Why I like Foxytunes for listening to music at work

Not stuff life in Israel today, but just some handy little known snippets of things I use both at home and work.

I almost always listen to music whilst I am driving or working.   There is quite a lot of similarities for me between these habits.

Good old iTunes.   Lots of people like it and lots of people hate it.  I don’t own a iPhone, and I think it would be better if Apple spun off the phone controlling features into a separate application.   iTunes does a grand job of cataloguing your music, occasionally there are some funny quirks, but in general its a nice application.  I am quite a big music collector and have most of my 200 odd CDs imported and on my (now old school rotary controlled) 30gb iPod.

Various friends have recommended Spotify if you want an “all you can eat” monthly diet of music.  I have yet to try this, but I tend to use Youtube for music I don’t yet own, whether this is legal or not as i am just watching it, I don’t know, but I do know this does strongly influence what CDs I buy next.   I still prefer to buy CDs than download, its cheaper, I like having the tangible copy on a shelf with the others in my collection, some songs are best played as part of a collection as they can often tell a story together which is not so significant if you buy one song at a time.

Now you can notice Firefox has some extra buttons at the bottom.

Clicking this little button above lets you choose your preferred music player, iTunes, Windows Media Player, Winamp and many more.  If you stop iTunes and open up another tab in your browser with Youtube, I can listen to a song on here, switch back to what I am doing on the web and control the music with the buttons at the bottom, Foxytunes will shift the functionality of these controls to the appropriate music player transparently.

The controls on Youtube are horrible from a usability point of view.   Try adjusting the volume, its awkward and fiddly, even more so when the phone rings and you need to quickly silence the song in a hurry.

This method is similar to way I like the last car I had had audio controls on the steering column, I think Renault were the first to do this, with original Espace in the early 1980s.   A lot of generic car radios have scrolling messages of how many channels it has, and the buttons are small and awkward to operate, a truly hideous experience to use whilst you are trying to operate a car.  The stereo on this car was a simple one, the four directional joystick, one axis for volume the other for radio or CD track, just for the main essential features of the radio that doesn’t distract you from driving.

Now I am not currently a car owner for the time being, I still have the same tastes of making controls for things not more complicated than necessary.  Here these buttons just have which music player, backwards, play/pause, forwards, volume slider, and some other bits I haven’t used as of yet 🙂   There is a faint red line under the title of the artist and song that shows how far through the song you are.   You do have to switch to your music player to pick a different artist of course.

Anyway Foxytunes is just a very pleasant way of controlling your tunes whilst busy on the web, and can’t recommend this little app more.

There are some extra little ways it helps out, in terms of letting you play MP3 content on a web page without having to download it.  I haven’t used this enough to comment on it though.

As in 201xs more software operates via the web via browser via cloud technology, I think Foxytunes may become more and more popular to listen to music whilst using the web or browser based applications.

Recent surprise, Foxytunes is developed in Israel by a small team, and they are now owned by Yahoo.

The other good news it works on Firefox on all Windows (XP, Vista and 7) Macintosh and Linux computers with the Firefox browser 🙂

Get your Foxytunes add on for your Firefox here

https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/foxytunes/

Advertisements

App store for free software?

General IT wishful thinking – skip this to next article if you are not an IT person.

Following Apple’s App store for the iPhone got rolled out also for the iPad and imitated for Android and Windows phones, it seems Apple want to adopt the same methods for people buying software for Macs as well.

I personally this is a great idea, some people will still want to buy software that arrives in a box with media and documentation that they can put on a shelf they can get to if support query or a reinstall becomes necessary, but I think it would good to give the customer a choice.   Just like music can be downloaded or its nice to have a tangible item, an actual CD with artists notes, lyrics etc.

Heres an idea, what would happen if the free/open source software movement could have a online software store?

Free software as alternative to popular commercial apps can be got from sites like www.alternativeto.net or www.osalt.com, but instead of downloading an executable file, you have an automated way of doing it using a simple browser plug in.  Why?

There is a quite a bit of usability aspect which is not always factored in on some software.  Some free software, the method of downloading the app can a bit confusing.  Anyone who has downloaded a Linux ISO image knows this, you get taken to an FTP site with a whole load of confusing files, which its not easy to tell which is the download that suits you.

A lot of consumer users don’t free software as they don’t know a lot of exists.  They use Internet Explorer as that was the browser that came with their computer, and they don’t want to change anything as they don’t feel confident to do it.   Joe Consumer may often not know how ZIP or RAR files are handled or what they are for.  As an IT pro I had never heard of Virtualbox, a free virtualisation client as an alternative to VMware and Microsoft’s Virtual PC until a work colleague told me about it.  I have yet to find a really good web site that announces new and exciting developments in free software thats not just geared to coders and developers.   So essentially a typical consumer goes out to a physical shop to buy software as its too confusing working out what software is free and what is a trial version and what comes bundles with spyware and other unwanted rubbish.

I use and recommend Infrarecorder to burn CDs and DVDs on Windows PC rather than the more common commercial Nero burning suite which has got so over complicated and comes with many annoying unwanted extras which have caused crashes and stability problems in previous places I have worked for.   Infrarecorder is great as it does everything you want burning discs easily without any fuss.

You could:

1/ Have a simple way to deploy top quality free software for all type of people, via a portal which makes installing onto your computer in a standard uniform way (Windows/Mac/Linux)

2/ An option to pay some money for software thats normally free but get a support package, ie: printed manuals or training or X number of tickets or hours or professional telephone or email support with a specialist who know a lot about this app.    Or, sell extra tools to deploy apps in a large network environment, like with SMS that rolll out apps silently to each workstation.

A check box would be default only search the free software store for fullly completed release apps, unchecking the box would should beta test versions of software with a usual disclaimer that this software is not production ready yet.

More and more free software is multiple languages as well, a search engine could be customised for all languages or English only.

The software store would only have applications that follow the GNU general public licence for free software,  ie: this means nothing with spyware, bundled toolbars or other tat.   No trial versions commercial applications either.

I think this would give the open source software movement more audience from all kinds of PC users of all platforms, all abilities, consumers and businesses alike.