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Hank's Music: iTunes Gone Wild

So much Music, So little time.

Well, with 27,328 songs in my iTunes library, all properly tagged including artwork and backed up to an external dedicated firewire drive, I figured my music situation deserves a page of its own.
On top of the largess of the matter I see that software companies are really starting to create interesting and diverse iTunes relation add-ons and such. It is a big deal as we all know already.
These are the add-ons I have tried and liked for different reason.
No particular order whatsoever.
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It is iTunes spelled backwards and it is the easiest, cleanest, simplest, free-est way to get music to or from anyone's ipod into a hard-rive.
iTunes Library Manager v5.0
If you are interested in having multiple music libraries that you can choose between...well this is your only option. The creator came out with a major update just the other day (9.2006), so it appears things are going well on developing this script. The support is excellent and if you are trying to keep those sixteen versions of Baby Beluga from playing in your daily mixes, it is indefensible. I have different libraries fro Music, Voice and Children's music. Costs $10.
Volume Logic
This came out with one of the first releases of iTunes oh so long ago and it remains one of the only must have enhancements. It uses an algorithm that basically mimics what happens to music over the FM dial. (ever wonder why FM transmitted sound has that FM quality?, because they make it that way. Volume Logic does the same for your iTunes. $20.
There are two other sound synthesizing add-ons out there that I have come across. The creators of surround sound (SRS Technology) have put out a iTunes plug-in that creates a pretty intense surround sound environment. It costs $19.95 and has a 15 day demo period. Large, futuristic interface as well. Oh goodie, more crap to fill up my 32 inch desktop.

Another surround sound thingie. In reality this one seems to win out because iWOW is quite buggy and they are not supporting it very well. Another advantage to OSS 3D is that it works system wide, applying surround sound room expanding mind blowing sound depth to things like Skype and iChat(?). It cost's thirty bucks.

Ever wonder if there is a magic button to help you find all that so called meta data or tags for your orphaned tracks, tracks that are listed ignominiously as "Track 01" and that is about it. iEatBrainz is the magic button. It may not find all of your "lost" tracks, but it will certainly find enough of them to warrant its price tag, oh did I forget to mention it is freakin' free?
From the iVolume webpage: "iVolume improves the built-in 'Sound Check' function of iTunes to have your songs actually play at the same volume level." That pretty much says it all. Cost is nothing from nothing leaves nothing. I have not used it yet, but when I do my final mix for my next hippopotty cd I will give it a whirl.
Basically does what iTunes should and certainly will some day soon. Places a nice customizable "play-pause-forward-reverse" menu-et in your tool bar. Also displays your artwork in an equally customizable floating box on your desktop. I have tried a few of these iTunes mini-controllers and I like this one best.
You Software makes a couple of cool free add on's for Mac OS X. One is for font menu bar functionality and the other is for iTunes. It is a menu bar mini-controller for iTunes. I tried a bunch and liked this one the best. And it is FREE!
I have waited and waited to deal with the lack of album artwork in my library because I thought I would never give a darn, well times have changed and now I feel that those tracks that lack artwork are just about as "naked" as those orphaned tracks were before iEatBrainz got through with them. This is where Corripio comes in. It is an artwork fetching tool, seems to work quite well, but I just started using it today. They ask for a donation, but it is fully functional for the total cost of zero dollars and zero cents.
Now that artwork fetching is built into iTunes (as of version 7) these programs are kind of useless, sorry guys.
Fetch Art
Fetch Art is another album art retrieval tool that runs as an applescript. I found it very useful for awhile because it was the only one that would allow me to choose a large number of tracks without coughing. I guess it is becoming unnecessary due to Apple own implementation of blum art fetching. I keep it around anyway since I like to overload my computer at times.
CoinStar iTunes Certificates
If like me you think that CoinStar is very cool, you may not know that CoinStar not only will spit out an iTunes gift certificate in exchange for your spare change, there is NO service fee applied to these transactions. Be warned, not all CoinStar vending machines create iTunes certificates. Check the website or I imagine there is a Google Maps/CoinStar iTunes mashup out there already.
On its last legs, but still open, AllofMP3 is a Russian website that sells virtually every album out there at a fraction of the cost of iTMS and as a bonus you can select your compression scheme, from mp4 all the to multiple loss-less formats. The interface is a bit wacky, but there is a LOT of music there to download. Considered semi-legal buy some, down right illegal by most.
Blue Coconut
Another Apple Script that allows you to "grab" music that is floating around the ether from other peoples shared itunes play list.
M-Audio is owned by Avid and these guys are serious about sound. A friend of mine works at a local NPR affiliate radio station and he told me to get a set of these when I was shopping for new desktop speakers. They are awesome, blowing away everything I have owned before from companies like Bose.
iLike is an interesting add-on that just appeared in beta. Mixing the concepts of Pandora and the mega monster MySpace it is a side bar add-on to iTunes that sends your current track info to a website and makes suggestions on music you might like as well as listing free mp3's from places like Garageband. Yes, it is yet another real estate grabber and I am sure I will lose interest in it soon, but I thought it was worth looking at at least. You can check out my personal iLike page here. (I removed iLike after a few days, it was definitely bugging my system a bit)

Apple iTunes Discussions
For technical help I go to a couple of sites, but my first stop is the Apple Discussions are. These support forums are well traveled, you can usually find the answer to your issue just by searching through the past posts. If you do choose create a new post, I find like minded ever present internet trouble shooters respond within 24 hours. I have been walked through many a hurdle from that joint.

If I strike out at Apple discussions or just feel like cross posting my query, the second stop is iLounge. Also a great resource for product reviews, ipod info and other mac music related things.

iTunes Dupes Barrier
Out of the 28,162 songs I have in my library (the number went up a bit since I started this page), I prop ably have at least 500 duplicate songs. The tricky part is that they are probably not exactly the same. Like I have all the Beatles albums, but t he I also dropped the "Black Box" thirteen disc complete Beatles archive in there a little while back. These are not necessarily easy duplicates to find believe it or not. I have not used iTunes Dupes Barrier, but I hope it does what it says it can do.

I have put off trying any of the iTunes alarm clock thingies, but this one looked good and the price is right ($0.00). So, tomorrow morning at 5:30 am I will find out if it works.

Still in a late release beta, Tangerine has a pretty cool way to make some useful playlists. It goes through your entire library and looks at the BPM (Beats Per Minute) of each track. Then based on that info you can make playlist for songs that have pert near the exact same tempo. The beta is free, but the final release is not going to be. After installing and letting Tangerine rip through my library that many tracks do not have BPM info attached in their tags. The answer?, I am not sure, but a decent place to start is this page dedicated to BPM software.
Anothe play on the social bookmarking website iTunes crossover that if it delivers is realy something I think is useful. SonicLiving is a huge user submitted database of concerts, events, appearances. The idea is to have one place to look for what is going on with you favorite bands, and how does SonicLiving know who your favorite bands are? You upload your iTunes .xml file which contains all your library information. Now SonicLiving will now tell you about every opportunity to hear music in your area based on your iTunes library. Now THAT is freakin' cool. OK, that is not all. After you get all your artists in there and immidiately see a calendar that is completely full of related events, you can subscribe to that calendar in iCal. Now that is double or even trible cool.

Xiph QuickTime Components
If you do any music bittorrenting you are sure to have either FLAC or Vogg Orbis compressed music on your hard drive somewhere. Xiph is a componen that will allow iTunes to play both of these formats once it has been installed.


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