Category: Music

Fix the Missing Tags in your iTunes Library

Use TidySongs to Clean Up your iTunes Library

OVERVIEW: Learn how to use TidySongs to clean up the tags and album art in your iTunes library. .

Cleaning Up a Mess

Do you have thousands of songs in your iTunes library? Did you get them from (cough) various different places? Welcome to the club. As your collection of mp3’s grows and grows, you will probably have a bunch of songs with missing or incorrect tags. This can be a real mess.

You can use TidySongs (http://www.tidysongs.com) to work miracles on that messy library. TidySongs performs four functions that will whip your iTunes library right into shape:

Add high-resolution Album Art to your songs
Find and Remove Duplicate Songs
Fix Missing or Incorrect MP3 Tags
Organize your Music Genres

Getting TidySongs on your Computer

TidySongs will work on Windows and Mac operating systems (sorry Linux). Go to TidySongs.com to download the software installer. Follow the clear instructions in their installer to add the software to your computer.

Finding Missing MP3 Tags

When you start TidySongs it will search through your iTunes library. Click on the Start button to begin woking on your files. The Main Menu lets you select which aspect of your library that you want to fix.

Click the Fix Your Songs button.

Click the Select a Playlist to Fix button. You can select your whole library or just one playlist.

Choose whether to fix one song at a time or to run the whole playlist automatically and click the appropriate button. I like to just let it run automatically.

Any songs that matched your Confidence Threshold will be updated.

See TidySongs in Action

The video tutorial below shows how to use TidySongs’ features to tame your unwieldy iTunes library.

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Connecting your Computer to your Living Room

Overview: Learn how to stream Music, Photos, and Video from any computer to your TV using your video game console.

This is the second article in a three part series on Sharing Files Between Any Devices in your Home.

Consoles, Not Just for Gaming Any More

Seeing your vacation photos or your favorite podcast on a 50 inch screen is way more enjoyable than being holed up in your computer room. How about having your favority playlist pumping through your surround sound system at your next party?

There are numerous ways to accomplish this; some complicated and some simple. If you have a Microsoft Xbox 360, Sony PlayStation 3, or a Nintendo Wii, you already have the easiest way of getting your media from your computers to your living room. Let’s take a look at how to make it happen.

Xbox 360

The Xbox 360 is a great option for bringing your computer media into your living room.

Xbox 360 to Windows

Right out of the box you can get media from your Windows computer to your Xbox. Here are the basic steps:

  1. Turn on your Xbox 360
  2. Install Windows Media Player 11 on your PC
  3. Turn Sharing on in your Library (Library> Media Sharing> Share My Media> OK)
  4. Select your Xbox from the list of sources.
  5. Go to your Xbox and go to Media> Media Type (Photos, Music, or Video)> Computer> Browse for file

Here is an excellent tutorial from Cnet on using an Xbox 360 to access the media on your Windows computer. Bonus – they also show you how to pull media from your Microsoft Zune to your Xbox (assuming you’re one of the five guys who bought one).

Xbox 360 to Mac

Just because Xbox is a Microsoft product doesn’t mean that you can’t use it with your Mac. You can use Nullriver’s Connect360 software ($20)to do the same thing as Windows machines. Connect360 automatically indexes your iTunes and iPhoto libraries and shares them to your Xbox 360. You can then use the Xbox 360 Dashboard to browse and play your media, organized in the exact same way that it is on your Mac.

Here are two excellent tutorials on using an Xbox 360 to access the media on your Mac.

Mac to Xbox 360 with Connect 360

Xbox 360 and Mac (This one covers a bunch of other cool things between a Mac and Xbox 360)

Cheapskate tip: If you want to save $20, try some of these free alternatives to NullRiver’s Connect360.

Xbox 360 to Linux

You can even do the unthinkable; connect a Microsoft product to a Linux computer. (Somewhere a Linux snob just felt a stabbing pain in his side.)

Here are two excellent tutorials on using an Xbox 360 to access the media on your Linux computer. (One from the command line, the other using WINE.) Enjoy!

How To Share Media Between Xbox 360 and Linux

How to Connect XBox 360 to a Linux PC

Extra Credit – Install XBox Media Center on your Console

Your Xbox does some cool stuff right out of the box, but when you add the Xbox Media Center (XBMC) application it gets really interesting. Here is the description straight from the XBMC.org website:

XBMC is an award-winning free and open source (GPL) software media player and entertainment hub for digital media.
While XBMC functions very well as a standard media player application for your computer, it has been designed to be the perfect companion for your HTPC. Currently XBMC can be used to play almost all popular audio and video formats around. It was designed for network playback, so you can stream your multimedia from anywhere in the house or directly from the internet using practically any protocol available. It will even scan all of your media and automatically create a personalized library complete with box covers, descriptions, and fanart. There are playlist and slideshow functions, a weather forecast feature and many audio visualizations. Once installed, your computer will become a fully functional multimedia jukebox.

You can find the installation instructions in the very thorough XBMC online manual.

NOTE: Setting this up can be pretty tricky, so if you’re looking for something a bit less complicated stick with the instructions for your operating system above.

Sony PS3

Sony PS3 is the Cadillac of consoles; BluRay player, stunning graphics sexy piano black finish, you know you want some. Of course it can do more than just play games and DVDs. You can connect it to a computer running all three operating systems too. In fact, DigitalTrends.com has a very thorough set of instructions that walk you through the entire process(es) of using your PS3 to connect to a Windows, Mac, or Linux computer.

Sony PS3 to Windows

The PS3 can act as a DNLA (standard for sharing media between devices) Player that will display media content from a computer set up as a DNLA Server. Windows Media Player 11 will act as your PC’s DNLA Server.

Right out of the box you can get media from your Windows computer to your PS3. Here are the basic steps:

  1. Turn on your PS3
  2. Install Windows Media Player 11 on your PC
  3. Turn Sharing on in your Library (Library> Media Sharing> Share My Media> OK)
  4. Select your PS3 from the list of sources.
  5. Go to your PS3 and click the Search for Media Servers icon with the X button.
  6. You will see your shared media which you can navigate through with your PS3 controller.

Here is an excellent tutorial that will show you how to set up streaming from your PC to your PS3.

Sony PS3 to Mac

You can set up Nullriver’s MediaLink software ($20) to stream from your Mac to your PS3 by installing it on your Mac and going to the System Preferences panel.

mediaLine icon

Click the MediaLink icon to see the configuration options.

MediaLink Configuration options

Set up your sharing/streaming options here and close the window.

Go to your PS3 and click the Search for Media Servers icon with the X button.

You will see your shared media which you can navigate through with your PS3 controller.

Cheapskate tip: If you want to save $20, try some of these free alternatives to NullRiver’s MediaLink.

Sony PS3 to Linux

Once again, you can do pretty much anything on a Linux machine. If you’re willing to get your hands dirty at the command prompt, that is.

Here is a tutorial that shows you how to configure streaming from Linux to the PS3.

Nintendo Wii

While Wii is definitely the most fun video game console, it is also the weakest multi-media device in the roundup. There are, however a few clunky hacks that will allow you to get media from your computers to you TV using a Wii. Still, if your only console is a Wii, then try some of these tricks. If none of them float your boat, head on over to Wii Media Center to see the new tricks that they are constantly devising.


Nintendo Wii to Windows

Lifehacker.com has a set of instructions that will show you how to use internet media sharing software Orb to stream media to your Wii over the internet (not your home network). It’s not the most elegant thing, but watch the video below to see how it works.


Since this really just uses the browser, it would also work fine on an Xbox or PS3.

Nintendo Wii to Mac

Riverfold has the Wii Transfer application available for free that will allow you to stream media to your Wii using the Internet Channel (browser) too.

Nintendo Wii to Linux

MaximumPC has a good tutorial that will help you set up your Linux machine to stream to your Wii.

Extra Credit Connect a Computer to your TV

Sure, you can use your video game consoles to stream media from your computers to your TV, but why not cut out the middle man? You can buy a tiny, silent computer and place it in your media cabinet. Then, hook up Boxee (Windows, Mac, and Linux), Plex (Mac only), or MythTV (Linux only) and grab some popcorn.

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7 Best Community Driven Online Music Services

The Best Music Services Part 4

Best Online Music Community

One of the things that makes online music services more interesting and useful than your iTunes library is the aspect of a Music Community. Not only can you hear good music, but you can connect with friends and others who share your tastes. This allows you to socialize about your favorite artists and see what others think and listen to. I get a lot of suggestions for new music from the people in my online music communities.

 

This is the 4th article in a 5 part series on the Best Music Services on the Internet. See the rest of the series:

  1. The Most Reliable Online Music Services
  2. Online Music Services with the Best Suggestion Quality
  3. The Best Music Discovery Service
  4. Best Community Driven Online Music Services

Let’s take a look at the types of community and social networking that each of these services offeres. (P.S. If you are interested in sharing musical selections with me, there are links at the bottom of the post.)

Community Features Comparison

ilike.com logo

iLike.com – iLike is allows you to share your music tastes on Facebook, Orkut, Bebo and hi5. Using the iLike application, you can add music to your profiles, be alerted to concerts and new releases by the artists you enjoy, see what music and concerts your friends like, and communicate directly with your favorite artists.

Community Quality  Despite my many disappointments with iLike, the Community features are actually very solid. In fact, they’re probably the only reason to use this service. (4 Stars)

Rating: 4 of 5 stars ratingAt least they got something right.

 

 Jango.comlogo

Jango.com – Allows you to share music with friends and tune in to their selections.

Community Quality : The sharing features are decent, but pretty basic. (3 Stars)

Rating: 3 of 5 stars rating Ok, but nothing special.

 

Last.FM logo

Last.FM – This is another area where Last.FM shines. There are numerous ways to connect with other people the site and many popular social networks. They also include forums and groups that you can join. You can pump your listening activity out to places like Facebook, Twitter, or your blog in real-time.

Community Quality : You can connect with anyone, anywhere, on any network from Last.FM. (5 Stars)

Rating: 5 of 5 stars rating If you’re a social networking addict, this is the service for you.

 

MyStrands.com logo

MyStrands.com – They have a bunch of ordinary stuff here, but nothing special. This is probably the only feature that doesn’t suck on this site.

Community Quality : OK, but still not enough to make me use this craptacular mess. (3 Stars)

Rating: 3 of 5 stars rating

 

Pandora.com logo

Pandora.com – You can share playlists with your friends, but that’s about it.

Community Quality : This is the only disappointing feature of an otherwise amazing music experience. Maybe that’s why I like it, it’s simple. (2 Stars)

Rating: 2 of 5 stars ratingIf you don’t care about community, this is definitely the best service out there.

 

Shoutcast.com logo

Shoutcast.com – Nothing here that I can find.

Community Quality : It’s just radio as far as I can tell. (1 Star)

Rating: 1 of 5 stars ratingMan I have to make the Zero Stars image already.

 

Slacker.com logo

Slacker.com – Nothing here either. (aside from great music)

Community Quality : Not for the Web2.0 crowd. (1 Star)

Rating: 1 of 5 stars ratingIf your boss says that you’re not a team player, give this service a shot.

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