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nearly cracked DRM

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.

1 + 1 = 870

a week away and a small panic. we’ll be wisping across the west yorkshire moors searching for pieces of cathy and heathcliff in bits of dead sheep that were knocked over by porsche cayennes on the way to leeds and naturally we’ll be without the tadpole which is alright because who needs it I never really use it until I need to create an entire collabspace of presentation materials in about 3 hours in a hotel in colorado and so the unconnected electricals will just have to fend for themselves on a kind of week’s worth of self-discovery away from the mothership. I think they can make it. but hang on, what’s up here? that was working perfectly until I stuck the usb hub into it and now I’m only getting gemma hayes in my right ear and I don’t have the guarantee of course and anyway I dropped this thing straight after I got it and broke the battery compartment and now it’s held together with one of madeleine’s pink hairbands so if I stride into the sony centre in the mall they’ll just think I’m having a laugh which I try anyway only to find the sony centre is now closed down and the nearest one is in cambridge or something anyway so that’s that.

so, that’s 1 sony network walkman I’ll be without next week then because I can’t possibly justify buying another one when I really need to buy some food this month and so I face the prospect of a couple of weeks or even a couple of months without the waxy foam plugs clamped in my ears wherever I go which isn’t far but its always with the walkman so dammit I’m just going to have to buy another and not tell anyone and hope the new one looks like the one enough to get away with it which it won’t but I’ll justify it buy never buying any more shoes as long as I live or something. that was easy. after skulking around the mediocre electrical outlet selection in norwich for a couple of hours, having to listen to real people’s conversations in the street for the first time in about 20 years I head back to john lewis for the 4th time because actually they’ve got all the network walkmans and so why didn’t I just buy one there in the first place and end up thinking that the link might be an option. I mean, honestly.

so 120 quid lighter, I’m out of there with a shiny new NM407 which even has screensavers for a screen it doesn’t have an a flashable prom which must be good but most importantly has 1gb of flash memory and 50 hours battery life which is perfect for the northern jaunt and will afford me the luxury of around 450 tracks using atrac3 which is fine with me even if you do have to use sonicstage to get them on there but hell, it’s a sony and I’ll put up with anything for a sony.

but now I’m thinking that I have another problem with the absence of the tadpole for regular docking. the w1 only has a 256mb memory stick and if there’s any half-decent weather at all I’ll use 256mb up in about a day with around 101 shots of decomposing brontëesque sheep, closeups of bits of grass and dilapidated sheds and stuff which I think will make art but will just make placemats and so I’m thinking more along the lines of a 1gb memory stick and a couple of cloudy days. except that I remember that last time Iooked at those on amazon they were about 200 quid and so that’s probably less likely than getting a new walkman. which I’ve just done. sooo, let’s take a quick look then. a m a z o n . c o . u . k. right, let’s see. ooh. recommendations for you, mr tim. not now. search shops for “sony memory stick 1gb” including the double quotes, natch, and I see that although it doesn’t come direct from amazon but via one of their dodgy storefronts for some bloke who usually has a carpet laid out on oxford street (a model we might actually consider for our new ecommerce global storefronts incidentally) I see that a 1gb card is now only 40 quid. genius. there you are mr unknown quantity maybe reputable but I doubt it I’ve probably just lost 40 quid etrader, a sum of money. please let me have one of your lovely sony 5 year guaranteed 1 gb memory sticks and I shall be on my way good man.

it arrives on time and it’s even a nice shade of black – a ‘pro’ stick no less – complete with a handy explanation of their odd postage charge set by amazon and offset by the trader but who cares about that its a 1gb memory stick dammit. and look here, I can now take 420 ultrafine 5.1mp shots without having to delete anything. except I won’t have enough battery to look at them all, but it’ll be just like having my 35mm film camera again and not knowing how bad all my shots are until I get home. excellent.

I’m the only person in the world and nobody understands me

I’ll probably die an herioc/tragic death and will be mourned forever by enigmatic trench coats sitting in underground coffee bars making 50 pence last all afternoon and only looking up from their shoes to check their eyeliner. that’s right, 17 years old on a houseboat in Beaulieu-Sur-Mer, writing poems about psuedo-hitlers and jesus incarnate and I’m trying to look insanely mysterious, smoking marlboros which filter through my hair and only giving myself away occasionally when I sneak a look at the 24 year old barmaid who’s bringing me another Orangina and giving me a smile I think says she understands the torment of genius, but actually means something like does your mother know you’re here.

its 1984 so my walkman DC2 and 5 band SEQ-50 are sat on the table top next to the Pernod ashtray and my book of tortured genius. inside, a UX90 slowly rolls its way from one spindle to another and the amorphous head picks up Atrocity Exhibition and pipes it onto my head, my eyes fixing on an imaginary point in the distance in the hope that that makes me look seriously intense without actually drawing attention to myself, which would just be intolerable. I continue scribbling stuff down about death and righteousness and misunderstanding until the tape starts squeaking with the pressure of over-use as The Eternal comes on and I get that moment of teenage futility where you just look at the harbour wall and consider crashing against the rocks. except we’re going to Monaco tomorrow and I’ll get to see the underpass and swimming pool where the grand prix goes and where they had that crash in that film once, so I start chewing on a polo, thinking that will rid me of any cigarette smoke and leave 2 francs or something on the table and try and get up and leave without anybody looking at me, especially the barmaid who I’ve now become obsessed with.

so we go the the swimming pool and I’ve never been in a salt water swimming pool before and I think it’s horrible. the sort of thing I would make my own children do now and wonder why they don’t think its really exciting to swim in a pool next to the sea, which is the sea, but is a pool. we also visit some sacred fountain or other and drink water that tastes like nails and I try and scare people with my terrible hair and then we head off to Orange, where I get to scale the walls of the roman theatre and pose like a centurian, but I don’t need a helmet, because I’ve got my helmet hair. genius.

I guess I got to spend about a week of my life being eternally miserable and wanting to throw myself off a parapet and I’m only reminded about that now because its 25 years ago that ian curtis hanged himself in his kitchen, thinking everybody would be better off without him. I’m about to go to the gym and row 5 kilometers to get back to where I started by going nowhere in between, so I guess that’s about the same as what I did in that week, and I’ve still got Closer playing, although it’s upmixed to 5:1 surround sound in my office, so nothing really changes, I just don’t work in a record store anymore.

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