November 26th, 2007


On Vox: Easy iTunes control

I listen to music for long periods of time at work. Usually, I just put iTunes on "Party Shuffle" and let it go. There are two problems that I run in to often though:

  • Someone comes to talk to me, and I have to pause/mute so they don't have to listen to The Briefs blaring out of my headphones while they try to explain something to me.
  • Party Shuffle frequently picks songs I don't want to hear at the moment, so I have to either switch over to iT and skip forward, or use the remote control, which doesn't always have clear line of sight to the computer, due to a keyboard being in the way. Further, in order to do this, I had to pair my remote to the machine, so as to not interfere with other machines around here, which means that I can't control my MacBook with my Harmony remote at home.
Today I found one solution to all of this: the Power Mate by Griffin Technology. It's a big knob that sits on my desk and hooks up to the computer via USB. It's completely programmable; it can send an assigned key combination when you turn it left or right, push it down, push it and hold it, or push it and turn it. I combined it with Sizzling Keys for Mac OS X to give me ultimate control over iTunes regardless of what application is in front of me.

The result is that I can now keep iTunes minimized while retaining the ability to turn volume up and down, skip forward a track (by pressing), and pausing (by holding). I could program the rest of the functions but I don't need them. Bonus is that it feels good to reject a song that Party Shuffle picked by slamming my fist down on the big button on my desk. Extra bonus is that Sizzling Keys pops up a little window at the beginning of each song with artist, title, album, and album art, so I can see what's coming right away. I likey.

Thanks to markpasc for loaning me his Power Mate. I'm gonna order one up soon fo' sho'. I only wish they had a USB version.

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