Section 2.2. Internet Radio


2.2. Internet Radio

Not satisfied with being a mere virtual jukebox, iTunes also serves as an international, multicultural radio without the shortwave static. You can find everything from mystical Celtic melodies to American pop to programming from Japan, Italy, Germany, and other spots around the globe.

Computers with high-speed Internet connections have a smoother streaming experience, but the vast and eclectic mix of musical offerings is well worth checking out even if you have a dial-up modem. Just click the Radio icon in the Source list to see a list of stations , as shown in Figure 2-3.

UP TO SPEED
Party Shuffle On, Dude

The standard iTunes Shuffle feature can be inspiring or embarrassing, depending on which songs the program happens to play. Especially when your guests discover the Milli Vanilli tracks buried in the depths of your collection.

Party Shuffle lets you control which songs iTunes selects when it's shuffling at your next wing-ding. It also shows you what's already been played and what's coming up in the mix, so you'll know what to expect.

To use it, click the Party Shuffle icon on the iTunes Source list. (If you don't see it, visit the Preferences dialog box, click General, and turn on Party Shuffle.) Until you turn it off, iTunes will display a message each time that describes what Party Shuffle does.

Now you see an extra panel at the bottom of the iTunes window, as shown here. Using the pop-up menu, select a music source for the mixeither an existing playlist or your whole Library. If you don't like the song list that iTunes proposes, click the Refresh button at the top of the iTunes window to generate a new list of songs from the same source.

Next, use the pop-up menus in the Display area to specify how many songs you want to see coming up in the mix, and how many recently played ones you want to see. iTunes can show you anywhere from 0 to 100 songs, either coming or going, and it can play tracks more often according to their play counts and ratings.

As in any iTunes playlist, you can manually add songs, delete them from the playlist, or rearrange the playing order. Party Shuffle may grab the same track multiple times, especially if you turn on "Play higher ranked songs more often," so watch for unwanted dupes.

(The shortcut menu that appears when you Control-click a song lets you add it again into the Party Shuffle mixor, if you're seized with a sudden inspiration for your mix, designate it to play next.)

Once you're satisfied, click the Play button and let the music play on. With plenty of upcoming tracks displayed, you can feel free to mingle with guests without having to worry about your less-favorite songs crashing the party mix out of the blue.


If you find your radio streams are constantly stuttering and stopping, try this: Choose iTunes Preferences. In the Preferences dialog box, click the Advanced icon or tab. From the Streaming Buffer Size pop-up menu, choose Large. Click OK.

Having the buffer set to Large may increase the waiting time before the music starts flowing through your computer from the Internet, but it allows iTunes to hoard more music at once to help make up for interruptions caused by network traffic.


Tip: It's possible to save music streams to your computer's hard drive, although the practice dances dangerously close to copyright infringement. Programs like Streamripper X (from http://streamripperx. sourceforge .net) let you save radio streams as MP3 files.

Figure 2-3. The Radio list displays the categories and subcategories that can take you around the world in 80 stations with iTunes. Click the Refresh button to update the station list.
There are even more streaming radio stations around the Web at sites like www.live365.com and www. shoutcast .com. If you find a stream you like, click its link the link to listen and play the station through iTunes.