Friday, January 14, 2011

Amarok 2 or how to break a program

In an earlier post I made a quick reference to Amarok 2. This program is a case study in what not to do. Amarok 1 was truly an amazing piece of software the people raved about. It was the best music player/manager out there and people were actually switching to Linux to use it. It was that good. To draw an analogy to another of my hobbies, it was the Lightroom of music players.

But apparently it was hard to maintain under the hood, so the developers decided to scrap it and rewrite something they called Amarok 2. But when it was released it still had a ton of problems. A quick web search for Amarok sucks will bring up a lot of this history.

Basically the authors seemed to decide that it was very important that your music player talk to a bunch of online services like telling people on Facebook, as if they cared, what you were listening to right that minute. What was less important apparently was actually playing music and especially being able to organize your collection.

This was all 3-4 years ago. In the meantime, Amarok 2 is getting better, but it's lost its buzz and no one today ever raves about how good it is. Every time I use it to try to accomplish something, I get frustrated very quickly. Occasionally I will evaluate it to replace the original Amarok on my media PC and I quickly find something it won't do. For instance, I have a fair bit of music, so I'd like a playlist that would play a rotating collection, but not play things I've rated poorly and not play classical music. I'd like another playlist that would play things tagged "night" so when I'm trying to fall asleep, I'm not jarred awake by a Metallica song. Piece of cake with Amarok 1.4. Amarok 2 couldn't do it. It looks like finally in 2011 it may be able to do this. Maybe.

Which brings me to today's frustration. I'm trying to organize some of my ripped CDs. I noticed that a title that is set incorrectly, so I changed it in Amarok 2. Immediately, for some reason, this CD goes from being listed under various artists to being listed under 15 different people. I click on it and find Amarok thinks it's a compilation because there is a menu item that says "Don't show under various artists." So if I click on that, what would you think would happen?

  1. Nothing
  2. Apparently nothing but now "Show under various artists" is back and clicking that gets things back the way they were
  3. It shows immediately under various artists
  4. The album totally disappears, it's album cover is assigned to another album, AND a scan of my collection won't bring it back
If you answered #4, you would of course be right. This kind of thing is why I was still running a three year old operating system on my Media PC. And it's why I doubt I will ever like or really use this new version of Amarok.

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