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Author Topic: SuperboyAC's DC blog #1  (Read 5859 times)

superboyac

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SuperboyAC's DC blog #1
« on: January 02, 2007, 12:13:08 PM »
MP3 Players
And Associated Annoyances

mp3 players.JPGSuperboyAC's DC blog #1


I'm a big music guy.  I listen to a lot of music, I'm a musician myself, it's one of the things I really love.  I'm also a huge computer geek and a gadget-a-holic.  Putting all of this together, one would think that I would have some mp3 player by now (like an ipod or something).  But I don't.  Why is that?  It's because there's a whole bunch of little things about these players that annoy me and they just aren't implemented well at all.  For someone like me (and a lot of the people here at DC) who are computer "powerusers" and are really picky (er...anal) about every minuscule detail, these annoyances are intolerable.  OK, I'm exaggerating a little, it's not that bad, but it's still the reason why I haven't bought an ipod yet.  OK, OK!  The real reason why I haven't bought one is because I'm a cheap bastard.  But for the sake of this blog, let's just blame it on the annoying features.


Proprietary Multimedia Management Software
itunes.gifSuperboyAC's DC blog #1sonicstage.jpgSuperboyAC's DC blog #1MediaSource.jpgSuperboyAC's DC blog #1
These softwares are the spawns of the devil himself.  Why do I need a software, whose primary purpose is to transfer files to a media player, take over the management of the music itself?  Just transfer the freakin files and be done with it!  But that's what all these programs do (itunes, Sony's SonicStage, etc.).  I'm already extremely anal about my management and organization of my mp3 files.  I rip and encode them with very particular software (EAC and advaLAME); I tag the files with a consistent naming scheme using another software (Tag & Rename); and I organize the files in directories in a very specific manner.  Furthermore, I keep track of the files I burn or archive using another software (MP3 Collector).  Therefore, I don't need my mp3 player's software duplicating any of these functions, especially since they can't do it half as well anyway.

But why is the software necessary at all in the first place?  Think about it, the files are already on my computer, and all I want to do is transfer them to this device.  I don't use special to transfer files to USB sticks, so I shouldn't need one for these mp3 players.  There are a variety of reasons why the companies do this:

  • Not all users are as computer literate as the rest of us.  They need a nice, easy interface to use their device without having to call their computer friends for every little problem (don't you just hate that!).  This is a fine enough reason, I don't really have a problem.  But, please, for the rest of us provide a way to bypass these novice features.
  • Copyright protection.  The companies believe the more control they have over the transfer of the files, the more copyright protection they will have.  This is true to a point; it makes it more difficult to transfer the music files off the device.  I think the global impact of it is pretty insignificant, but what do I know.  I feel like this is one of those things where they punish the consumer too much for the level of prevention it offers.
  • Corporate greed and/or ignorance.  Instead of concentrating on quality, a lot of these large companies just want their name all over the place.  Think of all the bloated software you know of.  This trend of multimedia software taking over all aspects of your computer is sickening.  I also mention ignorance, because, to be fair, they may not do it on purpose all the time.  I'm sure that SOMETIMES they think they are helping.


Replaceable/Rechargeable batteries
battery1.jpgSuperboyAC's DC blog #1battery2.jpgSuperboyAC's DC blog #1battery3.jpgSuperboyAC's DC blog #1battery4.jpgSuperboyAC's DC blog #1
Or should I say lack thereof?  The ipods, and I'm sure some of the competitors, make it difficult to replace batteries if they go bad.  Don't you wish they all just ran on rechargeable NIMH AA batteries?  That's one of the things I love about my Minidisc player; it uses a replaceable "gumstick" battery and you can also screw on this attachment that holds a single AA battery to extend the battery life by a few hours.  So, essentially, you can carry with you a handful of rechargeable AA batteries, and you won't run out of power for weeks.  The good thing about that is, you can find AA batteries anywhere, and the proprietary gumstick battery is replaceable (and relatively cheap) if it ever goes bad.  What happens if the ipod battery goes bad?  Well, let's just say it's a little more of a pain in the ass.


Music Storage
storage4.jpgSuperboyAC's DC blog #1storage3.jpgSuperboyAC's DC blog #1storage2.jpgSuperboyAC's DC blog #1storage1.jpgSuperboyAC's DC blog #1
Hard-drive, built-in flash memory, card memory.  These are all different ways that these mp3 players can store the music.  If you want lots of storage, you go with one of the hard-drive units.  If you want something that is really tiny, get a flash player.  There really aren't many card-reading players that I know of.  And that is a shame.  Why?  Imagine if these mp3 players used cards like digital cameras?  That would give the user flexibility in how much they wanted to spend on the memory.  Let the company sell the player, and the user will buy the cards, just like the cameras.  Wouldn't that be fantastic?  I remember, before mp3 players were so popular, the company Rio had a couple of players that operated like this.  The problem back then was that the flash cards also weren't that widely used yet, so the people who had the players and wanted to buy more memory didn't have it as accessible as they do now.  Besides, back then 32 MB and 64 MB were pretty freakin expensive.

The main issue in storage is the portability.  With flash cards and flash memory, the players are very small and extremely portable.  Some of them are ridiculously small.  There's this tiny little cube mp3 player that holds 1 GB of music literally in your fingertips:
tiny.jpgSuperboyAC's DC blog #1
However, these little drives can only hold a few gigabytes of music (which, of course, is plenty for most people).  But for hard core collectors, you're going to need a hard-drive based player, like an ipod.  These are significantly larger (although, realistically speaking, they're not all that big...it just goes to show how spoiled we've become ;D).  They are also heavier, but can also do a lot more things by virtue of a larger screen, better navigation controls, and more advanced features.  Personally, I've never considered a flash player because the amount of music I have is enormous.  Besides, I like things that have a little heft to them; I don't like those super-light plasticky players.

Another question I have is why do ipod's competitors keep coming out with hard-drive players with 20 or 30 GB of memory, when ipod is now up to 80 GB?  Geez people, if you're going to compete, compete!  Maybe there are some technical details I don't know about, but I keep shaking my head at the Microsofts, Zens, irivers, Sony's, etc. when they come out with yet another hard drive player that can hold about half of the largest ipod.  From what I know, the hard drives aren't too much different than laptop 2.5" drives, so there shouldn't be too much of a problem, right?
Edit:  Zen finally came out with a 60 GB model, about freakin time-->Zen Vision M

You know what would be really cool?  A player where the user can buy whatever 2.5" drive he wanted, and just slide it into the player (kind of like the flash cards).  That would be awesome!


Until next time,
SuperboyAC
dc-avatar2.png




Random Ranting
  • I said I don't have an mp3 player, but I actually sort of do.  My Sony RH10 Minidisc Recorder doubles as an mp3 player.  In fact, I use it 10% for recording my music and 90% as an mp3 player.  It's actually really cool, but as it always goes with Sony, they always find a way to screw something up.  In this case, they make you use the Sonicstage software, which is really annoying.  In the last year, however, they loosened their Nazi grip on copyright protection.  Those of you that are familiar with MD will be glad to know that the new HiMD format has several advantages:  now has 1 GB discs (around $7 each; compare to memory cards), the players can play back native mp3 files (doesn't have to be ATRAC anymore), you can upload and download quickly using USB (you don't have to use the line-out to play back recorded material in realtime to record to the computer).  See this DC thread on minidiscs (MINIDISC)
    Here's a picture of my beautiful gold player:
    rh10gold.jpgSuperboyAC's DC blog #1

  • How about this movement of integrating mp3 players in the cell phones?  I'm a bit torn on this idea, because I like keeping my different applications separate from each other.  I hate all-in-one things, whether it's software or hardware.  On the other hand, there's no need to carry around an mp3 player, cell phone, and pda around with you, so it kind of makes sense.  Most likely, these portable devices will be the big thing in the near future.  PDA's have already become less and less common as they've become integrated on the cell phones, so the same will eventually happen with the media players.  In fact, apple already has a jump on this with their new phone-video player.
    iphoner.jpgSuperboyAC's DC blog #1
  • You know what would be REALLY cool?  An mp3 player that runs on replaceable/rechargeable lithium and/or AA batteries, has a removable 2.5" hard drive, and also has one of those 15-in-1 cardreaders all on the same device!  Oh yeah, baby!  I don't care if it was big brick and ugly as hell, that would be the ultimate.
  • I know so many people that keep their entire music collection on their ipods, and don't have a copy of it backed up on their computer.  Yikes!  That's all I have to say about that.
  • Is it just me, or do you get uncomfortable listening to a portable music player in public, like out on the street?  I feel antisocial, like I'm missing out what's happening around me.  I've never been able to do for more than a few minutes.
  • It's the new year, right?  Man, I've recieved like 10 calendars already from different vendors and stuff.  I don't even use calendars anymore!  Some things just won't die, will they?  I can get a calendar with one click on the computer, not to mention all the mini-calendars integrated in our PIM software also, and other various drop-down calendars on applications that use dates.  You know what else?  I've never actually turned the page of the calendar when the month changed last year.  Yet, it's always on the right month!  It must really bother someone around here, where they go through the trouble to change my page.  That's pretty funny.  I know this has nothing to do with mp3 players, but it is the "Random Ranting" section.
  • Does it bother anyone else that mp3 files are audio files, and mp4 are quicktime video files?  That's annoying.  By the way, if you really want to read how confusing it all is, research the differences between mpeg-1 audio layer I/II, mpeg-2, etc.
  • I'm completely sick of ipod accessories.  All those little boombox stations where you plug an ipod in.  Please...no more!
  • There is a little subculture out there that is into custom building computers that will work in the car.  They are called carputers.  If I had the time and money, I would build one of these for my car.  Then I can use a regular 500 GB hard drive and have endless amounts of music and all the customization I wanted.


Spoiler
High Five!
borat-aram.jpg

« Last Edit: January 12, 2007, 04:29:08 PM by superboyac »

mouser

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Re: SuperboyAC's DC blog #1
« Reply #1 on: January 12, 2007, 05:25:23 PM »
nice! :up: :up: :up:

f0dder

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Re: SuperboyAC's DC blog #1
« Reply #2 on: January 12, 2007, 06:25:30 PM »
I hate. HATE HATE HATE and HATE++ the proprietary bloatsoft you need for most players today. Why can't they just frigging show up as a portable drive, like my good old (but diseased :( ) MuVo^2 did? Give users the damn option kthx.

The 8GB iPod NANO has to offer is enough for me - even with high-quality MP3s, it would offer 60+ hours of MP3s, and I don't mind having to rotate files manually when I need something 'fresh' (I do tend to be 'cyclic' in my music preferences, listening to the same n albums for a while).

Heck, if/when an updated version of ROCKbox comes out, I'll probably buy an 8GB nano - they're relatively cheap, flash memory isn't as fragile as disk-based players, it's tiny, and the battery lasts relatively long. I hate to say it, but it seems like the best player for me at the moment, apart from the current lame firmware and lame iTunes requirement. And the nanos aren't as butt-ugly as the old beige retro wannabe 70'es scifi look.
* f0dder mumbles and grumbles.
- carpe noctem

cranioscopical

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Re: SuperboyAC's DC blog #1
« Reply #3 on: January 12, 2007, 08:21:10 PM »
I look forward to more of these, well done!  :greenclp:

mouser

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Re: SuperboyAC's DC blog #1
« Reply #4 on: January 12, 2007, 09:03:38 PM »
i agree with all of the targets of your rage :)
Why can't they settle on some standard easily rechargeable battery sizes.. why do we have to do this dance with 1000 dif proprietary batteries.  this idea of non-replaceable batteries seems outrageous to me, and it's the kind of stuff apple just loves to wallow in; it's one of the reasons i never trust apple.

i hope we soon get to a point where these players dont use internal storage, and can all standardize on a nice memory card type thing that can hold a few hundred gigabytes.  then you could just insert your music collection into a tiny little thumbnail and go jogging, or into a larger video-enabled thing for  a long trip.

CodeTRUCKER

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Re: SuperboyAC's DC blog #1
« Reply #5 on: January 12, 2007, 09:07:43 PM »
Somehow I feel like I could recognize you by your words alone if you were sitting at the table next to me in a restaurant.  Your ability to "show" rather than "tell" with your words is excellent!
« Last Edit: October 19, 2010, 04:48:22 PM by CodeTRUCKER »

VSiAQ

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Re: SuperboyAC's DC blog #1
« Reply #6 on: January 12, 2007, 09:57:40 PM »
What a nice post ;D

I do own a NW MP3 player from Sony, and I really, really hate the software comes with it! Yes, it's called Sony SonicStage, which eats much memory and has a bad interface  >:(

After struggling with it for some months, now it even doesn't recognize my MP3 player when plugging it in my USB port.  :down:

As I said above, its interface sucks. Could you imagine that you have to select one file at a time, pressing Delete and answer Yes in TWO confirmation dialogs just to delete songs from your MP3 player?

Well, I find SonicStage really annoying!  >:(

mouser

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Re: SuperboyAC's DC blog #1
« Reply #7 on: January 12, 2007, 10:02:06 PM »
What you say about these devices not letting you copy files onto them normally can be so frustrating.. and sometimes it's all done in the name of making things more "foolproof".

i have a little samsung usb mp3 player.  Try to move some files onto it and it pops up what im sure the designers worked hard to implement, a dialog saying the files are not compatible music files and so won't be copied.  JUST DO WHAT I SAY AND STOP TRYING TO BE SO D*AMN SMART!!

jgpaiva

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Re: SuperboyAC's DC blog #1
« Reply #8 on: January 13, 2007, 04:52:04 AM »
I'm not quite in agreement with this blog post.
I currently own a zen micro, and it's quite good! It doesn't suffer from most of the problems mentioned here too :D
First: it no longer needs the stupid creative software (which is absolutelly worthless. Takes about 2 secs to change the name of a file. and i mean FROM THE MOMENT YOU PRESS ENTER to aply it until it really is applied). This is fantastic because it means i can use explorer or winamp, way handier!
It also can play any files i put into it, no drm here.

The only problems i find are the batery issue mentioned and the fact that it doesn't read id3 v2 tags, which means i need to use very small names.
Other than that, it's 4gb disk and good sound is perfectly enough for my musical needs :)

PS: i'd never buy an ipod. that "your battery dies and so does your ipod" issue is REALLY lame

nudone

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Re: SuperboyAC's DC blog #1
« Reply #9 on: January 13, 2007, 07:17:10 AM »
superboyac, i think your mustache is brilliant. you should wear it more often.


superboyac

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Re: SuperboyAC's DC blog #1
« Reply #10 on: January 13, 2007, 12:38:46 PM »
i agree with all of the targets of your rage :)
Why can't they settle on some standard easily rechargeable battery sizes.. why do we have to do this dance with 1000 dif proprietary batteries.  this idea of non-replaceable batteries seems outrageous to me, and it's the kind of stuff apple just loves to wallow in; it's one of the reasons i never trust apple.

i hope we soon get to a point where these players dont use internal storage, and can all standardize on a nice memory card type thing that can hold a few hundred gigabytes.  then you could just insert your music collection into a tiny little thumbnail and go jogging, or into a larger video-enabled thing for  a long trip.
I agree mouser on all points.  I actually think SOny has it almost right with the minidisc.  They use their proprietary gumstick battery (which is fine because it's easily replaceable), but the players also come with a little attachment that can hold regular AA batteries, so it's a very flexible mix.  But, yes it would help a lot if they could come up with a standard, small-form, lithium battery that uses the latest technology.  But the battery business is a finicky one.  Similar issues arose with the electric vehicle batteries and that technology.  So I don't know.

Quote
Well, I find SonicStage really annoying!
Yeah, I have to use SonicStage also.  It's crap.  At least they removed the DRM restrictions.  I've always said and will continue to say, Sony comes up with the greatest and coolest technology, and they always find a way to somehow ruin it with the implementation of it, whether it's software, restrictions, whatever.  Very frustrating.

Quote
I'm not quite in agreement with this blog post.
OK, jgpaiva, you caught me!  I initially wrote this blog just to experiment with mouser's new blog writing idea, and I just wrote about the first thing that popped into my head.  I knew someone would eventually question me on the details (I admit I haven't kept up with this technology that much).  I kind of was aware that some of these players are a little more flexible or they have been hacked with some 3rd-party software that makes them easier to use.  You got me!  Also, about thos ipod batteries, if you search google, you'll find that it's not that difficult to replace the batteries yourself and it doesn't seem to cost more than $40, but I've never tried it.

Quote
superboyac, i think your mustache is brilliant. you should wear it more often.
Haha.  That picture of me went around work and ended up in our end-of-year slideshow.  What's worse is that I made the whole thing myself!  I guess I'll do anything for a laugh.

CodeTRUCKER

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Re: SuperboyAC's DC blog #1
« Reply #11 on: January 13, 2007, 06:53:47 PM »
FWIW - When I saw the picture the very charisma of it just made me smile!  It was infectious.  I even showed my Wife, she smiled too! :):)
« Last Edit: October 19, 2010, 04:45:32 PM by CodeTRUCKER »

superboyac

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Re: SuperboyAC's DC blog #1
« Reply #12 on: January 14, 2007, 11:28:47 PM »
FWIW - When I saw the picture the very charisma of it just made me smile!  It was infectious.  I even showed my Wife, she smiled too! :):)

Awesome!  Mission accomplished!

tomos

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Re: SuperboyAC's DC blog #1
« Reply #13 on: January 15, 2007, 10:58:46 AM »
I know nothing about mp3 players - always hated wearing earphones ...

but this about gapless recording of continuous albums may be of interest to people here. (There's updates towards the top of the page)
Quote
Most MP3 players cannot play albums; do you care?
The MP3 format has inherent flaws which, unless worked around, mean it cannot move seamlessly from one track to the next without adding silence or at least a click. Some players (and encoders) address these problems and perfect gapless playback is possible with MP3 but, rather than address these problems, the majority of MP3 players, both hardware and software, actually make things worse by inserting additional silence of their own.

http://www.pretentio...rs/index.html#albums
Tom