America Online, Part I: WinAMP

America Online and I have had a difficult relationship. No matter what I do, it just keeps on trying to shut me out. I never know what AOL is going to do next. One day, I think we’re all square up, and our relationship is going along fine, and then the very next day AOL decides to hide the keys to the house so I can’t get in. And then if I call the police to try to get into my own damn house AOL kills the police officers.

Recently I got a new program from AOL, called “WinAMP“, a music player like Windows Media Player or Apple’s iTunes, for a radio station I’ll build this summer. (I do realize most normal people do not actively attempt to make their own radio stations, but as you may have noticed by now, I am a highly unique individual, and I’d like to note for the record that my radio station, Radio Headroom, is totally legal, because it will have a broadcast radius of about ten feet.) WinAMP’s best feature is, of course, its mascot, which happens to be a llama. This is by far the best part of WinAMP from my perspective, anyway. Its other features aren’t so good. For example, when we’re playing a card game I happen to enjoy, called “Play Random Music”, and it tries to shuffle, it ends up making… well, a llama of itself.

(Just as an aside, the Max Headroom Incident is where “Radio Headroom” gets its name.)

Let me explain someting. When a normal, well adjusted human being or music player “shuffles”, he or she or it makes everything random. More importantly, though, you wouldn’t just shuffle a deck of cards once and be done with it. Every time you’d play a new game, you’d shuffle the cards again. My last music player, iTunes, did this. I would say, “Let’s play Random Music”, and it would shuffle the deck and play a random piece of music. It would not make a new list of music where it changed all the songs’ places on the list and then just play that for me over and over again. iTunes was normal like that.

Whereas when I play Random Music with WinAMP, it either doesn’t work or does exactly what I just described. (I should also note that neither of the linked forum threads are ones I posted in, just ones that somewhat describe the problems I had.) I’ll tell it, “Hey, why don’t we play some random music?” and it will make a new playlist instead and just play that over and over again. It’s as if you’re playing a game of blackjack and the dealer just shuffled the cards once and left them like that, for every game he played the rest of the day. Really, it’s enough to make me want to take tea with the Mad Hatter, but not really because the guy didn’t have anything by the Eagles.

So I decided that I did not like WinAMP, in spite of the fact that it had a llama as its mascot. While I knew I’d have to dig deep to find a music player mascot as cool as a llama, I decided to try to find a program whose features would work… on first install.

I looked around the Internet, and finally found Media Monkey. Now, most zoologists would classify Media Monkey’s mascot as a “monkey“. (I have linked to Wikipedia for those who do not know what a monkey is. I know, most of the people that come to this site are Americans and have never actually seen a monkey. My advice is to go to a zoo.) While I have to go through the hassle of feeding my media player a banana three times a day, it is quite good at shuffling music. It even uses its feet.

It also found old songs from all of the video games on my computer. You cannot understand the elation I felt when I heard, for the first time in several years, the theme song from the Sims. It was positively bizarre. I told my cousin of this development.

“Come here! You have to hear this! It’s the old Sims neighborhood theme 2!” I yelled from my room.

“Not now, I’m too busy watching Inuyasha,” I believe that was his response.

Part II continues here.

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