Killer Feature for .mp3 players

For years now, I’ve kept 2-3,000 songs in .mp3 form on my various computers and mp3 players. I run it on shuffle, and I’m always guaranteed to hear something good. Shuffle is such an obvious feature that Apple can put a crippled version of it’s Ipod, call it an I-shuffle or something, and sell millions of them.

The feature I’ve always wanted is a weighted average shuffle. Each song has a “slider”, that goes from 10% to 1000%. 100% is the default setting, and it means that a song has a normal change of being played. If you have 500 songs, it comes up 1 in 500 times. If you set it to 10%, it has roughly one tenth of it’s normal probability of being played, and 1000% means it has roughly 10 times it’s normal probability of being played. I suppose we’d probably label them “less often” and “more often” for the innumerate.

For example, I know every Who song inside out. I won’t ever actually delete Baba O’Riley from the playlist, it still rocks the house, but I don’t really need it to come up very often. On the other hand, I got a few new Wolfmother and Martha Wainwright tracks and I would like those to come up a lot more so I can learn them and decide whether to keep them.

I haven’t yet seen an .mp3 player that will do this. I’ve seen custom playlists, ranking with stars, and other versions of filtering, but not what I’m describing. Anyone seen one?

Sidenote 1: Mathematically, I see it like this. If there are 500 songs, by default each song has 100 “entries” in the pool of songs, so the random number generator is choosing from a population of 50,000. The percentage is applied to the 100 entriess. A song with a 10% setting only gets 10 entries instead of 100. That is why I said “roughly” one tenth, it’s odds actually go from (100/50,000 = 1/500 =) .2% to (10/49,910 = 1/4991 =) .020036..%. (As I write this, I’m laughing that I bothered to work out this nuance for a completely imaginary feature.)

Sidenote 2: I am apparently the only person in the world with a handheld .mp3 player that is not an I-pod. It amazes me that I-pod has, like Kleenex or Xerox or Frisbee, come to describe the entire field of products. My brothers Prius comes with an Ipod jack. That bothered me because it was so exclusionary, very poor technological. Then I found out it’s just an ordinary input jack, that they choose to market as a I-pod jack. Of course that bothered me because it was so demeaning to .mp3 player I had. I’m very easily bothered.

3 thoughts on “Killer Feature for .mp3 players”

  1. I don’t know if this feature has mainstream appeal, but it has great appeal to numbers nerds like us. Imagine the fun. First, the whole probability-setting process would be great fun, and likely take weeks. “I can’t give Paradise City a higher probability than Pinball Wizard, can I? I’m sick of Pinball Wizard, but it’s gotta get some respect…” Then, it would add some additional sport to the random listening process. A little added bonus when a “deep cut” gets selected.

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