Is there any advantage to using Firefly? I'm sure many of you have very complicated systems and have some really cool uses for it, but really, would it do much for someone like me?
As your music collection grows, Firefly tends to serve it up faster than other server-type programs (like using Windows Media Player sharing or Itunes sharing).
But for me the most wonderful enhancement is the ability to create smart playlists
. This allows you to create lists of songs according to flexible criteria. The list can change as your collection grows.
For example, I have a smart playlist called "Dinnertime" which includes genres like Jazz: Vocal, Brazilian, Jazz: Instrumental. And also I specify that I don't want anything in the list that Firefly has played in the past month. So I get fresh music all the time. All I have to do is tell Itunes or my Roku Soundbridge device to shuffle the list. It's great for a dinner party or quiet evening while reading a book or cooking.
A few notes:
Don't do this "on the cheap." Put Firefly on a machine with adequate memory and CPU speed. I had it on an older desktop PC with a lot of other things going on and Firefly seemed to be pitiful and unreliable. Interestingly when I moved Firely to a late model laptop, Firefly responded faster to music requests and buffering problems went away.
Spend the time to make sure your music collection is tagged accurately. Many public music databases have all kinds of silly data errors. To me it is imperative to come up with a list of genres that matter to you. Then make sure your collection uses those and not the arbitrary ones automatically assigned by public databases. (Use MP3Tag, a freeware program to help you do this.)
Take the time to read the help text about the Smart Playlist criteria. This will help you create music sessions that will delight you endlessly. (Only after revisiting and re-reading this did I find the ability to specify that music on the list should not have been played in the last month.)
Ask more questions if you need clarification and enjoy!