Posts Tagged ‘Mac’

First Impression of Front Row

Wednesday, May 3rd, 2006

I had some doubts about Front Row on my new iMac, especially its requirement that it only play files that QuickTime recognizes. I have a whole bunch of videos ripped from my DVDs in DivX or XviD format. How to play them?

I tried the official plug-in and an open-source version, but Front Row still wouldn’t play any of my Lost or Battlestar Galactica episodes. After some digging around on the web, however, I found a beta of the Macintel version of DivX, and installed that. Lo and behold, the episodes appeared! Not only that, but I made aliases from my file server and put them in my Movies folder, and Front Row saw them and used them!

Unfortunately, some of the videos crash Front Row — it just quits when it gets to certain spots in the episode. I have VLC, which plays them fine, but I’m still a bit upset. It would be nice to sit down and watch a few episodes without having to screw around with different programs for bickering codecs.

One downside is that I’m running a lot of beta software. The DiVX codec I found is a beta release. The version of VLC for Macintel is also beta. Also, Apple’s software sometimes seems like beta stuff — how hard is it to give me an error when Front Row hiccups playing a video file?

Of course, now that my iMac is the hub of my ‘media center’, I need to get a Dolby Receiver with digital inputs so I can get my 5.1 setup working with DVDs. The purchasing never ends…

But aside from that, Front Row is impressive. I like the iPod-like interface for music. I like that it recongized aliases that point to files on a Windows server. Except for the few bugs (which should be blamed on beta software), it’s a solid program.

What Bugs Me About iTunes’ Party Shuffle

Monday, August 16th, 2004

I’ve been trying like mad to get a nice ratio of high-rated songs to low-rated or unrated songs in iTunes. the Party Shuffle feature is nifty, but it plays too many high-rated songs for every unrated or low-rated song.

I tried using Smart Playlists. One was for 5-star songs and was limited to 100, one was for 4-star and was limited to 80, one was for 3-star and was limited to 50, and the other was for below that and was limited to 120, so that for every highly-rated song, there would be one unrated/low-rated song. Then, I created another smart playlist that contained each of these playlists.

I should also mention that I added ‘last played’ criteria to the component playlists, so that I didn’t hear the same high-rated song too often.

So, I have four component Smart Playlists and one master playlist containing them all:

100 5-star songs

80 4-star songs

50 3-star songs

120 unrated/2-star or below songs

The problem with this method is that the lists don’t update; i.e. my big playlist, the one containing all the others, would always have draw from the same 350 songs. The only way to alleviate this problem is to go through and manually refresh the component playlists, defeating the purpose of smart playlists.

So, for now I’m keeping with the smart playlists, and using the ‘master’ smart playlist to play from instead of party shuffle. When it runs out, I’ll refresh the others. Not the best strategy, but at least the playlist deletes songs as soon as they’re played, so I don’t lose my place.

Update Actually, once a song is played, it removes itself from the component playlists, because is has been played in the last few days. So the system works fine with party shuffle. My bad! Still, it would be nice to set some sort of ratio for the Party Shuffle.