4 Features iTunes Should Have By Now

11 09 2007

I use iTunes as my music player, and it suits my needs well enough. It’s by far not my ideal music player, but I like it more than any other options I’ve tried.

Except one.

Amarok is much better than iTunes. I like it a lot more, and I wish so much that I could use it all the time. The only problem is that Amarok is currently only available for Linux. It’s a great application, and is often cited as one of the biggest reasons to switch to Linux.

Amarok has a few very awesome features that, quite frankly, I’m surprised haven’t been implemented by now in iTunes.

In no particular order:

Built-in lyric display. Amarok has a tab on the side of the window called “Context”. One of the features on this tab is to display the lyrics of the current song. Shouldn’t this feature be a staple of every media player? Instead of going through Google to find the lyrics for a song, you can just open the Context tab and voila!
Built-in display of artist’s Wikipedia article. Also located in the Context tab, this handy little feature lets you read up on the currently playing artist. It also supports hyperlinks so you can click links to the band’s specific albums, songs, related artists, etc. and after a few songs wonder how you ended up on the article for Lesbianism in Erotica.
Automatic scoring of tracks. I’m pretty sure it’s called “Score”, but I’m not entirely sure – I haven’t used Amarok in a while. (I know!) In addition to having ratings that you manually input, Amarok keeps score of the tracks that are played. If I remember correctly, it bases the score (out of 100) on how many times the track has been played compared to the Most Played Track. If the song plays all the way through, it counts more than if you’d skipped it in the middle of playback. This is totally automatic, and gives you one more dimension for creating dynamic playlists.
More precise ratings system. Amarok allows you to rate songs with half stars. So instead of just choosing between 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 as in iTunes, Amarok allows you to give a song 0, 0.5, 1, 1.5, etc. stars for a more precise appraisal of your music.

These four features would be at least as useful as the Album Ratings Apple put into the 7.4 version of iTunes recently. Don’t get me wrong; Album Ratings is cool – except for the fact that you apparently can’t remove an album rating completely – but these four features give you much more control over your music, and give you a richer experience.

Almost there….

27 08 2007

This school term is almost over. Thank the heavens.

This term has been the hardest so far. The two classes I’ve had, Speech and Linux Administration, were each incredibly demanding. I really wish I’d had these classes separately, especially the Linux class. I’ve really enjoyed it so far, but being paired up with Speech, I wasn’t able to devote as much time and attention to it as I would have liked. I’ve learned a lot of cool things you can do in Linux, and I feel a LOT more comfortable using it.

For my final project, I’ve set up a blog and chat server. Aside from a few anomalous roadblocks, the installations went very smoothly. It wouldn’t be much at all to set up a chat or blog server for our company, I don’t think. It certainly wouldn’t cost a ton of money, especially if you use existing hardware.

I used WordPress for the blogging, and 123flashchat for the IM.

WordPress took a little bit of configuration, but even so, it was very simple and straightforward. There’s very good documentation on the WordPress site, and via Google.

123flashchat was even easier. I just downloaded the server media, unzipped it, and that was it. There was no configuration at all. I was having trouble with it for a while – I couldn’t access the chat interface from a client computer. I tried tweaking IP addresses, subnets, and gateways, but nothing I tried worked. Then I finally realized that the firewall on the server was still on. chkconfig iptables off and service iptables stop did the trick.

Now I just have to show my teacher that the blog and chat servers work, and that will be that. From what I’ve learned doing this, I might see if I can set up a chat server for use here at work, so we don’t have to go through GTalk or other 3rd party services.

This marks the end of my third semester at Herzing. I’m 1/3 of the way through the Bachelor Degree. Next semester I only have two classes, one per term. Which means no online class. Next semester shouldn’t be nearly so hellish.