If you're having people over to your house this weekend to celebrate Independence day (04 July, here in the U.S.) – a few tunes are probably in order. Luckily the Mac is one of the best platforms for creating a great party environment thanks to its vast music playback options, and if there's one thing that a party needs, its music.
There are several ways to use your Mac to create a nice party atmosphere, here some of the options.
First (and easiest) is to simply play songs from your iTunes library. It's best to create a playlist ahead of time though because nothing is worse that just clicking shuffle and having things like podcasts or audiobooks play just when the party's getting started. Instead, add your guests tried and true favorites to a playlist and remember to click on the repeat icon so that the music never stops. For a smooth transition between songs turn on Crossfade Playback under Preferences > Playback.
If your iTunes music library is a mess and you don't have the time to put together a rockin' playlist, try an iTunes Radio station instead. I recommend auditioning a bunch of stations ahead of time to see which ones you like, then bookmarking a couple in a "Radio Stations" playlist. You need a reliable Internet connection to stream music, so if yours is spotty stay away from streaming your party music. Also, you should refrain from downloading that, uh, Linux distro on BitTorrent while you're streaming music as it tends to saturate any Internet connection and will cause dropouts and disconnects in your music stream.
Don't forget about the visuals. If you're using iTunes and your Mac is going to be in sight, turn on a cool visualizer (View > Turn on Visualizer). Bonus points if you connect a projector to your Mac and project the visuals on a wall or into your pool or something.
If both of above are too vexing give Pandora a whirl. Pandora a super-cool music streaming service that's completely Web-based. (They also have a desktop client that dispenses with the browser altogether.) Pandora takes a different approach than Internet radio stations which simply allow you to pick a channel and listen to it. Instead, Pandora allows you to create your own custom radio station by typing in names of artists that you like. Pandora takes that information and plays back music from your artists and ones that are similar based on human recommendations of artists that are similar. It learns your tastes as you click on its thumbs up and thumbs down icons as individual tracks play and learns your musical tastes. Spend a little time customizing your Pandora (with several different stations) and you won't regret it.
If you like classic rock (including Dylan, Clapton, Bowie, The Grateful Dead, Hendrix, Pink Floyd, etc.) check out Wolfgang's Vault. It's a free, Web-based streaming site with the world's largest collection of live concert recordings from the personal archive of legendary concert promoter Bill Graham. It was called " the most important collection of rock memorabilia and recordings ever assembled in one business," by The Wall Street Journal, Dec 13, 2005. Enough said.
Remember to connect your Mac or iPod to your home stereo and a decent set of speakers for the maximum effect. The wimpy drivers in your MacBook won't cut it folks.
Finally, be conscious of your neighbors if you're dropping a trance set into the wee hours. Cranky neighbors and municipal noise ordinances can get your party shut down faster than you can say "Yes officer?" The best bet when throwing an outdoor soiree involving music and adult beverages is to invite your neighbors over. They're far less likely to call the cops if you do.
Happy Independence day!
How do you plan to celebrate Independence Day? Are you including any technology or are you going off the grid?