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Songbird Flies Today 412

fr1kk writes to tell us that with the recent advent of a preview version for the new open source response to iTunes, Songbird, BoingBoing has taken a few minutes to interview team lead Rob Lord. While this program may be a great alternative to the DRM ridden iTunes and Windows Media Player platforms it is still only a Windows release. The good news is that by being open source that will (hopefully) not last very long. The Songbird site appears to be swamped right now, but there are several different mirrors available to download the client.
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Songbird Flies Today

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  • More on Lord (Score:5, Interesting)

    by eldavojohn ( 898314 ) * <(eldavojohn) (at) (> on Wednesday February 08, 2006 @01:27PM (#14670621) Journal
    If you're interested in more of Robert Lord's [] background and experiences, check out his resume [].

    Although I dislike Winamp [] for it's complexity, I did thoroughly enjoy his simplistic (and very well designed) homepage called "smudges of wisdom."

    He seems to be an interesting fellow with odd musical tastes:
    Mostly sadcore (tm), not to be conflated with common ennuicore (tm).
    Also interesting is that he goes through a list of decent books, some of which I'm familiar with. The best part about them is that they aren't at all the typical programming books [] you'd expect.
  • by TheSkepticalOptimist ( 898384 ) on Wednesday February 08, 2006 @01:43PM (#14670796)
    The recent 6.02 release of iTunes won't install anymore on my Windows machine and it corrupted my old version of iTunes. I am iTuneless as of this moment so I will give it a try....

    But alas, Songbird is garish, slow, and overwrought with features. Trying to be everything to everyone by embedding web browsing and access to many alternative music stores and sponsored websites, Songbird misses out on the point of being an iTunes replacement, simplicity. Like most open source projects, people have to learn where to draw the line between duplicating someone else's success to doing too much to surpass it.

    Perhaps being a proof-of-concept product they will tweak it and streamline it enough to be both usable and simple. But I don't think we need a Mozilla based web browser that builds multimedia playback into it. Nice try. Should have just made a FireFox extension.

    I guess I am forced trying to get iTunes running again, in the short while at least.
  • Re:Say what what? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by fr1kk ( 810571 ) on Wednesday February 08, 2006 @01:45PM (#14670812) Homepage
    The paragraphed version of my submission may have made it a bit obfuscated =\
  • The program is also a convenient user interface to buy music online, not just from a single monopoly (e.g. iTunes music store) but from all sources.

    Yet the market has held tightly to iTunes despite the numerous alternatives that have entered the market.


    I see no such assurances, nor do I see the ability to purchase unencumbered music from Amazon. The player merely connects to the store. It doesn't do anything else that I can see. And many of those stores are evil in of themselves. Using the BeatPort example, you MUST have Flash installed and enabled to use the site. How does that help Linux users and Windows users who want to use unencumbered software?

    There's a lot of noise here, but very few facts, IMHO. Songbird would be a nice step in improving media players on Linux (assuming a version is ever produced), but as far as I can see, it's not the revolution that you're making it out to be.
  • by ashpool7 ( 18172 ) on Wednesday February 08, 2006 @01:58PM (#14670926) Homepage Journal
    Apple Support []. They're pretty detailed.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 08, 2006 @01:59PM (#14670939) []

    Open source, and at Release Candidate 2.
  • Re:DRM Ridden? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Afrosheen ( 42464 ) on Wednesday February 08, 2006 @02:05PM (#14671009)
    DRM with iTunes may seem fair, but their policies are definitely not.

      One of my clients had an iPod and an Apple laptop. He got tired of lugging the laptop around with him and wanted something smaller and lighter. He purchased a tiny little Sony VAIO. When we got to plugging the iPod into it, we found that the battery was dead. Not only that, but iTunes on Windows said the iPod was unreadable and would do nothing until we formatted it. I tried using a variety of tools to get his songs off of the iPod but nothing worked. We ended up formatting it.

      So he lost all his music.

      Now, normally this wouldn't be so bad. You reformat the device then transfer..oh wait. There was no backup of his music since his Mac laptop was long gone. We both (stupidly I admit) assumed the iPod would just work and he wouldn't lose his music. He did. All of it.

      The nail in the coffin that had him steaming mad was that the iTunes store, being fully aware of the fact that you paid for your music already, wouldn't let you download your songs again without paying again. If you're logged in, why not let you re-download something you already bought? Does Apple really think their software and hardware is so perfect as to never lose data?

      Needless to say that iPod hit the trash can minutes after I left. I wanted to grab it from him, take it home and use a battery kit on it, but he was too pissed off to keep it. Turns out last Christmas he got the big black video iPod instead, so he turned it into an upgrade excuse. It's still bullshit that he had to pay twice for the same songs, but in an Apple world, that's how things work.
  • Ogg Vorbis wedge (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Medievalist ( 16032 ) on Wednesday February 08, 2006 @02:07PM (#14671029)
    I predict... the same overwhelming success as Ogg. And for the same reasons.
    Actually, this could be an effective wedge to help Ogg Vorbis gain traction. Everyone knows Ogg is technically superior, and everyone gives it lip service, but lack of players means lack of incentive for recording artists to use it.

    If songbird keeps a clean and easily understood interface - not descending into the usual "intuitive... if you're a psychotic fanboy!" interface hell that has claimed so many media players - it will grow marketshare, which in turn could help reduce the barriers to Ogg adoption by artists.

    The iPod has a simple, easily learned interface. Thus iTunes prospers. From where I'm sitting, the iPod has no features that are as big a selling point as its sweet ergonomic UI - discounting the UI, my Pez MP3 player [] is actually much cooler.

  • by eldavojohn ( 898314 ) * <(eldavojohn) (at) (> on Wednesday February 08, 2006 @02:28PM (#14671283) Journal
    Probably because the moderators are not responsible enough to RTFA before moderating comments. I did, however, RTFA and discovered that Rob Lord is one of the primary developers of Winamp--making my post about Winamp on-topic. Yet, what happened was the moderators took a quick glance at the topic and looked at my post (which probably read like I had an axe to grind with Winamp, I don't know).

    What I tried to offer readers was a link to his homepage and resume (which lists the companies he's done work for). Why do I think this is pertinent? Well, because open source developers trying to write something like Songbird are not common. I feel that we should be heralding Rob Lord for his work in providing us an alternative to iTunes--whether it flies or not, god bless him he tried. I think the best way to do that is to visit his webpage and find out what he's about.

    If you actually visit his page, he's a witty and interesting man. Am I some sort of Lord fan boy? No, and I'm not even religious to boot! Alright, that pun was a license to mod this post as low as you want.

    One thing you'll notice about stories like this is that if you post additional links to information on the stories, some people don't care. Everyone suddenly focused on "iTunes" and "DRM" when they read this article. These are some very negative caveats of this story, in my opinion. What did I find to be the positive aspect? The man behind the code.
  • Re:wonderful (Score:3, Interesting)

    by CMiYC ( 6473 ) on Wednesday February 08, 2006 @02:45PM (#14671445) Homepage
    and by prettier you meant uglier? This is one of the worst UIs I have seen in a while. I don't understand why every developer on earth thinks their application should look like nothing else.

    When I tried to change "skins", I lost access to the menu bar.
  • by moultano ( 714440 ) on Wednesday February 08, 2006 @03:31PM (#14671843)
    When I maximize the player it covers the taskbar, even though I have the taskbar immobile and set to stay on top of other windows. It also takes an incredibly long time to read all of the metadata of my music. Granted, I have a ton of music, but it's still annoying that I've had it installed for 10 minutes and I still can't find half of my music in it. I also can't figure out how to edit track metadata. The edit button doesn't seem to do anything, and it has all of my various artist albums split up by the individual track artists.

    Overall, so far I can't say that its going to get me to switch from foobar2000 anytime soon, particularly since I haven't been able yet to verify whether it supports musepack files.
  • Yep, DRM'd iTunes (Score:2, Interesting)

    by christian.einfeldt ( 874074 ) <einfeldt.digitaltippingpoint@com> on Wednesday February 08, 2006 @04:34PM (#14672433) Homepage Journal
    Everyone to whom I have spoken has said that iTunes and an iPod will only let you sync to one computer at a time. To me, that sounds like DRM. I'm kind of astounded that Mac fans would not recognize this. Maybe these Mac fans are too much in love with an image projected by Apple's prodigious marketing team, and are not seeing reality.

    There are other open source options, such as this Oboe service from MP3tunes, which was slashdotted here by Scuttlemonkey. This service will allow you to stream and sync to any computer with the open source Oboe software package, and the download is free, although the service is not free as in beer, but costs $40.00 USD per year: 4 []

    Chiggers writes to tell us that Mad Penguin has an interesting look at Oboe, the new music service from MP3Tunes. For a monthly fee Oboe allows you unlimited space to create a cross-platform music playlist available anywhere you have an internet connection via their AJAX-enabled GUI. The audio player still needs a little work but overall it is an interesting idea.
  • by westlake ( 615356 ) on Wednesday February 08, 2006 @06:38PM (#14673399)
    how many "music fans" (of the sorts who presently tote about iPods) would even know what source code is, much less give a crap about it

    The more interesting question is:

    Do kids give a damn about the independent labels or DRM free muaic?

"How many teamsters does it take to screw in a light bulb?" "FIFTEEN!! YOU GOT A PROBLEM WITH THAT?"