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  • mono 7:31 am on September 6, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Amarok, audacious, bmpx, Computers, Macintosh, , music players, Open source, , , Ubuntu, Ubuntu Linux, Windows   


    A music player should serve to enhance the pleasure of how you perceive, collect, and connect with your music collection. When I used to use Macintosh computers, I exclusively used iTunes as it came directly installed with my iBook. I appreciated the ease of use, while not caring at all about the design of the interface. It was easy to use and neatly organized. That made me happy. Several years later (and several broken Macintosh computers later), I sensed a lack in the iTunes environment; a sterility and heartlessness. Looking for alternatives, I came across Songbird, which I still use on one Windows computer. The add-on features of Songbird were appealing to me. Giddy was the day when I found I could listen to music, write blog posts and watch Youtube videos all at the same time from within Songbird. However, that thrill faded as I began to yearn for a music player that was simply a music player and nothing more. I wanted simplicity. I wanted an application that would help pull my attention to the music, provide a beautiful and clean environment for listening and be neatly organized.

    Jumping forward to 2007, I began running Ubuntu Linux and was impressed with the wide variety of music players available, all open-source and all varied in design and functionality. The Ubuntu Linux music players that I have used include the following:

    1. Amarok
    2. Audacious
    3. Banshee
    4. BMPX
    5. Banshee
    6. Exaile
    7. Juk
    8. Kaffeine
    9. Rhythmbox

    Of the above-listed nine players, and writing this now in 2008, only two have thoroughly impressed me and gave me that warm fuzzy feeling that has a tendency to get lost in listening to a music “file.” The first one, which I appreciate is “Audacious.” Audacious, with its simple light interface provides all I need to allow the music to come forth from the player, to lose the player. It doesn’t bog me down and it creates a nice atmosphere from which to simply listen. The second, apparently made by the same folks (correct me if I’m wrong) is BMPX. With BMPX, it seems that strict attention was paid to both the form and function of the player; the player comes alive. The typeface that the designers chose is sleek and clear, while the design is easy to manage and appealing. Everything seems to fit just right. Also, it makes adding your LastFM account a breeze and allows an easily accessible internet radio browsing function. Through applications like Audacious and BMPX, one is able to regain the sense of magic that comes with listening to music. Granted, listening to music files is definitely not the same experience as listening to a nice piece of vinyl or a cassette tape, but these programs provide a nice alternative for those of us who have amassed a large collection of music files and seek out a worth player, a player that will satisfy us.

    Of course, my tastes and your tastes differ. I hope you find the best music player for your listening pleasure. Thank you for reading.


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    • Justin 10:16 am on September 6, 2008 Permalink

      I’ve actually never tried either one of those. Will have to check them out. I’ve used AmaroK and it was nice but bloated. That tends to be a problem with music players these days; super stripped-down or overly-ambitious…

    • jgrefe 6:05 pm on September 8, 2008 Permalink

      Thank you, Justin. “Bloated” is a good word for Amarok. I really wanted to like it, but it just wasn’t feeling right for me. Please keep in touch and let me know if you find any other good players.

    • Rob Buse 12:55 am on September 23, 2008 Permalink

      What software are you using to produce music on linux?

  • mono 7:43 pm on April 22, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Beauty, , , Computers, , , Isolation, , , , microblogging, Mobile phone, , , , Society, , Telecommunication, ,   

    Deepening Web Communication (Fragments) 

    Steve Rhodes

    Communications theorist Lee Thayer once wrote, “We ‘dilute’ the world by having an idea of it; and the intent of our words is, more often than not, to eliminate the world as resistance (Thayer 190).” As languaging creatures, our comprehension of the world is at once in direct contact with it (with certain spatial areas, horizons, surfaces, humans) and at the same time a part from it via language, creative expression, technology and so so on. That is to say, our ways of grasping the world is usually, most of the time, extending beyond the immediate here-and-now concreteness of reality, projecting ourselves onto things and others. Even when we are engaged in the concrete and ever-flowing “now,” we almost without control cover it over and lose what it could be with our self-talk or with symbolic complexes about how it should be. In the above quotation Thayer is calling us to think about the ways in which we understand our worlds, the ways in which we conceptually apprehend the concrete (via language) and how, perhaps, our talking serves the purpose of watering down the absolute harshness of the physical world.


    To use one example, in my current life situation I interact with computers everyday at home and at work. Just this evening, standing outside, I opened up my mobile phone, connected to the Web and checked my email. To some extent, the sense of aloneness, of isolation is swallowed up by the thought of being connected to a larger non-physical network of others. Moreover, for some of us, how much have we come to completely rely on Web communication for a large amount of the “real” communication that we crave, that we fail to engage while at work or even with friends? The temptation of connect may be seen as the temptation to substitute the “real” world for a virtual one, but I don’t think that things are this easy. Sure, it is nice to partake in micro-blogging or facebook updates, in order to keep relevant others “updated,” but what happens when one steps away from all of it? Moreover, how have our conversations changed…do we converse in 140 characters or less, I wonder?

    I think that for those of us that engage in various forms of social media, the spreading out and fragmenting of ourselves, while creating small pockets of self-identity and self-representation have the consequences of widening the sense of isolation instead of eliminating it. Spreading oneself across the social media spectrum for research purposes or curiosity may be beneficial if put to good use, but even then, too much talk about nothing, too much reliance on Web communication creates a false sense of togetherness. No matter what, the computer still sits on the table, in the room, in the house, in the city, etc…The objectness of the computer disappears while we are engaged with it.

    The Deep

    In the same essay as the above mentioned quotation, Thayer writes, “What has happened is that we have come to mistake our reach for our grasp. With the modernization of consciousness has come belief that information is a reasonable substitute for knowledge, and that knowledge, rationally accumulated, is a reasonable substitute for wisdom (Thayer 183).” Too much self-fragmentation into the voids of social media may serve to satisfy a temporary hunger, a quick fix on news, technological advances and so on, but what is happening in the accumulation of quick fix knowledge? It seems to me that the self that consists of a diet of aggregated feeds, comes to accumulate more information than necessary and, as a result, not really use that accumulated knowledge. Reaching too far and pulling everything in is tempting, but wasteful and shallow. When I say “shallow,” I mean quickly reading something for the purpose of simply taking it in without making it a part of oneself, without spending time with it and allowing it to work its magick on you. Reading an aggregated feed is much different than reading a book just as “tweeting” on Twitter is much different than engaging in a conversation while sharing a bottle of wine. The depth of communication is at stake in both examples.


    If ours is a situation in which we language the world, in which the world becomes the way it is talked about and made sense, then what are some ways that we can strive to create and enact the most beautiful possible world? Moreover, if ours is a technological world, how can we deepen our communicative grasp through the social networks which we use? Finally, if ours is a fragmented world, what are some ways that we can stitch some vital fragments back together, ways in which we can come to deepen and enrich our human lives through the technological? Perhaps, these too, are some of my hopes for Web 3.0

    *The two quotations were taken from the essay “Communication: Reach vs. Grasp,” which is in Lee Thayer’s book “Pieces: Toward a Revisioning of Communication/Life.”

    Photo by Steve Rhodes (CC)

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