Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The Desktop Toolbar: Almost Better Than Free Cheesesteak Mondays

If you're using windows (and according to Google analyitcs, you most likely are,) and you're like me, your desktop has a lot of stuff on it. Not clutter, no, these are important things that you use often, like web browsers, ftp/ssh clients, and files/folders that have important information that you use often. Well, that, plus all the other junk you just saved to the desktop because it was the default path. Either way, that stuff's really useful, right up until the point when you hit "Maximize." Then its all hidden, and the only way to get to it is to minimize your (sometimes many) windows to get back to your desktop files/programs.

Unless, of course, you were looking at the toolbars included with Windows XP/Vista. If have tried out the interesting-looking ones (like I did,) you'd find this.


Not interesting? Well, clicking the innocuous double-arrows will set YOU straight.

Yeah, that's right. All my Desktop files and folders and everything. Right there. Freaking sweet. No more Windows-D, arrows to folder, Enter, then Alt-Tabbing back to my workspace. None of that. Just click, click, done. I love it. The only thing that could possibly make it any better if the word "Desktop" wasn't there. Maybe just a logo, to save space. Either way, I love the Desktop Toolbar, use it.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Playlist Loading/Shuffling

Sorry it's been so long since my last post. I took a trip up to New York for an OpenSocial Hackathon (which I'll discuss in a later post,) but I just had this thought mulling around my head and felt like writing it down.

I probably use my media player (WMP, Songbird, AmaroK, etc) more than any other program on my computer. No matter what I'm doing (coding, web-surfing, doc writing, or all three,) I'm usually listening to music. I'll pick a playlist, either from my list of pre-made playlists, or just throw one together at the drop of a hat. However, I really hate how most modern shuffles absolutely fail at "shuffling" my songs. On my n800, GP2X, and ipod before that, I could tell that there was no list order, but that the player literally just selected a random song from the list, and played it. Yeah, it's fast, but it's lazy, and kind of infuriating. A few days ago, on WMP, it actually played the same song twice. As far as randomness goes, that's technically random, but I don't like random, I want shuffled.

When you're playing a card game, you don't reshuffle the deck every time someone puts a card down (though that could really screw up your magician friend's magic trick.) No, you wait until the deck has been fully uncovered (or the hand ends.) 

Along with that, even though WMP loads a playlist, it "shuffles" it, but it's pretty lazy as well. That's why when the playlist ends, I coudl theoretically listen to the same song twice. Even along with that, though, sometimes it'll get into blocks where I hear all of an artist's songs right in a row, which is frustrating as well.

I don't have any code at the moment, but it would really be nice if there was a good shuffling algorithm that made sure that artists' songs were kept spread out, prevented playing the same song close to itself, and, in general, made my most commonly performed task a little bit nicer.