Touched by the iPod

Apple iPod TouchAs most geeks in my circle of friends, I am known to buy hardware slightly more often than the average Joe. I have 3 Wifi routers at home (just gave away my 4th one), I have more than 2TB of hard disk storage, split out over half a dozen of PCs and devices, and I have more USB cables than teeth. But hardware that makes me *really* happy, that is uncommon. Don’t get me started on failing hard disks and non-functioning printers. So let me tell you about this new piece of hardware that I bought: the iPod Touch.

No iPhone, thanks

This is not my first iPod, I think I’m at n° 5. And before you start telling me “the iPod Touch is an iPhone, that can’t be used for calling. Why not buy an iPhone?”. Well, I don’t need a new phone yet, I’m probably gonna buy an iPhone in a year or so, when the GSM providers have reasonable data transfer prices, and there’s the price too: the 8GB iPod is slightly over 200 euro. The iPhone is 525 euro.

Applications

But this baby is really neat. It does music, sure, and video, like the previous one. But it’s got Wifi, a big, smart touch-screen, games, applications, and … From day one I’m using Google Mail (via IMAP), the Weather application, Google Maps. Then I started looking through the free applications on the App Store. So what am I using now:

  • Games: Dactyl, Cube Runner, BlueSkiesLite, Sudoku, TapTap
  • Stuff: iDoodle2Lite, WhiteNoise, Remote
  • Network: AirSharing, Speedtest, IM+, Palringo
  • Social networking: Facebook, AroundShare, GooSync, ShoZu, reQall
  • Info: BuienRadar

I’ve just started using reQall, a kind of task list + shopping list, which allows you to add via the iPod/iPhone, via the web and via a IM (Gtalk) account. This looks promising.

The games are not bad. Dactyl is strangely addictive, the movement sensors work really well with BlueSkiesLite, … I expect to see some killer iPod/iPhone games in the future.

The only thing I miss now is a good sync with my Google Calendar. iTunes can sync my iPod contacts with Google Mail, but not my calendar. GooSync is supposed to be able to do that, but I can’t get it to work. Of course Apple wants me to use (paid) MobileMe, but I want to see if I can find a free way first.

In any case, I discover a new use every day. It’s … exciting, actually.

Continue reading Touched by the iPod

Click to hear the MP3 (playlist)

More than a year ago, I wrote an piece on Playing mp3 with an embedded Flash player. Things change quickly in this area, so it’s time for an update.

These are all tools to play either individual MP3 files or playlists (e.g. podcast RSS feeds) in a web page. Most of them are based on Macromedia/Adobe Flash. Where possible, I’ll use my Smoothpod Mashups as an example feed.

Hosted Service (insert HTML code)

Pupuplayer Free
License: no details – I presume it’s free to use
Format: expects a podcast feed as input
pupuplayer
Pickle Player
License: no details – I presume it’s free to use
Format: expects a podcast feed as input – or can work with individual MP3 files
pickle player
FeedPlayer
License: no details – I presume it’s free to use
Format: expects a podcast feed as input
feedplayer
Webjay (now Yahoo!)
free
can work with feeds or MP3 files, can also generate a playlist from an HTML page
webjay
Webjay Wizard
This tool of mine can also be used to create the HTML code for Windows Mediaplayer, RealPlayer or Quicktime embedded players

Continue reading Click to hear the MP3 (playlist)

Playing MP3 with an embedded Flash player

(There is an updated post at Click to hear the MP3 playlist (Apr 2006))

When you want to have an embedded player in a web page, there are several options: working with an embedded RealPlayer or WindowsMedia player – which do not all work on a Mac/Linux platform or with Firefox. Another option is using a Flash player. Flash/ShockWave is supported on all platforms and in all browsers. I went on a search for free embedded Flash players:

SoundBlox
License: This is an Apache-style open source project by Laszlo Systems, based on the Laszlo open-source RAD framework. It is free for non-commercial use.
Method: you reference a Javascript file in your HTML headers, and then call a Javascript function with the URL of the playlist. (This is a problem for some sites. Blogger e.g. does not allow <script> tags in its posts, only in the template.)
Format: it uses a proprietary XML format. <geek>Files in XSPF format can be converted to the SoundBlox format through XSLT</geek>
MusicPlayer
License: This is an open-source (SourceForge) project by Fabricio Zuardi. It is free for non-commercial use.
Method: you reference a Flash file and give it the URL of the playlist. The Flash file is embedded with the usual <object> and <embed> tags.
Format: it uses the standard XSPF (XML Sound Playlist Format). Webjay can convert any HTML file/feed to XSPF!
Check my Webjay wizard to generate the right HTML code for your page!
Halfbaked
License: not explicitly stated. I presume it’s free to use.
Method: you reference a Flash file and give it the URL of the MP3 file. The Flash file is embedded with the usual <object> and <embed> tags.
Format: No playlist here, just one MP3 file.
GurusNetwork
License: not explicitly stated. I presume it’s free to use.
Method: you reference a Flash file, which contains the playlist of the MP3 files to play. You can’t specify a self-made playlist
Format: No idea.
Sonify
License: not explicitly stated. I presume it’s free to use.
Method: you reference a Flash file, which contains the playlist of the MP3 files to play. You can’t specify a self-made playlist
Format: No idea.
RadioBlogClub
License: free to use.
Method: you host the player with all graphics and a config.xml file, that points to a playlist.
Format: A PHP script creates an XML playlist for all MP3 present in a local(!) folder.

For more information on playlist formats (XSPF, SMIL, ASX, …), check out Lucas Gonze’s excellent survey.

There are also some commercial options: hooverwebdesign.com ($50), wimpyplayer.com ($25), soundnails.com ($15)