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Scrobbling from Anywhere

Does your Last.fm profile not reflect all the music you listen to? We show you how to make those tracks show up in your library.

Last.fm is a web 2.0 radio service that has a very active community of listeners. The edge that Last.fm has over other radio streaming services such as Pandora or Groove shark is the community, and the back end utility known as Audioscrobbler that keeps track of all the songs you have listened to, and suggests similar tracks or artists to listen to, download or buy. If there is a concert by any of these artists near your location, these are also listed. If you’re a Last.fm user, it often happens that you listen to a lot of music that does not get scrobbled. Here, we will show you how to scrobble these sources.

Scrobbling from an MP3 player or a PMP

Last.fm has apps that support iTunes, the iPhone and iPod by default, so scrobbling from one of these MP3 players is not a problem. However, if you own anything but an iPod, scrobbling can be a little painstaking. You will first have to enable MTP in the fi le transfer USB mode on your player. Most players have an MTP mode, which is simply a protocol for transferring data. When enabled, your MP3 player can sync with a media player on a computer, say Windows Media Player or iTunes. This allows a user to transfer DRM protected music onto the player. The same mode can be exploited to “read” the “play history” from your player, and submit the information to audioscrobbler.

There are a few pre-requisites before you can scrobble smoothly from your PMP. If you have not been using your device in the MTP mode, preferring to have the convenience of connecting the device to computers as external memory, then you will have to format the device then switch to MTP mode. Next, you will have to use software such as Windows Media Player or Winamp to transfer the fi les to the device in the MTP mode.

There are two commonly used software for scrobbling from a PMP. Zenses and QTScrobbler, both open source, and both community developed. Zenses is no longer being actively developed, but is the simpler of the two. You will have to connect your player to the computer in MTP mode, and start up either Zenses or QTScrobbler. These will analyze the tracks on your PMP. Zenses scans the PMP once automatically. If you are using QTScrobbler, you will have to click on the “Open MTP Device” button. Once this is done, close the software. You can now disconnect the PMP, and listen to your songs. After you are done listening to a few songs, you can connect the PMP to the computer (it has to be the same computer) and start either Zenses or QTScrobbler, whichever you were using.

Both software have a date and time field. If you change this field, then the scrobble timings of the listened to tracks will be calculated backwards from the specified time. By default, the field shows the time at startup. This can be changed to reflect the time that you actually listened to the tracks. Zenses should list the listened to tracks on its own, once you start up the software. You need to click the “Open MTP Device” in QTScrobbler. Enter in the username and password to your Last.fm profile. Zenses has fields for these in the main window itself, QTScrobbler has them in the Global > Settings window.

The song list shows up in QTScrobbler on first use

Click on Send to Last.fm in Zenses and Submit in QTScrobbler to scrobble the detected tracks to your profile. If you are using the Zune, you can alternatively use a software known as Zuse, which is made specifically for the Zune.

Scrobbling from your mobile phone

There are many ways to scrobble from your mobile phone. If you have a Symbian phone, the easiest way to scrobble is to use a software known as Mobbler. Mobbler is not a plug-in for the existing MP3 player on your phone, but rather a player in itself. You can set Mobbler to scrobble tracks as and when you listen to them, or scrobble them all together after listening to a few tracks. Mobbler has the additional functionality of being able to stream music from Last.fm, though this will reflect heavily in your bills. Mobbler also lets you love or hate tracks, as well as skip and ban tracks if you are streaming music from Last.fm.

Streaming Last.fm radio and scrobbling from Mobbler

There are a number of language packs for Mobbler, including Pirate, 1337 and Klingon. Windows Mobile users have a number of options to scrobble. The simplest software that can be used is Pocket Scrobbler, which is mostly a background process. It logs the songs that are played from the default Windows Media Player already installed by default on your Windows Mobile OS.

Pocket Scrobbler is not a standalone application, and cannot play music by itself. You need the .NET Compact Framework 2.0 installed on your Windows Mobile device in order to use Pocket Scrobbler. There is no free application to scrobble from a Black- Berry. There is an application known as Flip Side, which plays as well as scrobbles from a BlackBerry. Flip Side is also available as a purchase to Windows Mobile users. Flip Side is a standalone player, with a sleek touch interface.

There are scrobblers available for most major platforms, the glaring exception being scrobblers for Sony- Ericsson devices. Scrobbling support for this platform is on the agenda though, and should be around soon.

Scrobbling from web sites

Many web 2.0 music streaming sites such as YouScrobble and Lala already offer scrobbling to Last.fm as a feature. Although the Grooveshark community is demanding scrobbling support, there is no mechanism yet. To scrobble from Grooveshark, a Java application known as Rumpus can be used. Rumpus is available at http://rumpus. altervista.org, download the ZIP fi le and unpack it to a convenient folder. Removing the version number from the folder will help in the command line operation to follow. Go to Start Run > CMD (the Windows console) and navigate to the Rumpus folder within the console. Then type in Java -jar Rumpus.jar. If a window does not pop up, make sure Java is installed properly on your machine. Enter in your Grooveshark username, and your Last.fm login details to continue.

Rumpus uses the RSS feed of the music that you listen to, generated by Grooveshark to submit to Last.fm. How often your Last.fm scrobbles get updated depends on how frequently your Grooveshark RSS feed gets updated, which means that Last.fm will not show the “listening now” icon on your profile. You will have to listen to a few songs before the scrobbles start showing up on Last.fm (4 tracks, in our case). We also noticed a 50 minute lag in the timings of the scrobbled tracks. You can use an RSS feed reader to monitor your feed in Grooveshark, and then choose to scrobble many tracks at once. Your Grooveshark RSS feed is at http:// api.grooveshark.com/feeds/1.0/ users//recent_listens. rss. Rumpus automatically checks for updates to the RSS feed once it is running.

Scrobbling for YouTube works only on Firefox, through the popular Greasemonkey plugin. If you don’t have Greasemonkey, install it, and also install the Youscrobbler script (not to be confused with the YouScrobbler web site). The Youscrobbler script is available at http:// bit.ly/yscrblr. Once the script is loaded, go to YouTube. Next to History and Subscriptions, there will now be a Scrobble button, along with the Last.fm logo.

Every time you watch a music video, you can click on the Scrobble button to relay the track information to Last.fm. The first time you click on the Scrobble button, you will be asked for your Last. fm login details. By default, the script expects the videos to be named in the - format. If this is not the format followed, you can edit the track names, and scrobble. You can use this script to scrobble any tracks, as a last resort to record a particular track in your library. Be careful of overusing this method though, as scrobble spamming is a bannable offence on Last.fm

Get Cracking With Audioscrobbler

If you need to scrobble from a particular source, but there is no current way to do so, you can make your own scrobbler using Last.fm’s open API. All you really need to do is collect the metadata information, attribute a time-stamp, and pass it on to Last.fm in the specified format. The API is available at www.last.fm/api. Most of the scrobbling mechanisms above have been coded by Last.fm users who found a gap in scrobbling that they wanted to fi ll. A great place to start would be a Java app for mobile phones.

Rockbox The Open Source Pmp Firmware

RockBox is an Open Source firmware for PMPs that is an alternative to the default firmware in your devices. RockBox allows you to exploit all the performance benefits of your device on a hardware level, while removing the restrictions imposed by manufacturers on a software level. RockBox is available for many devices, including devices manufactured by Apple, Sandisk and Cowon. There are unstable, but pretty usable ports for Samsung and Toshiba, and developers are working on a RockBox version for Philips. RockBox allows users to scrobble from their devices as easily as scrobbling from iPods, as well as a number of options, including skins. You will find all the usable ports on our DVD.