Thursday, April 08, 2010

Combo.fm or how I learned to really love last.fm

In a recent post I wrote about the new client and combo stations(plus some technical details in the last one).

What is a combo station? A combination of last.fm radio stations, which are coonnectable by using "and", "or" and "not" (plus some nifty extra options, I'll come back to that point later on).

As it took always a very long time to create those combo station urls by hand, I wrote a nice application(which seems to be stable, but also may contain bugs). So I'd like to introduce you into Combo.fm, as I call it. Written in pure Java, using NetBeans(too bad it's not eclipse, but NB has the better GUI creator :P) and the best thing: GPL license(with the restriction of non-commercial use) and source included :) Note that the Last.fm API bindings for Java by JRoar are used, you can also obtain a fresh copy from http://code.google.com/p/lastfm-java/

But I guess you came here because you want to listen to combo stations, so click the link below(sorry for hosting on RS, had no better place atm):

Download Combo.fm

You can run it via "java -jar ComboFm.jar" from the ComboFm/dist/ folder from your OS console. (Hopefully a linux distibution :P)

For Windows users:
  1. Create a file named "runComboFm.cmd" inside the folder to where you unextracted Combo.fm
  2. Open it with Notepad(right click -> Open With -> > Notepad/Editor)
  3. Paste the following code:
    @echo off
    java -jar ComboFm/dist/ComboFm.jar
  4. Save file, close Notepad and run the file by double-clicking on it.
  5. Have fun ;)
If I'm on windows again, I'll add a starter app :)

Usage instructions
Basically you just select a station type on the top left, select or type a value at the combo box beneath and hit "Add->". If you want to change the logical connector, you can just select the station on the right from the list box and select another(like 'and' or 'not'). Thereby, you can ignore the 'or' of the last item(tiny UI bug, doesn't affect the result). Don't worry if you added a station by mistake, you can just hit "Remove" to remove the selected station from the list.
Now let's concern with the sliders and the checkbox at the middle left.
Mainstream controls the amount obscure/mainstream music you want to listen to(left = 100% obscure, right = 100% mainstream). Setting this to 100% obscure will result in an interesting station.
  • Repetition steers the repetition rate of the artists.
  • Discovery switches discovery mode on or off.
Now just click one of the 'Copy' buttons.

Web browser url:Paste direcly in your browser's address bar and hit return.
Radio client url:Listen to the station with your favourite Last.fm client.For desktop client, paste the url in the text box of the player's start screen(where you tune into stations) an hit play.

My Personal opinion is that combo stations drastically improve the listening experience of the Last.fm radio, even if you only play with the sliders you can listen to very awesome tracks you didn't knew yet or of which you forgot the name a very long time ago. Good Job, Last.fm. I really love it!

And to you, dear reader:
Happy listening! I hope you enjoy Combo.fm right in these minutes.

Note: Combo stations is a pre-alpha feature of Last.fm, so you take the consequences if you use Combo.fm for listening to these stations! I am not responsible for what you do and cannot take any risks resulting in the usage of Combo.fm.

4 comments:

Pål / Tecfan said...

This is excellent! I'm already discovering stuff on my first play ^^

Nik said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nik said...

Cool thing, but I'm not going to use it until you deploy it in a usable way (i.e. a single JAR container, WebStart, ...).

But please mind that WebStart has just been uncovered as a nasty design flaw by Sun Microsystems ...

Rich H said...

I'd been looking at this page occasionally thinking it was all the latest info on combofm!
Now that you've got http://beta.combofm.de/
I'm a very happy chap & I'll remove my link here.
Thanks