Listening While Coding

One of my Twitter friends retweeted a link to a post of the “Top 5 Coding Albums Of All Time” earlier (with his own comment that he’s more of an Op Ivy type of guy), and it got me thinking. What would my top 5 coding albums of all time look like? I’m not really sure how to answer that question (I’ve never been very good at creating “top 5” or “top 10” lists, because I am never able to shave things down to such a small number), but I do know that none of the five listed on that blog post would be on my list.

Music Services & Band Names – A UI Nightmare?

Search for Beloved in iTunes

In this image, I’ve used different color outlines to differentiate between the 3 different artists using the name “Beloved”

Recently, as I’ve been using my Zune Pass more and more, I’ve discovered a bit of a quagmire when it comes to usability, user experience (UX) and user interface (UI) design. What should music services like Zune and iTunes do about bands/artists that use the same name? How do you differentiate between very different artists without making the UI and/or UX even less usable than it was before?

The Problem

For instance, if you open up iTunes or Zune and search for the band “Beloved”, you will find results from 3-4 completely different artists that all use that same name (Zune shows albums by 4 different artists; iTunes shows albums by 3 different artists using the artist name “Beloved (U.S.)” instead of just “Beloved”). As a UI/UX designer, how would you propose that these music services differentiate those artists?

FiXT Introduces “Podsafe” Music

A few weeks ago, FiXT Music, the record label founded by Klayton of Celldweller, announced a new concept for the music released on the label. Much of the music released was now considered “Podsafe,” meaning that purchasing the music from the Fixt Store grants you a license to use the music in non-commercial audio and video podcasts and other online materials. Following is the announcement they sent out.

Using Zune Within VirtualBox

Zune error in VirtualBoxSince the Zune 4 software was released, I have been using it fairly exclusively as my media player when using Windows. I really enjoy using the software, and I like the way it tracks and shares my recent plays. In the spirit of Xbox “achievements,” the Zune social system even issues “badges” once you’ve listened to a specific artist enough times.

Unfortunately, however, the Zune software is only available for Windows, and I use Linux about 99% of the time on my home computer. I do, however, have Windows XP installed as a VirtualBox guest so I can use Windows programs like Photoshop, Internet Explorer 6 (for Web development testing), etc. I thought it would be simple to use the Zune software inside of that VirtualBox. I was wrong.

Apparently, the Zune software will not recognize media files stored in a VirtualBox shared folder. When you attempt to play the files, you will most likely receive an error stating that the file couldn’t be played, and that it might have been moved.

Is Being “Smart (DJ)” Better Than Being “Genius”?

software_smartdj_quickplayAs most people probably know, Apple’s iTunes media player includes a feature known as “Genius,” which attempts to look at your collection and create playlists of related music for you. However, they may not realize that the new version of the Zune desktop software includes a similar (on the surface, at least) feature known as “Smart DJ.”

Being completely open, here, I can’t stand using iTunes for many reasons, so I’ve only very gently used the Genius feature. Therefore, I’m not going spend too much time in this post comparing the two services; I’m just going to outline the properties of the new Smart DJ feature, and hope that some of our readers will fill in the gaps as to whether or not they are available in the iTunes Genius mode. From what I’ve heard from people that have used both, though, the Smart DJ feature seems to be much more intelligent than Genius.

Two Things the ZuneHD Should Have

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the new ZuneHD that Microsoft is planning to release. Overall, I am impressed by the announced improvements to my favorite little portable media player. However, there are two features I think are absolutely necessary in order for the Zune to have a chance of taking a bigger bite out of the iPod market.

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