With the recent release of itunes 8 and it's built in genius feature, it would seem that my work on similar playlist creation has become outdated. However, there is one thing that genius lacks: a feature that allows exploration of similar music apart from my own collection. Of course, there are suggestions from the itunes store, and I can preview 30 seconds from each of these songs, but that's not always a good indication of whether I'll like the song or not. So I decided to write a quick little program to combine the features of last.fm's similar tracks functionality and seeqpod's playable search. Here's the result. It's ugly, but it's functional (as far as I've tested it). As always, interest will dictate how much additional work goes into the program.
Requires .Net framework
To run the program, unzip the folder, run the .exe file, and select a track in itunes. Then click on the "Generate List" button to start listening to new music!
With the recently released iTunes 8.0, it seems that my itunes tagger app's similar playlist functionality isn't a big priority anymore. While I sometimes like the results from last.fm's similar tracks better than itunes', having Genius built into itunes is just a lot more convenient.
The one thing iTunes is still (surprisingly) missing is automatic lyrics downloading. A while back I wrote a quick program to find some lyrics from lyricwiki and sing365, but it has since become terribly outdated and provided no relevant results. And since I still get a couple hits a day for that program, I thought I'd update it for y'all.
CD Art Display is a great program. If you failed at the tutorial I posted on how to change your MSN picture to your currently playing album artwork, this program will do it all for you. It also displays the current artwork and info for the currently playing track, finds artwork, lyrics, etc. The display is skinnable, and can look amazing. Head over and download this program. I love it.
The lyric functionality doesn't save the lyrics to iTunes directly (as far as I know). So you can still use iTunes Lyric Downloader for that. And if you want to fix your track information so it looks a bit better when you display it in CAD, try this.
(This also means I'm ending all my work on iTunes Displayer, since it's crap compared to this program.)
Update: If you'd rather just download a program instead of writing your own to do this for you, take a look at CD Art Display. It's free to download, and will do even more than just show album art in your msn profile picture.
This little howto is actually quite involved. I wasn't quite sure what was possible with the new Live Messenger Addin capability, but as it turns out, it is quite difficult to bypass some of the barriers set up by the addin technology. If you are really intent on getting this set up, or are just curious about what I did to get it going, feel free to read on.
A note to those who aren't interested in the programming side of this post: I'll post the files you need to download throughout the howto, but these files are not really recommended for everyday use. The actual solution I've come to is a pretty odd workaround, though it does work, so feel free to give it a try if you're brave. You'll need to go through each step, but you can just download the files for #1 and #4.
What you'll need:
-some knowledge of VB.Net and a visual studio version with vb.net
-a bit of free time
Step 1: Set up Live Messenger to allow Addins
The new Live Messenger does have addin capabilities built in, but they are not enabled by default (they're in beta I guess). To enable addins, you'll have to edit your messenger registry entries. Go to Run, type "regedit" and hit enter. then browse to "HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\MSNMessenger" and add a "DWORD" entry called "AddInFeatureEnabled" and change it's value to 1. Now restart your Live Messenger and go to Options. There should be a tab called "Add-ins". You're Messenger is all set to go.
Step 2: Write your .dll file for the Addin
Open up visual studio and start a new Class Library. You'll want to set up the project name right away, since your Class name has to be the same as the assembly name. Make sure your root namespace is empty. Add the MessengerClient.dll reference (browse to C:\Program Files\Windows Live\Messenger). Then you'll want to go through and look at this code (download the .dll here):
Imports Microsoft.MessengerPublic Class MessengerAddin '<- *Important* this is your assembly name!! Implements IMessengerAddIn Public theMessenger As MessengerClientPublic Sub Initialize(ByVal messenger As Microsoft.Messenger.MessengerClient)Implements Microsoft.Messenger.IMessengerAddIn.InitializeMe.theMessenger = messenger Me.theMessenger.AddInProperties.Creator = "SkyCapitan" Me.theMessenger.AddInProperties.Description = "iTunes Art plugin!" Me.theMessenger.AddInProperties.FriendlyName = "SkyCapitan's Addin" Me.theMessenger.AddInProperties.PersonalStatusMessage = TimeOfDay & " - Sky's not listening to music...." Me.theMessenger.AddInProperties.Url = New Uri("http://svankruistum.com")Dim systime As New System.Timers.Timer() systime.Interval = 5000 'This will check our config file every 5 seconds to see if the track has changed systime.Enabled = True AddHandler systime.Elapsed, AddressOf OnTimedEventEnd Sub Public Sub OnTimedEvent()On Error Resume Next 'in case the config file is not "0" or an artist_ or album combination Dim tempin As String Dim jpeg As String Dim oRead As System.IO.StreamReader Dim oWrite As System.IO.StreamWriteroRead = New System.IO.StreamReader("C:\art\config.txt") tempin = oRead.ReadLineIf tempin = "0" ThenoRead.Close() 'Nothing new we have to doElsejpeg = tempin 'Change the picture Me.theMessenger.AddInProperties.UserTile = System.Drawing.Image.FromFile("C:\art\" & jpeg & ".jpg") oRead.Close() 'Change the config file back to "0" oWrite = New System.IO.StreamWriter("C:\art\config.txt") oWrite.Write("0") oWrite.Close()End IfEnd SubEnd Class
A large part of this code is courtesy of a blog post at Nick's .NET Travels, found here. His example sets up a few other Messenger Events that you might like to explore. There is a lot of opportunity for some interesting addins.
The addin should be operational at this point, but another problem lies with MSN's strict sandbox for addins...
Step 3: Set up your MessengerAddin.dll to allow the System reference
The code above needs to access the system namespace for a few reasons: get the art file, check the config file, and use the system timer. Due to the sandbox restrictions in place by MSN Messenger, we need to register the addin on our system.
To do this, first you must sign your file. This is done under Project Properties -> signing. Sign the addin and add a password of your choice.
Next, you'll need to save and build the class library. Then browse to the location of the built .dll file. Now you need to drag and drop the file into your C:\WINDOWS\assembly folder.
Open up MSN, and try enabling your addin. Everything should work (though you don't have the artwork and the appropriate config file yet).
Step 4: Create a program to save your artwork and config file
After creating a few past itunes programs, I just had to edit a few lines in my itunes displayer program. If you don't want to create your own program, here is an adjusted version of itunes_displayer for you to run. This isn't really ideal, since a popup jumps up every track change, etc. here's some code (it's vb6, not vb.net) that might help you to set it up:
'Allows us to communicate with the running iTunes application
Dim WithEvents iTunes As iTunesApp
Dim Track As iTunesLib.IITTrack
'iTunes play event
Private Sub iTunes_OnPlayerPlayEvent(ByVal iTrack As Variant)
'Find the current track
Set Track = iTunes.CurrentTrack
Dim Art1 As iTunesLib.IITArtworkCollection
Dim Art2 As iTunesLib.IITArtwork
Set Art1 = Track.Artwork
If Art1.Count > 0 Then
Set Art2 = Art1.Item(1)
Art2.SaveArtworkToFile ("C:\art\" & Track.Artist & " - " & Track.Album & ".jpg")
Open "C:\art\config.txt" For Output As #5
Print #5, Track.Artist & " - " & Track.Album
Either way, you'll need the artwork and the config file one way or another.
Now all you need to do is run the itunes_displayer program (or your own alternative), and then enable the addin! Hope it works out for you!
A few notes:
-Your messenger picture does not change in real time for everyone. When you have an active conversation open, the person might see your picture change. If not, it won't always be apparent to others that your picture is changing.
-I had to make all the files and such because despite the signed dll and assembly folder move, the sandbox still doesnt let me open an itunes reference from within the addin. If anyone knows a more efficient way to do this, i'd love to hear it!!