Under The Microscope

What’s New in Pulsar 2

Hi, I’m David Dunham, Rogue Amoeba’s newest developer. My first project here was to create Pulsar 2. With today’s release, I’m pleased to be able to share what I’ve been up to.

What the Heck is Pulsar?

If you’re not familiar with it, Pulsar lets you listen to satellite radio (XM or SIRIUS) on your Mac. Using Safari to visit the XM or SIRIUS web sites is awkward, and times out after a certain period of listening. Pulsar has always been a far more convenient way to access those hundreds of channels.

Hold It Right There

Delay SliderWith Pulsar 2, we’re moving past anything you can do with web access. Most notably, you can pause the live stream. Later, you can pick up listening without losing a beat. Or if you got interrupted and couldn’t pause, just go back and catch what you missed. But we also hold on to the last 3 hours, so you can go forward, and skip 10 seconds, a minute, or even to the next song.

For the Next/Previous Song commands, we rely on metadata from the server to tell us when songs start. This data isn’t always perfectly in sync with song changes, but coupled with the jump arrows (← & →), the commands are quite useful.

For those interested in the technical aspects of pause, we’re buffering to disk. A full 3 hour buffer takes up only about a gigabyte of space, and quitting Pulsar frees up the space.

Name That Tune

Growl notificationBack to song titles: we now provide two great ways to use them. First, if you’ve installed the Growl add-on (a free download from http://growl.info), Pulsar can briefly display a window like the one to the right each time a new track comes on. You’ll be able to see what’s playing, no matter what application you’re using.

Pulsar can also share your listening information by posting to your free Last.fm account (they call this “scrobbling”). Some channels announce the DJ breaks as songs, but Pulsar can usually avoid scrobbling them.

Designed For Use

Mini Window
Even though Pulsar is mostly about listening, we wanted to make sure that you get a great experience when you’re interacting with it. There’s a classy new look, thanks to our designer Christa. But the redesign also provides a simple way to reorganize your favorite channels, using drag & drop. And you can now access your favorites from the handy mini-player.

Check It Out

Pulsar was already the best way to listen to satellite radio on your Mac. Version 2 is better than ever. If you already use it, be sure to choose Check For Update from the Pulsar menu. Otherwise, download the free trial here.

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