Media Player Shootout

Written by James Kendall

Whether you call them media players, jukeboxes, mp3 apps, music managers, or whatever - we all need a proggy to listen to our digital music with sowe decided that it was time to publishrepparttar Online Music Blog Media Player Shootout. Forrepparttar 110023 sake of this article I am only going to discuss players you can get for free and I am not going to go into p2p apps.

So with that, lets dive right in. For my money there are are only 3 choices - Winamp, iTunes, or Windows Media Players - but I'll talk a little about RealPlayer 10 as well. All of these applications share baseline features - playing various media files, cataloging digital media, etc. We'll focus on things about them that are different.

Back inrepparttar 110024 day, we had Winamp, and it was good. Unfortunately the original Nullsoft team has all moved on and instead ofrepparttar 110025 hacker cred that Winamp used to have back when Justin Frankel et all were onrepparttar 110026 job it is now just another corporate media player with a hazy future.

Winamp lost a lot of momentum that it had when it released a ( very ) bad Winamp3 - but withrepparttar 110027 release of Winamp5 they seem to be back on track - it is useable, responsive, and has a lot of plugins and skins created for it.

The major problem is that for all of it's features it is not much, if any, better thenrepparttar 110028 two dominant media players that are tied to successful music stores iTunes and WMP. Additionally you have to pay $14.95 to getrepparttar 110029 pro version that add features that iTunes and WMP include for free. One ofrepparttar 110030 bonuses of using Winamp isrepparttar 110031 ability to tune into all ofrepparttar 110032 cool shoutcast radio stations.

iTunes is, of course, isrepparttar 110033 digital jukebox front end forrepparttar 110034 iPod andrepparttar 110035 iTunes music store from apple computer. The iTunes music store wasrepparttar 110036 first to get pay for digital music downloads right and it still hasrepparttar 110037 largest legal downloadable catalog onrepparttar 110038 net givingrepparttar 110039 iTunes jukebox a hefty advantage.

If you are using a Mac then it is a no brainer - you should be using iTunes as you media player, but even if you are using Windows iTunes provides an attractive alternative. The iTunes store is superior ( imho ) torepparttar 110040 Windows Media based stores such as Napster and withrepparttar 110041 legendary Apple ease of use in full effect iTunes makes a great Windows based Jukebox. Noteworthy isrepparttar 110042 Apple Lossless codec that allows one to rip CD's torepparttar 110043 ACC format that sound as good asrepparttar 110044 CD itself to our ears. Onrepparttar 110045 negative side,repparttar 110046 iTunes jukebox feels heavy on moderately powered PC's compared to Winamp or WMP. It runs a little slower, seems to use more resources, etc.

The Christmas Gift (A Short Story)

Written by C. Bailey-Lloyd/LadyCamelot

The Christmas Gift by C. Bailey-Lloyd

In a small, Southern town offrepparttar banks ofrepparttar 110022 Edisto River lived a bright-eyed, skinny, brown-haired girl. Renee was a jovial child, filled with love and compassion. In everything, she managed to find some light.

Renee would take daily strolls torepparttar 110023 riverbank where she'd gather unique rocks and stray seashells. On her way to her hidden refuge, `neath towering oaks and mossy vines, she'd passrepparttar 110024 house where Sady lived.

Though Renee never saw much of Sady's owners, she would always stop by to petrepparttar 110025 bulky but gentle giant. Sady wasn't any ordinary dog - she was special. Whenever Renee would come by,repparttar 110026 tall black and tan rotty would scoop up her fringed tennis ball and toss it intorepparttar 110027 air for Renee to throw.

The oversized dog was pinned in a very small kennel, but she would always perk up when Renee was there. Renee would squeeze her tiny wrists and hands throughrepparttar 110028 rusty, wire mesh and lovingly stroke Sady. In return, Sady would adore Renee with her eyes and rub her side against Renee's small fingers.

Sneaking leftovers to Sady was Renee's favorite thing to do. She knew Sady didn't get much to eat, `cause she could tell fromrepparttar 110029 looks of her that mealtime must've been meager helpings of Ol'Roy dog food. Neverrepparttar 110030 matter, Renee would bring strips of broken beef jerky, Vienna sausages and anything she could swipe from her fridge. Before leaving Sady, Renee would gather fresh water fromrepparttar 110031 River and fill Sady's empty water bowl.

As Autumn leaves began to fall, Renee had noticed that Sady was becoming thinner and lankier, but she couldn't come as often because School took precedence over her walks torepparttar 110032 river refuge.

One day, Renee asked her Pa if he'd talk torepparttar 110033 owners of Sady and see whether they'd like to give herrepparttar 110034 big dog. "What'r ya gonna do with such a big dawg?" asked Pa.

"Oh, I don't know, Pa. But I'd feed her and love her," she added, "that's all Sady really wants," she continued, "her owners aren't ever there, and it just seems wrong to keep her pinned in that little fence."

Pa shook his head, and he cupped his hands around Renee's chin, "Pun'kin, we ain't gotrepparttar 110035 kinda money to take care of such a big dawg. He'd eat us out of house and home."

Renee pushed Pa's hands away from her face and said matter-of-factly, "first of all, he ain't a he - she's a she, and Sady would never do that."

With that, she trumped off to her room. Downhearted, she slipped on her shoes and coat, and made her way outrepparttar 110036 door.

"Where ya goin?" Pa asked.

"I'm going to see Sady," Renee replied, "somebody's got to love her."

Pa didn't try to stop her. He figured so long as Renee could visit Sady, that would be enough.

Renee went to Sady's pen, but Sady didn't run torepparttar 110037 fence edge as she normally did. She was laying inrepparttar 110038 corner, head low torepparttar 110039 ground and she barely lifted her eyes when Renee called to her. "What'srepparttar 110040 matter, girl?" asked Renee.

It had been about a week since she'd last seen Sady. Now,repparttar 110041 dog had a swollen tummy and she appeared very weak and tired. Sady staggered to her feet and slowly walked to greet Renee. Her tail wasn't wagging as much, and Renee could clearly see hipbones sticking out onrepparttar 110042 large dog. "Come here, Sady," she called to her, "it's okay girl," she pulled a half-eaten pecan log from her pocket, "here, girl. Gotta treat for you."

Sady peered throughrepparttar 110043 mesh at Renee. Sadly, Renee strokedrepparttar 110044 sweet dog throughrepparttar 110045 fence while Sady hungrily aterepparttar 110046 pecan log. "Pa says I can't have you, Sady. But one day, when I'm big, I'll come and get you girl," she whispered.

Before too long, it had gotten dark and Renee knew she had to get home. When she arrived back atrepparttar 110047 house, Pa told her, "Renee, ya really need to try to stay home more often and work on your homework," he paused, "you're always off with that dawg inrepparttar 110048 woods and I don't ever see ya workin' on school papers."

Renee nodded her head, "I know,'s just that..." she started.

"I know ya love that dawg, Renee, but schoolin' comes first," he ended.

Knowing that she wasn't going to get her way much longer with going to see Sady, Renee stayed more at home but still made weekend trips torepparttar 110049 riverside nearby Sady's kennel. Each time she'd see her, Sady seemed weaker and sicker. What kind of people could do this to such a lovable, huggable girl? Renee thought to herself.

On Christmas Day,repparttar 110050 first snow was blanketingrepparttar 110051 grounds around Renee's house. Though money was tight and there wasn't enough for any presents, she got Pa to come outside with her to build a snowman. After about an hour of playing and laughing inrepparttar 110052 snowdrifts, Renee had a terrible, horrible thought, `what had become of poor Sady?" she thought aloud to herself. Here she was having a wonderful time playing outside inrepparttar 110053 snow, but Sady would be all by herself with little shelter fromrepparttar 110054 bitter cold.

Suddenly, Renee turned to Pa, and she said, "Can I go and see Sady just for a few minutes, Pa?"

Pa winked his eye at Renee, "yep...," he smiled, "but take that old pack of bologna fromrepparttar 110055 fridge with ya when ya go. Gotta get rid of that old stuff, ya know."

Renee forced a grin and ran to grabrepparttar 110056 newly opened pack of bologna fromrepparttar 110057 fridge and trotted down to Sady's pen. As she nearedrepparttar 110058 bend where Sady lived, she noticed that there were some grown men standing aroundrepparttar 110059 mesh wire. Hiding behindrepparttar 110060 bushed, she could faintly hear them speaking.

"I told ya to get rid of that stupid dawg," said one.

"Yep," saidrepparttar 110061 other placing his hands on his hips, "now what ya gonna do?" he added.

There was a bustle inrepparttar 110062 back ofrepparttar 110063 pen, but Renee couldn't see what was happening. Her heart sunk. She knew for sure that something terrible had happened, but what?

At about that time, Pa walked up behind Renee and startled her, "what'r ya doin?" asked Pa.

"Oh-my-gosh!" she gulped, "what'r you doing here, Pa?"

"I came to seerepparttar 110064 fabulous Sady you always talk about. Why'r ya hidin' `hindrepparttar 110065 bushes?" he asked.

"There are people there Pa. I ain't never seen them before."

Pa strokedrepparttar 110066 whiskers on his chin, "...hmmm..." he pondered, "well, let's go on home then."

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