres and subjects (Drama, Thriller). The artist field in CDpedia is one of the few fields that has a few edge cases where a comma should be part of the group. Such as the band name “Crosby‚ Stills & Nash”. The easiest solution is to leave out the comma when entering the band name. But for those looking for accuracy there is an alternative to the comma, called the single low quotation mark – ‚ – that is identical to a comma and will not trigger a separation.

Sadly, there is no special shortcut on the Mac that will enter the single low quotation mark. You must open the character palette and double click the character to insert it. The character palette can be found in the main edit menu, under “Special Characters…”.

In the search field of the character palette type “Single Low” to reveal the character that can stand in for the comma. Double click the character displayed in the middle panel to have it inserted into your currently edited artist field.

Should you have this page open you can’t copy and paste the character as there is, what we consider to be, a bug in the token field editor (the name Apple gives the blue bubbles) where all paste commands form a new distinct bubble, regardless if a user is currently editing a bubble and has an insertion point visible.

After adding an artist with a comma the autofill will avoid the need to visit the special character palette when entering the same band name. If submitting entries to Doghouse please use the single low quotation for the few times that a comma is really needed and not to replace a common use of comma such as “Rolling Stones, The”, as this is not the format that the artist is meant to be when contributing to Doghouse. Should you come across any cut up artist in Doghouse, let us know or become a moderator and give them the single low quotation treatment.

5.0 is out!

Tuesday, November 8th, 2011

It’s really happening – version 5 is out! This update has been in the making for over a year and there are lots and lots of release notes to peruse for your pleasure: DVDpedia, Bookpedia, CDpedia and Gamepedia.

If you want to read about some of the highlights first, check them out on our Version 5 page.

Version 5 is a free update for all users who purchased the programs after October 1, 2010. All other users are eligible for an update discount. To receive that, download the new version and try it out. When you’re ready to purchase the update, go into the program menu and select the “Register” command. In the window that appears, click on the ‘Upgrade’ button. That’ll take you to our store with your cart pre-filled and the update coupon applied. (This will also fill in your email address from our system automatically. If you don’t have access to that email address anymore, please let us know so we can update our database before you proceed.)
Update prices are as follows:

  • US$12 for one program
  • US$24 for two programs
  • US$29 for three programs
  • US$36 for the complete suite

If you’ve been thinking about switching to the Mac App Store then this is the perfect time to do it. All four programs are going to be on offer for just US$12.99 at the MAS for one week: DVDpedia, Bookpedia, CDpedia and Gamepedia.

(Celebratory launch prices are also going to be available in the regular Bruji store for all of this week so if you have a friend who’s interested in the Pedias, share the good news!)

I Don’t Want to Be Counted, I Just Want Links

Tuesday, November 8th, 2011

I am an avid Google user and even though the quality of results has suffered in the last few years, I still use Google almost exclusively when researching a topic. When the question is simple, a visit to Wikipedia or Stackoverflow will suffice but when things get complicated I tend to open several of the search results for browsing. Inevitably the time comes when I realize I want to open a previous result that was prematurely closed but is now key – unfortunately Google has left my history useless.

I’ll never find that page even though I distinctly remember having “Step by Step” in the title and a favicon that had some sort of diagonal stripes.

Why is my history so useless? Is my computer broken or has Google broken the internet? Google actually displays the actual link under each title of the page to let users know what page they will be visiting. The link is also the actual href attribute of the link and is displayed at the footer status bar during a mouse over. But why isn’t it the link I get when I click or copy it? Because when the time comes to use a link Google uses Javascript to replace the link with a redirect to their own servers in order to keep track of what links users are clicking on (except when the link points to their own Google domain like images or maps).

As wonderful as that information might be to Google in improving their results rankings and knowing what results I favor most, it’s messing with my history as well as my ability to copy and paste a link (“Copy Link” shown above picks up the modified link) for a blog post or to email to a friend.

There must be a way to get the old direct-to-result Google back. There are no options to disable this behavior that I could find, not even in the name of privacy. After some searching I ran into a Japanese gentleman with the same linking sensibilities as mine who has written a Grease Monkey script that solves the issue. But in this day and age I want a simple Safari Extension that I can install and manage natively in Safari. After poking around for such a script (Dear Apple, could we please have search functionality in the extension gallery) I decided to build my own. I know nothing about Safari Extensions or programming one, but I am a Mac developer and I know what I want, so I started developing.

One hour and three lines of code later I present to you Google Direct. The Safari Extension that will remove the redirects from the Google links by stripping the “onmouseover” events Google uses to trick the href link into the replacement link.

With Google Direct Safari extension installed I am a happy camper, my history is looking unique and identifiable (the same results but now with names and favicons).

‘Copy link’ also gives me the crisp, short, original URL instead of a indecipherable mess:


Are there any downsides? Depends on where you stand. I am indeed depriving Google of knowing what links I followed and approximating how long I stayed (how long it took me to come back and click on another link of the same result set). On my side of the fence, where I usually stand, it’s an added bonus that I now also control a little more of my privacy with my new extension.

P.S. I ended up using Fine Cooking Classic Croissants recipe for making croissants. Now it has an elegant white orange hat and a title that was easy to spot in my history when I went back two days later – after tasting the results – to add it to my permanent bookmarks.