How Big Data is Revolutionizing the Music and Movie Business

Smart for these artists and movie studios to find ways to use the data to not only make them more money, but deliver the product people want.

 

The Best Of….

This gem of a website will show you the top 10 songs from an artist. This can be great for introducing someone to a new band or artist you really like. Also handy if you want to quickly hear the best songs from an artist you already know and love.

Here my friend is recommending Pop Evil. I like it. No need for more cowbell.
Here my friend is recommending Pop Evil. I like it. No need for more cowbell.
 

Songza

I am the type of person who would have music playing all day every day if I could. It improves my mood and my songzaproductivity and tedious work is easier to do with the right playlist. And the playlist is the key. I have a huge library of music (over 300,000 songs) and sometimes the hardest thing to do is decide which existing playlist will work, or what songs to put on a new one. If I’m going to shovel snow for 2 hours, my “workout” playlist really doesn’t fit. And I don’t have the time or the energy to create a playlist at 5 am when I have to clear the cars and driveway to get everyone off for the day.

 

Over at Songza they have a solution for me. Just tell Songza what kind of task you’re doing (housework, cooking, working in an office) or what kind of mood you’re in and you’ll instantly be served with playlists created by experts based on your specs.

The Songza main screen.

 

I chose Decades for this example, and then browsed through until I got to 80’s rock. ON the right you can see the different pre generated playlists to meet my hairband fix.

songza 80srock

You can create an account or sign in with Facebook. I really think this is a better way to listen to music online, and if you think so too, check out  Songza on the web.

 

VLC- The only Media Player You Will Ever Need

At some point, everyone runs into a problem opening a multimedia file (usually a video) . VLC player can solve most of these problems. It has a simple interface that’s very user friendly, but also enough extra features to keep you happy if you’re an advanced user. You can drag and drop music or videos into the player, use the file menu to open them, or click on them in Windows explorer once you have selected VLC as your default player for that file type.

The basic VLC interface. You can drag and drop any audio or video file right into the player or use the File menu.
The basic VLC interface. You can drag and drop any audio or video file right into the player or use the File menu.

 

Multimedia files are coded a certain way when they are created, and your multimedia software decodes them. This is done using software called a CODEC, which stands for CODE/DECODE. Widows comes with some codecs by default for the file types most used by windows. As you install other multimedia software, like CD and DVD burning software,  Itunes, or other media players,  you pick up new codecs and expand the file types your computer knows how to open and play.

There are all-in-one codec packs out there on the internet that try to provide all the codecs you will ever need for every possible file type, but they often come bundled with toolbars and other unwanted software. You don’t want that junk cluttering up your computer.

VLC player comes with a slew of codecs built in, and no configuration is needed to get them to work. VLC will open all the common audio and video filetypes and includes support for subtitle files.

A list of video file types VLC will play for each Operating System. Courtesy of videolan.org
A list of video file types VLC will play for each Operating System. Courtesy of videolan.org

 

VLC includes support for subtitle files if your video includes them. Even if you’re not going to watch something in a different language the subtitles can be useful. I’ve used them when my infant son was asleep and I couldn’t have the sound at my normally preferred earth shattering volume. They can also be used to decipher the dialogue in scenes that are just plain hard to hear.

Turning on subtitles is easy. Right click on the video and navigate the menus to Subtitle->Sub Track-> and then your language,
Turning on subtitles is easy. Right click on the video and navigate the menus to Subtitle->Sub Track-> and then your language,

 

One of my favorite features is the equalizer, under the extended settings button. There are separate controls for both audio and video tweaking.  I use this for brightening up older videos or home videos that are not the highest digital quality, but there are dozens of options starting with the basic brightness, contrast, saturation, hue and gamma controls. But it was also let you make the image negative, turn it sepia, rotate it, and even add a logo or watermark to it. Not bad for a free program!

Before the equalizer is used, the picture is fairly dark.
Before the equalizer is used, the picture is fairly dark.

 

The above image is before using the equalizer on the video. You can see the difference below after a few minor tweaks to brightness, contrast, gamma and saturation.

The red arrow points to the equalizer button. You can see a notable difference once I've tinkered with the settings.
The red arrow points to the equalizer button. You can see a notable difference once I’ve tinkered with the settings.

 

In the event that your audio and video are not matching up, there’s a submenu here for synching them together.

Easily fix audio and video that are out of synch
Easily fix audio and video that are out of synch

 

And VLC player give you the option to take a screenshot of any part of your video. Just go to the video menu and look all the way at the bottom.

Capture an image of the screen by using the Take Snapshot option in the Video menu
Capture an image of the screen by using the Take Snapshot option in the Video menu

 

You can set the default save location, file type and naming scheme for your snapshots under the Tools -> Preferences -> Video menu, shown highlighted here.

Snapshot settings
Snapshot settings

 

There are literally hundreds of other features to explore if you are into that sort of thing. Or maybe you want to simply watch a  movie and not have to do anything but click and drag. Either way, VLC player is the best free media player to suit your needs.