Whoa! Today I snubbed errands, cleaning-the-house duties, and friends I’d planned to call. I forgot to eat. I ignored my cats. I spent my ENTIRE Saturday absorbed in one obsession-trance after another — Web surfing, cool Mac software, music, my iPod Shuffle, and working out.

OK, that last one’s a slight stretch, but it is involved, I promise.

It started with random Internet surfing while enjoying my morning coffee. Have you guys heard of StumbleUpon.com? It’s a browser plug-in that helps you find sites you might like. Well, I’m here to tell you…..it works. Since installing it on my laptop a couple weeks ago, I’ve wasted countless hours of blue-couch time. I’ve played fun little Flash games, watched hilarious videos, gotten inspired by artists of many types, been entertained by weird-freaky-crazy ideas and products, cruised some awesome shopping sites, and ran across some of the best reference collections I’ve ever seen. Good God, there’s not enough time in the universe to read it all! What am I going to do? How will I assimilate it all??

Anyway…..

This morning, StumbleUpon took me to a page describing Tangerine, a commercial Mac app that analyzes your iTunes library and assigns beats per minute (BPM) to each of your songs. This caught my attention. It helps my motivation in the gym to walk, cycle, and run in time to music. I’d found the free Podrunner mixes months ago — which I love — but I also kept trying to categorize my own songs by BPM. Trial and error was wearing on my patience. I figured there were probably software options to help, but I just never got around to looking for them.

Well, StumbleUpon dropped one of those options in my lap. I almost forked out the $25 immediately, but my inner cheapskate compelled me to search for a freeware equivalent. I found iTunes BPM Inspector and downloaded that puppy.

It’s not automatic like Tangerine, but it is very easy. You open iTunes and start playing your songs. For each song, you tap your mouse in time to the music, with your cursor poised above BPM Inspector’s little floating window. After 10 seconds or so, it recognizes the BPM, you click “set,” and it assigns the song a BPM value within iTunes.

What joy!!

I now have a PERFECT iTunes playlist for my hip little Shuffle. I’ve listed the songs in order of BPM — from about 98 to over 200. The slower songs I’ll use for warmups and cool-downs, the mid-speed songs I’ll use for treadmill walking and running, and the fast ones are for my alone-time with the spinning-class bikes.

The problem is that I’m only a fraction of the way through my iTunes library. But….. if I stay up all night…….

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