Wednesday, April 29, 2009

State of (Part of) the Industry

Free Streaming and Social Music Sites:

The chart above includes, Imeem, MySpace Music,, Pandora. While not on this graph, iLike's traffic has (according to now surpassed's.

Above we show Lala, 8tracks, Hype Machine, Mog and Finetune.

Twitter-centric Music Services

Included are,,, and Twiturm.

MP3 Search Engines

Seeqpod (R.I.P?) and Skreemr.

Subscription Music Sites

Including Rhapsody and Napster.

Portal Music Sites:

Includes AOL Music, Yahoo Music and MSN Music.

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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Hackintosh: It's Alive!

This week I became the proud owner of a Hackintosh (aka Dell Mini9 running Mac OS X). I needed a new laptop, and have pretty much become a complete Mac convert over the past few years, so my options were limited. Either spend $1000 - $2500 for a MacBook, or spend a 1/10 of that on a homebrewed Hackintosh. For both the obvious reason of price, combined with the benefits of a small, light, fast (solid state storage) and long battery life, I went with the Hackintosh.

I was nervous for sure, but I knew a few people that had done it and said good things, so now I am paying it forward. Here's how I got a full-blow pseudo MacBook Air for under $200.

  1. Redeem some of my American Express points for a Dell gift certificate (they best you can generally do with Amex points is 1 penny/point and this fit that bill). 20,000 Amex points = $200 Dell gift certificate (that's the max allowable)
  2. Go to and order and customize your Dell Mini 9 - the most compatible netbook for running OS X (and all of the device drivers seem to work). You need to upgrade to 16GB SSD (at minimum). I also included the webcam upgrade (higher resolution) and Windows XP. The total came out to around $390 (with 2 day shipping). You could get cheaper if you went Linux instead of XP (since you are going to install OS X over it anyway, but I wasn't sure whether I was going to do this so got XP as the backup plan). Enter your gift certificate number and voila... now you are billed only $190.
  3. Wait for you Dell to arrive (mine took a couple of weeks - which they neglected to tell me until AFTER I paid extra for 2 day shipping). Boo Dell!
  4. Dig up (or buy) a larger USB flash drive to use for the install (at least 8GB but 16GB is probably better). I found a 16GB online for about $30.
  5. If you don't already have the RETAIL version of OS X (Leopard), you need to get it... the OEM version that ships with Macs won't work. I saw a special advertised the other day to MobileMe subscribers for $99. Luckily, I already had a copy so I didn't need to get another.
  6. While you are still waiting for you Dell to arrive, get your USB drive ready for the install. Basically, you create 2 partitions on the drive where you copy a bunch of bootloaders and small utilities needed for the install on the small partition, and a copy of the OS X disk ISO image (.dmg) to the large partition. One of the files requires a Windows machine to execute/copy to the USB drive, but you could use the Dell when it arrives (if you got XP on it) or it will also work with Windows running in Parallels or Fusion on a Mac. The detailed directions (and links to required files) can be found here: There are multiple methods to install, but the single USB drive method in "Section B (New)" is what I followed.
  7. Unfortunately, I made the mistake of not doing the "custom OS X install" (where I should have deselected all of the language packs, printer drivers, etc.) so that made my install take longer (over an hour) and eat up a lot of valuable storage space. So, now I had to uninstall all of the stuff I don't need to free up space (used a program called Monlingual).
  8. Otherwise, I followed those directions and everything worked great. There was one part that wasn't completely clear in Step 7 (how to boot from the smaller USB drive into the Dell's SSD after install - I ended up having to hit ESC and then type "80" to get that option).
  9. After I was done, everything worked out of the box except one minor issue with noisy sound output (sounded like some sort of interference). I read in one of the forums that if you encounter this just put the Dell into sleep mode and wake it back up. Sure enough, that did the trick. Everything worked right away... webcam, sound, trackpad, etc.
All-in-all, this seems like it is going to be a great travel machine for me. My only complaints with the hardware so far are that a) the vertical height of the screen is constraining... some windows are too tall to be able to get to the bottom of (e.g. system preferences) and it takes some finagling, and b) the keyboard takes some getting used to... the main keys are fine, but I am still having trouble finding some of the punctuation and secondary keys.

Now, my list of "must have apps" for your Hackintosh (after OS X install I only have a few gig of space left for apps).

  • SimplifyMedia - don't waste your limited space on music, just stream from your home library (I also put Playdar on this machine which can serve the same purpose, but that is still very alpha)
  • Firefox - I use a number of extensions that I really like (e.g. Delicious, Zemanta, etc) and have never gotten used to Safari
  • Skitch - I can't live without it, although I may see if Jing can replace it since it handles screencasts & image capture
  • Dropbox (or something similar) - online storage and syncing is a must for a small machine like this.
  • Tweetie or Nambu - Adobe Airs apps can be resource hogs, so I opted for a native Mac app instead.
  • Xslimmer - a small utility that will strip out all the bloat from other applications.)
  • OnyX - a utility that will help you tweak settings and manage resources
  • MobileMe Account - this makes things much easier when it comes to syncing everything between your machines. It also comes with iDisk remote storage/sync which could eliminate your need for Dropbox.
  • Skype - I forgot this at first. I actually prefer iChat/AIM for voice and video chats, but Skype is a must have if you do any international business.
I also put Microsoft Office on it for now, although I don't recommend it. I will probably start to use Google Docs more now for this, and other hosted apps for presentation creation, etc. Everything else you need comes with OS X (iTunes, iChat, Mail, Calendar, Address Book, etc.). That comes close to maxing out the on-board storage, but between the online storage solutions and the new 16GB USB drive I bought for the install process, I think I should be good to go.

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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Uncovery Revisited

A while ago I messed around with the idea of a Twitter bot that, using hashtags, would rebroadcast anything that someone thought that others should know about (e.g. "check out this band they are great"). The idea wasn't that these recommendations were directed at anyone in particular, but instead played upon the human nature of people wanting to tell other people about something they think is great (see latest buzz on Susan Boyle video from Britain's Got Talent).

I only took that original project so far, but today I revisited it briefly and made some tweaks (influenced by the existing Twitter bot @new_music).

Basically, it looks at Metacritic's movie feed, scrapes the scores off the pages (since they aren't in the feed itself) and filters the results to only display the stuff that has an aggregate metascore of 65 or greater. When it finds one of those, it then hits YouTube to pull the trailer for the video. From there it shortens the URL and then tweets the results out at @uncovery.

I may also start to splice in music, DVDs and other content too... but will let this run a while to see how it feels. As always, comments and thoughts welcome.

UPDATE: I also have spliced in Rotten Tomatoes feed too.

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Tuesday, April 07, 2009


Just because I have an endless need to tinker, I planted the seed of another idea today. It isn't much more than this so far....

xBetween: "How many times have you heard the phrase “it’s like a cross between…” when you ask someone to describe something to you? That most simple idea, and how it could be applied to the web to help other discover new stuff (or just have fun), was enough of a spark that I went out and got the domain names today for and (as well as the Twitter name @xbetween).

I’m not sure what exactly, if anything, this will turn out to be. But, I think there could be some potential to create something interesting out of that simple idea."

I'm starting to formulate some more ideas about what this could turn into, but given the idea is still only a few hours old I'm sure it will continue to evolve. Ideas? Suggestions?

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

iLike No Longer Means I Listen (in full)

Image representing iLike as depicted in CrunchBaseImage via CrunchBase

In yet another unfortunate string of recent blows to free music streaming sites (see recent news/rumors on Imeem, Playlist, Seeqpod,, et al). It looks like iLike, who had recently struck a deal with Rhapsody to power free full-track streaming of content from their site, is no longer doing so.

I'm not sure what the terms of the deal between the two where, but according to the Rolling Stone article linked above, it sounds like iLike was covering the streaming royalties on the 25 free streams a month the deal enabled and was hoping to make that back in bounties from subscriptions to Rhapsody they drove?

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