id3 + Winamp 5

To this day, I hate id3 tags. They’re just too inconsistent, and changing them (unlike renaming a file) is a hassle-and-a-half. Now I know what you’re thinking: “if you download songs from different sources, then of course it will be inconsistent.” Which is true, and expected, but that is illegal and we’d never admit to such things. No. The point is that entries in the CDDB are inconsistent, so when you are ripping your own CDs (and querying the CDDB) you still have to deal with that crap.

There are many things about id3 that annoy me, including: song info in ALL CAPS; song info completely lowercase; track numbers in the track title (there’s a track # field for a reason); off-the-mark genres. This one’s particularly annoying as many programs default to “Blues”. If you can’t think of the proper genre, or hate labels all together, leave it blank! Don’t put in something completely random. No matter what your outlook, Skinny Puppy is NOT Blues; incomplete tags. I’d much rather have no id3 tags than just the artist name; and, finally, wrong information. I hate clicking on “song X.mp3” and having “Artist A – song Y” show instead.

I mention this because Winamp 5 is (officially) out and like any modern audio player it contains a media library. A media library that, like all that I’ve seen, organizes your media based on id3 tags. As is to be expected, it comes out as a complete mess. Finding songs in this id3 jungle is a chore.

So I wonder to myself: why bother? Why deal with the inconsistent hassles of and id3 database when I already have the best means of organizing my music: the filesystem. Is something like /MUSIC/BAND/ALBUM/XX-TrackName.mp3 too complicated? That alone gives me all the information I need without the necessity for an overly bloated database. Plus, it’s easy to organize and search through.

To me, the only things that the Media Library adds are play counts and song ratings. Both of which aren’t that useful. Both of which could be achieved with WinAmp plug-ins anyway.

Stupid id3 tags.

Now for the rest of Winamp 5: it’s pretty good. The new look seems to perform better than that awful Winamp 3. There’s some nice new features, including better video support, a built-in CD Ripper, and better integration between the components (like the visualizer and equalizer). Another great feature, for the Winamp 2 lovers and Winamp 3 haters, is the ability to switch between the old skin engine and the new skin engine — so if you find the new skin engine to be too slow or if you miss your classic skins, you can just switch it over!

Additionally, the one thing I find useful about the media library is the Shoutcast.com integration for internet radio and, this is rather new to me, internet TV (though the TV part is a misnomer). There isn’t a lot of this Internet TV available, but there are some choosings: a few webcams; a stream of someone’s television (watch what they’re watching); some live band performances; a lot of videos (primarily of the Radiohead, Bjork and Cunningham, Jonze variety); and, obviously, a bunch of porn. I was suprised by the fidelity of some of those streams. This must have been the first time I’ve ever encountered a 500kbps stream that didn’t skip on me. Hell, even the 1Mbps stream worked fine!

It’s not without its downsides, though. For some reason, Winamp 2.91 doesn’t seem to work anymore. Inexplicable, really. Also, the fresh installation seemed to screw up my icons. I tried to fix it, but they weren’t reverting back to what I wanted. Then after trying to fix the semi-working but unusable Winamp 2, the icons fixed themselves. ? Small issues, but they bugged me.

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