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Sometimes you really like someone. You think they're great. There's a few things missing from them, but overall, they're way better than everything else you've found out there so far. Then you meet someone else, and you really like them too. And you figure, hey, wouldn't it be great if you could be with both people at the same time? So you go up to them and you tell them that, and for some reason, they go ballistic on you. They hate the idea. They don't want to be together. They want you to choose one or the other.

Well, NOT ANYMORE! Xiph has finally released a Ogg Vorbis plugin that actually works well with iTunes!

Things I like about iTunes:

  • Party Shuffle. This is the screen I'm always in when I'm in iTunes. A great interface to all the data I want.
  • Ratings. I have some songs that I don't like. Why? Because I have whole-albums, and I like some, but not all, the songs on a given album. Ratings let me filter out the songs I don't like.
  • Play higher rated songs more often. Much better than a "dumb shuffle".
  • Display 100 upcoming songs. It's nice that I can see what's coming up, and potentially modify that playlist.
  • Display 5 recently played songs. It's nice that I can find out what the name of the song was that I just heard, or that I can rate a song AFTER having heard it, as opposed to while I'm listening to it.
  • Smart Playlists, with live updating. "Give me all songs in which the word 'drum' appears in the title or album name that I haven't heard in the last 2 weeks."
  • Show Song File CTRL-L. Guests over at my house will say "This song is awesome! Can you send it to me?", "Why yes... yes, I can."
  • Smart Shuffle. I've got the "avoid playing repeats" set to the max. Again, better than a pure "random" on other mp3 players.
  • Show Duplicate Songs. I'm running out of disk space. Every little bit helps.

Things I like about Ogg Vorbis:

  • 30kbps Oggs sound as good as 320kbps Mp3s (That's 10 times smaller).
  • Custom tags. I can define the concept of a Display Artist (e.g. "RevenG") and the Real Artist (e.g. "Naoki Maeda").
  • Every tag is an arbitrary text stream. I can list all the artists of a track, instead of making one of the artists a "main" artists, and the others a "featuring" artist.
  • Unicode support. I can store track names as "子供の落書き帳", "鬼姫", "明鏡止水" or "ファミレス・ボンバー" instead of "Childrens Sketchbook", "Oni Hime", "Meikyou Shisui" or "Family Restaurant Bomber".
  • Patent free. With mp3, you have to pay royalties if you develop software which uses the mp3 codec.[/lo]
  • Open source. You can be pretty damn sure Ogg will remain DRM free.

The Xiph plugin lets me enjoy these two things together. There were other plugins before, but they didn't work well. For example, they didn't let you seek around in the track; or they suddenly made memory consumption jump up because it would pre-read and decode the whole Ogg file into a raw wave. This plugin still has some issues &emdash; tag support is iffy, and there's a limitation on file name lengths &emdash; but it looks like it's still being actively developed. The version I just downloaded was released only 7 days ago.

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