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Author Micah Cambre

what’s wrong with my iPod?

Apple's iPod
I have now owned my iPod since June of this year and I believe I can finally give my thoughts on this whole iPod obsession. I think it’s a nice innovation but I’m not a big fan.

In theory and practice, the Apple iPod is a really neat toy. It can hold hundreds of your favorite CDs all in one place. It’s instantly on when you hit a couple of buttons; No more waiting for the CD player to load. If you want to automatically load music (AAC or MP3) on it, there are multiple ways of doing it. You can connect it to both USB and Firewire ports to transfer files. And it’s light and small and very portable.

But that’s pretty much where my enjoyment ends. I know what I’m looking for is more like a portable hard drive which I can carry around with all of my data and media. But, unfortunately, this’ll have to do for now. Nothing seems to do what I want because everyone is afraid of DRM, or digital rights management. If the copyright laws weren’t such a big deal, I’d probably have exactly what I want. Basically what this means is that Apple requires that its iTunes media files be proprietary, or in other words you can’t use their music on any other device without illegally modifying it. So, there’s no reason to buy music from iTunes if you don’t have an iPod (unless you don’t care about portability). Simple as that.

Another problem that I have is transferring music to and from the iPod to the computer. The iPod can copy one one way: from the computer to the iPod. Apple doesn’t want you to “pirate” media to and from your friend’s or family’s other computers. Which means you can only use your iPod on one computer. Why would I want to use it on more than one computer, you might ask? For many reasons, but foremost because I listen to podcasts! I want to be able to transfer podcasts, which are completely free and legal, to and from any computer I use whether it be work or home! Why can’t I do that?!

One other thing: I hate iTunes. Can you believe it? I seriously think it’s over-bloated crap that installs extra features, icons and services onto your computer without your approval. I still prefer Winamp and use it almost exclusively. It’s smaller, faster, and does what I want quickly. It could certainly use a few features that iTunes has (and vice versa) but other than that, I’m still satisfied with Winamp. To the contrary, I must state that using iTunes on a Mac really isn’t all that bad (since I’m still used to applications being rather slow anyway), but using it on a PC is horribly slow and uncomfortable to me. It’s not designed for PC use and it wastes my resources (check your task manager and you’ll see that there are typically two or three different services running at once when iTunes is running) and time trying to figure out how to use it with my iPod. I typically have a nightmare when I want to copy over music from my playlist to the iPod. Instead of it being a click and drag, it’s more like go to the iPod playlist in iTunes and import what you want. It’s tedious, a waste of time and effort, and I can do exactly what I want with Winamp with no effort or thought.

So, I stated a few problems that I hate.

  1. It only holds music, not other files
  2. It requires iTunes to transfer music to it
  3. I can’t transfer music off of the iPod
  4. I can’t use it on multiple computers, and only one iPod per computer
  5. iTunes sucks!

Is there a solution to this mess?

I’ve been using a plugin to Winamp called mlipod. It allows me to do everything that iTunes does, but the way I want to do it rather than how iTunes forces me to. I can transfer everything using Winamp and I don’t have to have the bloated iTunes software to use it! So I just uninstall iTunes all together. Thank God!

To one up that, there’s even slicker software called Anapod that allows you to use iPod like a separate hard drive, pretty much exactly what I’m looking for. It requires a fee to use it but if you’re looking for a really great alternative to iTunes, this might be in your answer.

One more that I found in May 2009 is called Rockbox, which is an open source solution! It’s more of a complete makeover for your iPod but its features completely blow the regular iPod software functionality away. For instance, it supports multiple codecs other than mp3 and AAC, it actually has a real 5-band equalizer, crossfading, on the fly playlists, and many open source plugins.

So are there any good alternatives to the iPod that allow me to do all of these things with fast software? Not that I know of. I think the best thing to do is find out what has the best bang for the buck and then see if there is alternative software for that player. Otherwise, you’re stuck with a pretty toy that has extreme limits from its maker.

the facts of downloading

Note: This article is incomplete and will be updated as needed.

Do you download music online? So do I. In case the RIAA or MPAA have scared you away from downloading any kind of music or movies, I’m going to reassure you that it’s still as possible to do it as it’s ever been. There are, however, still threats out there that might cause you grief and worry, the foremost being the threat of being sued by the Nazis at the RIAA or MPAA.

I am going to give you some facts about downloading so that you know where you stand:

First, almost all of the people sued were using Kazaa or another related software to download AND upload their music. Bittorrent users are just now starting to become a more major target as well. But, the Nazis aren’t going after people who download music. They are suing people who upload and share their collection with others. Turn off the ability to share/upload your music, the Nazis at the RIAA and MPAA will almost definitely leave you alone.

Second, there are millions of people downloading all the time. You’re literally one in a million and the RIAA is verrrrrrry unlikely to find you. It IS possible, but not too likely that you’ll be sued. Besides, they are mostly targeting students at universities.

Third, you might hear talk about how many people have settled the crazy lawsuits for thousands of dollars. But, as stated in a recent article, only a very small percentage of people have actually chosen to settle with them. Of MOST of the people who were sued, their lawsuits have been dismissed.

For those of you who want some more legitmate underground ways of downloading, you might be intersted to check out sources such as EasyNews. There is a lot of good info about how to run a Usenet application on your computer, but this is basically a Newsgroup that you and millions of other people subscribe to and upload and download just about ANYTHING that you want. It’s $10 a month and it’s been recommended to me by many different people.

So should you still download more music or movies or televisions shows now? That’s your decision. I just wanted to share a few facts.

artists don’t hate file-sharing


the new napster 2.0

I have come upon so many new ideas and innovations recently about how the digital media such as mp3s should be treated and stored, but there’s one reeeeeally awesome device that I would love to own . . . sorta.

It’s called the Samsung YP-910GS and it’s a HOSS!! Out of all the functions that it has, my favorite and most exciting is the FM transmitter. What does that mean exactly? Let’s find out!

Aftering buying the YP-910GS and loading the new software to the computer, you transfer the files of all the songs you just absolutely love (up to 20GB worth). You can plug in headphones to the player and listen to your song of the moment on your way to your car to head to your destination which you had already made plans to do. As you open the car door, you take the player and place it in the seat next to you. After starting the car and buckling your seatbelt, you look at the player’s menu to select an FM station which is not being used in your town or city. After enabling the FM transmission, you turn your car radio onto the exact same FM station and BAM, you are listening to your media player through your radio WITHOUT any wires going to the radio. This baby is sending a nice little Frequency Modulated signal to your radio player’s antenna which travels to your radio station for you to enjoy, no hassles!!!!

I swear to you, the minute I see something like this to my liking, I am SO THERE. This thing is going to be a HIT with the new Napster users.

Now, what are the potential drawbacks? You must use the new Napster 2.0 software (which hopefully will be proven wrong soon). You must download the files they offer, and you probably can ONLY use those files in the player (although it’s possible that I might be wrong). And lastly, this player costs $400 MSRP.

Despite the possible negative side to this player, I am in love! I believe that this is absolutely the beginning of the future of where media players should and will head. Wireless technologies are becoming the norm with regular computer networks, so why shouldn’t it be adapted for media players and home audio systems? You can’t go wrong with these kinds of things!

edit 1-6-03: Be sure to check out this other review for another story on the same player.

I am all about free downloads from software like KAZAA and others. However, if software like Napster 2.0 offer the convenience and abundance of the new technologies (without too much embedded copyright protection), then the future is here! I am looking forward to seeing what happens in the next couple of years or so with this new revolution.

I highly recommend you check out what’s going on because someday this will probably affect your decisions on how you should treat property rights.

Professor Lawrence Lessig
Creative Commons
CC License
Electronic Frontier Foundation

darn it


RIAA sues

In case you haven’t heard or read anywhere, the RIAA is suing 261 for trading files online that they claim breaks the law, something about copyrighted material or something… The RIAA better be going down or there will be more than 261 angry people.

late night reading

I found an article just now that I believe has the best explanation of the whole copyright/music/mp3 discussion going on. It takes answers from two different people, a law professor at Stanford and a representative from the RIAA. Two different people with two different reasonings. As you read on, you realize how the law professor usually speaks from hard evidence whereas the RIAA rep is speaking out of more emotion and some facts.

It’ll take about 30 minutes so sit back, relax and educate yourself!

Copyright Conundrum

digital era upon us

I was browsing the web tonight and came across an article from the San Francisco Gate, a sponsor of the SF Chronicle. Click here

Basically, it states that radio stations will eventually send digital signals to radios; not anytime soon most likely except for the well funded radio stations. An example of a current digital radio station is XM Satellite Radio. So let’s hypothetically speak here.

What if radios sent digital, CD-quality music to your radio. Many stations play the song in its entirety. And so you decide to record the songs from the radio and onto a tape (or your computer) to convert to an mp3. You basically did the exact same thing as downloading the mp3 except it was offered free from the radio.

So what’s my point? I like the mp3 revolution that has taken place. Consumers are starting to realize that they’ve been suckered for the past 10 years. They were buying extremely expensive CDs which the artist sees barely a buck from the CD, and less of this money is even profit until they break even from their insanely high production costs.

Has 5 years of school paid off for me? I couldn’t have stated myself very well here if I hadn’t learned something. :D