controlling iTunes via iPhone

I’ve gotten in the habit of playing music on my big stereo via iTunes running on my Mac.

A handy remote control for this is the Apple-created iPhone app called “Remote”. it looks like an ipod on your phone, but it’s controlling an iTunes running on a Mac over the network.

It works well enough, but not perfectly. Lag time between waking up the iPhone and being able to control iTunes is in the neigborhood of 5 seconds, which is an eternity when you’re used to instant digital gratification.

The lag has two components: waiting for the iphone to connect to the wi-fi, and then waiting for the Remote app to connect to iTunes.

I discovered a fix for the first! I was letting my iPhone configure itself dynamically via DHCP. it was taking at least 3 and sometimes 4 whole seconds to get on the wireless network.

On a whim, I set it to use a static IP address for my home wireless. Next time I woke the phone up, the wi-fi connection happened instantaneously!

So now I’m only left waiting for 1 to 2 seconds for Remote to connect to iTunes; much better than the full 5 seconds it took before.

I usually turn wi-fi off on my iPhone when I leave home; I haven’t found a compelling enough reason to need the extra bandwidth (on the off chance I can find a free or AT&T hotspot) to justify the accelerated battery drain. I also keep bluetooth off all the time since I don’t have any bluetooth devices or cars (yet!)

ipod in the car!

Installed an Audio Link in my car. this adds an ipod dock connector in my glove compartment. It keeps the ipod charged, and also pipes the music through the cd change connector on the back of my head unit. The car thinks the ipod is a cd changer! (which has cd with thousands of songs on them) the steering wheel controls will change tracks, and the head unit itself can select between the first 5 playlists on the ipod, as well as fast forward and rewind within a song. The only feature this unit is lacking is displaying the track title on the car’s display. in the most common mode though, the ipod screen stills shows that info, and the ipod controls can also be used to change playlists, etc. a killer feature of the Audio Link I haven’t seen on any other ipod adaptor is the extra connector which will plug into anything with a headphone jack, like laptops, dvd players, satellite radio receivers, even cheap walkmans from the 80s :) This is my second Audio Link, the first one was flaky and would only work after the car was started and turn off then back on again. and sometimes not even then. The second one has been flawless. (They sent me the second one free to replace the first one of course, free shipping and all). one thing I hadn’t expected is how nice it is not to have to fiddle with the ipod most of the time. it just sits in my glove box. when I park, I just have to turn the car off and get out, no more need to stop the ipod and stow it somewhere. before this, I was using an itrip FM transmitter with the ipod. worked well enough, but this is much better. my car has a number scale for volume. with the itrip, 15 was my typical volume level, and really loud was 20 or 21. now normal is 6, and really loud is 11! I’ve only had it back up to 15 once, that was just for a few seconds, and way loud (not distorted though) btw, I had the ipod on shuffle and the first song which came up was Ironman by Black Sabbath. installation took less than 30 minutes, with Aiden “helping” me. he did hold the flashlight once or twice. This was my second time to install it of course so I knew exactly what I was doing. the first time only took an hour or so though. no wire splicing required, it just plugs into the back of the head unit, that’s where it gets power from and everything.

music

I’ve had an ipod for a while now and knew about the ‘my highest rated’ smart playlist, but it was just a few days ago that I actually looked at it. sometimes while listening to the ipod at work, if a good song came up I’d rate it somewhere between 1 and 5 stars. I’m pretty conservative with the 5-star rating; to get five stars, you have to be a song that I expect I’ll never get tired of.

when I took a look at the list for the first time the other day, I was surprised to see it had 78 songs on it! For some reason I was expecting it to be limited to 10 or 25 songs. anyway, that evening on the drive home I put the ipod on shuffle on the highest rated playlist… it’s incredibly sublime to have a couple hours of your absolute most favorite songs queued up back to back!

next time I plug my ipod into my tired old ibook I’m going to check out some stats on the list. I wonder what my favorite band is? :)