Winamp 5.08 vs. Itunes 4.71

I’ve been a Winamp diehard since the beginning. Back before CNN even knew what MP3 was, I was using my 14.4 modem to download, download, download, and using Winamp to listen, listen, listen. I love WinAmp and have been a loyal user since v1.0, but I have to admit that the past couple years have left much to be desired. The way we listen to digital music has changed over the past couple years, and Winamp was starting to feel inadequate to handle things like 35GB music libraries. On top of that, it just doesn’t seem stable or fast any more. Here are some problems I’ve had with WinAmp:

  • The random shuffle sucks. It often seems to like a certain “section” of a huge playlist and stay in that general area. If I’ve got 20 days-worth of non-repeatable music in my library, I shouldn’t be hearing the same band 4 times in an hour.
  • Winamp doesn’t seem to “watch” my library folders very well. In otherwords, if I rip or download some new tunes and stick them in my library, I have to manually re-scan my library and wait 5 minutes for my new MP3s to show up. Sure, I could just schedule a rescan to automatically happen every minute, but that’s rediculously slow and unneccesarily bogs down my system. I want my new music files available for play now.
  • As much as I like the modern skin, it sure is a resource hog
  • WinAmp doesn’t support the newest ID3 2.4 tags. They’re great for album artwork, grouping (eg: compilation releases, multi-disc sets), auto-normalization for quiet tracks, etc.

I fear change, but these problems more than encouraged me to try out Itunes to see if it would solve them. While it’s been cool so far, there are some things I miss and/or don’t like. Here are some comments:

  • The Song Name column is stuck as the left-most column in all views. Why? I like to sort my tracklistings as Artist – Album – Track# – SongName. One problem I’ve always had with Mac stuff is that they assume they know what’s best for me. I know what’s best for ME. This is very annoying, and it makes me feel like a prisoner in my own system. I don’t see any reason why Song Name must be locked as the left-most column, so it makes me very angry. Hey Apple, why am I on lockdown?
  • The taskbar doesn’t show the currently playing Artist/Track. So when I have Itunes playing in the background, and I hear a song and want to know who it is, I need to swith to Itunes to find out. This makes me less-than-productive when I’m trying to code or whatever as it forces me to stop what I’m doing and switch appplications.
  • Similarly, with Itunes open, the currently-playing-track display only shows either Artist, Song Name, or Album Name, never a combination of the 3. I want the display to show “Artist – Album Name – Song Name,” but of course, that is not an option. To get the information I need, I have to click 3 times instead of just looking at the screen. Sure I can just look down at the playlist, but what if I’ve scrolled far far away from the currently playing track? Finding it again by scrolling is impossible in a 30GB library.
  • It would be nice if applications kept the native UI. If I wanted a brushed metal UI I’d use OSX. But I am using WinXP and I expect my apps to look like they belong. I’ve always hated Mac’s widgets (eg: play buttons, volume slider pully things), and it bothers me that when the tables are turned and you’re running non-Mac software on OSX, you’re forced to use their native widgets. But I guess Winamp is the same (non-native UI), so this shouldn’t bother me too much.
  • I’m very anal about my file nameing & directory structure, and for some reason Itunes gives me the uneasy feeling that it’s going to magically hijack all my stuff, rename files, re-order directories, and convert eveything to AAC. Perhaps it was all the promps on install asking me if I wanted to do all this stuff. LEAVE MY SHIT ALONE, and just play the freakin’ music.

Overall, Itunes feels more solid and stable than WinAmp, which is pleasant if you’re someone like me who is on their machine all day with MP3s playing. Itunes also wins with their superior ID3 support, as well as the superior playlist shuffling algorithm. The auto-volume adjustment is a godsend, as I was never able to find a suitable compressor/normalizer DSP plugin for Winamp. However, Itunes lacks in terms of customization, and what I would call obvious usability and interface design. This is the utmost ironic thing, because Mac, the supposed “superior user interface designers” fail miserably – and on the simplest of things!

Nexus Memory Heatspreader Installation

Nexus Memory Heatspreader
I’m in the process of “upgrading” my desktop, and part of that upgrade includes a cooling overhaul. My desktop is a loud bitch, and my goal was to cool it as best as possible… and more importantly, as silent as possible. As part of my plan to lower the case temperature and get rid of the front air intake fan (as recommended by AMD’s Cooling Guide), I decided to order some Nexus Memory Heatspreaders from to cool my RAM.

Installing them seems easy enough, so easy in fact, that I ran into a few problems. 🙂

First, you must ensure that when sticking your RAM onto the adhesive tape, you line up the RAM exactly in the middle of the heatspreader casing. While this may seem blatantly obvious, even a slight millimeter deviation from center can cause problems when seating your RAM back into the motherboard socket. One of my RAM sticks was slightly off-center in the heatspreader, making it impossible to re-seat the stick. The overhanging edges of the heatspreader were preventing the RAM clip from properly locking into place and seating the RAM. I ended up having to use a pair of pliers to bend the overhanging part of the heatspreader to make it fit.

Second, do not seperate the two pieces of the heatspreader when sticking your RAM to it. The heatspreaders have a little hinge at the top, and in order to close the heatspreader over your RAM, there needs to be a slight bit of head room for the hinges to slide into place. I made the mistake of sticking one half of the heatspreader on my RAM first. I wrongly positioned the RAM flush up against the top of the heatspreader, but this prevented the other half of the heatspreader from clipping back on! Think of it as a 3-ring binder: if you put too many papers in the binder, the binder won’t fully close. I ended up having to attach only one hinge, and the other one (that wouldn’t slide into the other hinge) I had to bend up with a pair of pliers. The provided clips hold both sides of the heatspreader in place well, so I’m not too worried about it, but for a moment there I was worried that I’d have a RAM stick with only half of a heatspreader.

Finally, that adhesive tape is amazingly sticky. If you mess up placing it on your RAM, there’s no going back, so make sure you do it right the first time!

So let this be a lesson to you if you’re installing heatspreaders on your RAM – it may look like an easy no-brainer, but it actually requires quite a bit of attention.