Rhythmbox 0.13.2

ubuntu-10-10-rhythmbox-0-13-2

For those of you who use Rhythmbox, you’ll be happy to hear to v0.13.2 brings some great improvements. I subscribe to the mailing list and try to help when possible, but when I saw the news of Rhythmbox 0.13.2 code being released I instantly starred it!

Well, it took me over a month to get around to looking into the update, but ironically there is a backport posted at WebUpd8 that makes installing this in Ubuntu 10.10 as easy as copy-n-pasting three commands into the terminal!

The Last.fm updates (thanks to Jamie Nicol’s GSoC project) have finally been added and I was obsessively tracking the code commits each day to watch the progress while it was going on. Now that I get to test out the changes, I’ve glad to say that the Last.fm improvements are grand!

The new support for DACP, which allows you to use your iPhone/iPod touch/iPad as a remote for iTunes,  now allows you to remotely change the tunes playing in Rhythmbox!

Unfortunately, this feature doesn’t seem to currently support sending cover art embedded in the media files’ metadata to the remote. I’ve seen discussions about this recently in the mailing list, so this will likely change before too long!

One last improvement that I have to mention is the “Various fixes for iPod support” as this is one area that I’ve felt is constantly in need of improvement with each new release of iOS and each new model. There are also a great deal of other improvements which I’ll list below directly from the mailing list (via Jonathan Matthew)!

Rhythmbox 0.13.2 (“Dagger”) is now available from
http://download.gnome.org/sources/rhythmbox/0.13/

f422e47d7e238ebe862650efbcb83672bca704df0a37c3391ad0e386c20b19e3
rhythmbox-0.13.2.tar.bz2
4ad881cfbe19abcbe21abcfb37f753476b928141cea662c732867c9f4363aacb
rhythmbox-0.13.2.tar.gz

Highlights:
* Much improved Last.fm (and Libre.fm) plugin (Jamie Nicol’s GSoC project)
* Support for DACP (iTunes remote) (Alexandre Rosenfeld’s GSoC project)
* Zeitgeist plugin (developed by Markus Korn, Laszlo Pandy and Michal Hruby)
* New podcast sub-sources showing newly posted and recently downloaded episodes
* Slightly improved integration with the GNOME Shell message tray
* Various fixes for iPod support (Christophe Fergeau, Ben Walsh)

Bugs fixed:
341462 – Make current podcast downloads more visible
345957 – View last.fm profile
381679 – Add “record to profile” toggle to the last.fm plugin
589886 – Crash when selecting multiple podcast feeds
591841 – Crash processing playlist files from command line
592428 – Allow the user to select Libre.fm as their audioscrobbler service
601152 – can’t really create playlists on iPod
604170 – Unable to change the order of files in an iPOD playlist
612156 – crash when stopping radio stream before playlist parsing has finished
618619 – Crash while getting properties from ipod shuffle
623200 – Add previous and play actions to notifications, and use id’s
that correspond to named icons
625030 – Use XSPF format for the default iRadio playlist
625054 – Rhythmbox transfers music to my generic MP3 player without
file extensions
625214 – DACP Support in Rhythmbox
628254 – metadata helper crashes when tagging MP3 files that don’t
already have tags
628791 – crash showing ipod properties if the ipod database can’t be read
628794 – Rhythmbox can not share to iTunes 10 using DAAP
629038 – coherence plugin breakage
630689 – drop GtkObject use
631008 – Zeitgeist plugin
631191 – GStreamer MTP source element stopped working
631218 – don’t open (some) iframes in podcast descriptions in new
browser windows
631355 – Typo in string: “Listended”
631698 – Rhythmbox stars (ratings) not updated properly when scrolling
up in the playlist
631817 – rhythmbox hangs when starting playing next audio cd track
632119 – Add WSUM 91.7FM (University of Wisconsin) to iRadio-Initial.pls
632475 – ipod “Remove from playlist” was completely removing from iPod
632655 – URL updates for Internet Radio stations
633531 – Rhythmbox can’t load Cover-Art from musicbrainz

Translation updates:
- bg, courtesy of Krasimir Chonov
- ca@valencia, courtesy of Joan Duran
- cs, courtesy of Marek Černocký
- da, courtesy of Ask Hjorth Larsen
- de, courtesy of Christian Kirbach
- el, courtesy of Michael Kotsarinis
- es, courtesy of Jorge González
- et, courtesy of Mattias Põldaru
- gl, courtesy of Fran Diéguez
- hu, courtesy of Gabor Kelemen
- it, courtesy of Luca Ferretti
- ja, courtesy of Hiroyuki Sekihara
- ja, courtesy of Takayuki KUSANO
- lt, courtesy of Žygimantas Beručka
- nb, courtesy of Kjartan Maraas
- nl, courtesy of Redmar
- pa, courtesy of A S Alam
- pl, courtesy of Piotr Drąg
- pt_BR, courtesy of Djavan Fagundes
- ru, courtesy of Yuri Myasoedov
- sl, courtesy of Andrej Žnidaršič
- sv, courtesy of Daniel Nylander

Happy Halloween

Halloween Design 2010-11-01 at 8.53.26 AM

Hope everyone had a great Halloween this year! If you missed visiting my blog, then you also missed my Halloween theme!

Thats about as far as my Halloween decorations went (other than dressing up as a pirate) this year, but I saw a lot of great looking jack-o’-lanterns this year and some really great costumes at Moogfest! Had a blast!

Here’s a quick video of this random guy dancing during Massive Attack. :D

We got to see MGMT, Dan Deacon, Girl Talk, Thievery Corporation, Massive Attack, Shiongle, Disco Biscuits and a few others. Overall, it was a pretty amazing Halloween weekend! If only they were all that way…

Solaris International/Deep Blue Radio Show Podcast

solaris-international

A few years ago, while I was up late working and listening to what was then known as Virgin Radio at the time (and now as Absolute Radio), I happened to catch an episode of the “Deep Blue Radio Show.” Since then, it appears to have been renamed to “Solaris International.”

If you’re unfamiliar with this show, its simply a two hour mix of electronica and trance tunes by Solaris International with Solarstone. You can listen to their previous airings straight from their website, but I’ve finally come across their podcast in iTunes and found that it works perfectly in Linux as well with Rhythmbox!

Their site doesn’t seem to be as intuitive as it could be, which is why it took me so long to stumble across their podcast link. If you’re interested in subscribing, the link is posted immediately below. Copy and past it into your media player. If you’re unsure how, take a look at this excellent guide from GoingLinux.com.

Podcast Link to copy and paste:
http://www.solarstone.co.uk/listenAgain/deepblueradishow-podcast.xml

At the moment, there are over 220 previous podcast episodes available to download, so if you’ve got the time then they’ve got the tunes. ;)

I’m usually not a fan of podcasts, but I have a select few that I frequent. This will easily become my favorite.

If you’re not a fan of electronica or trance music then you can kindly disregard this post or use this as a reminder to search for podcasts featuring music you yourself may enjoy! :D

If you have podcast recommendations, I would love to hear about them in the comments!

Polishing Rhythmbox’s GUI vs. Forking

ubuntu-10-10-rhythmbox-0-13-1-default

With recent news from OMG! Ubuntu regarding a fork in the Rhythmbox source code for a new project called Rhythm-e (Elementary design in mind), and the controversy or mixed reactions that this has sparked in the comments and mailing list, I’ve decided to take a deeper look at Rhythmbox and share my thoughts and suggestions.

The Elementary take on Rhythmbox that is covered at OMG! Ubuntu attempts to clean up the interface by moving and removing various parts of the default Rhythmbox player. While this can be beneficial at times, I feel that its very important to heavily consider the features that are being removed.

The Rhythm-e project is only a few days old, so I’m holding my judgement on the project for a later date. Instead, I just want to point out changes that I think could have been made before the extreme decision of forking a long standing and popular music player for Linux.

The default Rhythmbox player for Ubuntu 10.10, as pictured above, is by no means perfect, but there are plenty of little tweaks that could be performed to polish the fine details of the application without very much work. Keep in mind that these are solely my opinions and in no way do I consider them to be the only or best way of improving Rhythmbox. I simply offer them out as suggestions and examples.

I’ve taken the screenshot posted above and tweaked a few aspects to show how some spaces could be used more efficiently, thus giving Rhythmbox an overall cleaner appearance without the need to fork the entire project.

The only difference between the two is that the second mockup has a library that has been filtered enough to remove the scrollbar.

Looking closer at the images and comparing them to the original, you should note the following changes:

  • The song title, artist and album have been pulled up into the button toolbar to reduce wasted vertical space.
  • The song’s progress slider has been pulled up in-line with the textual position output to reduce wasted vertical space.
  • The Library and Store list on the left has been widened by 1 pixel and shifted left to hide the unnecessary left border. This creates a cleaner and more flush appearance.
  • The album art image holder has been scaled to take up the full available area, thus removing wasted space and padding. It may be ideal to shrink the image a bit, but keep the top of the album art flush with the list above it in order to allow the resize bar to remain clickable, but the rest of the available space should be used and not wasted.
  • The redundant spacer at the end of the “Time” category has been removed. This is most likely more of a theme problem than a Rhythmbox problem, but it does still make it look cleaner.
  • In the second mockup (short list), the scroll bars are not necessary and have been removed as usual, but the list has been widened enough to push the right border out of the window which helps create a cleaner and more flush appearance.

I also think that the status bar is a bit unnecessary by default, but have left it in the picture to show that it can still look good. If the status bar is removed, the library list should stretch to also push the bottom border out of view as the right side is in the short list mockup.

I think the menus are still relevant and useful, but with the menu bar being removed from the application window in UNE, this would only help in cleaning up the interface.

One thing that Rhythmbox could do to help ideas like Rhythm-e take hold more quickly is to make the interface more configurable by themes or manual configuration files. Allowing stylists to easily move buttons around and remove various elements could also spark new ideas on realistic was of improving Rhythmbox for everyone!

While I think its not always necessary to fork an existing project for a new idea, I also like to see the interest and efforts in making existing applications more appealing. I look forward to seeing the rests of Rhythm-e as it matures, but I’m also hoping to see better communication and collaboration to improve Rhythmbox itself.

While you’re free to take open source software and do as you please without asking questions, its just plain friendly to contribute back as a token of thanks for the work that went into it in the past. Keeping up with the mailing list, I’ve seen a few talks and suggestions back and forth, so I’m crossing my fingers that the two can work together and combine their strengths rather than simply competing separately.

Are there changes that I’ve missed? Something I’ve changed that you disagree with? Let me know in the comments!

Rhythmbox Indicator Menu Finally Dropped

One less menu, yet more control..fantastic!

Though I haven’t looked through the official changelogs, it seems that the Rhythmbox indicator menu has finally been laid to rest. That is, unless I’ve mistakenly removed it myself. ;)

One less menu, yet more control..fantastic!

This is a welcome update for me as it reduces redundancy among the menus and gives the sound indicator menu a little more purpose. Looking through the Rhythmbox Plugins, I’ve also stumbled across the ReplayGain plugin (some how avoiding looking right at it and missing it though I look through the plugins regularly).

This elusive feature is highly valuable!

While this isn’t a new feature to Rhythmbox, or many other media players for that matter, if you’ve never used it then I highly suggest you enable it! If you’ve ever noticed that some of your audio files are just way too loud compared to others and you’re constantly adjusting your speakers then you should look into ReplayGain. I’ve been watching the a couple of Rhythmbox features that I’m highly anticipating as they’ve been progressing thanks to Google Summer of Code. If you’ve not been keeping up with the mailing lists, you’ve been missing out on “DACP in Rhythmbox” by Alexandre Rosenfeld and “Improved Last.fm Plugin” by Jamie Nicol.

Connecting a remote device to Rhythmbox.

The code for both of these is available on Gitorious if you’re looking for a sneak peak. I’m not sure how long it will take before they are packaged with Rhythmbox by default, but I think its fairly safe to say that they won’t make it in time for Ubuntu 10.10. Let’s hope I’m wrong. ;)

Rip Your CDs With Sound Juicer

Sound Juicer in action..

For the past few days I’ve been bringing my parents’ dusty cd music collection back to life by converting them to mp3 for their computers. While its a bit of a task, GNOME’s Sound Juicer makes it a breeze.

Sound Juicer 2.28.1 in action..

Though Sound Juicer isn’t an all-in-one ripping and management tool, it is very good at the ripping! For the management and editing of IDv3 tags I would suggest you try EasyTAG which is available via the Ubuntu Software Center or here.

With Sound Juicer, you’re able to rip the contents of a cd in most cases with a single click and no editing since the details for the disc are retrieved from the internet. You can also add information such as disc number, year and genre if you wish.

If you’d like to add more details, like I do such as album art, you may consider using EasyTAG which makes this process a snap.

Sound Juicer doesn’t have a lot of preference options, but you are able to control the format that your music is copied to, being MP3, OGG or what ever your preference may be. You can also easily stripe special characters and control the hierarchy of the folders that your music is output to.

While Sound Juicer may be a tool that is only needed on rare occasions and may never be needed for a second time, it remains to be very impressive with what it does and should find a way into your accepted tools for this sort of task.

Rhythmbox Gets A Pause Button

An actual pause button! Ouuuhh Ahhhh :P

Yet another small update I’ve noticed in Ubuntu 10.10 is the inclusion of an actual Pause button (icon and all).

An actual pause button! Ouuuhh Ahhhh :P

I would imagine this bug from 2006 was finally fixed so that the sound menu play/pause buttons and Rhythmbox play/pause buttons are consistent.

Either way, its the polishing touches that can really make a product shine. :D

Get Your Last.fm Wallpaper From Wallpaperfm

An example from my Last.fm account in Collage mode.

If you have an active Last.fm account and like to switch up your wallpaper from time to time then you’ll love Wallpaperfm!

Example from my Last.fm account in Collage mode.

This python script, by Koant, has been around since at least 2008, but I’ve only recently stumbled across it. It’s easy to start using and is available for Windows, Mac and Linux users!

I’ll help you get started in Linux since that’s what I’ve set it up on. If you need more help or want more configuration options you should look to the information that Koant has posted on his website.

Install

  1. cd
  2. mkdir wallpaperfm
  3. cd wallpaperfm
  4. wget http://ledazibao.free.fr/wallpaperfm/wallpaperfm.py
  5. chmod a+x wallpaperfm.py

Create Your Wallpaper

  1. ./wallpaperfm.py -u YOURLASTFMUSERNAME

That’s the most basic set of options you can use to create your wallpaper (which you will find after running the script in the “wallpaperfm” folder that was created).

There are three options for the type of wallpaper created:

1. Tile

Albums are packed in side by side.

2. Glass

A few albums are highlighted on a glassy surface.

3. Collage

Albums are meshed together in a dreamy design.

To specify one of these modes, simply run the wallpaper script with the mode flag set to your choice.

  • ./wallpaperfm.py -u YOURLASTFMUSERNAME -m collage

There are plenty of other settings you can specify such as size, canvas size, filename, profile period, final opacity, cache, excluded albums, local copy, etc.

Suggestions and Ideas

User Interface and Packaging

I’m sure that this script could be simplified further for Linux users (and more specifically, Debian/Ubuntu users) if a user interface were created. It actually seems like a rather simple task since the parameters for the script are well bounded.

Adding this interface to an installer package would also be a very simple task and would most likely get more attention to such a neat tool!

Cron Jobs, Regularly Updating Your Wallpaper

Another thing, if your music preferences are constantly changing like mine, you may be interested in updating your wallpaper in regular intervals. To do this you can setup a Cron job that runs in the background.

While this may sound difficult and confusing, its really not at all and this helps explain a lot. I can even walk you through the steps.

  1. sudo apt-get install gnome-schedule
  2. Open the application (in Ubuntu) through the Applications menu -> System Tools -> Scheduled tasks.
  3. Click the New button and select the Recurrent task type.
  4. Give the task a description.
  5. Enter the command that runs your script. If you followed the steps above then it should be something similar to:

    /home/YOURUBUNTUNAME/wallpaperfm/wallpaperfm.py -u YOURLASTFMUSERNAME -m collage -f /home/YOURUBUNTUNAME/wallpaperfm/wallpaper

  6. Set the Time & Date option to hourly, daily, weekly, or monthly.
  7. Click the “Add” button to add it to your list of Scheduled Tasks and you’re done!

Have any other suggestions or tips? Leave ‘em in the comments!

Ubuntu 10.04, now with a Music Store!

This is the initial page that you land on.

If you haven’t heard the news yet, Ubuntu 10.04 will feature a Music Store from within the default music player.

This is the initial page that you land on.

The default music player in Ubuntu 10.04 is currently Rhythmbox, but the Music store should be available through other popular music players soon.

Currently in the early Beta stage, Ubuntu’s Music Store (officially named “UbuntuOne Music Store”, poorly named in my opinion) appears to be running smoothly. The only problem I could find with the service was the overall speed of page-loads and initializing downloads for purchased songs.

This is where your downloads process.

When you select the tracks you want to download and checkout with them, you’ll be directed to the “My Downloads” section where you can watch the progress of your music being transferred to your UbuntuOne account.

This is the part that had noticeable slowness. I waited between 5-10 minutes before any progress had occurred in my purchase. However, when the song did transfer, it completed in a matter of ~2-3 seconds. I presume the server performance will improve throughout the testing stages and become well stabilized for Ubuntu 10.04 final.

If you’re interested in testing the UbuntuOne Music Store, but don’t want to spend any money just to test it then you’re in luck!

If you find a free track that you like, simply search for it through the Music Store embedded in Rhythmbox and download it!

I’m glad to see the store finally open up, I’m just hoping that they keep a high standard of appearance and keep it clean and simple. In its current form, I’m very impressed.

Now we just need a Genius side bar that works off of the UbuntuOne Music Store selection to suggest new music and music from your current collection!

Ubuntu + iPod Touch/iPhone

Updated Information at End of Article

After spending a great deal of time researching Ubuntu and iPod Touch/iPhone sync issues, I’ve finally found a solution that isn’t a dreadful experience.

There is currently a project in the alpha/beta stages that, when completed, will provide sync support for the iPod Touch and iPhones that are using Firmware 3.

If you’re not using Firmware 3 on your iPod Touch or iPhone, then I’m not sure how much this guide will apply to you. You can try looking here for more information.

If you are using Firmware 3 (my iPod Touch is running OS 3.1.2), then I’d suggest you following the guide provided by A. Tres Finocchiaro (aka FatButtLarry) over on his blog.

Following his guide, which is comprised of two lines of terminal commands to copy-n-paste, I was able to have my iPod Touch sync’ing in no time!

While the transfer speed seems to be a bit slow, it is indeed working well! Cover art is transfered flawlessly, everything seems to be in order!

Remember that this project isn’t complete and you are likely to encounter bugs. My experience thus far has been positive, your mileage may vary. Good luck. ;)

Update (2010-02-24):
If you are using or plan to upgrade to Ubuntu 10.04, you will not need to manually install any of the software mentioned above. Ubuntu 10.04 brings support for the iPhone and iPod Touch by default. You should not have any problems with your device and Rhythmbox!

Pandora Internet Radio + Last.fm Scrobbling

pandora

Recently I started using Pandora Internet Radio again (I hadn’t used it in ages) to stream various genres of free radio tunes online. Pandora has a wide selection of genres to choose from and comes as a free and a premium service.

pandora

The free service is all I’m looking for and I’m willing to wait for short advertisement breaks from time to time. If you aren’t patient enough for the short pauses in your tunes or just utterly hate advertisements then you can get the premium service for just $36 a year. This is actually a very affordable deal when you break it down to only $3 a month or just $0.75 per week, especially if you use it regularly.

There are plenty of other free or pay for Internet Radio services or services that just let you pick tracks specifically to listen to. If you interested in those then take a look at Slacker, Dora.fm, Deezer, Napster Web Radio, AccuRadio, iLike, Blip.fm or even streaming from the select tracks that are available at Last.fm! There are many others available as well, but for now I’ll only get into Pandora. ;)

I’ve been using Last.fm for nearly two years now scrobbling tracks from my computer via Windows Media Player and Rhythmbox in Ubuntu. The list of audio players that now support scrobbling to Last.fm is far to long to post here, but if you find one that won’t scrobble by default then chances are someone’s written a plug-in to do just that.

One plug-in, or add-on/extension rather, that I recently came across is called LastFM Firefox Extension. This is a nifty little extension that allows you to scrobble tracks from various listed services with Pandora being one of them.

last-fm-firefox-extension

After installing the LastFM Firefox Extension you’ll notice that it ties in nicely with the other extension icons you may use frequently (pictured above is Firebug, Greasemonkey, LastFM Firefox Extension).

You can get a quick glance at the currently playing song without ever leaving your current tab or having to scroll through tabs to find it in the tab title. Right from the icons you can Favorite or Heart the tracks you like. This will favorite them automatically on Last.fm for you rather than making you manually go to Last.fm to do this. You can also tag songs with any tags that you feel fit that specific song using the Tag icon (I personally haven’t found a good reason to use this yet, but you may know of one!).

To get started with this extension, it currently comes in two flavors: Stable and Beta. I don’t typically promote Beta software, but in this case, you’re far better off using the Beta rather than testing your hit or miss luck with the current Stable.

The steps to get this extension aren’t drawn out very well without a bit of digging, but I’ll guide you through:

  • Login to your Last.fm account and join the LastFM Firefox Extension group (this is mandatory).
  • Depending on your luck you may be forced to wait up to 24 hours before you’re granted permission to install the Beta version. It’s well worth the wait (1 day isn’t that big of a deal is it?).
  • After joining the LastFM Firefox Extension group on Last.fm you will need to download the Beta version from the official extension page. It may ask you to verify that you are authorized. This just means you must be in the group on Last.fm and you probably need to of been in the group for 24 hours or more.
  • Once you get the extension installed simply go to Tools -> LastFM and enter you credentials so it can scrobble your tunes!

Depending on when you come across this post, LastFM Firefox Extension may or may not still be in Beta. Feel free to use the current stable version if you prefer to avoid Beta software. Enjoy scrobbling those tunes!