Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Have you seen my Mac? Do you remember the days when computers used to be glorified typwriters? That was a few years ago. With each succeeding year it seems the home computer becomes more and more of a multimedia platform. The kids and I often watch internet tv online using one of the computers in the house.

Now, in order for music to play on a computer you've got to have some software to tell it to play. There's lots of options out there. If you have a legitimate version of
Windows then WMP (Windows Media Player) works. If you've got a Mac then you've got iTunes and Quicktime built into your computer.

Nowadays you can have iTunes on a PC as well as a Mac. Good news! Cross platform applications are being developed for just about everything. There's one in particular worth watching. It's a media player called "Songbird." This thing's got a few gizmos that will make it better than it's competition--once it's finished.
Songbird is a web browser as well as a media player. If you're using it for the internet and it finds a site that has media--nearly any media--it will tell you and ask if you want to download or play it.

iTunes lets you shop for music on it's site. Did you ever wonder how much the artist gets when you download a song? It's like $.02. That's not a whole lot of the $.99 you just spent on the tune. Where does the rest go? Well iTunes says there's overhead, and then there's the production company that gets their share. Songbird is going to change all that. They've made it easy for musicians to set up a music store on their own site and under their own terms. You might still spend $.99 on a song, but the artist decides how much of that $.99 goes to what. Sure some o
f it will be spent on hosting the website, but the rest has to go somewhere--like their pocket.

Songbird has glitches at the moment, but it's an open source community project. Even now you can manage your iPod using the application. It'll find your iTunes library and move it over to Songbird. You'll still be able to play songs in iTunes & WMP as well. Eventually I'll recommend that you all try this. In the meantime I'll recommend that you keep your eyes open. Ask yourself how you want to view media online. Maybe post a suggestion on their forums. It's up to you. You get to have it your way--as long as you ask.

This software is currently available in all three of my favorite operating systems Linux, Windows, and Mac. If you're feeling brave give it a go! I've never had it hurt anything--just be a bit glitchy. But hey it's a "project" for a reason.

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