Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Of music collections, iPods, the Airport Extreme, and being a freak

So I've got a pretty good CD collection. My "system" is any time I get the urge that I need a particular CD, my trusty assistant gets it for me. She rips it to our MP3 server and emails me. I then add it to iTunes via our network and it gets sync'ed to my iPod automatically. Lovely little system.

My main computer is now an Apple MacBook Pro. I like it, but in Apple's infinite wisdom they choose to believe users don't need a docking station. This annoys me a little, because it means I have to plug and unplug USB cables and power every time I want to take the laptop from my desk and return it. Lenovo has always made a nice thin docking station with USB, sound, video, keyboard/mouse, and power and that's the ONLY thing I miss from the days of using Linux on a Thinkpad.

Now, I can use a USB hub and only ever have to plug/unplug one USB cable. And Apple does have this AWESOME little magnetic power connector, so power is very easy. I'm fine with the built in screen/keyboard/mouse, so I don't need that stuff. That just leaves sound. This is where I turn into that, uh, occasional geek. Apple has another product called the Airport Extreme. It's a neat little box that can do things like be your wifi router. But it also has a sound port. And if you have an existing wifi network you can make it a client and then plug it into a set of amplified speakers and it becomes a remote sound output device for iTunes. Neat little trick for streaming audio to your stereo system if you like.

For me, this means I can have "wireless" speakers. That's a neat trick for me, since the way my office is laid out I prefer to have my music speakers behind me across the room on some built in shelves. So I plugged in an Airport Express there and hooked up some nice amplified speakers. Took a little doing to get it working (see that previous blog post about support issues, standards, and voodoo?), but Troy figured it out.

So where does "being a freak" come in? Well, for some reason I have a mental block. I hate selecting my own music. I can't make myself make playlists. I hate digging through my album or artist lists. I don't know what it is. I love music. I love my music collection. I just don't love going through it. So once I got this great setup, I still didn't care because I still had to go pick the music. I'll do it in the car with the iPod because when I'm driving I feel like I have nothing else to do anyway. But on the computer there's this whole great Internet thing, and well, I'll just surf with no music before I'll bother picking it. Freak.

But just a few days ago I had to subscribe to Sirius Satellite Radio for Ashley's new Jeep (it came with it). I've been an XM Radio subscriber and lover for a while. Part of the Sirius subscription is the ability to listen online, so that was fresh in my brain. Then it hit me. Listening to satellite radio is the bomb because I only have to pick a station, not actual music. I do that in the car a lot, too, so I had to do that.

One problem. The Airport Express only supports streaming from iTunes, not from any general application! UGH! But never fear, there's $25 shareware out there that will fix that and let you stream the sound output of any application (in this case, the web browser) to your Airport Express. Troy pointed me to that (or I would have never thought to look for it!) and it's working great. I'm digging some random tunes in my office.

And you might ask "why don't you just shuffle your iTunes collection?" Because I'm a freak who buys a good many albums only to find I like four songs and HATE the rest. And I don't like having to skip songs often. I'm nuts, I know.

The big plus of this scenario is that if I only ever listened to my great collection then it would get stagnant. At least with this exposure to satellite radio quite often (particularly at home where I can note what I'm listening to) will allow me to find and buy new music. But my mental block on making playlists and picking my own music still bugs me.


allie said...

i will make you a wicked awesome mix cd. it's one of my gifts, actually :)

Donnie Barnes said...

send it on, sista! you know how to find me. :)

Lima Bean said...

I'm exactly the same way. I bought Alisa's ipod a few years ago when she bought yours, and I've still only made 2 playlists. It overwhelms me to no end to surf through and pick songs. Alisa, on the other hand, makes a new playlist every day I think. Or at least every new mood.

Lady Holiday said...

Hey, I just bought an ipod today with my birthday money! I haven't even used it yet, but you've given me lots of things to think about.