Songbird’s main inadequacy: lack of party shuffle

Songbird mascotI have come to really like Songbird, the open source media player built on Mozilla technology. Its integrated web browser has lots of interesting potential applications, and makes installing extensions drop dead easy (unlike Thunderbird, boo). Songbird clued me in to the excellent music search engine SkreemR, which integrates very nicely into Songbird. Given the current extremely bloated state of iTunes, and how iTunes hogs all of my RAM if I leave Coverflow on, Songbird is less taxing on my system resources and manages to feel lightweight, even if it may not really be that lightweight in absolute terms. It’s cross-platform, it’s free software, it’s easily extensible… what’s not to like?

It doesn’t have Party Shuffle, that’s what, and there is no extension that implements this seemingly simple feature. Why not? I’ve come to really love Party Shuffle in iTunes… for those few bizarre people who have never used iTunes, Party Shuffle is a playlist auto-filled with random songs from your library, and after each song is played it is forgotten after a certain number of further songs are played (default is 5) to make room for new songs on the playlist. You can drag songs from your library to add to this random playlist, so you can easily mix randomness and non-randomness, e.g. you want to hear a couple songs right now but you want to return to shuffle play after that.

It may seem like a small feature, and it’s not one that I use all the time, but I do use it very frequently and it’s one of a very few things that Songbird does not do which iTunes does that makes me switch back to iTunes periodically no matter how much I enjoy Songbird. If this isn’t going to be implemented in the core Songbird product, someone needs to write an extension which provides that functionality right now! The Now Playing List extension seems like it could easily act as a Party Shuffle extension if it would just let you turn on some sort of progressive random auto-fill function or something… but it doesn’t have that feature. Alas.

P.S. The other main feature that keeps me switching back to iTunes is, sadly, the iTunes library. It’s really handy to be able to just double-click on a song on e.g. my external hard drive and have a copy of the song immediately placed into my iTunes library folder, rather than moving it to my laptop’s hard drive myself and having to figure out where to put it, etc. To get new music into my collection, I find myself going into iTunes and adding the music there, and then just re-importing the iTunes library into Songbird. I feel kind of stupid doing this, but there it is.

UPDATE: As pointed out in the comments, there is now a Songbird PartyShuffle extension. Ask, and ye shall receive! It’s not quite as pretty as iTunes’s implementation yet, but it’s quite functional. I’m lovin’ it! One problem is that it’s basically a playlist that refreshes itself with new songs when you reach the end of the playlist, and this function breaks if you have “repeat” turned on because it’ll go back to the beginning of the playlist without triggering the refresh. I’m sure these and other bugs will get worked out eventually, though, and in the meantime it works.

ilyAIMY

Friday night I went to an open mike night in Media. It was a nice little coffeehouse, nobody was there except for performers pretty much, but that seems to be a normal state of affairs more or less. I was originally kind of bummed because I didn’t come with anybody, but it was all worthwhile because I met the most intense band I’ve met at an open mike night yet. They were ilyAIMY, (stands for i love you And I Miss You) and they are really enthusiastic and energetic, they had my feet tapping the entire time. They have this very fun and fast acoustic guitar style, where they both strum insanely while harmonizing urgently (ok, this is a 5 AM article, but that’s seriously what they were doing). It wasn’t the full band, it was the two guitarists/singers, Rob and Heather, and they just quit their jobs to live their dreams. Hell yeah! They’re touring the country and really living, and they’re doing a good job of documenting what it’s all about and how it’s working.

I really like their Mission, too, read that on their site. It’s all about bringing people together… Which is really what the SCDC is all about, too. Seriously, get ilyAIMY’s CD, I did. Support true independent artists, they’ve organized all of this themselves, I’m permanently impressed by their professionalism and organizational skills. And they’re really nice, intelligent people, very accessible and easy to talk to. Mad props!

Frosh are cool

A couple of days ago I ran into this really cool freshman here, Evan Greer. He’s a talented singer/songwriter/guitar-player, and he writes great stuff about fighting the Man. One of my favorite lyrics comes from “Daddy’s Song”, track 4 off his album:

you told me
i’ll understand when i’m older
but you can’t see
since the cold war it’s gotten colder
and maybe
i’ve still got a thing or two to learn
or maybe
you’ll understand when you’re younger

So check out his site. Remember: when he gets famous, you heard about him here…

Open mike night in Philly

Well, so I decided to go to an open mike night at The Fire bar and grill in Philadelphia. I asked everyone from the play if they wanted to come along, but despite some apparent enthusiasm everyone canceled. So I went anyway. It was pretty cool, I met some girls on the train on the way there. There was a freshman here and her friend from Bryn Mawr, and a random high schooler from Morton, who was especially cool because she happened to be on the train back home as well, so I didn’t get bored and fall asleep and miss my stop. Thanks Kat, I owe you one. Yeah, any night in which I meet girls is not wasted 🙂 Aside from my raging hormones, I also had a good time playing at The Fire. There were some really amazing musicians there, I bought a CD and I intend to buy more. The first person I ran into there was Ben Garvey, who hosts an open mike night somewhere in South Jersey and is also a computer geek, which makes him extra cool. Basically I hung out with him and some random girl because the 3 of us hadn’t been there before, and we were super-early, as in about an hour early. Ben has finally convinced me that it is a good idea to buy a guitar tuner. I’ve always thought that it would be really hard core if I could tune my guitar by ear, but I think I need to train my ear more, because my 2nd string always sounds out of tune either on the open string or higher up the fretboard. I had thought that that must mean that my guitar needs servicing. I was of course incorrectly attributing my mistakes to my equipment. Ben whipped out his electric tuner and had my guitar tuned perfect in seconds, it sounded better than it had in a while. I also saw Birdie, who really impressed me. And now I’m really bloody tired, so I’ll hit the sack. Gnnight!