Monthly Archives: December 2011

Sharing an iTunes Library Across Multiple Accounts on Same Machine

Itunes logoSharing an iTunes library across multiple accounts on the same computer isn’t difficult…once you know the trick. And that’s the problem, the trick isn’t obvious. If you have a large family with lots of music, you might want to try this.

Creating a Family Account

First thing I did was create a “family” group on my iMac. As an admin on the machine, go to your System Preferences->Users & Groups. Create the “family” group and add all your family member accounts to it.

Create the Shared Folder

In your Finder, press <Shift>+<Command>+G. Enter /Users/Shared. This takes you to a shared user account that I just discovered. Create a Media folder here. Now copy or move your old Music folder (that contains your ITunes folder) to this /Users/Shared/Media folder. See image below:



Click on the Media folder and allow your family to have read+write access to it. Select the folder, press <CTRL>+I for information on the folder. You will be able to add your family group to the folder and add read/write permissions for this group. The image below shows the access portion of the information screen:


Click the + button to add the family group. Then change the Privilege to Read & Write. Then you might need to click on the lock icon to unlock the next option. I applied the privilege to this and all enclosed items, which conveniently provides the same access privileges to the iTunes content. You may want or need finer control on access, but we want everyone to be able to update the library.

Point iTunes to the Shared Library

Now that you have a shared library, you need to perform the repetitive task of pointing each user’s iTunes to this shared library. You can do this by logging into each user account and doing the following:

  1. While holding the <ALT/OPTION> key, click on the iTunes application.
  2. iTunes will open and ask you choose an iTunes library. Navigate to and select the shared iTunes folder you created previously.
    Choose library

That’s it. Now all your family members have access to the same iTunes library. Whether this is a good thing, I don’t know yet. If someone accidentally deletes my music collection, I’ll have to rethink this strategy.

(The iTunes logo is no doubt a trademarked image of Apple Inc., and hopefully I’m using it correctly. If not, please let me know.)

Installing the Android SDK: My first steps

AndroidToday marks the first day of my official, end-of-year, get-caught-up on Android learning tour. And the first step is to install the SDK. Since I want to use Eclipse, I’ll need to install whatever Eclipse plugins/addons are available too. Let’s get started.


Installing the SDK

The Android SDK is on the Google Android Developer site. The SDK is a little difficult to understand. WIth enough reading over and over, I finally understand that the SDK has at least two parts:

  1. A general SDK that is platform independent
  2. A set of platform-specific tools.

If you don’t have the SDK at all, the best way to get both of these SDK pieces is to download and install the “Starter” SDK. After downloading it, unzip or install it into any convenient directory. Just make sure you have read/write access to this install directory. I installed these initial SDK files into ~/bin/android-sdk-macosx. Once you’ve done this, you will have both parts of the SDK, the general SDK and the platform-specific tools.

Updating the SDK

Apparently you can update the platform-specific tools without affecting other parts of the SDK. I have not done this yet because I am installing for the first time. When I do update, I’ll let you know the results.

Installing the Eclipse Plugin

This is probably the easiest part of the installation. Open your Eclipse IDE and open your menus selection Help->Install New Software. You can then add the Google Eclipse Plugin repository as shown below. Type in for the software repository address.

Screen Shot 2011 12 22 at 11 45 27 PM

You’ll see a list of software tools including the Android SDK plugin. Follow the rest of the onscreen instructions to install. Soon you’ll have everything you need to begin developing on the Android platform:

  1. The JDK
  2. Eclipse
  3. The Android SDK
  4. The Eclipse plugin for Android development (ADT)

I think there may be one more step…creating a target Android device for the emulator, but that may have to wait until the next blog.


Roundtrip conversion: From Kanji to romaji and back again


Recently a friend asked me this question:

Can you do roundtrip conversions from Japanese characters to Latin text (romaji) and then back to Japanese characters?

The frustrating answer is that it depends…

Converting from Japanese text in any script (kanji, hiragana, or katakana) to romaji/latin text is easy actually. Every kanji has a relatively trivial mapping to a hiragana or even katakana representation. Also, we have well-known and simple conversion maps from hiragana and katakana to Latin characters (romaji).

Converting from romaji back to hiragana or katakana is also trivial.

The difficult conversion that almost always requires human intervention is going from romaji/hiragana/katakana to kanji. That’s what input method editors (IME) do, but usually with human interaction. Human interaction is usually needed because the conversion from kana or romaji to kanji is a 1:M relationship. That is, many kanji have the same hiragana representation. You could say that many kanji are “homophones”. I am not a linguist, so I can’t for certain say that “homophone” is the correct term for this. However, I can most definitely say that many kanji have the same hiragana representation and are pronounced the same.

Converting from kanji to romaji loses meaning and retains only the sound of the original word. Because there are many, many homophones, converting from romaji or even hiragana to kanji requires some help from a person…or your algorithm will inevitably convert to the wrong kanji out of a list of many homophones.

That said, there are many open-source libraries for doing this conversion, and these are usually part of input method editors (IME). One such library is WNN:

(Thanks to Ken Lunde, Twitter @ken_lunde, for help determining the correct Kanji to use for my lead-in image)