Tag Archives: streaming

Try One New Thing – Our 1st Anniversary Post

As we finish out June, we are also finishing up the first year of Learning for Life Online. For anyone who’s been reading along since the beginning: thank you. I’m going to work hard to make the second year of LLO as fun and fascinating as the first.

For our 50th post, I’d like to challenge you to choose one of the tools or services we’ve looked this past year and sign up for it or try it out. Pick something that intrigued you but you never got around to it, or something that looked ridiculous and you want to see if you were just missing something. Doesn’t matter how big or small a thing it is – just do it. Review the basics of playing with a new online tool or playing with a new gadget and remember to have fun!

Try One New Thing and play around with it for the month of July. As you try it, comment on this post with your experience or thoughts, and any suggestions you have for using it.

Rather than make you go back through the past year to look for your one new thing, here’s a quick reference list:

It takes time to make a social tool a part of your life, including your life online. Whatever you choose to do, give it to the end of July and then see what you think of it. Let us know here if your opinion has changed, and how.

Thank you all again for following along, and enjoy your One New Thing! See you in July…

Spotify – Much more than radio

Much earlier in Learning for Life Online, we talked about Internet radio – the ability to listen to radio stations or services like radio stations over the internet. Click back and read that post for a quick review of what online radio is and why it’s useful (spoiler: because it’s as easy to listen to music or talk online as it is on a radio).

Since then, I’ve gotten to know one particular online music service very well, and it goes far beyond internet radio. This week, let’s look a little more closely at Spotify.

What is It?

Spotify is, for starters, a great source for streaming music over the internet. Millions of songs from around the world are available to find and play whenever you’d like. It also will let you create playlists, subscribe to playlists other people create, share what you’re listening to to Facebook and other social networks, send suggestions to other users, and start a ‘radio station’ based on any song, album or playlist you find. On top of all of that, you can use Spotify to play and share the music you’ve saved to your computer, just like other music library services we’ve looked at.

Try it Out

In order to use Spotify, you need to a) sign up for an account and b) download the Spotify software onto a computer. (This is different than other internet radio services.) From the computer you want to have Spotify, visit the Spotify website. Click on Get Spotify at the top, and then on Get Spotify Free. Spotify will start to download – follow the directions to download and install it on your computer.

Once Spotify has been installed, open it like any other software – by clicking an icon or finding it in your applications folder. Spotify will ask you to log in with either your Facebook account or to create an account just for Spotify. If you don’t have a Facebook account, or you don’t want to connect your Spotify account with your Facebook account (you don’t have to), just create a Spotify account. Choose a username and password, type in your email address, and you’ll be good to go.

Spotify menuNow the fun starts! There are many things you can do with Spotify – we’ll cover some of the basics here. Check out the complete list of features to see everything you can do with this great online music resource.

Search for music. At the upper left, you’ll see a search box. Use this to find artists, songs, albums, or genres of music. You’ll get results separated out into categories; click on a title or artist to get to more information and to play music.

Playing music. When you’re on a page for a song, album or artist, you can just double-click on a track to play it. The playback controls are at the bottom of the screen. The wiggly arrows to the far right let you Shuffle and play things randomly, and the circular arrow Repeats a track until you move to the next one.

Put together a Play Queue. You can set up a play queue of music so you don’t have to search and play songs one a time. To set up your queue, search for music using the search bar. Once you’ve found a track, click and hold on the title and drag it over to the words Play Queue on the left. That adds the track as the next thing to play. Keep searching and adding to stack up hours of music at a time. Note: Your Play Queue is emptied every time you close Spotify. To make a more permanent list, create a Playlist.

Share! At the top of the screen for every song, album, artist or playlist, you’ll see the Share button. Click on that and choose whether to share to any Facebook, Twitter, or Tumblr accounts you have. Log in with your social network username and password (don’t worry – Spotify doesn’t keep track of it) and share your music.

Start a custom radio ‘station.’ Look at the top of any page for the Start [a] Radio button to create a temporary radio station based on the music you like. Spotify will play music that it thinks matches the song or artist you started with. You can see all the stations you’ve started by clicking on Radio in the left menu; click on any of those older stations to play them again.

Play your Local Music. Click on Local Music to see everything you have on your computer. You can play these songs, add them to playlists, and share them to others just like all the other music in Spotify.

Playlist instructions on Spotify: The playlist is currently empty. To add to this playlist, drag a track to the playlist title in the sidebar, or right-click on a track, select Add to and select this playlist.Create Playlists. Playlists let you permanently collect music by theme, artist, genre, or any other category you want. To create a playlist, click on + New Playlist on the left, then type in a title. Follow the instructions on the screen to find and add music the same way you do for the Play Queue.

Subscribe to other people’s Playlists. You can also listen to playlists made by other people. Use the search bar to find playlists, then click on the playlist title to see the tracks on it. Click on Subscribe at the top to add the playlist to your list of favorites and listen to it whenever you want.

Neat stuff, huh? And this is only the beginning: check out the full features list and read the articles below for more.

Help & Resources

Online Video – Livestreaming

To stay on the streaming theme, let’s take a quick break from audio and look at streaming video.

What Is It?

Livestreaming video is similar to internet radio: video is broadcast live and in real time over the internet. Anyone with an internet connection can visit a website and watch video coming live from somewhere else. Concerts, family reunions, government meetings, conferences, political protests, breaking news stories, television programs – any of these can be streamed as they happen.

Livestream and UStream are two of the biggest services that host live streams for individuals or organizations. YouTube also provides livestreaming for anyone with a YouTube account.

How Is It Useful?

Just like internet radio, streaming video is useful because it lets you watch events live while they’re happening from wherever you are. Whether you’re in front of a television, a computer or a mobile device, you can watch a White House press conference or meeting or state legislatures doing their daily business. Television stations can livestream their video feeds: C-SPAN and WHDH Boston both offer live programming online.

In entertainment, bands can choose to livestream their concerts to let fans who can’t make it to the show watch and listen. Similarly, clubs and concert halls can offer livestreams for the performances they host.

Finally, businesses use livestreaming in many ways: international companies can livestream important meetings to employees around the globe; large companies like Apple can livestream important announcements about their products; and conferences can be livestreamed to anyone who can’t attend (O’Reilly Media and the E3 Gamer conference are two examples).

Yes, there are sillier uses for livestreaming: watching baby squirrels or puppies may seem ridiculous, but the same tool is used for watching wildlife. Imagine students around the world keeping track of life at South African water holes or hawks nesting on a building in New York City (the hawks are gone for the season, but you can watch recorded video at this same page). Science class suddenly becomes a lot more real for kids who might not ever see these animals up close any other way.

Try It Out

Follow any of the links above and just watch the livestream for a while (the water hole is a good one for this). Better still, keep your eyes out for the words “watch us live online” for any event or concert you want to attend, or on a website you visit.

Resources

Online Audio – Internet Radio

How Is It Useful?

I’m answering this question first this week because the answer is simple: internet radio takes all the ease of listening of broadcast radio and brings it to any device you have. Most of the time, you just visit a website and click Play; sometimes, you need to create an account first.

Whether you’re in an office, at home, or working in a shop, internet radio provides an easy way to play music or listen to talk radio in the background during your day. Having it on a computer or portable device makes it easy to interact with, change stations, and get additional information about what you’re listening to.

Finally, what makes internet radio more useful than listening to audio you own is finding new things to listen to. Just like traditional radio, internet radio stations help you discover different bands, singers or ideas. Unlike traditional radio, there are millions of songs and stations out there to find out there.

What Is It?

Internet radio is precisely that: a radio station playing over an internet connection. You use a web browser or mobile app to get to the station or service and just start listening.

By 2011, most traditional radio stations (such as NPR, WFNX and Magic 106.7) are also broadcasting online. Try to find your favorite station online, or see the Help & Resources section below for ways to find stations across the US and around the world. International internet radio helps people visiting or living in other countries keep up with news back home.

Radio Paradise is one of the giants of internet-only radio, providing commercial-free, listener-supported alternative music radio over the web. While you’re listening, you can browse through a playlist of current and prior tracks, chat in discussion forums and read additional information about featured artists.

Magnatune provides access to the music of independent artists around the world. You can listen on a song-by-song basis, but the genre mixes let you discover new music in styles you enjoy. Here’s the World Music, Classical and Hip Hop mixes to try.

LastFM works in several different ways. From the Music tab, you can browse popular hits, listen to genres of music, or search for a specific artist or song. The Radio tab creates a station for you based on an artist you request, which you can change and update however you want. From the Community tab, you contribute to the service by “scrobbling” the music you like. You don’t need to register with last.fm just to listen, but you do for the other features.

Pandora is a free online service powered by The Music Genome Project. First, you create an account and ‘seed’ a radio station with music you like. As your station plays, Pandora adds other music related to what you chose. You can give each song a thumbs-up or thumbs-down, move it to a more appropriate station, or find out why Pandora suggested the song. Over time, you fine-tune your own stations and discover tons of new music.

Recently released in the United States, Spotify combines internet radio – continuous streams of music, easy search, quick links to more information, recommendations based on what you’ve listened to, easy sharing – with the ability to listen to all of the music in your personal mp3 library as well. Truly a 21st century radio service. Note: Since Spotify is still new in the US, you need to sign up to get an invitation. But don’t worry – they’re making good on those invites. Update: No more invitations needed, just sign up!

Try It Out

Try one of the services above, or use a search engine listed below to find a radio station that interests you. Or, if you already listen to a station, go to that station’s website and find their online version.

Help & Resources