Archive for the ‘Software Suggestions’ Category

NPR // All Songs 24/7

Thursday, October 21st, 2010

Not to inundate you with National Public Radio news, but they just launched a sweet online radio station which plays a “non-stop mix of every song ever played during the 10 years of All Songs Considered.” I tuned in earlier this week and got to listen to a great variety of old & new tracks from both obscure and well-known artists — you know, typical All Songs stuff. In a land where Pandora reigns king, this NPR station is certainly something for those who want to expand their horizons to include genres they wouldn’t normally listen to (jazz, “world”, etc…).

You can check out the station here (click: “Listen Now” for the player to open) and enjoy the tunes Bob Boilen & Co. have showcased over the past decade.

Software Suggestions // Code Organ

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

Caught word of this site Code Organ from the good folks down at woot.com (although it’s been passed around a lot this past week) which basically turns any website into a song. I’ll let them explain it:

Firstly, the codeorgan scans the page contents and removes all characters not found in the musical scale (A to G), and then analyses the remaining characters to find the most commonly used “note”. If this is an even number, the page is translated into the major pentatonic scale of that particular note. It becomes minor if there is an uneven number.

Secondly, the codeorgan defines which synthesizer to use. This is based upon the total number characters used on the webpage — there are currently 10 synthesizer effects and the one chosen is picked based upon the percentage of content.

Lastly, the codeorgan selects a drum loop based upon the ratio of characters on the page versus the number of characters that are actually musical notes — there are currently 10 different drum loops to pick from.

Seems simple enough. Although code organ’s procedure is pretty much equatable to a random number generator seeded by the amount of A through G characters of a site (something any high school computer science student could put throw together in about an hour), the 8-bit graphical user interface makes for a pretty slick web experience. What’s surprising about these semi-random musical pieces is how listenable the results spit out by the program are. In fact, excluding the distracting random piano line, you could really throw down a Garage Band jam with the supplied synth and drum lines! So if I piqued your interest, head on over to their site and see what your favorite URLs sound like.

Radio Reddit // Online Stream

Saturday, January 30th, 2010

In this day and age of where pretty much everything you could ever want to know is a few keystrokes away, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the amount of stuff that’s at your instant disposal. Although social media has made the world a lot smaller place, it’s tough not to get lost in the crowd among the millions of registered users in the facebooks and twitters of the world. Thankfully, the good folks down at reddit.com have found a way to bring back the community of the online world by connecting you with like minded people through their use of subreddits — or smaller categories pertaining to specific areas of interest. If you have a passion for something, whether it be gardening, physics, or photography, there is no doubt a subreddit awaiting you.

Obviously the subreddits I find most interesting are music related, with my being a frequent contributor to the Music one (denoted by /r/Music). In fact, if you recall I setup a little bit of a social experiment trying to find out /r/Music’s favorite albums of 2009 which generated a pretty good response. Well another subreddit has recently gotten my attention by providing an avenue for musical redditors to get exposure through an online radio station appropriately dubbed Radio Reddit.

One of the many spin-offs from Reddit that isn’t in any way affiliated with the site itself, Radio Reddit shows how industrious some of the users have become by turning ideas tossed around in the subreddits and turning them into reality. No doubt inspired by the volume of music made by redditors and submitted to the site for free download, Radio Radio provides an easy way to listen to, judge, and offer constructive criticism for undiscovered bands. Although still in its relative infancy, the online station has gotten quite a following with over 500 members to both its facebook page and subreddit and over 700 tracks housed in its library.

In fact, it’s quite astonishing how many features the site already offers. Besides the necessities of an embedded stream and a seamless way for artists to upload tracks (even allowing them to select the option for it to be downloadable), users have the ability to approve/disapprove individual tracks by giving it an upvote or a downvote — standard commands that anybody who frequents reddit is familiar with. In fact after a track gets voted upon, a post is created in /r/radioreddit allowing for subscribers to gauge the popular tracks and artists to see how their song is being received.

In addition, Radio Reddit is in the process of developing a lot of improvements for the site, the first of which is setting up a regular schedule of genre-specific pre-program playlists. This eliminates the shuffle aspect of the station that can be a turn-off for some listeners (folk lovers won’t have to sit through metal tracks and vice versa) while setting the stage for eventual DJ curated shows. Also in the works are downloadable podcasts for each playlist so that users can listen to their favorites offline (iPhone users, they have you covered as well).

Certainly there are some issues with the site that will eventually need to be addressed (for one, the aesthetics), but the station has already done most of the heavy lifting streaming music sites require. Although it will most likely never reach the popularity of Pandora, it’s nice to see creative ideas unfold before your eyes while simultaneously reaffirming the potential social media possesses. Long live Radio Reddit!

Grooveshark // Streamable Playlists

Sunday, December 20th, 2009

Since Muxtape went defunct last year only to be resurrected in a much more limited capacity, I haven’t been able to find an adequate platform to make streamable playlists (I’ve dabbled a little with some, but to not much success). That is, until now! To better beef-up my analysis of Reddit’s Top Albums of 2009, many people suggested creating a playlist of each band’s hit songs using a website called Grooveshark. Thank god for redditors, because this turned out to be one of the biggest discoveries of the year!

The premise is simple: you search for the song you want to add into your playlist, drag-and-drop it into a folder, and then share the URL of your mix with others! If you can’t find that song you’re looking for on their site, you can add to their massive library by uploading the track (if you happen to have a copy of the audio file). Yep, it’s THAT easy — and did I mention it’s all free?

To show an example, here are ten of my favorite songs which came out of 2009 that I whipped up in less than five minutes on grooveshark:

PT Music // 10 Favorite Songs of ’09

NPR // Internet Radio Player

Friday, December 11th, 2009

I caught an interesting post from fellow Portland blogger Pampelmoose today discussing how the future of radio is being paved by, of all places, National Public Radio. Contrary to your Luddite expectations of American Public Radio (I know, the old guys with bow ties just fuel the stereotypes), NPR seems to be at the forefront of offering the public some ground breaking technology in the otherwise antiquated radio market.

Other than the standard specifications (Audio In/Out, Alarm Clock, etc…), this Livio player features the ability to “bookmark” NPR podcasts, programs, and even affiliate stations. In addition, you have the ability to record up to two weeks of audio and transfer it near-effortlessly to standard mp3 playing devices — making radio more “on-demand”. Another cool feature is its ability to search and play over 16,000 internet based radio stations, putting standard AM/FM receivers with their geographical constraints to shame. All-in-all, this is a great get and seems to be very reasonably priced at $199.

Essential Software // Dirpy

Saturday, November 21st, 2009

One thing I hate is when full versions of songs (live or studio) are posted via youtube. Other than the poor audio quality of the “videos”, my biggest gripe is that if you discover a song that you do like, you can never have a tangible copy which you can store into your media player’s library. Apparently this has not only irked just me as I found a site online that provides a solution to this problem: Dirpy.

After first entering the hyperlink of the youtube video you want to rip the audio from, Dirpy redirects you to a panel where you can tweak a handful of options.

I especially like the ability to choose when to start/stop the audio rip, as many youtube versions of live performances begin with crowd noise or band banter which I prefer not to listen to repeatedly. In addition, the user has the ability to edit ID3 tag data so that you can properly catalog a song, making the transition from web to media player much more seamless. Obviously the only downside is the 128 kbps maximum audio quality, but that is the most you would expect from a youtube video, so it isn’t their fault.

Here’s a Four Tet remix mp3 ripped using Dirpy to give you an idea of finished product:

Four Tet // Love Cry (Joy Orbison Remix)

Time Wasters // Keyboard Sample Pad

Thursday, March 12th, 2009

It seems like mini keyboard sample pads have been cropping up recently that are meant more for the bored music fan to pass the time in a job they hate than to actually come up with worthwhile beats. So if you are need of finding a way to finish out those last thirty minutes at your cubicle job, then check out these two musical time wasters:

Not sure who this Ron Winter guy is, but I think it’s safe to say it’s not this guy. Anyways, he put together a QWERTY based sampler which provides a near infinite combination of sounds. Personally I like the V-B-N combo that is annoying enough to get the dogs barking.

iDAFT (brought to you by Matias Najle) features a sample pad containing all of the words from Daft Punk’s “Harder Better Faster Stronger” spliced up and awaiting reconfiguring at the touch of key. Ah, I can envision the youtube videos already…

Essential Software // Tune-Up

Sunday, February 8th, 2009


If you are an avid iTunes user like me, one of the most aggravating problems you have to deal with is the problems mislabeled iD3 tags have on album artwork. Some might think this isn’t too big of issue, but with the popularity of Cover Flow® on new Apple Products (I’m looking at you iPhone and iPod Touch), any sort of kinks with album artwork, no matter how minor there are, snowballs into a major sorting issue. The two most common problems I have are unrecognized album artwork or, for some reason or another, tracks from the same album associated with different album art.

Enter Tune-Up: a program which correctly relabels your iD3 tags and, as a result, selects correct album artwork for every album it finds in its searchable directory. Always linked whenever you open iTunes, Tune-Up has a nice interface where you can drag and drop problematic CDs and it will automatically find and fix the problems. I’ve been using Tune-Up for about a year now and I’ve only had a handful of disks which it couldn’t find (mostly hip-hop mixtapes) – it’s THAT good.
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The Return of Muxtape…

Thursday, January 29th, 2009


…sort-of. If you head over to the now infamous site, the same interface is there, the logo is there, the lack of banner ads are there — it’s just the content that isn’t quite there yet. For those who don’t know, Muxtape was an amazing mixtape producing site. Users could upload their own mp3s or get some authorized songs from the Muxtape library and — after a few clicks and some internet magic — could produce a mixtape sans cassette that you could share with friends and, if you wanted, the world. It was a great way to find songs that correspond to certain moods as well as discovering the abundance of unknown talent that’s out there.

However, it was inevitable that it would not last; the fall coming just as swiftly as the rise. As expected, with the soaring popularity on a daily basis (nearly 100K registered users in the first month!), record companies and the bureaucratic thugs at the RIAA were not happy and almost immediately sent their “cease and desist” letters when they got wind of the site.

Well, as the abridged story goes, Muxtape went offline but was actively working with the record labels to somehow promote content in a legal way and serve as an alternative to the cluttered and mostly unseemly myspace. Now in its infancy version 2.0, Muxtape is trying hard to attract well-known bands to join the cause. Boasting a present line-up of Girl Talk, of Montreal, and Amanda Palmer, and a call to duty for other bands to join the cause in the coming weeks, Muxtape is looking up. Until then, I’ll stick with Opentape (unfortunately). For my latest opentape mixtape of, ironically, remixed tracks check it out below:

Part-Time Music’s Opentape Mix