The Racks and Tags blog

New features, announcements, and weekly tips

Tonight we will be moving Racks&Tags website to a new server and it requires disconnection of all services resulting in extended downtime. The move will begin at midnight PST (3 AM in New York, 8:00 in London) and will take about 6 hours. We apologize for the inconvenience.

Last night we have deployed a number of performance improvements to Racks and Tags website and bumped server RAM. Speed increase should be immediately noticeable across many pages. Please let us know if some of your collection pages are not blazingly fast.

Last but not least, there’s an mild update to Pro features coming soon! Stay tuned.

We certainly have some critical mass of people using Racks and Tags already. Things are looking pretty well, so we consider adding some integration features that will allow you to embed Racks and Tags updates in your website.

This very informal survey will make some decisions easier for us, so please take a minute to respond. You can reply either in comments or in this forum thread:

1) Do you have your own website? (yes/no)

2) Would you be interested in embedding some of the information in your Racks and Tags database in your website, and what kind of information:

- your top artists
- recently purchased albums
- recently played albums
- new album ratings
- multiple choices/all of the above?

3) What method of embedding would you prefer:

- WordPress widget
- generic JavaScript widget
- image
- swf
- something else (json, xml)?

4) any other comments/suggestions?

There was some confusion and misunderstanding about Played tab in user profile pages. For some users, it is filled with fine albums – mostly new, some old – and it gets updated every hour. For other users, it is forever empty.

It all depends on how you play your music. Technically speaking, Played tab contains albums that Racks and Tags knows you played recently, in reversed chronological order – starting from the most recent. The content of the list is determined by Last Played field in OrangeCD Catalog’s album properties, which gets filled automatically with current date every time you play the album from OrangeCD interface. There are several ways to play albums in OrangeCD – for example, by selecting a menu option, by clicking Play link in album display, or by using a shortcut key – but whatever method you prefer, the date and time of playback is always remembered in Last Played field.

There is even an option that allows OrangeCD to update your online profile in real time. You can find this option in View Preferences, Racks and Tags tab, where it’s called “Publish new album ratings and playbacks automatically”. If the option is enabled, OrangeCD will update your profile with most recent playback as soon as the album starts playing. However, if the option is unchecked¸ your album playbacks will still appear in your profile, but only after you manually update your online collection using ToolsPublish on Racks and Tags.

Does it all mean that only CDs or media files can be added to the Played tab? What about my LPs, SACDs, any archival media?

Fortunately, there is a solution for the rest of us, who does not rely on PCs to play wonderful music. There is a simple plugin that you can obtain here [direct download link, 4 KB]. Unpack contents of the archive into the plugin installation directory, which is typically C:\Program Files\OrangeCD\Plugins. If OrangeCD Catalog is running, close it and start again. Right-click any album and you should see the new item in the command menu that says “I am playing this now!

If you click “I am playing this now!”, OrangeCD will record current time in that album’s Last Played field and, if live publishing option is enabled, update your online profile, letting your friends know that you are playing this album now. The beauty of it is that it works for any music albums in your database, not just digital media. LPs, SACDs, even old tapes playing in your car or home stereo can be “now playing” and therefore populate your profile’s Played tab.

Apology and announcement: there was unexpected service outage yesterday, for which we deeply apologize. The problem was caused by improperly configured server software which led to server overload, and it took a couple of hours to diagnose and fix. To prevent this happening in future, we are installing server health monitoring tools which may require short downtimes in next 72 hours (less than 15 minutes each).

Server power upgrade is scheduled for tomorrow, August 1 @ 7AM EST. During this time, all Racks and Tags services will be unavailable. Anticipated down time is 2 hours.

If you are, like me, an avid user of social aggregator websites (e.g. FriendFeed), you may already wonder if Racks and Tags feeds can be used to inform your social network friends when you add new cool albums, post album ratings, or play some obscure records.Aggregator websites offer many benefits besides just sending update to your friends. For example:

  • It feels great to keep all your news in one place.
  • It’s easy to start conversations around music. Your feed visitors are likely to notice if you have some interesting and non-trivial music in stock.
  • It’s easy to find soul friends – nothing talks about a person more than his or her music feed.
  • and let’s not forget about the cool factor.

ff.gifFortunately, there is an easy way to automatically send your CD collection updates to your social network buddies. The instructions below are for the added albums feed, but you can also do it for the rated and played albums as well.Note: this will not work if your Racks and Tags collection is private or friends-only! Private means private, we take it seriously and don’t show private information to anyone – not even to friendly websites. So before continuing, check your collection privacy status here and make sure it is public.Then click Your Collection link in menu bar to go to your profile page. Right-click the Added tab on the right, and select “Copy shortcut” from the popup menu. (Tip: this menu command is called “Copy link location” in Firefox.) Then go to your FriendFeed page and click “Share something” on top of your feed.  Click “Import your stuff”,  select “Blog” and paste your link. The resulting URL should look like this:<username>/?m=addedFinally, press “Import Feed” button.Now, when you add new album to your collection, the update will be immediately posted on Racks and Tags RSS feed. Shortly FriendFeed will detect the change and display it in your personalized feed, ready to be seen and commented on by your friends.This was the first in Weekly Tips series of blog posts that I plan to publish regularly. If you discovered some cool and non-trivial way to use your Racks and Tags, have a suggestion for the future tips, or would like to add something to the current tip – please comment or send e-mail to

Today we switched the website to new, cooler design. As if it was not enough trouble, we decided to change the name as well. We believe the new name is easier to remember and it better represents the purpose of the website – catalog all your music, regardless of the media it’s on, and even regardless of how thick is the layer of dust on it (in case you haven’t listen to some albums for months.)

So, welcome to Racks and Tags.

Besides the name and design change, there’s a number of smaller changes here and there:

  • There are new user profile fields – feel free to add info about yourself. It’s entirely optional of course.
  • Now you can actually upload your photo or avatar, and it will be displayed on your collection page.
  • Front page has got a recent updates display. Whenever you add something new to your collection, link to it pops up on the front page for other folks to see.
  • Album pages display photos of users who own, rated, or play that album.
  • Now you can search artists in your collection from any page, not just the artists page.
  • User collection pages display recently added/rated/played album covers and ratings. Pretty neat.
  • Friends page has also changed – instead of viewing friend updates one by one, you can see them all together, in one combined feed.

That’s all for today. Don’t forget to update your bookmarks, and have a great weekend.

Website update tonight

In preparation for big update the website is being shut down. I expect the downtime will be between 2-6 hours.

New features

Yesterday’s update introduced new features for fellow music collectors. As of now, user collection pages display lists of recently added, recently played, and recently rated albums. All of these are updated automatically when local database is synchronized with the server. Individual album pages display lists of other users who own, play or rate the album. In addition, there’s a new cool friends feature which allows choosing individual users who can view your collection. For everybody else, including guest visitors, your collection will be hidden. It’s a great way to make your online collection publishing more private and secure, so if you haven’t created your account yet because of these concerns, nothing should stop you now.

In addition to new features, album and song list rendering performance has been dramatically improved. It may be not a big deal for most folks, but it should be immediately noticeable to users with huge collections. I know there are few collections with 20K+ albums uploaded, now you can actually browse these heavyweights with little or no performance lag.

We are now offering a complimentary FreeDB server for all OrangeCD Suite users. From now on, this will be a permanent unofficial FreeDB mirror and it will be updated with fresh data from the official server on regular basis.

To access our new FreeDB mirror via HTTP, paste the following URL in the “CD info download URL” box in View – Preferences, Internet tab:

Access via CDDB protocol is also available using the hostname and port 8880. (Note that HTTP access is still the recommended way to use FreeDB.)

If you are using a different FreeDB-aware application, you are also welcome to use the new mirror. Check with your software documenation on how to re-configure it to use a different FreeDB server.