Getting into the Mux | Bleader

Getting into the Mux

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Because I don't have quite enough Web 2.0 social-networking nerd-toy sites clogging up my Firefox toolbar, I went ahead and signed up with Muxtape, the online mix-tape site. The idea of online mix-tape making sounds like the ultimate in geeky tweeness, and the site's look really pushes that feeling--under an image of an actual cassette tape there's a big grid of apparently random (but clickable) usernames, each in its own brightly colored box.

Turns out the only things you can customize in your profile are your username and the color of your box. This has a double advantage. It's a real time saver, considering how other networks practically ask you to compile an autobiography for your profile. And it imparts a soothing, Zenlike simplicity to the user experience--all you can do on Muxtape is listen to mix tapes and make mix tapes, nothing more.

That soothing Zenlike vibe started showing its first cracks, though, as soon as I started uploading songs. There aren't too many rules to learn: files must be MP3s of under 10MB, you only get 12 at a time on your account, and you agree--wink, wink--that you have permission to put the songs on Muxtape's site. But the actual upload process is a hassle.

You can only upload one song at a time, and choosing your tracks involves navigating layers of folders in a little window. About a third of the songs I uploaded errored out and required at least one more attempt to get them up. Granted, I uploaded the first couple using the latest Firefox beta, which is kinda buggy, but I had similar problems with Safari 3.1. Muxtape is, after all, a brand new site, so it's to be expected it'll have bugs of its own.

And though Muxtape did a pretty good job handling the artist names and titles for the songs I put on my page, Hawkwind's "Quark Strangeness & Charm" came up as "Untitled" by Unknown, and I triggered a lot of error messages trying to fix it before I managed to get a sorta-correct version of the title up there. Maybe the Muxtape people have a low opinion of that era of Hawkwind.

Listening to a Muxtape is a much simpler experience. You get a list of songs in large, black Helvetica type on a white background. Click on a song and it plays. Click it again and it stops. No other controls. Sound quality's good, and I haven't experienced any noticeable lag in the streaming. If you're interested in checking out my mix, it's here.

Whether or not I ever update my mix depends on whether or not the uploading interface improves. With all of the menu navigation and upload errors, it took me the better part of an hour to get my Muxtape set up, and even though I was multitasking during the process, that's still a lot of time to make a mix--at least one that doesn't require recording things in real time to an actual cassette. If Muxtape gave us a drag-and-drop bulk uploader like Flickr has, I'd probably be up on it on a daily basis, and I wouldn't be wondering if my Muxtape account is going to fall by the wayside as quickly as my iMeem.

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