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Rhapsody on Linux

On a friend's recommendation, I signed up for Rhapsody's music service.

I wasn't able to get it working in Linux. The web interface uses flash, but in Windows it requires the installation of some kind of small piece of software, probably to allow playing of whatever audio format (real? windows media?).

I gave up for a week trying to get it to work. Then, it hit me:

  1. Every box I've got came with a windows license.
  2. rdesktop supports passing sound remotely (-r sound:remote)
This means I can listen to rhapsody on any platform. Using the license on my laptop, I installed Windows XP in a qemu instance on Linux and enabled remote desktop access. Then, simply doing 'rdesktop -r sound:remote' to login to the virtual machine allowed me to play music. Excellent!

Rhapsody's got a good selection and just about everything I've searched for has been available.

The iTunes model

I bought my first few songs on itunes tonight. Easy process, but it's yet another apple product I don't fit into :(

For a full album in the store, I pay $8 to $14 for a CD, assuming I buy it brand new from Best Buy or another retailer. On iTunes, I pay $10 on most albums. In a second-hand music store, I'd pay somewhere around $3 to $9 for the same music.

Let's assume (correctly) that I'm not buying a CD for the purposes of ripping it and sharing it on bittorrent.

What am I gaining by using iTunes? Not much. If I ever lose the music I have to repurchase it (from what I understand), which mirrors exactly the issues of losing a physical CD. I'm additionally locked in to Apple as a vendor as soon as I purchase a song. Furthermore, for practically the same exact price, I get music with less quality and more restrictions. How does this make sense? Given that "less quality" and "more restrictions" automatically devalue a product compared to the same product without those problems, why does this business model succeed?

I'm not an audiophile, so CD vs 128kbit doesn't make me upset, but I do like to copy my music around. I have basically three places where I listen to music. My iphone, my house, and my office. All of my music is at my house. Some of my music is on my iphone, and none of my music is at my office. I can stream music from my house to my office, but only if it's in a format playable at my office, which usually means drm-free data so things like mplayer and xmms can consume it.

Only some songs are available in "iTunes plus" - an option to download higher-quality and drm-free music, and nothing I've downloaded today is available that way.

Even if you considered Amazon's MP3 service, it's still a better value to buy the damn CD and rip it yourself. Ripping a cd is a one-click action these days on every platform available, so where's the cost justification in these online services pricing their data at or above what I pay in a store? :(

Music sorting

My music collection was fairly randomly sorted. Until today. In the past, I had ripped some of my CDs to random locations which inevitably moved around over the years, for whatever reason. This made finding a particular song annoying without something that already had parsed the ID3 tags.

I tried to use iTunes to 'consolidate' my library into /path/[artist]/[album]/[title].mp3 but for whatever reason it would get some percentage complete and then die. I assume it has something to do with strange non-alphanumeric upper-ascii characters in filenames and iTunes was using files over a samba share.

Whatever the reason, I had to fix this myself. I have two scripts now. One parses the ID3 tags and stores them in a file, and one uses that data to organize songs into the aforementioned directory structure.

Scripts: findsongs.py and migratemusic.py

Pulling album covers from Amazon

Amazon provides lots of web services. One of these is it's E-Commerce API which allows you to search it's vast product database (among other things).

In Pimp, the page for any given listening station shows you the current song being played. Along with that, I wanted to provide the album cover for the current track.

You can leverage Amazon's API to search for a given artist and album eventually leading you to the picture of the album cover. To this end, I wrote a little python module that lets you search for an artist and album name combination and will give you a link to the album cover.

So, I wrote albumcover.py as a prototype to turn an artist and album into a url to the album cover image. It works for the 20 or so tests I've put through it.

Music yields productivity?

I almost always listen to music. I've mentiond this before, but I was reminded tonight of how music seems to make projects happen quicker; especially school projects. Tonight I was working on my Algorithms class project (spanning tree stuff) and found that I was working better than normal. This is due to my finally having found some music to put in my laptop and listen to.

Rochester radio is the absolute definition of excessive repetition. Of the 11 stations I have programmed into my receiver, none of them were playing a refreshing list of songs I hadn't heard in a while. So I put in a Nightwish cd and listened to that instead. Productivity increased.

Assuming the following theories:
Music = Productivity
Xterms = Productivity

If you increase xterms and the quality of music, how much can we increase productivity by? ;)

Music may work well for me because I tend to get distracted or bored easily when doing required tasks such as school work. If there's music playing I like, then I'll end up distracting myself momentarily with the music instead of other more time-consuming tasks such as reading news/blogs. Either way, music works.

Makes me wonder how many other people do the same thing?