Tag Archives: music

Finding new music with Pandora, LastFM

Are you getting tired of listening to the same old artists and the same old tracks on your iPod? There are 3 web services out there that can help you expand your music listening experience.

First is Pandora. This service asks you to enter some of your favorite artists and songs. It then uses a very sophisticated algorithm to mathematically quantify the music from those artists. Pandora will then play those artists as well as other artists and songs with a similar scoring.

You can play this through your computer, or if you have been reading my blog, via WiFi with the Sondigo Sirocco. Also, thanks to a partnership, Pandora also works with a WiFi player called Slim Devices (which was recently bought by Logitech).

The other service is lastFM. Similar to Pandora, it allows you to select your favorite artists and songs. It then uses the social community of its members to offer up other artists that were chosen by others as favorites along with your favorite artists.This service can also be played from your computer or wirelessly using the above devices.

The 3rd service is Yahoo’s Launchcast radio. You can select your favorites in several ways using this service. You can add a list of your favorite artists, albums, songs or genres. Or, you can simply select one of the previous options and start playing. As each song plays you have an option of rating the song, the artist or the album using 1-5 start or 0 for don’t play this again.To start, you may want to spend some time with this and quickly skip through the songs and rate them. Launchcast then uses these ratings to play other songs from artist or genre you have rated highly. Over time as your rate more and more songs, the “station” becomes more and more personalized.

So now you have 3 options to expand your musical tastes.

Installing Windows Media Center Edition 2005

To say that Windows MCE is not something I would recommend to the general population is an understatement. It is one of those things, that if it goes right…no problem. But if it goes wrong, then (as in my case) you are in for 2 days of headaches. Now I see why it comes pre-installed on PC’s. I recently decided to upgrade my storage capacity on my main PC and thought it would be easy to upgrade to MCE at the same time. Everything was going fine, until I started doing the automatic updates. All of a sudden, updates started to fail, one after the other. I checked all over Microsoft’s site and knowledge base. They just kept saying to re-install. After 5 times, I figured I would have to re-install Windows XP and abandon my quest for a Media Center PC.

Then I happened to stumble across a blog site called The Green Button.This site was a Godsend. Not only did it explain in detail, exactly what the problem was with the updates, it broke out each update step by step with instructions on how to manually do the updates. Something about the order of the updates and whether you have .Net 1.0 or 2.0 installed and when you installed them.

So 2 days after I started, I now have a functioning Media Center.

Tags: Windows Media Center Edition, , , The Green Button

Playing music via WiFi

I recently had an opportunity to test a new WiFi music bridge that allows you to play DRM music from either Apple iTunes or Windows Media Player. The product is called the Sirocco from Sondigo.

Feature List

You don’t need any hardware on your computer. Other than your existing wireless router. The system allows you to play DRM protected music on your stereo system by making your stereo an extension of your computer. Just as if you were plugging speakers into your computer.

And best of all… it lists for $139.99 US.

Listening to your iPod at home

This post is a follow up to my Listening to your iPod in your car post.

Once you load up you iPod there really isn’t any reason to have your CD player. There really isn’t any reason to move your CD’s from stereo to stereo in your house. You can have your cable1.jpgwhole collection play where you are. You can spend as little as $10 for a cable, or as much a $1000 for a high end system complete with a built in iPod dock. Starting with the least expensive. The iPod has a 3.5mm headphone jack. You can get cables that has a 3.5mm jack at one end and splits into 2 RCA jacks at the other. This is the easiest way to connect your iPod to your home stereo. This will run you about $10-$15dock.jpg

 One step up from this is the iPod Dock. The advantage of this is that while is connects with virtually the same cable, it also allows for a power cable to be attached so you will not run down the battery. It also make it very easy to simply drop the iPod into the dock and listen to the tunes! This will cost about $40

  Both the solutions above will require you do connect to a speaker system. This could be a jbl.jpgboom box or a full surround sound system. The next step up is one of devices that I use. It is the JBL Onstage II. The sound that comes out of this small unit is amazing. The unit also comes with a radio frequency remote. An RF remote allows you to be anywhere within about 20 ft. of the system and control the iPod. This also makes a great set for travelling. No more CD’s to carry along with you. At the same time, there is an iPod jack in the back that allows you to connect to your computer to sychronize with iTunes. This costs about $150

homedoc_dx_hero_lrg.jpg The JBL unit allows you to control the iPod, it is difficult to see the Playlist or the Artist name etc. Until DLO came out with Homedock Deluxe. This system will require a speaker system to hear the sound. But the best part is that it allows you to see the iPod screen on your TV! It also comes with a remote, but the difference is now, you can scroll through the menus, choose your playlists, or the artists, because you can see it all on your TV. This will run you about $150. This system will require a speaker system to hear the sound.Â

 From there, it is a bit of a leap to the next systems. There sonance_iport_2.jpgare a lot of stereo manufacturers coming out with either iPod docks built in, or iPod cable connectors. One of the neatest devices I have seen is for the home automation specialist. It provides a dock in your wall that would connect to your home stereo system. Each dock is $200