Smaller but harder

I’m going to address the history of music portability. There will be a quiz at the end. 

At one time, music was only as portable as how easy and convenient it was to carry your instrument.

If you were going to party with friends, you could bring your french horn, trombone, or viola to entertain them, but if you had a bass cello or sousaphone, probably not. That harpsicord, however, was right out.

Of course, you could always bring your wind-up music box, but hearing the same tinny musical passage over and over got old fast.

Then recorded music came and you could carry your windup gramaphone to the park to play your jams.

Cranking out the jams!

A hundred years or so later, technology has made impressive strides in the area of recorded music portability and now you can carry your entire music collection around in your pocket.

We’ve gone from boomboxes to the Sony Walkman to the MP3 players to smartphones.

Great, right?

Yes, except as the technology shrank the devices for some reason the engineers also made the tranference more difficult.

With the Sony Walkman you could easily make party tapes at home on a cassette recirder then insert the tape into the Walkman.

When CDs came out, you would have to take your pre-recorded commercial CD and play that. It wasn’t until years later when the home computer became more common that people were able to record to CD and make mix tapes, um, CDs to take with them.

Somewhere in that process the MP3 was created along with MP3 players. It was easy to load music onto your MP3 player, you just plugged it into your computer and transferred the songs you wanted. Easy peasy. My first MPe player stored all of 128kb, so if I wanted a variety, I’d have to download different songs to it. It became a little tedius.

Then I got an iPod, which held more songs. Unfortunately, the ease of transfering songs started to decline. To transfer music, you couldn’t just plug it in and drag and drop. No, you needed Apple specific software as well as needing to convert your current library of MP3s (or WMA, WAV, or whatever) to an Apple proprietary file format.

Soon, smartphones came on the scene. Great, we could now carry our music on a device that also worked as a phone and a computer. Things were much simpler, right?

Wrong. Not only did each device have it’s own way of transfering music, so did each cellphone carrier.

I’ve been through several smartphones, cellphone carriers, and platforms over the years. 

With each update, upgrade, or so-called “improvement” things became harder, not easier. For me, only one smartphone was ever relatively painless in its transfer process, the Windows 8 Nokia. It was truly drag-and-drop.

With every other device or carrier you needed to jump through hoops and finally Google the instructions to figure out how to sync up and transfer. 

The iPhone had the same issues as my iPod. In fact, it was worse, for whatever reason, and I often had to restart my computer and the iPhone several times just to get them to recognize each other.

My Samsungs were a pain in the ass as well, especially early on because Verizon forced you to download their proprietary software to transfer music. Thankfully, they abandoned that, but the Samsung was never drag-and-drop. The computer never recognized it until I sacrificed a chicken at midnight while singing Mother Goose nursery rhymes wearing a Brown derby and dancing a jig on one leg.

And every time I wanted to transfer songs, I had to Google the instructions again because I couldn’t remember the exact sequence. And even then it wouldn’t always work.

And my LG is just as bad. The computer wouldn’t recognize it when I plugged it in, even when I changed the phone’s “What to do when plugged into a computer” setting from “charge when plugged in” to “transfer files.” 

And does anyone think that is the stupidest feature? Why can’t it do all those things, charge, transfer files, act as a midi device, et cetera? Why should we have to specify? They’re both computers. They should automatically know what it is you are trying to do.

I Googled what to do and found out I needed to download two (2!) programs to my computer, and once I started those, I still had to change some settings on the LG for the two to sync.

And then I could transfer music.

But not so fast! It wasn’t transfering via the USB cable! No. That would make too much sense. Instead, through those two programs, the transfer happened via Wi-Fi. Wi-Fi! WTF? What idiot thought transfering music via Wi-Fi was a good fucking idea? I’d like to meet them so I can punch them in the nose!

Transfering files via Wi-Fi is a bad fucking idea. It’s slow. It fucks with everyone else using the Wi-Fi. And did I mention, it’s slow?

Don’t ask me why, because I don’t know. It shouldn’t be, because everything else we do on our Wi-fi — Facebook, YouTube, Netflix, downloading Warez (kidding) — is fast, but this is sloooow.

…or someone is transfering files to their LG.

Transfering files via USB cable is fast! 

Transfering files via Wi-Fi is agonizingly slooooooow.

It reminded me of downloading music files with Napster via dial-up! It took forever for one song. Download an album? Might as well do it overnight. I mean, that’s what I’ve heard. I have never illegally downloaded music myself. That would be wrong.

So WTF? I appreciate that technology has made music so much more portable than it was when I was younger. My smartphone is much easier, and lighter, to carry on a morning run than the Walkman ever was.

But can’t we make file transfers easier? What is so hard about having our devices all be compatible and all you need to do is plug them together, they recognize each other, and away you go dragging and dropping music?

Is that too much to ask? For user-friendly, easy to use, cross-compatible technology?

I don’t fucking think so.

Here is the quiz I promised:

How many licks does it take to get to the Tootsie-Roll center of a Tootsie-Pop?

(I never said it would be related to my blogpost.)

3, according to Mr. Owl.

-30-

Advertisements

Nougat surprise

I just updated my Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge to the latest Android Nougat OS.

So far, I hate it. The name is appropriate because it reminds me of those awful old-fashioned candies only old people eat.

Nougat = Yuck.

Let’s begin with the Contacts/Call app settings. It took away Favorites and stuffed it in with the Contacts list. Favorites went from being nice and orderly — each Favorite easily accessible in a grid pattern, launched with just a touch — and has been reduced to an ordinary listview and is now part of the Contact List, which means now you have to do a lot more scrolling to find a contact, favorite or otherwise. How is that an improvement?

The Photos Gallery has also changed. Albums were laid out in a nice easy to see grid pattern, each grid square represented an album with a thumbnail of the the latest picture. Now it’s changed to a list. More scrolling. Obviously some programmer likes list view versus grid view.

They changed how Folders open. They used to open as a well-defined box superimposed above the rest of the screen. Now when you open a folder, it becomes the main screen, which just causes visual confusion.  Am I on the main screen or what? And now if you have more than  9 apps in a folder, the others are gone. Well, it seems that way until you realize the others reside on a second page inside that folder. Again, confusing. Before, you could see you had more apps inside the folder because they’d peek out at the bottom of the open folder. I’m surprised they didn’t change the Folders  to list view as well.

Another change concerning Folders, you launch an app from the folder, then when you finish and close with the phone’s back arrow, you find yourself back on that same Folder. Before, the Folder would close when the app was launched. This is one feature I’m ambivalent about. Do I like it or not? Only time will tell. I guess if you have a lot of apps in a Folder that you launch then close then immediately open the next app in that same Folder, this feature could prove useful.

The look and feel of the Pull Down Notifications and Menus at the top have changed as well. Again, you have to relearn how to do something you already knew how to do or where to find it. The look and feel of Settings has changed as well.

Facebook has changed, too, but I don’t know if that’s part of the Nougat upgrade or if Facebook updated their app at the same time.

For example: Now there is this extra icon bar at the top between the original menu ribbon and the “What’s on your mind?” status input. It contains a button called, “Direct,” one called “Your Story,” and yesterday it had something else I can’t remember now, but today it has a button with the name of one of my FB friends. When I click on it, it shows me his face all distorted with lights shooting from his eyes. WTF is that for? No explanation. 

I don’t mind change if it has obvious improvements. So far, with Nougat all I see is they polished all the bells and whistles  and moved them around just enough to be annoying. I’m curious what functional changes took place. 

Will I get used to the changes? Sure. We always do, but the real question is why should we have to?  What was wrong with grid view that they had to change it, for instance?

At least give us the option to choose which view we prefer, like:

  • Grid View – View lists in a pleasing,  orderly, and quickly  understood grid with easily recognisable thumbnails, or
  • List View – View lists in a dull, old-fashioned, and hard-to-read list format that you have to scroll through to find anything.

I think you know which one of pick.

Essentially, Nougat  is just showboating by the programmers, nothing more.

I give the Nougat upgrade a C, with the option to change that grade as I learn more about it.

-30- 

Learn little about a lot very quickly

So I saw a review on a new app, Summly. Basically the gist of the app is it summarizes news stories using some AI logarithm to create short summaries of longer articles. So I guess its for web users who have absolutely no attention span whatsoever

I gave it a go and downloaded it, then went through the process of organizing the topics and customizing which sources I wanted or didn’t want. Sadly, it seems you’re limited to topics and sources the app’s creators thought were important.

You can arrange the topics in order of preference. Once you’ve chosen the sources, you’re set to let the app run.

When you open the app it defaults to a home page with whatever headline is trending. You have no control of that. So if Justin Beiber is trending, the app opens with a headline on him.

When you get to your topics page, you select a topic, say Science, and it opens the first trending headline in Science with a summarized paragraph on the story.

The review I read of Summly claimed the summary paragraphs Summly provides are very accurate and well parsed. I found them wanting.

For instance, there was a summary of Antarctic drilling being halted. The summary told me “what” — that they are drilling to find a fresh water lake buried deep in the ice — but to find out “why” they had to halt, which was the reason for the story in the first place, I had to go to the actual article source. Which to me defeats the entire purpose of the app.

For me, the app Pulse is far superior, giving much better options to personalize. You can create your own topics and then search for news sources to plug in. I found the review about Summly through Pulse.

Summly does let you create a topic. You type in a topic or person and then it pulls all headlines it finds based on that phrase. At first this seemed interesting to me. I created “superheroes,” “science fiction,” “fantasy,” and “Doctor Who.”

And they worked, to a degree. Sci-Fi brought in trending headlines on that topic and “superheroes” did the same. But “fantasy” only brought in football topics, which isn’t the fantasy I was looking for and calling it “fantasy fiction” brought in no results. And “Doctor Who” was a mixed bag with articles on The Doctor, but also articles on ANY doctor.

So I’ve since deleted the Summly app. It just seems to me to be the very problem with society and the Internet: information in tiny, digestible chunks that leave you intellectually starving.

Forget Summly and get Pulse instead. You’ll be much happier as a result.

-30-