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New site layout

posted Sep 12, 2008, 10:34 AM by Stephen Platt   [ updated Sep 12, 2008, 12:30 PM ]

I've changed a few things on the site to try and make the site a bit more functional.  Everything is still pretty much the same, but I've changed the homepage to the announcements section so that my updates are available right away.  I've also added an "About" page that can help explain the intent of my site a little bit better, and I've also added a "Contact" page where you can learn a little more about me and even ask me questions directly (as long as I'm available on Gtalk!) 

Check the homepage for further updates and announcements.

Why use MediaMonkey over iTunes?

posted Sep 10, 2008, 6:54 PM by Stephen Platt   [ updated Sep 13, 2008, 7:14 AM ]

I have been using MediaMonkey for a few years now, and I love to tell people about it. Often, I get questions from these people asking what makes MediaMonkey any better than other popular media players such as iTunes and Windows Media Player. I'd like to outline some of the reasons that I think MediaMonkey is a better alternative than these other two widely available programs by looking at some of the categories important to a media player.


Install and Config:

Did you know that when you install iTunes, another program called 'Quicktime' is also installed onto your computer, whether you like it or not? Not to mention that the iTunes installer also comes bundled with an Internet browser called 'Safari'. You already have Internet explorer and quite possibly Firefox installed on your computer, why do you need another browser?

Lets take a look at the installers for each program:

iTunes ~60+ megabytes
MediaMonkey ~6.55 megabytes
Windows Media Player ~Pre-installed on most Windows systems; 25.2 megabytes to download and install

These kind of stats mostly speak for themselves.  Why download iTunes when it would be 10x faster to download MediaMonkey? ;-)


Tagging and organizing:

MediaMonkey supports the standard protocol in regards to file tagging. Tags are important because they contain the information that tells you what the track is; everything from Artist name, to title, album, and even album art is stored in track tags. If your database file is ever corrupted or lost (for any of these 3 programs), all track information not saved in track tags will be gone.

When changes are made to mp3 track tags, MediaMonkey will use the standard tag value when available. iTunes would rather create its own standard in many cases. For example, volume leveling information (replay gain soundcheck values) are stored in the standard tag location for mp3 tags so that other programs and devices are able to take advantage of these values to play back these files at a leveled volume. When iTunes stores such values, they save the value to a non-standard mp3 tag, so that an 80 digit code appears in the mp3 comment tag. You also can't forget the fact that MediaMonkey will tag many filetypes besides just mp3, including: ogg, flac, wma, m4a, m4p, mpc, ape, and wav files. As of this writing iTunes can only tag mp3, aac, m4a and m4p files.

Windows Media Player also doesn't fully support tag standards, as it won't save album art to track tags. One especially annoying feature of Windows Media Player is that it will automatically extract and resize album art stored in track tags into the folder that your music is saved in, and hide the art as a “protected system file”. Of course, with MediaMonkey you can choose whether you'd like to save album art to the individual track tags or to a folder – and MediaMonkey will never hide your files from you.


Library (database):

Each program utilizes a database to store track information because accessing track information from a database is much faster than looking up the info for each track individually. MediaMonkey uses an SQL database, which is much faster and more capable than the XML databases used by both Windows Media Player and iTunes. When you have a very large library (tens of thousands of music tracks or more), you will undoubtedly experience slowdowns on Windows Media Player and iTunes while MediaMonkey will be just as quick as it was with only a few hundred tracks in the database.


Playback:

While iTunes will undoubtedly receive credit from many who enjoy its “new” 'Genius' feature, something similar has been possible on MediaMonkey for several years with the “ScrobblerDJ” addon, which has been refined and improved and is now known as “Last.fm DJ”. If MM had it 3 years before iTunes, just think of all the other features you're missing out on!


Device synchronization:

Hands down, MediaMonkey supports the most portable devices. Windows Media Player supports synchronization with quite a few devices, but famously won't support any iPods, while iTunes only works with i-devices. MediaMonkey can handle them all, from the infamous iPod to the Zen, and even to obscure devices like the SWIMp3 (who wouldn't want a set of goggles with an mp3 player built in??) MediaMonkey can even sync tracks to external drives, including flash drives.


Add-ons:

Quite easily the best feature of MediaMonkey, add-ons make it possible to do virtually anything with your music collection. Want to do a quick “Find and replace” across your entire library? No problem, there's an extension that can do it. Want some custom-built nodes for your library, so that you can see which artists appear under each genre? Go grab MagicNodes, one of the longest-standing add-ons for MediaMonkey. There are endless extensions available: find album art for all your albums in batches, manage your album art storage in bulk, backup your database and MM settings, fix case errors, create custom reports, automatically tag albums and tracks by looking up info on the internet, look up lyrics, preview tracks...

You also can't forget that MediaMonkey is skinnable, so you aren't stuck with the drab gray of iTunes (though there is an iTunes skin available, if you enjoy the iTunes appearance!) In fact, there is also a Windows Media Player skin that is virtually identical to the real thing. If you'd prefer something more original, there are nearly 50 skins available for download, and more are being made every day.


Resources:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Windows_Media_Player_11
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ITunes

New MM3 skin - VitreousBlue!

posted Jun 5, 2008, 8:52 PM by Stephen Platt   [ updated Jun 5, 2008, 8:52 PM ]

So after creating (or rather, converting) 6 skins, and working with another user to create another, I've finally completed my own original skin for MediaMonkey.  I'm quite happy with the results, and I'm very much looking forward to continuing to improve it.  The skin is highly based off of the Windows Vista theme, but the player layouts and buttons are all of my own original design.  The skin also makes use of the Segoe UI font that is pre-installed with Windows Vista.  As long as the font is installed on any operating system, however, you will be able to make use of it.

Check the skin out here (previews and a download link are available), and please leave any feedback or comments in the MM forum.  You can also drop me an email with comments.

New Website is up!

posted May 27, 2008, 10:44 AM by Stephen Platt   [ updated May 27, 2008, 10:44 AM ]

Although I've always been pretty happy with googlepages, there were some things missing from it that I thought really limited the site.  I saw an ad for Google sites and got pretty excited because it looked just like googlepages but with some great new features and additions.  So today I moved the site over to here, though there are still quite a few references to the old site (and the googlepages site is still up).  Over time I'm going to try and move everything over to this site to try and get everything in one spot.  Hopefully this site will be easier to navigate and use for whoever comes upon it.  The goal for this site is to make MediaMonkey and Minilyrics, as well as my skins, to be as available as possible.  This "blog" page will serve as an announcement board as well as someplace for me to write my thoughts.  Enjoy, and let me know what you think of the site!

-Steve aka nohitter151

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