Sunday, September 26, 2010

Radio Streams +

There are several audio players and managers in Linux which function as alternatives to iTunes. I started off using the default application (for Ubuntu) Rhythmbox but later switched to Banshee as Rhythmbox had a few unacceptable problems: not transferring tracks to an iPod on occasion, not downloading podcasts on occasion, and not playing music on occasion. I have also tried Amarok, Exaile, Songbird, and a few other minor ones but all of these failed to support iPods, podcasts, or my computer's audio. I need iPod support because I have a few iPods around and probably will for a long time, although the mass-storage USB is a much better way than the closed iTunes-managed corporate podware which crAAPL grants its devotees.

I recently misplaced the (2005?) 1st-generation Shuffle that never seemed to die, so I went to a second or third generation clippy Shuffle Emerald(?) that someone else didn't need. My needs are simple: just to be able to play 3-6 hours of podcasts and some music every day during my commutes. Banshee doesn't recognize it, so I've switched back to Rhythmbox. Rhythmbox seems to be working better than before, so far, although some podcasts seem to go offline much of the time.

One thing I noticed when I was giving Exaile a spin again was the excellent selection of internet radio stations. Because they are pre-installed in Exaile, you tend to use them. I decided to add some radio stations to the poor selection that pre-exists in Rhythmbox. Here are the URLs I added, in rough order from higher bitrates to lower. I can't stand commercials, so I selected mostly public and college radio.



WGBH Boston


64kbps - Boston's NPR news source



WKCR Columbia University NY

In addition to those, I am still looking into these:

Soma FM - 19 unique channels

That's beginning to be too much choice.

One of the best places to search is Shoutcast.

Shoutcast - "39,740 free internet radio stations"

If you don't find what you are looking for there, try radio-locator, which lets you search by city, zip-code, country, format (genre), or call letters.


Update: Rhythmbox still sucks. "...could not parse the feed contents..." Banshee chocked on the iPod mb229 a few more times but finally rebuilt the database without crashing and now is good. Banshee wins.
Here's another way to rebuild the (Shuffle) database.


Anonymous said...

Tried Rockbox? or is that pc only?

Blues Tea-Cha said...

I haven't tried Rockbox --yet. My understanding is that it is not platform-specific but is available as an installer for all platforms to put onto the players, replacing the onboard file-playing software. (I may be misunderstanding it.)

It may be time to try Rockbox as I suffered a triple iPod failure on Monday. My first generation (2005) (which was missing but now found) Shuffle plays, but is not mounted anymore. I have temporarily abandoned it. The second-generation Shuffle that I have been using instead blinked orange and wouldn't play for my long Monday commutes. (Unlike the computers I hand down to kids, the players are now handed up to me since my requirements are so low.) Then the iPod Nano (First generation, also approximately 2005) that I use for audio in my classroom also failed, going into a long diagnostic series of dialogues, forcing me to revert to a CNN Student News-based lesson with oral questions that I made up on the fly. Only my one non-AAPL player, the Linux-friendly Transcend MP860, seemed to be OK, but it displays a very low charge, although rarely running out of juice. (To their credit, my iPods' batteries have performed better than I would have ever expected.) Thinking that the iPods had received the KILL signal from the root admin in Cupertino and at least one, possibly two or three had bitten the dust, I swung by the PC Depot on my way home to pick up another Linux-friendly Transcend player, the smaller, more shufflesque MP320 this time. I haven't broken it in yet, and the old Nano and the green clippy shuffle both came back into functionality. The Nano is formatted HFS+ and is read-only, but I may keep it that way as it has 3 textbooks' audio and my collection of music for my song worksheets on it. As I recall, Rockbox is not usable on the first generation Shuffle, but if it makes the iPod a normal USB-storage type player, I would like to try it on the green clippy Shuffle. I think it's working now. Maybe. I had it full of songs, but at times no songs were appearing in Banshee or Rhythmbox. As long as/if the player cooperates with Banshee and just works, I think I will keep it in its current pre-Rockbox state.

I think Linux needs to work on the installer, the bootloader, better video support, audio support, and making everyday things like mp3-player management work better than iTunes. None of these are things Mark Shuttleworth seems to want to focus on. Fundamentally, music management with free software is better in that it's free and not DRMing the user with nagging or "syncing" restrictions, but IMO and in my experience the reliability needs to improve to be competitive with those other two proprietary OSes.