Category Archives: Music

Banshee: please, pick a version

Banshee is a cross-platform audio player built using Mono.

If you go to the official website and install Banshee for Windows, you're offered version 2.4.0 with warnings about it being alpha and all (as of April 16, 2013 the latest version is 2.6.1). Once you've downloaded it, when you then run it up, you get the following dialog:
install-then-upgrade

Infuriating.  Why wasn't I offered that one by the website? Naturally, one selects “Hell yes, give me the current (actually, still behind the main branch, but more current than what I've got) release!”, which is then followed by
download-failed

and no freaking explanation of what went wrong. How am I meant to fix this? Given that the project is built for a VM, why am I offered one version, then offered the chance to update to a different version, and both of these versions are behind the current release?

Gagh!

zp8497586rq

Copying your iPod MP3 collection onto a Windows PC via the iPod

I wanted an instant music collection at work, without installing iTunes or anything else, and without individually ripping the CDs. Fortunately all my CDs had been ripped to MP3 on my iPod, so I just took it into work and plugged it in.

Of course you don’t want to use iTunes, as that will mess it up completely, but as long as you can browse around the iPod’s files (eg you’ve switched-on Enable Disk Use), look into the \iPod_Control\Music directory (it’s hidden, so switch Explorer to view hidden files) and you’ll see iTunes has helpfully given random meaningless names to the MP3 files, such as F00\AJUR.mp3

No matter. Copy them to the new PC, and then drag them to Windows Media Player’s media library. It looks at the MP3 tags, which do match the actual artists and track names, and displays those in its library.

Done.

I knew there was a reason I encoded all my songs as MP3 instead of AAC. While there are hacks to get WMP to play AACs, officially it can’t — making it awkward to do on a corporate PC. I figured when I ripped them that MP3s are more widely supported, and perhaps more futureproof.

Saw a guy on the train with an old-style portable CD player. ‘Cos, you know, digital music from real CDs have a warmth that MP3/AAC on iPods just can’t match…

AU online music bargain

With Bigpond Music now selling DRM-free MP3s, and their range increasing every week, they're fast becoming my etailer of choice for music downloads.

Right now (and I don't know how long it'll last) they've got a 25% discount offer on music vouchers brought from Safeway/Woolworths, and possibly other retailers.

So tracks that normally cost $1.69 (the same as Apple's iTunes in Australia) now effectively cost about $1.27, and an album about $12.37. Vouchers appear to be valid for about a year and a half.

You can browse the web site before paying to see if they have what you want. Admittedly, they don't have as wide a range (even in their older format WMA) as iTunes.

zp8497586rq

Bigpond selling MP3s

This should be welcome to Aussies who can't buy DRM-free music from Amazon, who want to be free of Apple's iTunes DRM and don't want to delve into the shadowy world of AllOfMP3(*): Telstra's Bigpond Music has started selling DRM-free MP3-format music. It only covers certain artists at the moment, but here's hoping it expands rapidly, as they appear to have lined-up deals with most of the major labels:

The agreements will see BigPond offer music from record labels Sony BMG, Universal Music, Warner Music and EMI, as well as leading Australian independent record labels and distributors including MGM, Inertia, Liberation, IODA, and AmpHea

d.

Tracks are A$1.69 (the same as iTunes); albums are A$16.50 (slightly cheaper) — or A$15 for Bigpond broadband subscribers.

(*) I don't know for sure if AllOfMP3 is legit or not, but I do know this — for the amount of money they're charging, no way is any money getting back to the artist.

zp8497586rq

iPod Touch and the 'classic' geek blunder

The most famous blunder of all time, according to Vizzini from the Princess Bride, is “never get involved in a land war in Asia” but the most famous blunder, I think, for a geek is not to research fully the geek tech they are going to buy.

I treated myself to an 16Gb iPod Touch yesterday, I've been meaning to get an iPod for a few years and being a user of iTunes at home for my music collection it was a logical step. The iPod Touch is a great little device, not too heavy and has a great screen but hey you already know that because “we” geeks have read all the reviews, and if lucky enough to have a nearby Apple Store we've had a play with one.

So late yesterday afternoon I took a spin down Pitt Street here in Sydney to Next Bytes (Apple Reseller) and purchased my iPod Touch, I even bought a nice silicon protector for it. I resisted the urge to open it and play with it on the trip home and ripped the packaging off once I was in front of my PC.

Continue reading

Amazon sells MP3s

Amazon launches DRM-free music sales (in beta) with 2 million songs available at US$0.99 each (cheaper for top hits).

Unfortunately when they say it’s “Play Anywhere”, they mean “anywhere in the USA”… the Terms of Use reveal:

As required by our Digital Content providers, Digital Content will, unless otherwise designated, be available only to customers located in the United States.

And given I logged in for a look with an account attached to an AU shipping address and an AU email address, I’m not sure why they didn’t proclaim that point loudly, rather than hide it away in the Terms. Otherwise, they wait until you try to buy before prompting you: Amazon MP3 Purchases are limited to U.S. customers.

Drat.

New iPods: Definitely Mac or Windows only

Cory Doctorow writes on Boing Boing that it looks like the newly released iPod models have a checksum in them that prevents third-party applications from synching with them, which impacts people on Linux. Nice.

Oh well, we’ll just have to wait a week or two for someone to crack it, I guess.

Technology lets down playback

I can think of two examples where digital media has limitations which affect the fidelity of playback in a major way: with music it’s gapless playback, often noticeable on MP3 players and with CDs on some players. With DVDs it’s layer changes, again, worse on some players than others.

This shouldn’t be the case, of course. Digital media of course is meant to be better than analogue, in every respect. I don’t know if there are standards mandated in the relevant formats, but perhaps there should be… or at least some documented workarounds, such as recommending where DVD authors place layer-changes.

After all, these kinds of things can ruin the enjoyment of a movie or piece of music if handled badly.

Multimedia alternatives

Video hosting

Buzzmachine has a quick look at various online video hosters, and while he doesn’t come to any definite conclusion, does say blip.tv is one of the best for picture quality.

What I notice is that Motionbox won’t work without Adobe Flash Player 9, which effectively rules it out if you want corporate types to look at your stuff.

And Brightcove was not only complicated for Jeff to use, but gives me dire warnings about lack of bandwidth.

Personally I’ve used Google Video and YouTube. Both seem okay, but I’m looking for ease of use, not necessarily best quality.

iPods

Jeff Atwood tells us why he’s not buying an iPod.

It should be obvious why iPod doesn’t support WMA… because then you wouldn’t have to buy your online music from the iTunes Music Store.

AU copyright reforms

The AU government gets with the programme, proposes to make ripping CDs to MP3 players legal, as well as taping off radio or TV for domestic purposes… though you’ll be legally obliged to wipe the tape after watching it. Uh huh.

“Hey did you catch Monday night’s Six Feet Under?”

“Yeah but it’s on too late, so I taped it and watched it the next day.”

“Can you lend it to me?”

“I’d love to but the copyright laws say I’m not allowed to.”

Meanwhile the Brits have trained sniffer dogs to detect DVDs, for the purposes of fighting piracy.