Download of the Day: FoxyTunes (Firefox/Internet Explorer)

Posted on February 1, 2007. Filed under: Browsers, Downloads, Firefox, IE, Music |

Firefox and Internet Explorer only: Access and play your music library from within your browser with FoxyTunes, a free plug-in. The latest version adds support for (though currently only in the Firefox version).

The new addition definitely merits a look. In case you’re not familiar with it, the plug-in adds a full complement of music-player controls to your browser, thus saving you having to switch apps to skip tracks, pause playback and so on. Now you can do the same with your player: see what’s playing, skip tracks, control volume, etc.

For now the support is Firefox-only, but an IE update is coming soon. In the meantime, don’t miss this essential browser add-on. It’s free.

+ FoxyTunes 2.2.5

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8 killer Windows Media Center plug-ins

Posted on November 6, 2006. Filed under: Microsoft, Music, TV, Windows Media Player |

Just as extensions make Firefox better, so do plug-ins add extra goodness to the Windows XP Media Center Edition operating system (MCE).

For the uninitiated, MCE provides DVR and other multimedia features wrapped in an attractive 10-foot interface. Armed with a couch and a remote, you can record TV shows, pause live TV, view photo slideshows, listen to your music collection, tune in FM radio stations, and so on.

I am unabashedly in love with MCE. It’s the one Microsoft product I consider just about perfect, which is why it’s the heart of my home entertainment system.

With these eight plugs-ins, most of which are free, you can trick out your MCE PC like never before.

MCE Customizer 2005 (Free)

Designed specifically for MCE 2005, MCE Customizer lets you tweak the OS to your heart’s content. You can change the skip-forward and skip-back intervals; raise or lower TV-recording “padding”; choose different file names for recordings; hide or show Start Menu items; adjust the schedule for program-guide downloads; and much more. Those who like to tweak will find this an essential plug-in. I just wish the developer had provided some instructions, as some of the settings aren’t self-explanatory.

MCE Portal Basic (Free)

Regular visitors to My MSN or My Yahoo know all about portals: They’re sites that aggregate personalized news, weather, RSS feeds, and other information. MCE Portal brings this idea to MCE, giving you all that plus games, movie times, restaurant listings, even a daily horoscope. You have to use the developer’s web site to add RSS feeds–kind of a hassle–but otherwise this is pure portal gold.

mceWeather (Free)

Sure, you could just stick your head out the window, but then you’d have to get off the couch. Christoph Buenger’s mceWeather adds real-time weather data to the MCE interface. Just install the plug-in, navigate to the More Programs screen, and select Weather. After you choose your city and preferences, you’ll be able to view the current weather conditions (temperature, humidity, UV index, and so on), a 10-day forecast, and even satellite images.

MSN Remote Record (Free)

Forgot to set up a recording before you left on vacation? No problem: Just head to any web-connected PC. With MSN Remote Record, you can schedule recordings from just about anywhere. You’ll need a .NET Passport account, which you can get free if you don’t already have one. Then head to your Media Center’s Online Spotlight section and select MSN Remote Record Service. Follow the instructions to configure everything. When all that’s done, find another PC and surf to MSN TV. Sign in and you’ll be able to schedule recordings. I’ve even seen people do this from a Pocket PC!

My Movies 2 (Free)

Every time you insert a DVD movie, My Movies 2 indexes it. It downloads a description, cover art, actor info, MPAA rating, and all that good stuff. But even better than that, the plug-in can automatically rip movies to your hard drive (though you need a decrypter like AnyDVD or DVD43). This is outstanding for my kids, as they can pick any movie to watch just by sifting through the covers–and never actually have to touch (or scratch beyond repair) a DVD. Anyone who appreciated Adam’s recent DVD-ripping tutorial will appreciate this MCE alternative.

MyTV ToGo ($30)

You can use Windows Media Player to copy recorded TV shows and movies to a portable device, but the process is kludgy and largely undocumented. What’s more, you can’t do it from the couch. Proxure’s MyTV ToGo (which was recently acquired by Roxio; a new version is imminent) makes it a snap, enabling you to copy recorded content to an iPod, PSP, Pocket PC or Windows Mobile smartphone. You choose one of four available playback-quality settings; it handles all the necessary conversions. MyTV ToGo costs $30; in my opinion, it’s worth every penny.

TVTonic (Free)

With TVTonic, you can subscribe to nearly any video podcast. The plug-in comes with a wealth of preprogrammed “channels” to get you started, including some exclusive content. CartoonCow, for instance, plays classic cartoons, while AP-associated The News provides full-screen news clips. It’s a little weird the way TVTonic downloads video to your PC instead of streaming it, but I guess that’s how it’s able to provide silky-smooth full-screen video. This thing is a TV junkie’s dream come true. And it’s free. Free!

Yougle (Free)

Yougle brings not only YouTube videos to the couch, but also Google Video, Grouper, and DivX Stage 6. I’d love to tell you more about it, but…Mentos…Coke bottle…can’t stop…watching…

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Download of the Day: MediaMonkey (Windows)

Posted on October 24, 2006. Filed under: Music |

Windows only: MediaMonkey manages your music collection like no other program. It helps you organize your audio files, edit tags, and easily retrieve missing album art. It can rip CDs to any number of formats (including cult faves like FLAC and OGG), convert existing audio files to any number of formats, normalize volume levels across all your tracks, and much more.

It even lets you sync with portable players like the iPod and Creative Zen Vision. In short, this is one of my all-time favorite programs, and it’s free! (The $19.95 Gold version adds a few desirable features, like automatic library updating.) Its only Achilles’ heel is lack of support for protected AAC files and WMA DRM 10 (though it does support up to version 9). But it’s still a killer freebie for anyone looking to get their music library in order.

+ MediaMonkey

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15 ways to get more out of Pandora

Posted on September 18, 2006. Filed under: Advice, Music, Online Applications |

There’s just so much you can do with music discovery engine Pandora: create your own personalized radio stations, find new, original music and share your stations with friends, just to list a few. But listening to Pandora can be a drag on your system, and its song recommendations can go off the rails if you’re not careful. This week I’ve got 15 ways to get better music – and better performance – out of Pandora.

+ more

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London Underground: Hilarious Song

Posted on August 24, 2006. Filed under: Music, You Tube |

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Arctic Monkeys: When The Sun Goes Down Video

Posted on August 24, 2006. Filed under: Music, Video, You Tube |

Ive got their latest album in the car at the moment and love it, its a classic, their vidoes are prett good too, take a look..




+ Arctic Monkeys Official Site

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Automatic inline Google player Greasemonkey script

Posted on August 23, 2006. Filed under: Design, Music |

The Digital Inspiration weblog points out a new (to me, at least) feature in Gmail that lets you play MP3s sent as attachments in an embedded flash player.

The player should look familiar, as it’s pretty much the same player you’re used to seeing at Google Video. The Digital Inspiration blog shows how to construct a URL that will play any MP3 file with Google’s player, which is nice, but it seems like a lot of work. So I’ve modified the auto inline MP3 player greasemonkey script to embed the Google Player in case you prefer the look and feel of Google’s player to the Musicplayer. Requires the Greasemonkey extension.

+ Google MP3 Player found in GMail [Digital Inspiration]                                                 + Google Player User Script

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