Recently I treated myself to a new keyboard (of the musical variety), one that helps you learn how to play it, which is great for someone like me who has only just started trying to play a musical instrument. Despite not being very expensive it did come with MIDI connectivity. MIDI is a standard that is as old as the hills and is still very useful for connecting musical instruments to each other and to computers, it also provides a file format for MIDI data. Searching around online I was surprised to find a MIDI to USB cable for only a few pounds so I got one and started looking around for interesting software that would run on Ubuntu that would make use of the new connection. The results were interesting and I found that MIDI makes all sorts of things possible.
I did a fresh install of Boxee and the newly released Ubuntu 10.04 LTS on my Acer Aspire Revo today. The process has not changed significantly since I wrote my post How to install Ubuntu 9.10 and the Boxee Beta on an Acer Aspire Revo (including 64 bit option) back in January. You can pretty much follow these instructions to get everything up and running. One minor difference is in alsamixer where the entry formally known as “IEC958 1” now seems to be labelled “S/PDIF” (see below for screenshot) - unmute this as before. I used the recently released Boxee Beta version 0.9.21.11487 which works with Ubuntu 10.04, at the time of writing the Boxee site doesn't state this. It is also possible to integrate Boxee with the new Ubuntu One Music Store.
Back in December I was sent a Nokia N900 on a six month trial. I've been living with it as my everyday mobile phone in a special test and having the device for this extended period of time has allowed me to find out lots about this tiny Linux computer. Now that the trial is nearing an end though it is a good time to take things down a gear and relax by listening to music or watching some videos. However, just listening to some local MP3 files on it would be dull, so what else can it do? The N900 has some interesting features in this department, and the inclusion of a TV-out lead and an FM transmitter adds an unusual twist.
I am a huge music fan, I'll listen to all sorts of music ranging from the pop to opera and this is my experience of Spotify, a service that truly is a “game changer” meaning you can listen to virtually any music you like without having to go buy a download or a CD. I've been a Spotify user for quite a while and am now a premium (subscription) customer. There is one snag though, I am also an Ubuntu user, a platform not supported officially by Spotify. Despite this, it is possible to get Spotify up and running on Ubuntu and a few mobile devices. This is my experience so far of using Spotify.
I've been using Rockbox, which is an open source replacement firmware for various MP3 players, for some time and really like it. My Apple iPod Video was a treat to myself, somewhere to put my large-ish music collection so I could enjoy it on the go. After a while though it seemed to get slow, it lost its shine a little. It was time to give it a fresh lease of life with some open source firmware that would bring new features (including the ability to play OGG format files), more customisation, and easier file transfer. Rockbox is available for many MP3 players and older iPods.
Often when we talk about Linux it is often in the context of a computer enthusiast, a person who enjoys finding out what open source technology can do for them, or maybe people looking to solve particular problems and get up and running with particular software or hardware.
Students and staff of The Open University may be far flung sometimes, but thanks to Web 2.0 new opportunities are arising all the time for them to connect. The latest of these is the chance to share musical tastes and contribute a shared playlist that can be listened to on an online radio player. Many of you may be familiar with last.fm, a service which can recommend and play music you might like based on music you have played previously.
There comes a time, probably when you have heard James Blunt for the thirteenth time in the space of a couple of hours, that you start wondering if there is a better way to discover new music that you might like. Fortunately there is an answer, an answer that has been around for some time now it is last.fm which offers you the chance to discover new artists that you might like based on your existing taste.