Things what I writ

I sometimes write nonsense about things to try and sound clever

adobe camera raw annoyance

I do understand that its not always cost-efficient for a software product to endlessly update its support for newly-released hardware products. I usually stump up the extra cash to get the latest version of the software to resolve that issue – particularly if its software that I use a lot and like a lot and originally paid for – a lot.

However, I’ve hit a bit of a financial impasse when it comes to Adobe Creative Suite. I recently replaced my sadly broken Sony A300 with a nice new not broken Sony A500 and was looking forward very much to running some photos through my evil post-processing mangle of doom. However, when it came to importing the photos with Adobe Bridge, I was a little surprised that they weren’t previewed, as they are normally, in the import window. Not a problem. Probably something I did wrong myself. Carry on. But no, after upload, when trying to preview in Adobe Bridge, they file type wasn’t recognised, even though its the same file type as was produced by my A300. Except, of course, it isn’t.

If you’ve read this far, then you probably know how this goes. Suffice to say, the RAW file output by my A500 are not the same as the RAW files output by my A300, at least, they’re different enough that Adobe Camera Raw requires an update to be able to read the files. Which is fine. I just updated Adobe Camera Raw. Except I couldn’t now use it, since I’m still on Adobe Creative Suite 3, and the Adobe Camera Raw update only runs in CS4 or higher. In other words, if I want to use the version of Abobe Camera Raw that supports my new camera, I have to upgrade my version of Adobe Creative Suite. Which is fine. I want CS5 anyway. Let just take a look at…HOW MUCH?

There is a clumsy workaround, which is curiously via another Adobe software product – Adobe DNG converter. I just have to import my RAW files, convert then to Digital Negative file types, using ACR 4.6 compatibility (last ACR version that works with CS3), and there they are, RAW and DNG files, using twice and much disk space and taking 10 times as long, but hey, they’re there, and I can use the DNG files as I would normally use RAW files. The annoyance really is that it cost a ton of money to get CS3, and I don’t really need to upgrade, but since my workflow is dependent on a number of bundled Adobe products as part of the suite (like ACR), if any one of those products is effectively unsupported, the whole suite gets compromised. If upgrading from 1 version of creative suite to another wasn’t cripplingly expensive, I’d probably just do it. But it is. So I won’t. So there.

Forgotten Camera

golden gate 4
golden gate 4 by Tim Caynes

Since I recently got my hands on my new Sony A500, I’ve hardly used it, which, considering that throughout 2009 I used my Sony A300 every day as part of my 365 project, amongst other things,  is a bit of a calamity. I’ve not fallen out of love with photography, I’ve just fallen into a bit of a life change which makes it more and more difficult to spend any time doing anything outside what I really need to do. To be honest, for the last few years, I’ve had the relative luxury of working from home permanently, which enables you to do things like extending your lunch hour everso slightly or taking rather longer to get home after a school run, i.e. via Mousehold Heath or Westlegate. Now, however, I’m travelling more than 5 hours a day, and everything else stacks up until the weekend, so there is very little time to take to use creatively either with a camera, or with photoshop, which, incidentally is on the computer which has been broken for a number of weeks. I’m sure I’ll get back to it when there’s some kind of pattern to things, but until then, I’m afraid my camera sits in its little bag, in its little draw in the office in which I no longer sit, pining to go out. A bit like a dog, which, coicidentally, I’m getting soon, just to make sure any time I have is completely filled, although, on the plus side, I will undoubtedly have to to take lots of photos of it, notwithstanding the fact that, on the minus side, I’ll turn into one of those photographers who only takes photos of their pets, which, actually night be preferable to only taking pictures of myself.

I’ve not even got a recent photo to add to this entry, and, since I’m writing this on a train while it’s still dark outside, I don’t have any access to my own archives, so goodness only knows what I’ll stick in here when I get to work and look up my stuff on flickr which I’m not really supposed to do. I expect being a photographer full time is a bit like not being a photographer full time. You can’t get to things you really want to do because of the things you really have to do, but, at least if you’re doing product shots, weddings, pet shops, or calendars or something, you’re still extending your photography skills, even if you don’t like the creative output. Actually, that’s probably worse than not taking photos at all.

new sony alpha 500

since the steady decline of my much-loved golden (“champagne” actually) sony alpha 300 following its unceremonious clattering onto my stone kitchen floor, I have, of course, been spending as much as I would pay for a new dslr on magazines telling how much to spend on a new dslr. I loved my a300 and it travelled with me to mountain peaks, more mountain peaks, canyons, gorges (oh, I haven’t published that one yet), up cathedral towers, along andalucian streets, and even spent an entire year pointing at my face (or fingers) for the sake of ART. so when it was apparent that I’d killed it, I was a little bit sad. how could I replace it

that was the question I pondered for a couple of months, with the help of the multiple magazines and dpreview and other assorted online resources will allowed me to compare, side by side, any number of options just to work out which had the brightest lcd. in the end, I had narrowed it down to a very small subset of candidates, based mainly on release date, price, and functionality. that small subset was the sony alpha 500, the canon eos 500D (rebel t1i, I think) or, erm, something else. maybe a nikon d90. not a lot to choose between them, apart from the obvious differences, like either having video or not (don’t care), having gazillions more dots on the lcd (don’t care), having auto-bracketing at more than 0.7 (ooh, um, I like that), or image stabilsation in-camera (ah, now, that I like). it took a good while to ponder the options, but in the end it was determined by a small investment I’d already made. my minolta AF 50mm 1.7 lens. it was only 80 quid, but I like it very much, and if I bought canon or nikon, I’d have to fork out that much again to get an equivalent 50mm lens, which, in my head, I equated to 160 quid, since I’d have wasted the 80 quid I already spent. I expect this is all too familiar to photographers who have opted into a camera system (canon, nikon, other), but since this was my first upgrade, it was the first time it made the decision for me. and that decision was to upgrade to the a500.

but, to be honest, there’s more to it than that. I have a tendency to deliberately opt into brands that are less common. not that sony is an uncommon brand. its just that I like that its not a canon or a nikon. ridiculous, I know, but that’s why I got the a300 in the first place and I was totally pleased with that choice. that’s why I don’t have an iphone. that’s why I have sony walkman. that’s why my foot hurts where I sometimes shoot it. to be honest, I’m a bit of a sony fanman, ever since I got the first blue plastic walkman in 1927. I have a 15 year old sony trinitron that refuses to die, which means I can’t get my hands on a sony bravia. I have a sony playstation 2 which works perfectly well which is why I can’t fork out on a ps3. I have a sony network walkman which has the perfect audio reproduction for me, and means I don’t have to use the godawful itunes. my only slight wobble on the way of the sony is a panasonic lumix tz6, which I bought as a replacement for my trusty sony w1, which did actually give up the ghost. I would have got a sony x1 or whatever it is now, but just didn’t have the funds. that’s the only trouble with sony – its not cheap – but then, they last forever. unless you drop them on stone kitchen floors.

which, mercifully, brings me back to the sony alpha a500. I can’t lie, my choice was also made by the nature in which I able to make a new purchase. since I claimed the value of the a300 through my household insurance (covered by accidental damage. ahem, tescos home insurance was a breeze) I was only able to actually buy a replacement at a branch of the dixons group, as fulfillment is via a dixons group voucher card, rather than just handing out cash. I mean, I could spent the value on whatever I liked, but it had to be at pc world (ahem), currys (ahem) or (don’t knock it until you’ve tried it). now, this had the effect of filtering my choices even further. because, if they didn’t stock it, I couldn’t buy it. fair enough, as long as they had what I wanted. having already decided I would be upgrading with sony, I still had the tantalising choice of the a500 or slighty better specified a550. whats the difference? not much. dots, megapixels and, erm, video, I think, and since I’m not bothered by dots or video, its only really the megapixels that might sell it. however, as I mentioned to mr villas this morning, given the choice, with the same available space, I’ll go for less megapixels, thank you. just my preference. I don’t have graphs and multiple example exposures to back it up (go to dpreview for that), but I do believe, where megapixels are concerned, these days, less is more. I don’t need mahoosive. I need quality. I think I get it that way. oh, and doesn’t sell the a550. sony alpha 500 please! with the kits lens, yes.

I don’t know what databases the replacement prices are kept on, or what the current best price for the a500 is, but I know that I ended up paying 180 GBP for a new sony a500 with 18-55mm lens. I couldn’t possibly have paid the 529 GBP asking price, so my a300 calamity turned into an upgrade I’m already very pleased with. of course, my insurance premium, at renewal, will be 17,000 quid, but I’m happy for now. unfortunately, my new camera isn’t gold. or champagne. its black, like yours probably is. but, so far, I love it. and you probably love yours too.

how to break a dslr

338/365 by Tim Caynes

I have found that it is really quite easy. It goes something like this.

when you are planning your daily shot for your 365 project, consider taking a shot in your kitchen, because not only does it have lots of shiny surfaces and interesting highlights and shadows cast by the ambient and spotlights all over the place, but also it has a rather nice flagstone tiled floor which is hard as the place that’s even harder than a rock or a hard place. in setting up your shot, consider using your tripod, as that has really long extendable legs which will enable you to lift your camera about 7 feet in the air for maximum height, but do ensure that when you sit your camera, mounted on its hot shoe, into the tripod head, that you don’t quite attach it properly, so that if you were to somehow have the tripod + camera approach the horizontal, then the whole thing might become somewhat unstable, and you never know, it might even fall off, just as you’re holding the tripod, fully extended, above your head. imagine that.

well, you don’t have to imagine that, because I can tell you exactly what transpires. in a sickening mashup of of ‘breaking’ sounds, your not-very-old dslr drops like a stone from about 7 feet in the air, directly on to the aforementioned flagstone tiles and bounces across the floor unceremoniously in a clattering dance of death until it crashes off a cupboard and twirls a little death spiral at your feet. it is, apparently, dead.

still, don’t panic. it might just have suffered a small fracture or something. after the obligatory curse and stamp of feet like a small child, I picked up my a300 and tried to see what might have dropped off it. as far as I could tell, nothing had. also, there was no rattle, and no broken glass, which was particularly good, as I’d only bought the lens currently attached to the camera about a week ago. I mean, there were a few things hanging off, and the battery was now in the living room, but apart from that, everything looked miraculously intact. oh joy, I spake, rather too early

it took a couple of days for me to realise that things were actually quite wrong. as I’d been struggling to get focus with my new 50mm, I had just assumed I was still at fault for cropping myself to the right repeatedly. only after a couple of fixed test shots did I work out that in fact, everything was misaligned. what I saw on live view was actually 6 inches or so to the left different to what was captured. I’ve since discovered that this means the sensor is misaligned or something suchlike, which basically means, a bit broken.


50mm autofocus fail

321/365 by Tim Caynes

It has been a little while since I acquired my new Minolta 50mm lens for my Sony A300 and I’m steadfastly refusing to take any photos where the thing I was expecting to be in focus is in fact in focus. I’m am now quite adept at getting most of my nose quite sharp but since there is a significant surface area to work with there I’m not counting it as a result. The thing I’m really trying to grapple with is while I’m still locked in to my 365 project and consequently taking far too many photos of my own face every day just how do I get my new lens to focus on one of my eyes. Either one, I’m not bothered. Just focus, pin sharp, like I know you can. On that blue bit in the middle where I’m trying to look all angsty. Yes, there. No. That’s my nose again. Grrr.

I am probably making the proverbial rod for my own primordial back being firmly clamped at f1.7 until I get this right, but then, that’s not about focus is it, its just about depth of field. I could have a depth of field like f0.3 or something and still get one of my bloody (for they are, after about 10 hours of trying) eyes in focus notwithstanding the fact that at that aperture I’d probably get eyelash bokeh but that’s not the point. The point is, I haven’t mastered this lens yet. And I’m running out of time. Kind of. This year’s 365 project concludes neatly on December 31st, after which I shall probably treat myself to the flickr equivalent of a 3-week Norwegian cruise, that is to say, I might not post anything for a day or so. Without my 365 project, I’ll not nearly be so inclined to invest the hours it will apparently take to crack this self-portrait focus failure which would be troublesome as I rather like the lens. I guess I have 30 days to sort it out.

Life in 50mm

327/365 by Tim Caynes

Goodness knows why I haven’t got one until now, but I just got my hands on a new (to me) 50mm prime lens for my Sony A350. I’d been quite happy with the 18-70mm kits lens since I got with the camera, but then, I didn’t really have anything to compare it with. I was so taken with other examples of what you can do with a fast 50mm from other flickr users that I’d tried to force the 50mm off my old Minolta SLR onto the Sony body, but it just made a strange crunching noise and so I thought I’d better stop. Even then, it’s taken me about 6 months to even track anything in ebay to see what kind of prices we’re talking about.

In the end, I spent a good few weeks searching for a Minolta AF 50mm in good condition, as the Minolta lenses fit on the new Sony bodies without any other convertors or rings or whatever you stick in the middle. The 50mm comes in a couple of flavours, and depending which one you’re looking for, is either relatively easy to track down, or is like some fabled artefect from Narnia that enables you to control the destiny of humanity just by looking through it backwards. The common one is the f1.7. The Narniascope is the f1.4. Having determined that my budget was less than a pony and that the Narniascope would set me back around a couple of tons and a monkey or 2, I settled on tracking the perfect 1.7 variety. In the end, it was a case of getting lucky with the bidding across a number of similar-looking lenses, which I’d narrowed down based on the description and small things like whether the seller looked like an arse or not. 79 quid and about 1p later, I’d won myself my very own Minolta AF 50mm f1.7 (will fit Sony A200, A300, A350, A700, etc.), which was packaged up and dispatched to me very nicely from a very helpful ebay seller.

Its early days, and I haven’t posted anything to flickr using the lens, but I’ve taken a number of test shots and looked at them on my whacking great 24.1 inch monitor and the results are rather splendid. Its not the best camera in the world. Its not the best lens in the world. But its a half-decent camera and its a pretty good lens and all I know is I’m kicking myself hard, right now, under the table, for not getting it 11 months ago, when I started taking 12 months worth of self portraits. The thing is, of course, I now have to change lenses on my camera for different circumstances, and I hate changing lenses, dust freak that I am. I’m thinking I might just use the 50mm forever.

Actually, of course, since my camera is am APC sensor or whatever you call it, what I’ve actually bought is a lens that effectively has a focal length of about , erm, 72mm or something, so its way tighter than I was expecting. But its ok, because I’ve got long arms.


23/365 4/52
23/365 by Tim Caynes

as part of the 365/366/52 projects I’m currently doing on flickr I’m understanding the benefits of having a huge mirror in the hall. I mean, I’ve got a tripod and a wireless remote shutter release for my sony alpha so I don’t have to do the 10 second dash anymore which I used to do all the time when I just had my little sony but even with the remote there’s times when you really want to see what you’re doing when you’re doing it and you’re part of it when you’re in it. the A300 has live view which is great for composition, especially for self portraits, but even though it flips up and down all the way it doesn’t actually flip around corners so you can never actually see yourself when you’re composing unless you can see the live view screen in a mirror, or you’re in a mirror and you’re looking at the live view or your eyes go round corners.

which is how this picture came about. I was originally inspired to do a photo that included as much live image capture technology as possible by another flickr user who I sadly can’t find anymore but they had managed 2 cameras and an iphone all showing the subject and I thought it was a rather nice idea and lord knows you’re always looking for inspiration doing self portraits and as I’d recently done a spiffy self portrait in the large hall mirror that turned out pretty well I knew I could make something like it work. I’ve got an ercol sideboard full of cameras that I inherited from my dad last year and various bits of polaroid, cine, super 8 and brownie stuff so there was plenty of hardware but I really needed to have live view video-type monitors going on to have everything showing everything else in a cleverly ironic post-modern self-referential self-deprecating smug blank art student trend-follower meme-victim kind of way. the only things that would enable that were the sony alpha, my little sony, and my nokia n80 which I didn’t need to give the make and model number of I could have just said mobile phone so I took them all down to the hall mirror, got the alpha on the tripod, stood back, stopped for a minute and then decided this was all rather stupid and I should really get back to writing a user interaction specification for a download widget. and get a coffee. and a bourbon. or three.

when I got back to it I knew straight away that I only have 2 hands and so I would need somehow to arrange everything in a way that it appeared in the photo without me having to hold everything or it crashing to death by laminate floor. as it happens I have a gorillapod for my little sony so I used that to strap it to the sony on the tripod. so that was working ok – look! there’s me in the screen on my little camera in the mirror on the screen of my big camera! excellent! etc. next thing to do was also get my phone into the composition but I didn’t have anyway of strapping it to anything without disturbing the already precarious 2-camera tripod gorillapod art installation thing, so I tried a few test shots just holding the phone and using the secondary camera yes my phone has 2 cameras that must be useful for somebody but the results weren’t that great because taking photos of bright lcd screens is always a bit rubbish and the screen on my phone is pretty brash. mobile phone is out. boo. I’ve only got 2 cameras in the photo. I demand more cameras!

did I say polaroid? a polaroid has live view, right? I mean, you press the button and you can instantly view the results after shaking it like a polaroid picture of course. go get that from the ercol. tried the composition you see here and I thought it looked pretty good and I tried a few more tests with desk lamps strewn around the place to get some highlight going on the shiny hardware (I like how the lens turned out) and I was ready to take the final shot. I just needed to decide whether it was worth taking a couple of polaroids as part of the final shot to get the full-on live view action going. of course it was. I mean, it’s an expensive throwaway, but I don’t use the polaroid enough – its a 636 – and so you might as well just take photos for the hell of it, sorry, the art of it.

I did have a few shots where the photo is popping out of the polaroid on the small screen in the mirror on the large screen but there was a bit of blur going on and they weren’t quite right. I also left the photo hanging out of the polaroid for a while so it developed and you could see the polaroid photo in my little sony on the sony alpha, but it didn’t look quite as good as I would have liked. eventually I got the shot you see here. of course, eventually I got about 327 shots and didn’t know this was the one I would actually use until I’d gone through the whole upload and review process and even then there were about 5 I could have used.

so I’m done then. well, apart from post-processing the life out of it, natually. spending the time on the composition and capture is only really half the story. like boristheblade says, taking the photo is part of the creative process but certainly not all of it, its more ‘a stepping stone to some final product that appeals to me’. I’m not going into all the post-processing details, as it’s very similar to what I did here but if you really want to see exactly what I did in photoshop, its in the saved history in the EXIF data on the photo on flickr, which I notice they don’t strip out like they used to. You’d have to be insane, but you could. NOTE: they did strip it out again.

strike it lucky

beaulieu-sur-dordogne 3
beaulieu-sur-dordogne 3 by Tim Caynes

sometimes you do just strike it lucky. mostly on vacation I’m hawking around my little sony trying not to spend too much time composing perfectly or getting some marvellous depth of field while the rest of the family are walking round the next corner already tutting to themselves and telling me to just take it in rather than seeing everything through a lens. in actual fact, it’s almost impossible to compose perfectly or get any depth of field action with the little sony, especially on a nice sunny day when you can’t actually see anything on the LCD anyway and you’re largely guessing what might come out. for some inexplicable reason also, whatever the aperture the camera decides I should use (in semi-auto mode), the depth of field on landscapes always seems to be pretty much infinite. really, the little cameras are marvels. I’ve yet to recreate what they do with an SLR.

so when something does come out that’s really quite good, I take my hat off to the camera for doing all the work for me. mostly I might spend hours correcting stuff I don’t like or stylising in photoshop so that when I post it to flickr it doesn’t bear much comparison to what came off the memory stick, but occaionally I might just crop some annoying intrusion out, lift the colours, and that’s it. and that’s what happened with this shot of the chapel reflected on the river at beaulieu-sur-dordogne a couple of years ago. I took a little while to position myself precariously over the water in a comedy tourist style, of course, but other than that, it was just a hopeful snap. I didn’t even notice the clarity of the reflection at the time. it was only when I reviewed the hundreds of snaps a couple of weeks later that this one jumped out.

coincidentally, this is well inside the top ten of my all-time most interesting photos on flickr, but it’s not really about how nice or eye-catching it is. the main reason that it gets consistently high viewing figures is that it gets a huge number of referrals from google – over twice as many as from flickr directly. that’s all down to the rather dull title and tag scheme that I’ve used since I started using flickr over 4 years ago. I pretty much just tell it like it is with the titles, like ‘beaulieu-sur-dordorge 3’, which, unsurprisingly, is the third in a series which includes ‘beaulieu-sur-dordogne 1‘ and ‘beaulieu-sur-dordogne 2‘, but I also always include the place name in the photo tags, including town, region and country, and mostly always geotag everything. it’s that no-nonsense, repetitive labelling that seems to appeal to google, and so even though I could title this photo something like ‘refection on the water’ or ‘my holiday in france was rather nice thanks’ or ‘stillness is the sanctuary I seek from the trauma of existence’ or ‘not a kitten’ or something I’ll probably stick to my rather dull convention. because I rather like the traffic. shameless.

my little Sony

after a considerable time monkeying around with manual SLRs, 35mm, APS, polaroids and other format film cameras I did what I usually do when I’m investing in new technology and spent about a year thinking about it, after which I spent about a year researching and reviewing it, by which time every decision I had made was obsolete, and so ended up in Dixons in Heathrow Airport on my way to California to make up globalization strategies and decided that right here, right now, is where I should fork out for a digital camera.

And fork out I did. I already knew that I would end up buying a Sony, following a long history with using their products without a hitch, and so I’d narrowed my choice down to about, well, 1 camera. It was the very spanky Sony Cybershot DSC-W1 which ticked all the right boxes for me, even though I didn’t know what all the boxes meant yet. As I approached the counter without my glasses on, I had no idea whether they had one and as I tripped over a wheelie suitcase belonging to a well-dressed Belgian I was losing the urge to part with wads of cash, but on closer inspection, dodging the attention of the staff, I saw it on the shelf, trying to peer out from between the Casios and Fujis and Canons.

“I want the Sony W1. Can I have one please?”. “Are you sure sir?”. “What do you mean, am I sure? I’ve spent a year being sure about it and now I just want to buy the damn thing”. “We’ve got the new Finepix”. “What?”. “The Finepix sir. And the new Ixus”. “Sony. W1. I want the Sony W1”. “Are you sure sir?”. “YES I’M SURE. GIVE IT“. “Ok sir, that’s two hundred and forty-nine pounds please”.


Now then of course, 4 years later I can now buy my Sony Alpha 300 for about that much money, but at the time, it was worth it and for the next 3 and a half years it was the only camera I ever needed. My little Sony. And I still use it in a number of circumstances where a DSLR just isn’t right. Like when you want to stick a camera in people’s faces and run away quickly. Or you might be on the beach. Or you cant be bothered to carry a bag full of kit around. It was the best 249 quid I’d ever spent and it got me on the path to digital photography. No, hang on. I had a Sharp GX10 phone before the camera. I suppose that was my first digital camera, but if that poxy piece of hand-hardware qualifies as digital camera equipment then I’m a middle-aged fat balding old misery.


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.