Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Blah Blah Blah Pandora V. Last.fm, Plus Others

There are two main headlines that I have been seeing as of late. The first being Google. Google this, Google that. Oh no! Their stock took a huge hit! Oh...wait...it's still worth $432.6601 a share (as of the time I started writing this article anyway). One way to tell if you have been spending the past few months under a rock is to not know anything that is going on with Google lately. Their stock took a hit, Google's founders are now getting paid $1 a year (yes, just one dollar a year), Google Pack, Google Earth ...ya know what? Just think of a word and put "Google" in front of it and you will get the idea. Anyway, on to the second thing, that being some sort of war between Pandora and Last.fm, a couple of customizable streaming internet radio sites.

I have tried both, not extensively, but enough to form some sort of opinion. No I'm not lazy and didn't want to test both of them for three months each...you'll find out why later in the article. First things first, both stream songs over the internet. You rate each song. If you like it, you will hear that song again, if you don't like it, you will not hear that song again. Based on what you do/do not like, it predicts what else you might like and plays that. Then you rate that song, and on and on. So, basically, if you listen to your station long enough you will think it is the perfect station for you.

They both start out the same way. You pick a band and it creates a station for you that plays that band. You can then rename your station from the band's name to whatever you want it to be. Then you start rating. I'm not going to go into the nitty gritty details of both though; there are already enough articles out there to do that for me. My choice is Pandora. I like the graphical user interface and the math behind the site to predict what else I might like. But the main reason that I am going to be sticking with Pandora is that it is more "network friendly". I work in a place that has some pretty dam good firewalls, so a lot of the things that Last.fm has to offer are blocked. They do offer free samples of songs to check out, which I can't get to. They are down right now, but I also remember having some problems with their player or site with firefox. So it was just easier for me to stick with Pandora. And after listening to Pandora all day at work my station is pretty good now, so I'll play it at home too.

And of course, there are hacks. After every song played, Pandora will cache the entire song on your hard drive. So if you love a song and simply must have it, try and keep yourself from running to iTunes and blow your hard erned $0.99 on the one song. No, just go to C:\Documents and Settings\**USER**\Local Settings\Temp\ and check out the different plugtmp folders. They will be filled with access-## files, where the ## is some number. When the songs are cached on the HD that number will increment up by one. Take any or all of those files and just slap a ".mp3" on the end of it and the song is all yours! And of course this is just for learning pourpuses only and not to be practiced to get a ton of free songs. And to save my ass even more, I found this little tid bit of info in a digg.com search for Pandora. And if you want to get past the amount of songs you can skip in an hour, just make another station. When youre allowance of skips is up, just go to your second station and then back to your main station. They have now both skipped. Just something to make Pandora that much better.

One service that isn't mentioned these days is launch.yahoo. It's kind of the same thing, only they offer a pay service. If you do the free thing you will get commercials, just like with live365. But the coolest thing that launch has to offer is that you are able to go and hunt down any artist that is in their library and rate them based on what you like. So instead of waiting for the player to play it on your station, you can go around and rate what you like and don't like. They have videos you can watch, too. But, of course, launch is completely blocked at work for me. So long story short, I caught onto Pandora and am sticking with it. Until something else comes along that is better and isn't blocked by my works firewall. Also, one last thing, another site that has a pretty good library is Radio.Blog.Club. There you are able to search for a song and a person's player comes up, with their play list along with it, that has the desired song on it. Pretty cool if you want to check out one song then scroll around the play list to see what else is out there. The quality isn't that great though. The quality that Pandora and Last.fm have to offer is dam close enough to call CD quality. And I like that. And now I'm done, so happy listening!

2 comments:

Melissa said...

Dude, Live365 kicks butt... how can you say that? I listen to Y100rocks.com on there, It has some former Y100 Dj's actually on air during the day and you can make instant requests thru AIM and email, I even won real concert tix. Check it out... I promise it won't suck all that bad..

Ryan said...

I did listen to live365, and I did listen to y100rocks.com, but I moved to internet streaming radio to get away from all the commercials and talk. All I want is a ton of music that I like, no talk or ads.

I am from the phily area and used to listen to y100. Now that the station is gone, I found out how much I loved it. But they are gone now, and 93.3 is just the Preston & Steve show with the same crap music that 93.3 always played. Thanks for the help though.