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SqueezeBox

The Squeezebox 3 plays music from the Internet (InternetRadio via their SqueezeNetwork) or from your server running on a computer somewhere in your local area network. You can also buy it with a built-in wifi card. That’s what I did, and thus it just uses my OpenWlan.

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2008-05-13 Changes In Music Playing Gadgets

Several factors came together:

  • Summer has come. We spend more time on the balcony. I wanted something that can play soft music on the balcony – I don’t like the idea of turning up the music in the living room.
  • The SqueezeBox requires the Mac Mini to be up and running – I don’t like the idea of having a computer running somewhere in the house just so I can hear music elsewhere in the house.
  • I did not listen to a lot of InternetRadio on the Squeezebox. It was tricky finding new stations, and often bookmarks for radiostations would expires because the bookmark apparently stored something ephemeral instead of the real thing.

And so… I bought a new gadget! A Pure-Fi Elite by Logitech. How’s that for a craptastic name?

Anyway, the thing is that it easier to sync my iPod with iTunes, and then just use the iPod instead of the Mac Mini as music server. Plug the iPod into the Logitech thing, and instant access to 33G of music.

The Logitech user interface is elite pure-crap, by the way. Press this or that, then up and down to pick the play list. That’s as far as I got. The Squeezebox was at least somewhat better. But here’s the good part. I can just grab the iPod, save the old On-The-Go playlist, collect a new one, plug the iPod, and I’m done. Yes, the On-The-Go playlist thing has turned out to be a major feature!

Anyway, that leaves me with two gadgets:

The Tivoli Model One I bought two years ago – a simple radio – and the Squeezebox.

I decided to move the radio near the balcony. Whenever I’m sitting outside, I can move the radio and listen to some music outside. And for those few hours I do enjoy the sun, I can plug the iPod into the radio using the ordinary audio cable. It works. I like.

But what to do with the Squeezebox? I’m not sure.

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Comments on 2008-05-13 Changes In Music Playing Gadgets

You could probably convince someone to buy it from you…

(is it compatible with windows?)

– Marco 2008-05-15 09:23 UTC


I’m sure it is. :) I think I have an earlier version from this one: http://www.slimdevices.com/pi_squeezebox.html

AlexSchroeder 2008-05-15 10:47 UTC


iiiiinteresting. I’ll come check it out on sunday.

– Marco 2008-05-15 12:52 UTC

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2008-03-24 Road To Peace by Tom Waits

While eating a piece of my tiroler cake 2008-01-20_Tiroler_Cake and figuring out what books need to be sent where via BookMooch, I listened to my Tom Waits collection in the background. And suddenly the lyrics of Road To Peace by Tom Waits bubbled to the top of my attention. Something about Israelis and Palestinians. I then googled for the lyrics and found the following passage at the end of the song:

The fundamentalist killing on both sides is standing in the path of peace
But tell me why are we arming the Israeli army with guns and tanks and bullets?
And if God is great and God is good why can’t he change the hearts of men?
Well maybe God himself is lost and needs help
Maybe God himself he needs all of our help
Maybe God himself is lost and needs help

I really need to activate that Last.FM plugin for my SqueezeBox… My current top seven:

ArtistsPlayed
The Cure 914
Tom Waits 823
Radiohead 286
Nightwish 267
Madredeus 258
Tricky 231
The Strokes 229

The numbers are probably still ok. Must check back in a few weeks.

Too bad my iTunes Update plugin isn’t working correctly. Apparently I can’t get the CPAN module Mac::AppleScript to work. :(

I’ve posted an appropriate question on both the SqueezeBox 3rd Party Plugins forum and on the AppleScript Support forum.

So here’s what I did:

  1. cpan Mac::AppleScript – this fails with the error “/usr/bin/ld: /System/Library/Frameworks/WebKit.framework/Versions/A/WebKit load command 20 unknown cmd field”
  2. cd into the appropriate build directory in ~/.cpan/build/Mac-AppleScript-0.04-*/
  3. cc -bundle -undefined dynamic_lookup -L/usr/local/lib AppleScript.o -framework Carbon -o blib/arch/auto/Mac/AppleScript/AppleScript.bundle – that’s right, I just deleted -framework AppleScriptKit from that command line
  4. make – no more problems
  5. make test – it works! Weird, eh?

But then again, the plugin itself still doesn’t seem to work. :(

You can try cd Library/Application\ Support/SqueezeCenter/Plugins/iTunesUpdate/ and run perl iTunesUpdate.pl. No more error messages. But no success, either.

Gaaaaaah!

Time! Sink! Gaaaah!

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2008-03-21 Send iTunes Tracks To SqueezeBox

Ok, I finally solved my problem! I mentioned it on 2007-12-02 iTunes vs. Squeezebox –– I like how iTunes lets me quickly collect the stuff I want. But then I can’t play it on my SqueezeBox. Suckage! I tried some suggestions from the Slim Devices forum [1] and I finally figured out what I wanted: I want to select some files and “send them to the Squeezebox” – I don’t want to play the same song in iTunes and on the Squeezebox, for example.

Brad Mohr’s script did exactly what I wanted it to do. Except that it assumed an old version of the server software, and it required me to change a little security setting, or it required me to figure out the “cauth” key. No good! Some looking at documentation that came with the new server, some looking at AppleScript examples elsewhere, some fiddling with netcat (nc), and soon I had something that seems to work.

Yes, netcat is the awesome! :)

Anyway, here it is. To use:

  1. Open the AppleScript editor → Applications → AppleScript → Script Editor.
  2. Paste the code below.
  3. Hit ⌘R to run it. Good for testing.

To install it, you have two options. Here’s how to have a stand-alone program:

  1. Save, pick “Program” as the format to use. I used “Send iTunes Tracks To Squeezebox” as the name.
  2. Select some tracks in iTunes.
  3. Run the program. It will ask you whether you want to “Play” or “Append”.

Or to have it available from the scripts menu in iTunes:

  1. Create the directory ~/Library/iTunes/Scripts
  2. Save, pick “Script” as the format to use. I used “Send To Squeezebox” as the name.
  3. Select the tracks in iTunes.
  4. From the iTunes Script menu, pick “Send To Squeezebox”. It will ask you whether you want to “Play” or “Append”.
  5. Unfortunately, that doesn’t always seem to work, and I haven’t figured out why. :( If you uncomment the display dialog result buttons {"Ok"} at the very end, you’ll see that when run from the Script Editor, everything works as expected, and when run from within iTunes, the result is the empty string. Always.

Source

-- SlimPlay
-- by Alex Schroeder, kensanata@gmail.com
-- March 2008
-- by Brad Mohr, bmohr (AT) seanet (DOT) com
-- 22 January 2003
-- This script is absolutely free and may be used by anyone for any purpose.

-- Known Limitations:
-- Currently only supports a single Squeezebox.
-- Very little error checking

-- edit these properties to match your setup.
property squeezecenter_host : "localhost" -- URL or IP address of the SlimServer
property squeezecenter_port : "9090" -- server port number for the command line interface, default is 9090

tell application "iTunes"
	set these_tracks to the selection of browser window 1
	if these_tracks is {} then error "No tracks are selected in the front window."
	
	set should_play to false
	
	display dialog "What would you like to do with these tracks?" buttons {"Play", "Append", "Cancel"} default button 2
	if the button returned of the result is not "Cancel" then
		if the button returned of the result is "Play" then set should_play to true
		
		set is_first_file to true
		
		repeat with a_track in these_tracks
			set carbon_filepath to the location of a_track
			set track_title to the name of a_track
			
			tell application "Finder" to set filepath to URL of carbon_filepath
			set escaped_path to escape_path(filepath) of me
			if should_play then
				if is_first_file then
					playlist_play_track(escaped_path) of me
					set is_first_file to false
				else
					playlist_append_track(escaped_path) of me
				end if
			else
				playlist_append_track(escaped_path) of me
			end if
		end repeat
		
		if should_play then
			begin_playing() of me
		end if
	end if
end tell

-- apostrophe causes trouble when sent to the shell
on escape_path(this_text)
	set the escaped_text to ""
	repeat with this_char in this_text
		if this_char as text is equal to "'" then
			set the escaped_text to the escaped_text & "%27"
		else
			set the escaped_text to the escaped_text & this_char
		end if
	end repeat
	return the escaped_text
end escape_path

-- append the new track to the playlist
on playlist_append_track(escapedTrackPath)
	send_command("playlist add " & escapedTrackPath)
end playlist_append_track


-- replace the existing playlist with the new track
on playlist_play_track(escapedTrackPath)
	send_command("playlist play " & escapedTrackPath)
end playlist_play_track


-- tell the default (or only) server to begin playing
on begin_playing()
	send_command("play")
end begin_playing

on send_command(command)
	tell application "Finder"
		set shell_command to "echo -e '" & command & "\\nexit' | /usr/bin/nc " & squeezecenter_host & " " & squeezecenter_port & "; exit 0"
		-- display dialog shell_command buttons {"Ok"}
		set result to do shell script shell_command
		-- display dialog result buttons {"Ok"}
	end tell
end send_command

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2007-10-01 New RAM and other Gadget Stuff

Today I bought 2 × 1 GB RAM for my Mac Mini. Opening the bastard was a hassle. It looks nice, but it proved to be impossible to open without any scratches. Let’s hope that iPhoto gets usable again. With 512 MB the system was getting hard to use.

Looking back at the last months, I think I can safely say that the SqueezeBox was an unnecessary buy. I rarely listen to it. I think part of the problem is that I don’t bought into any of the music services (Pandora, Rhapsody), and that I switch off my Mac Mini at night, so it won’t serve any music when I’m most likely to be in my bedroom and near my SqueezeBox.

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2006-09-16 Radio killed CDs

James Gattuso at the TechnologyLiberationFront writes about a New York Times article claiming “Americans aged 12-24 in fact listen to broadcast radio as startling 15 percent less than they did only seven years ago.” [1] Looking at declining CD sales at the same time (need a link to some numbers, I faintly remember reading something about CDs being significantly down, as much as 50% this year), I made a strange observation. I used to buy several CDs a month from a Swiss website. I haven’t done so in many months. What happened? I’m afraid to use PeerToPeer filesharing. Instead, I’ve started listening to InternetRadio. Using StreamRipper, I have collected vast collections of MP3s at home and at work. Enough to last me through the year. And with the new SqueezeBox in my kitchen, InternetRadio doesn’t even require a computer up and running. It just connects to the net via our OpenWlan.

And in my bedroom, I have a little Tivoli Model One unit playing RadioTropic93;)

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2006-09-08 Squeezebox and Last.FM

I’ve been listening to DavidByrne’s radio for a while now, with the occasional PerreoRadio thrown into the mix. Usually I don’t want to switch on my computer, so I connect my Squeezebox to the SqueezeNetwork. This way, I have access to the InternetRadio stations via their network. (I’m not quite sure why I need their network in the first place, perhaps the only reason is the aggregation of all the stations for easy retrieval by the box.)

Then I’ve been looking at the PandoraRadio link on the Squeezebox — do I need to spend USD 36 per year for a good radio station? There are choices that make more sense from an ethical point of view: Supporting our local community radio LoRa, for example. Then again, there’s an alternative: LastFM. I hadn’t really understood what it was all about. I have had Audio Scrobbler (the old name for Last.FM) plugins installed for my players again and again, but I never did anything with the data except populate my NowPlaying page. I never installed their player to actually listen to my “recommended station”. If I decide to contribute to Last.FM, by the way, it will cost me EUR 36 per year. What a coincidence. :)

Anyway, so here’s Pandora, and there’s Last.FM, and they seem to do the same thing. Pandora suggests songs based on features from the Music Genome Project of the tracks you like, where as Last.FM uses information supplied by its users (the music you listened to, your feedback, your friends, tags, and so on) to suggest new music.

Both stream the music like a radio station in order to get a radio license, which means you can’t repeat songs, you can’t pause playback, and it’s a hassle to save it to disk.

Both can play on my stereo equipment via AirFoil (shareware, audio has noise added after a few minutes). I won’t be using that too often. I think the integration of Pandora into the Squeezebox should be good enough for me. And when I listen to music at work, there’s no need for it either. Anyway. What I’m currently listening to has this URL from hell: http://www.pandora.com/?sc=sh150911724728541771 — well, in the mean time I have registered a 90 days trial account and recreated the station. It seemed like that I needed to be registered to pick “my” stations for the SqueezeNetwork.

At the moment it seems that Pandora will play for you without requiring a registration. That’s an excellent feature! When you do register, you’re getting the 90 days trial account I mentioned. You need to provide a valid US five digit zip code during registration. No problem, just pick a random number until it works. The foreign scum is using fake zip codes, of course. ;)

So, what else is same same but different?

The Last.FM player is FreeSoftware! Cool. I think I’ll stay with Last.FM for the time being.

While I was writing this post, I heard some interesting music coming from my Squeezebox: Never heard of them: Bloc Party playing So Here We Are (Four Tet remix) from the album Silent Alarm Remixed.

Hah, is it paying off already?

I feel bad for wasting so much electricity running my laptop, my Squeezebox, and the amplifier with the speakers all the time. Somehow these still feel like appliances, where as my stereo does not. Weird.

Regarding useless subscriptions I do pay: I should cancel my Xbox Live membership. That’s USD 10 per month totally wasted.

Some time later: Surprisingly I liked the Pandora user interface better!

Too bad I found out that they did not feature many of the songs & artists I happen to enjoy. I was looking for Estrella Morente (she sings the Flamenco song in Volver (2006)), “Preciosa Puerto Rica” by Marc Anthony, “Duele” by La India and Tito Rojas. And my Aventura radio station seems to like the Gipsy Kings… :)

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Comments on 2006-09-08 Squeezebox and Last.FM

I used last.fm for a while. But the longer I used it, the less I liked it. Their similiarity algorithm doesn’t work very well (imho). When I choose an artist, their choice was really bad for similar artists. Maybe it was my selection, which was bad, don’t know… By the way: Do you know “Worldmusic @ drs3”, I think it’s on thursday evening. Like it very much. I heard Sara Tavares, Simphiwe Dawa and others there. Never heard them before…

2ni 2006-09-09 14:37 UTC


Worldmusic ist natürlich eine total gute Sendung! Früher habe ich noch mehr DRS3 gehört: Die Specials und vor allem Sounds! hat mir gefallen. Eine Weile lang war Sounds nur noch im Virus zur hören, aber jetzt ist Sounds auch im DRS3 wieder. Im Moment hören wir eigentlich vor allem RadioTropic93, wenn wir Radio hören. :)

AlexSchroeder 2006-09-09 16:31 UTC

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2006-09-04 Radio Nuclear

My Squeezebox makes me explore InternetRadio again. One interesting procedure to find new radio stations is to go to ShoutCast and search for “Radiohead”. Somehow I often like the stations that play Radiohead. Today I found RadioNuclear – “former pirate radio station 88.3 FM Ottawa / 104.9 FM Toronto, Ontario Canada”.

Funny, they have a MySpace page [1] and Thom Yorke is their friend. And you can can read his profile [2], and you’ll see that Radiohead itself also has a profile – but that seems to be a user in Beirut :D – and you’ll see the Sigur Rós page [3].

And that reminds me: I should get a Sigur Rós album… As I listen, they’re playing something containing a sample of a woman talking about little fluffy clouds. And it sent a shiver down my spine! Where had I heard it before? And I was not imagining things. It is a famous sample: Wikipedia:Little Fluffy Clouds. I mean… “They went on forever!” I took a look at my hidden shelf where I keep all the CDs I no longer listen to and found my favorite CD from days gone by: “Logic Trance 2”, where track #2 on CD 1 was Little Fluffy Clouds by The Orb. Except that I’m currently listening to a different remix. I prefer the one on my CD. :)

Anyway, my current list of favorites on the Squeezebox:

  1. BBC World Service
  2. PerreoRadio
  3. BigUpRadio
  4. RadioNuclear
  5. RadioTropic93
  6. DavidByrne

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