Monday, December 9, 2002

Cool iTunes tricks

iTunes smart playlists are awesome. I use smart playlists in two very handy contexts.

First, I have an iMac that mounts the 70+GB music library [all MP3s encoded at 256kbit from my CD collection] from an OS X Server box.

Cool feature: iTunes will automatically mount the server-- asking for a password, if necessary-- if you double-click a song from the mounted library. It will not automount the server if you just hit space or click the play button without selecting a song first.

I wanted a smart playlist that would play a random selection of tunes, prefering tunes that have not been played in the last three weeks (and never playing songs that suck-- songs w/a one star rating.

Easy enough;

- create a smart playlist

- in advanced tab, set up the appropriate criteria

Problem is, you can't re-randomize the playlist! At least, I couldn't figure out a way to do so.

Easy solution: Place a limit to the number of songs in the playlist. I.e. at the bottom of the "Advanced" tab, enable a limit of XX songs or YY gigabytes-- as long as the value is less than the total number of available songs. I set a limit of 3,000 songs (about 10 days of music, on average :-).

By doing so, you can simply select all in the random playlist and hit the delete key. iTunes will automatically refresh the smart playlist with another-- in my case-- 3,000 songs (some of which may have been in the previous selection).


The second use of smart playlists is with my 5GB iPod. I have two smart playlists that sync to the iPod.

The first is configured like the one above, but selects about 3,900MB of music. The second playlist chooses a random 400 MB from all of the tracks I have marked with 5 stars-- again, with the additional criteria that a song has not been played in the last couple of weeks.

End result: everytime I plug my iPod into my computer, it automatically swaps out songs that I have listened to for ones I haven't heard in a while. And it automatically ensures that about 10% of the songs are tracks that I really like.


Now I just need to get one of those LaCie 400GB external FW drives so I can digitize the rest of my CD collection....
5:13:12 PM    

Seriously annoying pricing

I find it seriously annoying that I can purchase a PC compatible 64MB Radeon 7000 AGP for $52, but the ATI Radeon 7000 PCI Mac Edition is $117.

That sucks. All I want to do is replace the ATI Rage 128 that shipped in my Dual Proc G4 450 with a card that can do Quartz Extreme. The $117 card won't even do QE (without a hack) because it is PCI. It looks like I have to jump to a ATI Radeon 9000 Pro Mac Edition for $169.

The two differences between the Mac and PC editions of the card are the firmware (BIOS vs. OpenFirmware) and-- though not always-- the speed of the RAMDAC on mac edition cards is slightly faster, but not a speed difference justify a doubling of the price!

It would be nice if Apple provided some kind of a reasonably priced-- i.e. competitive with the PC pricing model-- path for upgrading the video on machines that shipped with cards that can't do QE. QE really does make a huge difference in system usability / responsiveness.
4:48:34 PM