HOWTO: Make iTunes Read Ogg Files

After downloading the only available torrent of Hang Drum music I could find, I was shocked to discover that iTunes wouldn't read the Ogg files it contained. I was so close to losing a ton of respect for Apple until I searched Google for a solution. Hooray for the open-source community! Simply visit their site and download QuickTime Components binary package. After opening the .dmg file (Windows users should be able to just download and run the .exe file), copy XiphQT.component to ~/Library/Components (user-only) or to /Library/Components (system-wide).

Update: Randy Cox noted in the comments that on Snow Leopard the path to copy the file is actually /Library/Quicktime/ If iTunes is open, restart it and viola! You've got .ogg support in iTunes!

HOWTO: Exclude songs when shuffling iTunes

I have a bunch of audio books and other non-music files in my iTunes library. When I set iTunes to shuffle through the songs in my library it naturally ends up playing one of those non-music files, causing me to stop whatever I'm doing and advance iTunes to the next song (using my iPhone remote, ha!).

When I realized how common a problem this must be for people, I looked around the settings in iTunes for a solution. Sure enough, you can tell iTunes to skip a file when shuffling! Just select the file (or group of files), right click, and choose Get Info -> Options -> Skip when shuffling.

SongBird: A formidable replacement for iTunes?

I've been looking for something to replace iTunes as the main library for my 20,000+ mp3s. Whatever application replaces it needs to stand up to some high expectations, including the ability to manage such a large number of mp3s without slowing down or crashing, and a rating system that allows me to rate my favorite songs (I'm always finding new songs in my huge collection, so rating them is important for when I want to come back to them). Of course, the ability to import my current iTunes library and support for my iPod would be huge pluses.

Welcome SongBird, a multi-platform media player developed by a group known as the Pioneers of the Inevitable. They're responsible for the creation of Winamp and the Yahoo! Music Engine. The current version of SongBird is 0.2.5 and although it's a bit rough around the edges (literally, the edges don't look as smooth as they should) it still shows a lot of promise:

The list of features is very impressive and includes support for importing your iTunes library, interfacing with your iPod, and of course, an iTunes-like rating system. SongBird also has a built-in web browser which automatically searches the current webpage for any available music and allows you to play the music in SongBird as if it were a local file. Check out the SongBird Screencast to get a better idea of how all this stuff works.

I've started using SongBird on my Mac and so far I love it. A couple more skins (known stylishly as feathers in SongBird) would be nice, especially an iTunes skin. 🙂 SongBird is still in the development stages and, as far as I can tell, is not an open-source project. However the website says the group does "support the Mozilla Foundation's mission to preserve innovation and choice on the Internet". This means that even if there is a cost associated with SongBird when it's finally released, I'll be happy to purchase it knowing the money will go towards a good cause.