PermaLink One more useful iPod thing06/15/2006 02:14 PM

If you have a hard time finding the time to actually put music on your iPod, this is something you might want to check out.
Over the weekend, I was in New Jersey, going up to visit Suzanne.  Along the way, in addition to stopping in at Circuit City to pick up an antenna for her HDTV, I also picked up a $20 piece of software that has turned out to be rather handy.  If you have an iPod and don't feel like you can find the time to dig out CDs and rip them, then put the MP3s in iTunes and sync them, but you just frickin' wanna listen to music, you might want to try out Griffin's iFill software.  It's both Windows and Mac, and the basic idea is that it can record internet radio streams, break them into discrete MP3s, and shove them directly onto an iPod, without storing them on your local hard drive.

For me, this sounded like a useful thing, because I am seriously running out of space on the iBook, which is where my MP3s live.  Remember when sixty gig used to be a lot of space?  Well, I have pretty nearly stuffed the thing full, mostly with MP3s and pictures, and I just don't see getting any more in there short of opening the machine up and shoving one of the new Seagate 160Gb 2.5" drives in there.

I loaded the software up, pointed it at a couple of my favorite jazz and oldies streams, and pressed "record."  A couple of hours later, I turned it off, and there was a total of about four hours' worth of MP3s on the old 20Gb iPod that I use mostly for podcasts.  How can I record more than four hours of music in about two hours?  Simple:  the iFill software can record multiple streams simultaneously, seemingly limited only by your downlink bandwidth.

Minor drawback:  there's no easy way to look at the iPod and figure out which MP3 is which.  iFill creates a new subdirectory on your iPod and puts its stuff in there, but not with recognizable filenames.  Even stranger, there is no ID tag information in the MP3 files.  I really have no idea how the hell it displays proper song titles and whatnot.  It does it, but if you want to repurpose those MP3s, you're going to have to rename the files and put the ID3 tags in yourself, assuming you can decipher them.

Still, it's $20, and you can get a free one-week trial on their website.  Go play with it!

My own personal favorite feeds are from WNCU at North Carolina Central University in Durham, and a couple of feeds hosted by the Swiss national radio network.  WNCU's feed is rather low-fi, so think of it like a distant AM station.  The Swiss feeds are 128kbps and well-marked and separated, so you can get some very good discrete MP3s off there.

I am going into a frenzy of housecleaning and repair.  Tomorrow, all the rugs go out to be professionally cleaned, and although I toyed with the idea of having a maid service come in and clean everything, I figured out that it would be just as much effort for me to move everything around so they could clean, so I might as well just do it myself.  I'm going to rent a professional upholstery cleaner, though... my little Bissell cleaner is too small to do it well.

The cats, of course, are not offering to help.
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