iConcertCal – a gig notification plugin for iTunes

January 31, 2007

iConcertCal screenshot

iConcertCal is a free iTunes plug-in that monitors your music library and generates a personalized calendar of upcoming concerts in your city. It is available for both Windows and Mac OS X.

iConcertCal is a bit of a clumsy name, but I like the implementation. The idea of a gig notification website was something a friend and I did a little preparatory work on a few months ago. It’s a distinct gap in the market – how many times have you discovered too late that a band was playing in your local area, but the concert is sold out or it took place two days ago? How great would it be if you could visit one easy to use website, select the bands whose gigs you want to be notified of, submit your email address and forget about the whole thing until you receive an email saying that band X have announced they’re visiting your town in two months’ time and you can ‘buy your tickets by clicking on this link’. After some initial research, it turned out this wasn’t exactly an original idea and ultimately, it looked like too much work so we shelved it. None of the sites we looked at though, were as easy to use as our concept which was built around a set of expanding choices in an Ajax interface that aspired to the simplicity of the Google homepage.

These people (their About page states “We are not a company and this is not a commercial venture. We are just two grad students in electrical engineering. We wrote this plug-in in our spare time because we were tired of missing concerts for our favorite bands and we figured other people probably are too” – my hats off to them!) have taken an attractively different approach by integrating their interface into iTunes and using iTunes’ library as a basis on which to search the web for relevant listings. Very nice. Unfortunately it doesn’t list a single upcoming concert. I know I have fairly obscure music tastes, but a quick read of the FAQ revealed that it doesn’t do listings outside the US which is a great shame. Fingers crossed that the service can be extended.

Link: iConcertCal site
Via: MacUser


A retro moment: vintage transistor radios

January 31, 2007

Transistor radio

Here’s a lovely Flickr gallery of vintage transistor radios. Sigh…

Reminds me of the time a few years ago that I visited a friend of my parents who lived in a small and quite ordinary cottage in a nearby village in the Yorkshire Dales. However, in his garden he had not one, but three sheds. Each was brimful of valve and transistor radios as well as stacks of gleaming 50s car radios that looked like miniature versions of those huge American cars that seemed to have existed in another galaxy, let alone another decade.

Link: Roadsidepictures’ Flickr gallery
Via: Retro Thing


iTunes Catalog

January 30, 2007

iTunes Catalog logo

This looks like a potentially intriguing programme. From their website:

iTunes Catalog creates dynamic web catalogs of your iTunes music library. It’s also a versatile artwork manager, and can get artwork from the internet and add it to your music. iTunes Catalog can create web catalogs that look just like iTunes. You can browse by playlist, genre, artist and album, right in your web browser.

iTunes Catalog can also create web catalogs that look just like an iPod, right in your browser! You can choose from a variety of models and colors. Browse by playlist, artist or album—even play music using QuickTime.

Unfortunately I didn’t have much success using this application. Although it installed smoothly, when it came to created the catalogue I was presented with two options, to publish to a PHP-enabled webhost via FTP or to a local directory. I tried the latter first, but although I turned on sharing as requested by the program, I experienced repeated notifications that the browser couldn’t find my page. When I tried to upload to my hosted website iTunes Catalog successfully created all the files, but they failed to open/work in my Firefox browser. More worryingly, when I tried to open the index.php page I experienced a steadily multiplying number of Firefox windows which I couldn’t stop. The only way I was able to stem the tide was to force quit Firefox itself. This worked, but I was worried that I’d lose the 30+ web pages I had open, fortunately I didn’t.

I use the latest version of OS X, perhaps it works better for PC users and/or someone more technically literate than myself – a shame as I’d like to have tested this programme out properly. If anybody has better mileage with it, please let me know.

Link: product page
Via: Playlist


DRM as Tower of Babel

January 29, 2007

Tower of Babel

Cory Doctorow writes:

Eboy has posted a new graphic entitled “Tower of Incompatibabel” that very neatly makes the connection between DRM and proprietary formats and the dystopia that followed the fall of the Tower of Babel.

Link: eBoy page
Via: BoingBoing


Gizmodo: three months with the iPod

January 27, 2007

Zune

Gizmodo deliver an admirably even-handed overview after three months with Microsoft’s Zune. Though a long-term Apple user, I found myself dismayed by the negative reception accorded the Zune and felt that the interface was a step-up from the iPod in terms of attractiveness and customisability. Caveat: said observation made only from viewing online video, not personal experience.

Gizmodo find that the player does have some advantages over the market leader, but end up recommending Apple’s product because of the latter’s better infrastructure. It could also be that the Zune will be rather more embattled if there’s a significant iPod update announced at the rumoured Apple special event on 20th February.

Link: Gizmodo article


Access your iTunes library anywhere

January 26, 2007

Avvenue screenshot

Avvenue allows anyone to access their iTunes library anywhere as long as they store their music on a PC and leave it awake and on:

The Avvenu Music Player™ lets you remotely listen to music you have stored (“ripped”) on your Windows® PC. Simply install the Avvenu Music Player and you can listen to your music using the web browser on any other Internet-connected Windows or Macintosh® personal computer, laptop, or Windows Mobile® 5 Smartphone.

This can be done via mobile phones as simply as via a remote computer. It’s an attractive concept, though I wonder a) what this would do to your phone bill and b) to global warming, it being one more reason to leave your PC on rather than turn it off. Rather attractively, it’s free to download.

(If memory serves, this used to be possible on a Mac, but I may be wrong.)

Link: Avvenu product page
Via: TechCrunch


Ross Rubin writes about the boombox market

January 25, 2007

Image of boombox courtesy of gutterslide dot com

Good overview of the current boombox marketplace. I can’t say I’m particularly interested in purchasing speakers for my iPod, but do wish that my various portable music players had a line in for the same purpose. Then again, the fact that my Sony CD player in the kitchen doesn’t have that facility means that I play a lot of CDs I wouldn’t otherwise listen to and which if I ripped, I wouldn’t be able to fit on the iPod in the first place. (Ultimately I’m a fan of diversity and the prospect of all music being virtual is distinctly unattractive.)

Link: Engadget article