Thursday, December 12, 2013

Happy 10th Birthday, StationRipper!

Well damn - I just realized that tomorrow is StationRipper's 10th anniversary!  It was first released on Dec 13, 2003, and has been downloaded many millions of times.  As it was originally just a toy for myself and a few friends to record internet radio, I'm fairly shocked that it's still getting a lot of daily downloads!

Everything else to record Internet Radio sucked back then - well, at least the main stand-alone GUI app -  StreamRipper32...  was hideous.  It was based on streamripper, which was solid - but very limiting.  The WinAmp plugin made it a bit nicer, but still had some limits (the biggest was only easily recording one stream at a time). Both would keep re-recording music, which got old - Users would record thousands of songs, prune what they didn't want - and the songs would just show back up again when re-recorded the same station. Fun.

So I figured I'd write my own - I was working on AnnotatedEarth at the time (consumer focused location aware tech - location aware before there were really any devices that supported what I wanted to do).  I wrote StationRipper as a side thing, just 'cause I wanted something that worked better.  Got it more or less working and handed it out to a few friends. They loved it, gave it to a few more people. Next thing I knew, my domain was suspended because of bandwidth overage.  It just kept getting bigger and bigger and bigger - was getting mirrored all over the place,was included with CD's in magazines, interview in the Boston Globe, on a few TV shows... within a couple of years it had gone over several million downloads.

Since 2003 I've put out 126 releases - several major revisions with a bunch of point releases.  I wrote, which tracks what stations are playing (and resulted in my having the most tweets of ALL users - I've since fallen to the #5 spot for all tweets).  While StationRipper originally just record shoutcast and podcasts, I expanded it to record, then, then a bunch of other stuff (was shocked one night when I had it running and noticed it had started to record YouTube - cool when software surprised you like that!)

I haven't been keeping up with it lately, and it shows.  I joined Microsoft Research about three years ago, which... distracted me a bit.  The app is written in C++/MFC 4.0 - I still have Visual Studio 6 installed just for build it (and yeah, VS will still build MFC, but there are some major static linker/size issues, so I stay with what I've got. On the up side, it will run on Windows 95 - and I still get the occasional user needing support for that!)

I've been intended to re-write in something else for a long time now - but I enjoy doing new stuff (PhoneBomber being the lastest - massively multiplayer location aware gaming - a projet I dreamed up in 2003 when working on AnnotatedEarth, and finally wrote 4 years ago).

I'm not sure if it's worth doing, though - I don't know if most people really WANT media anymore. I know I personally listen to Spotify all day - and yeah, if I wanted to I could get StationRipper recording Spotify - but WHY? I can play any song any time I want, wherever I'm at.  I realize SOME people still want MP3 files, or I wouldn't be getting the number of downloads (and support questions) I'm still getting... just not sure how many are left :)

Anyway - it's been a GREAT 10 years - didn't get as big as napster (thank god), but it's still a kick to run into users that have loved the software over the years!

Some videos: of the software running:

Easily record

Record 5+ Songs every 12 hours

StationRipper - Record lots and lots of music...

(and yeah, you  really can download a few thousand songs every few hours...)