I’m one of those cogs who uses Apple mp3 players simply because I feel they do really good job. I tried to fight iTunes for the longest time, but I eventually gave into it because, like Microsoft Outlook, it’s the default music program that everyone uses and every 3rd party application supports.
I’ve been using a couple of 3rd party application to enhance my iTunes experience. I use last.fm to keep track of what songs I’m listening to so that I can display them on my Facebook/FriendFeed profiles. It also does a good job of suggesting new music to me based on my listening habits. What last.fm can’t do is generate random playlists based on the music I already have in my library.
I had been using software from the Filter for generating random playlists. Unfortunately, since I updated their software I can’t find the “create playlist” feature anymore. That made me pretty excited about the announcement today that iTunes 8 will support generating random playlists using a new feature called “iTunes Genius”.
The Power of Random
I’ve been an iTunes_iPod user for four years. In the past month I picked up an iPod Shuffle because I usually leave my 60 GB iPod at the office, and I wanted something more portable and more suitable to an active livestyle. I’ve been really impressed with the batterly life and the portability of my iPod Shuffle.
What I’ve enjoyed the most is the “Zen of Shuffle”. Since the shuffle only selects and plays random lists of music, I’m having more and more occassions of “wow, I love that song! I haven’t heard it in so long!!” instead of listening to the same 10 albums I’ve been listening to for the past month.
Of course, the big gotcha with Apple’s new iTunes Genius feature is that you have to sign up for an iTunes Music Store account. At first glance, you might think this means you have to give away your credit card information, but click the None button to make that all go away.
Keep reading if you don’t see the “None” button.
How To Unlock the iTunes Music Store
A lot of people don’t bother turning on the iTunes Music Store because it requires a credit card. Actually, there’s a couple of ways of bypassing the credit card requirement. The most common method is:
- Find a free iTunes “redeem” code somewhere on the web
- Open iTunes and go to the iTunes music store
- Click on the “Redeem” link (on the right side, near the top)
- You’ll be prompted to create an iTunes music store account, but with the “None” option unlocked so you don’t require a credit card.
If that code doesn’t work, then try this search to find a new one:
The first time you try to use Genius, it’s going to take a while. Especially if, say, you try to use it with a 100 GB music library on the day the Apple iTunes music store opens up for the first time. I’m guessing it’ll take around an hour to scan your library, so you don’t want to try it for the first time while sipping a latte at the local coffee shop.
It took an hour for my library to scan so that I could start using Genius.
Play a song and click on the atom icon at the bottom right hand corner to start using Genius. Unlike TheFilter, you can only use one song to “seed” a random playlist. Playlists can be saved, but they aren’t saved automatically. The playlists are named with the name of the song you used to start the playlist.
Genius playlists are limited to 25, 50 or 100 songs in length. They can be refreshed to get new tracks.
The good news is that you can create even larger smart playlists based off of multiple genius playlists. This could be a great way to build a large constrained random playlists for your iPod Shuffle.
Unfortunately the playlists are stored in your iTunes metadata file, so there is no easy way to access them from your Xbox 360. Sounds like a good idea for a new freeware app. :)
You’d be hard pressed these days to buy a CD player that can’t also play MP3 CDs. My stereo, car, DVD player and XBOX 360 all support MP3 CDs as well as regular CDs. Using MP3 CDs in your car instead of the original CDs is a good idea because it saves you from losing the original if your car is broken into. Using MP3 CDs instead of regular CDs can give another big advantage — you can fit between 7-10 albums on to one MP3 CD. It’s like having a CD changer even if you can only play one CD at a time.
An MP3 CD is a regular old data CD like any CD you put in your computer. Any program that burns CDs can create an MP3 CD, but I like to use iTunes because I’m already using it to manage my music library.
How to Burn an MP3 CD in iTunes
- Put an empty CD in your CD/DVD burner
- In iTunes select File >> New Playlist (or Ctrl-N)
- Click on Music and drag the songs/albums to the new playlist you created
- Click on the new playlist and then click on the Album column header until it says Album by Artist 
- Rick click on the new playlist and select Burn Play List to Disc
It’s that simple.
 If you don’t click on the Album column then the MP3 CD will be created with all of the songs in one folder. It’s better to create it with one folder per album because then you can use the next folder feature in your car / stereo to switch albums on the MP3 CD.
RSS feeds are like cookies (that are good enough for me). Best of Feeds is a weekly collection of the best stuff I saw on the Internet this week. They’re saved on delicious and stumbleupon and cross-posted to Twitter and Tumblr as they happen and then collected together on Saturdays. I don’t blog on the weekend so read these links instead.
- [LIFEHACKS] Year in Review: The 70 Best Lifehacks of 2007 – Lifehack.org
- (lifehack.org 832 50 20)
- [DESIGN] The Great Website Design Gallery Roundup by CSS-Tricks
- Created a blog theme? here’s some places to submit it
- (css-tricks.com 623 38 11)
- [LIFEHACKS] RulesofThumb.org – Homepage
- Wisdom voting site
- (rulesofthumb.org 517 100 5)
- [BLOGGING] So I Quit My Day Job – Holy Cow! I Took the Plunge
- Becoming an independent self-publisher
- (zenhabits.net 184 42 1005)
- [GAMERS] Top 7 Geek Panties (for girls)
- seen a few of these before
- (gamegirl.com 45 56 2470)
- [WRITING] 11 Essential Tips to Writing the Ultimate Tutorial
- This is an essential skill for anyone. At some point in your career you will have to document how to do something using a computer.
- (dailyblogtips.com 36 11 2)
- [BLOGGING] 31 Days to Becoming a Better Blogger
- 31 small tips that can lead to great improvments
- (northxeast.com 32 11 86)
- [DESIGN] How I Redesigned My Blog [by Ben Yoskovitz]
- the decisions you’ll face when overhauling your blog theme
- (problogger.net 25 6 3)
- [HUMOR] BREAKINGOMFG: Apple Introduces Manila Case–The World’s Thinnest Notebook Case
- notebook cases are always overpriced.
- (gizmodo.com 24 49 )
- [BLOGGING] Fighting Scrapers With Your Left Jab
- Tips for dealing with people stealing your content.
- (problogger.net 23 11 7)
- [BLOGGING] A Guide to Breaking Into the Technorati Top 100
- (skelliewag.org 19 7 10)
- [BLOGGING] 52 Post Ideas to Help You Stay Inspired Throughout The Year
- (northxeast.com 19 6 34)
- [BLOGGING] How to Get 1,100 Subscribers in Five Days
- (skelliewag.org 11 9 9)
- [CREATIVITY] The Content Crossroads: Supernatural Success at the Intersection of Ideas
- Seeing the intersections between different subjects can lead to creativity
- (copyblogger.com 10 8)
- [GEEK] MacBook Air? Think Different – Buy a Bigger Envelope
- surprise surprise, life is just fine without the latest tech
- (putthingsoff.com 3 1)
- [HD] Blu-ray Pretty Much Wins Format War
- All the major movie studios are on blu-ray now.
- (paulstamatiou.com 3 5)
- [MUSIC] Don’t miss lessons Radiohead, Reznor offer
- Trent Reznor notes that without the music labels you have to run every aspect of the business… and that sucks.
- (crave.cnet.com 2 2)
- [BLOGGING] Blog Struggles: Recovering From a Traffic Spike
- It’s so true. It’s hard to be motivated once you’ve hit a high that you’ll never hit again.
- (lorelle.wordpress.com 5 1)
- [GAMERS]The “Sex-Box” Race for President::By Kevin McCullough
- This is a must read if you ever played Mass Effect. He gets it soooo wrong.
- (townhall.com 62)
This Week at Internet Duct Tape
- Rules of Thumb for Writing
- Rules of thumb when writing
- Shameless Self-promotion
- The Canadian Blog Awards are on again. You can also vote for Internet Duct Tape in the Sci/Tech category. Thanks to WinExtra for letting me know about the competition.
Death Clocks use statistical information to let you know when you are going to die based on your habits (with smoking and obesity being the worst factors). The iPod Death Clock (via) is an interesting little web app that figures out how much longer your iPod has to live based on the serial number (how old it is) and how you use it (while running, on the bus). Needless to say my 3rd generation iPod is getting on in years.
I happened upon a blog called Contester the other day that tracks Internet freebies being given away by other bloggers. Blog contests are a great grassroots way to advertise your blog (if you aren’t too spammy about it — some of them are). They’re usually worth entering because you have a 1:20 to 1:50 to 1:200 chance in winning depending on how popular the blog running it is. A few people are giving away iPods, and hope I win one as my iPod is on it’s last legs.
- Future Shop Canada is giving away an iPod Touch
- Success for your blog is a blog about making money through blogging and they’re giving away the new iPod video nano
- It’s Write Now is a blog about writing tips and they’re giving away an 8GB red iPod video nano
- Darin’s Search Marketing is giving away a Free iPhone
- FiddyP is giving away Vmoda Vibe headphones (he’s the guy who does the Hello Stumblers! plugin)
One of the downsides to owning an iPod is the iTunes music store. The music has DRM copying protection measures that are a huge pain in the ass. Enter the new Amazon MP3 store that sells music for cheaper than iTunes without any copying protection — you’re free to do whatever you want with the music you own. Luckily there are also quite few blogs giving away Amazon gift certificates or straight up PayPal.
- Mac’s Money Blog is offering $50 gift certificate (he also does FinanceFavorites.com, a digg-like site for financial tips)
- Anton is offering $50 over at his Halloween Blog
- Ryan444123.com is offering $75
- John Cow make money online and micfo web hosting are offering $500 (that’s a lot of songs)
- Blog Contest and Black Stork action sports are offering a chance to win $75
- Nanashi-Inc is offering $50
- Live Learn Invest and climb kilimanjaro are offering a $50 Best buy gift card
- NutsAndMilk tech news & online tips & tricks are offering $250
Becoming a Better Blogger
There’s also a couple of sites offering books for bloggers that I want to read.
- Male Wail (a blog about men’s gripes) is giving away a copy of the 4 Hour Work Week
- John Cow make money online is offering Purple Cow, SEOBook, and BlogMastermind
There’s also a contests for professional logo design
It’s crazy how this idea of promoting your blog via holding a contest has taken off like hot cakes. It makes me a little sad though that it seems like some people are losing their focus and writing/participating in contests all the time instead of writing blog posts that share information, help people, or at the very least entertain.
And on a slightly different note, someone is finally doing one of these contests for a real cause instead of personal gain:
Ultra-runner Tim Borland is running 63 marathons in 63 days in order to raise funds and awareness for the A-T Children’s Project in their quest for a cure or life-improving therapies for ataxia-telangiectasia (A-T). A-T is a rare, neurodegenerative disease that affects children, giving them the combined symptoms of cystic fibrosis, muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy, and cancer. Children with A-T — born seemingly healthy — are usually dependent upon wheelchairs by the age of 10 and often do not survive their teens.
To run with Tim, join a tailgate party, or make a donation, please visit the A-T CureTour website. There, you can also view the daily video blog produced by filmmakers who are making an independent documentary on the A-T CureTour and enter a contest to Win a Nintendo Wii.
Hard not to participate for something like that.