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Netbook to net jukebox

Netbook to net jukebox
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First Published: Tue, Jul 14 2009. 09 09 PM IST
Updated: Tue, Jul 14 2009. 09 09 PM IST
If you are a music junkie and find the hard disk of your netbook too small, this one is for you. How about converting your tiny machine into a device that can continuously stream music from the Internet—completely legally—and then play that stream through the speakers on your music system?
STEP 1: To begin with, you need to tap into any of the hundreds of radio sites on the Net. Just log on to any one of them and press Play. Remember, most of these sites usually have a very limited collection of music. So, if you are looking for something unheard of, you may have to dig deeper, and may still not be successful. The easiest way to find these stations is to simply search for Internet radio+the name of the genre on Google.
STEP 2(a): Don’t be taken in by the number of sites. Most of them won’t be worth the effort. The best one is probably last.fm (http://www.last.fm/). It asks you to fill in the name of the artist you’re looking for, and while it streams the music, it looks for song choices made by people who listened to the same track. The site thus generates play-lists according to your tastes as well as other user patterns. As you choose more artists or bands, the site is able to predict more accurately what you would want to listen to.
STEP 2(b): If you have already downloaded iTunes (get it free from http://www.apple.com/itunes/download/), and you have some music stored on your netbook, you can play music on last.fm directly from it by downloading the IScrobber plug-in (again available legally and free from http://www.last.fm/group/iScrobbler). This plug-in sends your playlist information to last.fm, helping the site predict your song choices better, while displaying the relevant album art on iTunes.
STEP 2(c): Also, if you own the Apple AirPort Express (a small device that connects to your music system and enables you to play the music stored on your netbook through Wi-Fi on the player’s speakers), the IScrobber plug-in lets you stream music from the site directly to your system.
As of now, AirPort Express works only with iTunes. But if you don’t have it, simply plug the speaker output from your netbook into the mic socket of your music system.
STEP 3(a): There is yet another option for netbook users: Spotify. This app (available at http://www.spotify.com/en/), lets you stream music through an interface that looks like a competent music player. All you have to do is download the application (it takes up a tiny amount of hard disk space), and it open up an iTunes-like window where you can search for and play almost any music. Since the site is legal, it is supported by advertisements. For those who prefer their music uninterrupted, you can also use the service ad-free for a monthly cost of Rs800 or a yearly cost of Rs8,000.
STEP 3(b): Again, for those who have the AirPort Express, you can stream music directly to your music system’s speakers. Since AirPort Express only supports iTunes, you need to purchase Rogue Amoeba’s Airfoil (available at http://rogueamoeba.com/airfoil/), a software that lets you access AirPort Express directly, without having to bother with iTunes. For the rest of us, the cables should do the trick.
And yes, lastly, simply follow these steps on your desktop and it can be a jukebox for you too.
Write to us at businessoflife@livemint.com
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First Published: Tue, Jul 14 2009. 09 09 PM IST