February 20, 2008
I mean, I’m not dvd tim, I’ve not cracked blu-ray or something, I’ve just nearly got to a point where I can arrange and rate all my music, download and purchase new tracks and transfer to multiple devices without having multiple versions of the same tracks or multiple lists or players or software or hardware or cables. I’m not entirely stupid but its taken me at least 4 years to understand why I can’t just have 1 track over here and put it over there but I’m getting close.
currently and for the past few years I’ve managed 10000+ music tracks with windows media player omg I should be shot or something because it does 3 things I want to do without breaking everytime I ask it to do it: 1. rip my cds, 2. rate and arrange the tracks, 3. transfer them to a portable device. 1 and 2 are probably no-brainers but actually the rating mechanism in WMP suits me just fine, as do the auto playlists, as do the manual playlists and sure there are other players out there which do both equally as well but you know I don’t care, because WMP is still there when I start windows and its remembered everything I did when I closed windows you can recommend something else but I’ve got bananas in my ears I can’t hear you blah blah blah. its number 3 that f**ks everything up.
I’ve always opted for sony portable audio hardware, every since the very first blue plastic walkman I had and then onto the magnificent DC2 ‘professional’ walkman in brushed metal with bass boost dolby b/c and metal gear solid quartz locked disc drive bits inside and through a growing collection of flash memory players. I buy sony because they sound like I want things to sound. but there is were the problem has been. if any of you have tried strangling yourself with a headphone cord rather that try to upload audio to a sony walkman with the lamentable sonicstage then you’ll know what I mean. first create an entire duplicate of your music collection in a stupid proprietary (but excellent compression quality) format, losing all your ratings and lists in the process, and then laboriously drag and drop stuff around watching as the sync list is updated and read from the device every time you breath in (see iTunes), and watch as the 2 instances of music libraries try to talk to each other, deleting each other in the process. this is much the same as my experience with iTunes. I also have an iPod shuffle, as does my daughter, which I bought to see what they are like and so most fridays are consumed with rebuilding an iTunes database because iTunes touched the tags on the source file when I made a playlist or something and now refuses to believe itself when it can see files in its library but they’re newer than the last time it looked so no you can’t transfer them and anyway whats with the ridiculous ordering and sorting in iTunes it makes no sense I actually want some order not designed chaos and the shuffle just sounds nasty anyway whatever you plug into it.
but I’ve not even got to DRM yet. notwithstanding the fact that I have to manage my own ripped cds with 3 types of file management, 3 formats of data and three separate libraries to use 2 different portable devices on 1 computer, I thought that I might just start buying tracks individually instead of whole cds. makes sense. I don’t the wombats, but I like moving to new york so I’ll have that thanks. but no. up to a couple of months ago, it was still sonicstage for the walkman, itunes for the ipod and windows media player for the computer. so, if I buy something via WMP, I probably won’t be able to add it to the itunes database and converting it to sony format for sonicstage will probably burn down my office or something (actually, it just won’t be authorized). what about if I buy in itunes? at least it’ll go on the ipod, shite as it is. but it’ll never get near the walkman and I’ll never get to rate it in WMP and send it back to itunes. I could buy stuff via the sony connect store, because it the walkman that I use all the time. I just won’t rate it and add it to playlists in WMP. no, dammit, I want to do that. I want to buy stuff somewhere that I can rate in WMP, add to the itunes database and transfer as often as I like to the walkman. not too much to ask, surely.
at christmas I got a lovely black 8GB sony NWZ-A818 network walkman. no change there then, I always get walkmans. however, only now have sony ditched the stupidly bad connect store and made all the latest walkmans compatible with (or the other way around) mp3 files, which mean you can use something like, say, windows media player to transfer tracks directly. you can also transfer those playlists you’ve spent 4 years building, including those auto playlists built from the ratings you’ve been giving over the last four years. you see that I’m getting somewhere now. but what about itunes? I don’t care about itunes anymore. I’ve always hated it, and so the ipods will just have to survive on tracks in the database before 2008. I might occasionally update it, but not if its going to touch all my files again and make the recently added playlist 10000 items long. so, can I start buying stuff? um, I think so. via window media player online services? HAHAHAHAHAAAHAAHAAAAAA.
no, the answer, right now, is napster. if I buy tracks, I want them to appear in my library in WMP so I can do all that stuff I like to do and then transfer directly to the walkman. that’s easy. I just set up a folder separate from my existing music folder and have WMP monitor it so that virtually, everything is in the same place. ok. lets get some tracks then. ooh, I like that british sea power track canvey island. I can download that straight away in napster. look, there it is in WMP. update the file info to get some nice artwork. there. 4 stars. add it to the indie list. ooh, and the gym list. whatever. so I can just transfer it now, right? I downloaded the full track, so I think I must have bought it – its paypal, so I’m never quite sure if I’ve bought things or not. hang on, what’s that annoying blue icon now. dammit! don’t have sync rights? what do you mean I don’t have sync rights? I just got everything how I WANTED IT . BOOHOOOHOHOOOOOO!
turns out I signed up for the regular napster service which lets me download as much stuff as a like and listen to it as much as I like, but stops short of allowing me to transfer it to a portable device – I have to actually buy it at the point. basically, napster wants me to use it as my music player instead of window media player and will, for a small fee, allow me to download everything, arrange tracks into playlists, provide recommendations and ‘stations’ and generally do most of what I rather like doing in windows media player. but it won’t do it all. it won’t let me rate stuff. so it can swivel.
so close then, but not quite lighting the fat havana. still, all I have to do is actually use napster to buy the few tracks I want and then rate and arrange the tracks however I like and upload them to the walkman, whereupon I can fiddle about with the equalizer while crossing the road and get run over by a bus.