(Originally posted to http://dyork.livejournal.com/255035.html )
Working alone in a home office... in a world that has increasingly moved away from regular voice communication into one of email, IM, etc.... I personally enjoy having some music playing in the background (which is especially great because my IP phone that doubles as my PC speakers automatically cuts the music off when a call comes in). I naturally have a good number of CDs, purchased music, etc., and there are great podcasts like CC's Accident Hash that do a wonderful job of providing decent background music. But still, there are times when you just want the random selections that come from a radio-esque type of environment. Being a German speaker and rock fan, I've often turned to radio Ohrenkneifer and that's been a great source. But I think it was a posting of gcrumb that pointed me over to Last.fm which bills itself as "the social music revolution". (FAQ here) Fascinating site... I haven't yet installed their specific software (so I'm not sending my listening data into the site), but I did try out some of the lists. Naturally I found the "Germans - Deutsch" group with apparently 3,018 members and it, too, has provided some good background music. Unlike Ohrenkneifer, it's not all in German... it's really whatever seems to be recommended by members of the group. So it might be all auf Deutsch... or then the other day it was playing Aretha Franklin, Peter Gabriel and Phil Collins! A bit random... but that's okay. Again, nice for a background.
My only complaint is that the flash-based player that you get if you click "Play Group Radio" only plays when that specific browser window has focus (at least in FF 2.0). So if you flip to another window, the music stops. Not a huge deal for me in the way I work because I have it running on one computer while I work on another... but still an issue. I'm sure this would be solved if I downloaded the Last.fm software... but I need to explore it more before I feel comfortable with an app that is sending back my listening preferences to a central repository. (What do you expect from a security/privacy nut?)
Interesting stuff going on out there...