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Some time has passed since I last blogged about the Amarok Amazon MP3 store integration. Much polishing has taken place since then. But during the last few days a few major features have shown up as well. And one might even kill a showstopper for Linux on the desktop for many users.
Amazon really sucks in terms of usability. If you buy more than one music file they don't offer a package with several MP3s in it for download, but an encrypted .amz file with download instructions. Even worse: Their application to handle those is proprietary, buggy and seems to be broken on 64 bit systems. But fear no more, those dark times are over! I hereby present: AMZ Downloader, a small utility to make downloading from Amazon as easy as eating a pie.
The screenshots should tell you the rest:
From a technical point of view the AMZ Downloader is also quite interesting. It is a separate utility, only requiring Qt and clamz, a command line .amz downloader. So maybe we are going to see AMZ Downloader shipped with other music players than Amarok, too? We'll see.
But that's not all there is. Amarok now offers further infos about a selected item in the context view.
And it's not just viewing, it's browsing! Click on an artist name to browse through the store and discover other stuff from the artist. Clicking on a song adds it to the playlist. And you can also add a song to your shopping cart with one click.
This is possible thanks to Amarok Amazon URLs, which have been enhanced in latest git. This one for example searches for "Cure" in your store and that one adds a great album to your shopping cart. This could be a great area for script developers to play with...
Check out git master or wait for Amarok 2.7, our most awesome release ever made!
Amarok 2.5 "Earth Moving" has just been released. So now it's time to have a look at all the exciting new features, as looking at bugfixes (which are important for sure) can be considered boring for a blog. ;-)
For Amarok 2.5 I have been working on integrating the Amazon MP3 store. The aim is to integrate it like any other collection. And as you are about to see we are already quite close.
You can find the service by first clicking Internet in the Media Sources panel...
...where you can select MP3 Music Store.
And here we are. The service should have asked you for your location, as mp3 downloads sadly are not available worldwide but only in selected countries. And at the moment you are only allowed to download songs from your local store.
The service first loads some recommended albums (the entries on the top with the disc icon) and songs (below, with a musical note as icon). I am going to use that view now to present you some basic features. For example you can add a track to your playlist, as if it was part of your local collection. Be aware that Amazon does not offer complete previews, but 30 second snippets:
The service automatically loads the album cover of a song and shows it in the playlist. For some tracks this does not yet work, but that should be fixed in a few days:
You can add tracks as usually using drag and drop, the popup dropper that fades over the context area or by using the context menu, which offers some more actions:
For tracks you can not only add the preview to the playlist but also search for the album the track is on and of course add it to your shopping cart.
Albums also allow searching for their contents:
The result might lool like this:
Finally I also added nice tooltips, so you can easily disinguish the same track from several albums in different versions:
When adding an item (album or track) to the shopping cart you get a small notification below the service:
And of course you can search for whatever songs, artists, albums or audio books you like:
Our shopping cart, you can call it by pressing the button below the service, is quite basic, but works fine:
Removing items ia a matter of pressing the delete key or calling the context menu of an item:
The item is then being removed, the shopping cart value updated:
Finally pressing "checkout" in the main window or the shopping cart opens the Amazon site in your default browser, where Amazon asks you for confirmation to really add these items to your shopping cart:
Sadly due to API limitations this does not work that easily for Amazon.com.
And of course Amarok gets a share of the profits made by this service.
This concludes our short tour. Have fun rediscovering your music! :-)
PS: The API we are using is also available for other projects.
So, FOSDEM is over now and I finally have the time to have a look back.
As I already said I was there one day earlier, so I could do something else but promoting Amarok for one day: visiting the European Parliament. The EP was located about 30 minutes by foot from the hotel. I can really recommend not always using the metro or tram lines: with that you only see some spots of the city but are never able to connect them. Walking from one point to another really helps to get some orientation, so afterwards you are able to find your ways quite easily.
Anyway, I arrived at the EP a few minutes before 10 AM, to meet with Erik Josefsson, member of the EP for the Green party, at one of the (afaik) two accreditation centers. Some minutes later, after passing those airport like security checks, not Erik but Christian Engström showed up. As you might know he is the first Pirate ever in the EP after the election result of more than 7% in Sweden. So in his office we talked about the current state of netpolitics in Sweden, Germany and the EU. Things like data retention (very interesting for Sweden atm, as they were just successfully sued by the EU for not making that into national law), ACTA, or the SWIFT treaty with the US (that the EP will very likely reject no matter what Hillary Clinton says). So in general: all those things that are about to attack the base of our security: freedom. Also some election campain ideas were exchanged in our discussion.
Anyway, he still had to do some paperwork so he suggested to bring me into a "hearing" of the "Digital Rights Group". Well, I didn't seem to remember the name, but the agenda was very interesting: all kinds of netpolitics. So i agreed to go there, of course. Which would really not have been possible for me alone at all, as all the hallways in those buildings seem to look exactly the same. You can get lost there sooo easily.
On arrival Christian showed me Erik, who was sitting on the conference table of the meeting room. Also Amelia Andersdotter was there, the second Pirate in the EP (since the signing of the Lissabon treaty Sweden has two more seats) and afaik the youngest ever. As all visitor seats were taken I just sat down on the floor and listened to what they have to say. The discussion was really inspiring, it was about data retention at that moment. The people on the conference table, which I thought were members of the EP, were asing somebody from the European Commission (I knew the face but not the name...) many very, very critical questions. One thing hat came up to me during that: does something like "anonymized data" actually exist at all? I'm gonna write about the problems I see there later in another post.
I was surprised: the Council and Commission have not yet arrived in the Lissabon treaty times and still don't accept the EPs new powers, or at least they try to ignore it all the time. So i expected critical questions. But not THAT critical. After some time I got even more confused: one person with the same kind of name tag as me, so appearently another visitor, was allowed to ask a question directly to the representative of the Commission. So clearly I had the wrong impression of where I was.
Well, during lunch break Erik explained to me that this was a meeting of all kinds of netpolitics organizations. In fact this was part of a two days conference, for the first time ever those groups hat the chance to meet directly inside the EP buildings. So before FOSDEM I accidently took part in another conference. ;-)
The afternoon was very interesting then: as there was a free seat directly at the conference table I could go, from the introduction I learned that there were people from netzpolitik.org, La Quadrature Du Net, AK Zensur, Pirate International and others. Someone even came up to me saying: "Hey, I know you, you are with the German Pirates.". Completely right, but I'm only a normal member there, We both had no ideas where he could have seen me.
In the afternoon we made a list of current and upcoming topics that will influence digital rights massively. I will put then into a separate blog entry, as the list is not that short and I suppose not everyone reading the Amarok-Feed of my blog is deeply into politics.
So to come to an end to that political stuff: it was a very, very interesting day, thanks to Christian, Amelia and Erik for making that possible.
The FOSDEM beer event then took place again at the Delerium Café in the center of the city. New beers I tried this time: cactus and coconut. Well, if you are into those lemon bricks that can be put into the toilet to make it smell better cactus is the beer for you! It smells exactly this way and tastes... as you would expect it to taste! Everyone on the table agreed. But: it makes a good start for funny conversations. Coconut on the other hand is fine: smells and tastes like coconut, is kind of sweet and gets served in a bowl looking like half a coconut. Very nice. :)
FOSDEM itself (wasn't this blog entry planned to be about FOSDEM?) was really good as well: many visitors as always, many people were interested in Amarok and our shirts at the booth. My talk filled the dev room completely, so the "closed" signs had to be put on the doors to stop people from entering. This morning I saw a mail on the list saying:
Sven really kicked ass holding one of the most entertaining and informative talks
Thanks a lot!
I really like to keep my talks open for discussion, and that worked perfectly this time. So check the mailing list for the resulting ideas.