Thursday, September 13, 2007 Improving the Experience, pt 1

This week, I ran across this article from LifeHacker on how to improve your experience. I have greatly enjoyed this service since subscribing & installing the application in Ubuntu. But, I’m a rather conservative user of any application. I tend to have the 2-3 functions that I use all the time and only rarely tweak things after my initial post-install “playing around” phase. In an effort to be more adventurous, I’m going to try each of the 15 tweaks recommended in the article. Some of these have longer-term payoffs. For those items, I’m just going to verify they are easy to try/set-up and whether I think it’s worth the effort to keep up.

Items 1-5 are below the cut.

1) Use Your Neighbors: Definitely a cool feature. I've tried several neighbors and found several unknown songs for artists I liked and several new artists. Some of the more interesting finds are McLars (Nerdrapper), The Gotan Project (A French tango band), Tomoyasu Hotei (Japanese Rock).

2) Not Enough Content?: This has already cropped up for me. When you play the 'Surf' or 'surf rock' stations, they only have a few hours worth of content. This is a shame because I LOVE surf music. The article recommends searching neighbors' tags or global tags. But what I do is search for an artist featured in the station that has the limited content. When a song comes up that I think should be on the station but it doesn't have the tag, I tag it. It worked pretty good for a search on 'Dick Dale'. A couple of new finds were Link Wray and "Mystic Island Drums" by the Surfaris.

3) Explore Radio Modes: I had no idea this was even an option. I'm a member of two groups: BLUES! and Supernatural. Both have links to their groups radio. These were both excellent, the BLUES! radio especially. It had some very unexpected choices but they were uniformly good. Definitely a trick I have to remember in the future.

4) Explore Tags: OK, this one I found on my own. It's definitely a good thing to search tags. Also, if you search an artist note the tags of some of you favorites and search some of the more obscure ones (ie - lookup 'psychedeli' as opposed to 'classic rock'). You'll found a lot of good more off-the-beaten-path music this way.

5) Download Free Music: Knew about it but hadn't tried. After browsing the free downloads, I'm not really impressed. I listened to about thirty songs but only downloaded three. If you favor dance tracks, this is a better feature. However, there is a real dirth of blues and the rock choices aren't all that great either. I do like the very international flavor though . Overall, I'd say worth a look every 3-4 months but not a big improvement of your experience.

See part 2 here.
See part 3 here.

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