You’re reading all articles tagged 'itunes'

Play your iTunes library remotely over VPN


iTunes notifications over a network?

14 Dec 2007

OK, this is a problem that has been puzzling us at Rissington. The four of us play music from iTunes to an office stereo, via AirTunes. Our music is all scrobbled, and lots of our apps use the Growl we’ve installed. It should, therefore, be easy to get some sort of notification of what is playing to all of us.

I know what you’re thinking, we should talk to each other, and simply ask whoever it is that’s broadcasting what you’re listening to. Well, yes, that’s what we do now, but it feels like all the pieces are there for some slick system, it just needs something to tie it together.

We’ve tried a few solutions, like applescripts to send updates to a twitter account, and the closest we’ve come to is the Network notifications in Growl, which does work. It works too well in fact, and now everyone gets notifications of files uploaded in Transmit, or new feeds in NetNewsWire.

Also, if anyone had any ideas of how to create a global ‘pause the music there’s a phone call’ button, I’m all ears! We once managed this by using Old Faithful™ as the sole music provider but that didn’t quite work out.

Can anyone can point us to an app or script or something to achieve this?


Waiting for Songbird to nest on OS X

01 Jun 2006

Despite what I said last year, working completely off a Powerbook does work (now that I have a functioning powerbook of course!). Only one thing mars the experience – high CPU usage from iTunes.

I have a lot of hungry apps open, Fireworks and Omniweb can be quite greedy, but they’re beginners next to iTunes with its range of 31-60%. Obviously, playing music from another source (such as radio or iPod) would solve this, but I prefer being able to play music from my computer. Especially when I have bluetooth niftiness such as Salling Clicker pausing iTunes whenever there’s a phone call.

Playing music is important part of work and home life, but on OS X, there seems to be no alternatives to iTunes. Audion has long since died, and while its still available, its no match for iTunes for managing and playing a library of music.

Songbird logo

This is why I’ve been keeping an interested eye on SongBird – an open source XUL based app for playing media. I have no idea whether it uses less CPU, or when a version for OS X will arrive, but I’m really keen to try it. I love what they stand for and the approach they’re taking. I have high hopes! (I also love the sound of this job, shame I’m not qualified! :D ).

So in the meantime, if anyone has any ideas for lower CPU music playback on OS X, or tips to reduce iTunes CPU usage, I’d love to hear them. Have I missed a good OS X alternative?

Update: Some of the comments gave me an idea – I turned off my Volume Logic plugin and CPU dropped dramatically! Aha, culprit found!


Mac Media Centre - iTunes Remotes

05 Feb 2006

Despite constant bribes the children still haven’t broken the old telly, so for now, the Mac Mini is acting solely as a server for iTunes and iPhoto. Thats just fine though, as it was mainly for music that I wanted to use it, and there isn’t much time for TV/DVDs. What I have done though is pick up a cheap Airport Express off ebay which is a great for sending music to the stereo without trailing wires.

So far, I’d been using my s700i phone with Salling Clicker to control everything, and this worked great. The only drawback is that when I’m away with my phone, Leigh is left without a remote. (There’s still VNC of course, but its not really a ‘small remote’!) . So I’ve been looking into other options available.

The Keyspan Express remote and particularly the ATI Remote Wonder, are possibilites, but when navigating iTunes without the TV & FrontRow, you really need visuals for choosing albums and playlists. What you need is basically an iPod Nano that acts as a remote. Actually, hang that, how about a 40” screen displaying Coverflow with just a Griffin PowerMate underneath?!

Next up was Coverbuddy. If you have a Sony PSP, Coverbuddy’s web interface has a special version sized for it, and it makes a nice remote. However, not only do i not have a PSP, but Coverbuddy only plays albums, not playlists. webRemote does both playlists and library, but seemed quite clunky after what I was used to on Salling Clicker. Like Coverbuddy, it also needs a web browser to work from.

Cut to the chase, it just occurred to me that Leigh had a Palm Tungsten C, and that I could use Salling Clicker with that. This meant enjoying the full graphics glory of the buillt-in iTunes Controller that I didn’t get on my Sony Erricson s700i. It worked so well, I just laughed for about an hour, punching the air like I was ‘Living on a Prayer’. Job done.

Palm Tungsten C with Salling Clicker

The 3 yr old Tungsten C is a maybe little bulky by todays PDA standards, but I’m sure that somewhere there is a smallish, light, supported handheld (or phone with a reasonable sized screen) thats also cheap to grab off ebay. I’d be keen to hear what device you’re using with Salling Clicker that gives you graphics.


Mac Media Centre part two - Software

14 Jan 2006

FrontRow vs Others

So, now that everything is up and working, its time to find a GUI that will wrap it altogether. I could just use the default scripts in Salling Clicker to navigate between iPhoto, iTunes and DVD player using my phone, and this certainly works just fine. Lets face it though, a screen based interface is much nicer, and Frontrow is just the job. There’s the hack to get Frontrow running on macs that it isn’t meant to, and as mentioned above this works really well, but It’s a bit naughty, so lets look at the alternatives:

As mentioned in my sidenotes before, MediaCentral is a freeware FrontRow alternative. Its has a very simple interface – no icons or previews, just text arranged in a very iPod/Frontrow kind of way. This makes it faster to navigate, and works great. It has advantages over FrontRow too, as it also supports WebTV, EyeTV, AVI files and Video_TS folders. There is a Salling Clicker script to control it, but it isn’t as smooth as the FrontRow controller. Instead of just using the up/down/select buttons to navigate what you see on screen, it relays the menus back to the phone display, which I don’t find as easy. Also, there’s no option to view images in iPhoto.

Mediacentral main menu

Mediacentral iTunes menu

Centerstage is another project aimed at this area, and does include the functionality to view images from iPhoto. The initial screen where you choose which media to play looks good, but the interface from then on looks a little busy. Overall, Centerstage feels less like something I would want to use to browse, but its early days yet.

Centerstage main menu

Centerstage music menu

iTheater also looks promising (its open source too), and a public version is due to be released on 31st of this month, although this is a date thats been moving a lot in the past. Judging by the Storyboard PDF you can download from the site, it looks like a winner, but until the public release is out, who knows? One to watch.

Those are the dedicated ‘media centre’ apps, but there are 2 iTunes apps are worth mentioning:

Coverflow is my ideal way of browsing iTunes. I’d love it if this could be integrated into something like MediaCental as another way of browsing (you’d still need to access playlists and such easily, which you can’t do in Coverflow).

Coverflow

Coverbuddy offers a full screen view, but as far as I know, can’t be controlled by Salling Clicker. I also find its performance a bit jerky, even with a plain background. Handy if you have a Sony PSP though, as it can be used as a remote control.

There’s also the recently announced GriffinTuneCenter, but the limitations of iPod HD sizes rule that out for me.

So far, my favourite Frontrow alternative is Mediacentral, but I’m keen to see what iTheater have to offer. None of them quite have the finesse of FrontRow or the features of Windows Media Center, but it feels as if things are just starting to warm up.

Have I missed any? Let me know!


Tell me I haven't lost it...

03 Jan 2006

Screenshot of iTunes warning window, asking if you want to import songs you already have!

I have this little quirk. I buy stuff from iTunes because its super-quick and convenient, but I prefer getting physical CDs. So, sometimes, if I really love an album I’ve bought on iTunes, it gets re-purchased in non-DRM CD form.

In the January Sales I picked up a ‘proper’ copy of Takk by Sigur Ros, to replace my DRM’d version. Yes I know I could’ve just burnt a CD and re-imported (or many other such tricks) but its not just about the DRM. Its about the status – in the same way that only the best apps get a permanent position in my OS X dock, some albums are too important to have as just a download.

This means that occasionally, I’ve bought the same album twice. Is it just me?


A quick note on adverts

18 Sep 2004

You may have noticed something new lurking in the sidebar, and like Ryan, I feel the need to explain myself. I’ve always resisted ads such as google’s, I’m not keen on how they look or the idea of making money from site visitors. The exception to this was when Dooce mentioned eating Leta with barbecue sauce, and her google ads made suggestions of where to get that sauce.

So, I’m experimenting with the iTunes affiliate scheme. The advantages here are:

I hope that’s OK!


Autumn Soundtrack

01 Sep 2004

Hurrah. Today is September 1st, and (in book anyway) the first day of Autumn, my favourite time of the year.

This is the time when the sunlight is golden, low and casts long stretched shadows. The grass returns to lush green, and leaves turn, but the days are still (relatively) warm. Yes sir, I love this time of year, and it also makes me want to listen to a particular kind of music. Slow, introspective, often acoustic, maybe a touch melancholy, but never depressing.

Due the limitations of iMix (most of these aren’t available on the iTunes Music Store) here it is in screengrab form:

Autumn playlist

To also get us into the mood, P22 Type Foundry have released Stanyan Autumn, “a set of three fonts based upon a casual hand lettering text created by Anthony Goldschmidt for the deluxe 1969 edition of the book “…and autumn came” by Rod McKuen”. Nice.


Its finally here.. (or is it?)

15 Jun 2004
any music?

“I’m off to liberate my bank balance. See you next week…”

Such brave words I spoke on Tuesday. As Jeremy, Richard and Tom all found out, bankruptcy need not be feared. It would seem that UK Music store is a little understocked with music. That Apple and the Independent labels couldn’t clinch the deal hasn’t helped. After much searching, I did find some back-catalogue Starflyer 59 albums that I wanted, and for that I’m really grateful.

While I love the speed and convenience of downloaded music, I really miss the packaging. I have a fetish for scrutinising liner notes while listening to the album, and enjoying the time put into the booklets design. For the last 2 Radiohead albums, I’ve spent extra to get the special edition cloth bound book versions. Hail to the Thief came with a large map with their trademark random notes, and they feel like special things.

Ideally, as well as the cover art being downloaded into iTunes, you could at least get a pdf of the CD’s booklet. Or am I alone in this compulsive need to know who did mixing desk duties?


Playing iPods via iTunes

08 Jan 2004

My ‘working away from home’ kit consists of just 2 things. My worn but trusty G4 Powerbook and my iPod. The iPod means I can play music in the car, as well as backup work to it. I’ve been trying to find a way of playing the music on my iPod through the Powerbook, without losing the link to my G5 where the music library is kept. There are plenty of apps that enable you to copy the iPod library onto your computer (such as PodWorks) – but I just don’t have the HD space for such a task. It also seems a little overboard – why copy everything when I should be able to just playback from the iPod?

I tried an app called iPodRip, but was less than satisfied with its ramshackle, ugly-relative-of-iTunes interface, tendency to crash regularly, and inability to display tracks in the right order. A better solution, was a free little app called Music Publisher which shares your iPods music library, allowing it to be played through iTunes. This also works across networks.

Even better however is an undocumented feature that I found after prompting by Shaun Inman. When you plug in your iPod you’ll be asked whether you want to break the existing link with the other iTunes database, and sync with the powerbook’s. Select no, and click the iPod icon at the bottom of the iTunes window. Click ‘Enable for Firewire use’ if you haven’t already, and change updating to manual (deselecting all automatic options), and lo! The tracks and playlists from your iPod show up in iTunes!


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