Making use of various iTunes for Windows plug-ins

Since I became an iPod convert a few months back, I’ve ripped all of my CD albums to 192kbps MP3s using iTunes (over 5000 songs using 29Gb of disk space at the time of writing – still got about 500 CD singles, plus MiniDisc and vinyl to go…) but one of the features which really lets down iTunes is the lack of high quality visualizations (Windows Media Player has loads).

To help me with my quest to find decent iTunes for Windows visualizations, one of my MacMates, Stuart, sent me a link to the iLounge directory of known iTunes plug-ins. I’m still underwhelmed with the available visualizations but I came across some other interesting plug-ins, like WMPtunelog, which writes out information of the currently playing track to the registry (HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\MediaPlayer\CurrentMetaData\). I’d really like to access this from my homepage and include a real-time “what I’m listening to” panel, but I’m not sure how at the moment. The blogging plug-in within the Windows Media Player 9 Series creativity fun pack (which also works with Windows Media Player 10) was looking hopeful, until I found that the “code samples for adding support to my web, Visual Basic, or C/C++ application” link in the creativity_pack_readme.htm file was dead… If anybody has any hints, then please let me know!

One alternative may be Brandon Fuller’s Now Playing, which monitors the currently playing song and writes the information out to an XML file (optionally FTPing this to a location of your choice). Brandon uses PHP to process this on his site, but I’m having problems using PHP on my ISP’s servers (my ISP only allows active content to run on a separate server and I can’t seem to call the PHP from within normal HTML pages on their Apache web server) so am hoping that I can use an XSL transformation to format the XML instead but still not sure how to include that in the HTML…

All of this is a bit developery for an infrastructure bod like me but I’ll keep on plugging away with this and will post a comment to this post when (if) I get it all working. In the meantime, answers on a postcard please…

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