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.



Kindles, iPods, and Downloads. Oh my!

What a difference six months make! Back in June I started the following:

There’s a blog about certain incentives to make the Kindle more desirable by bibliophiles. It’s over at Stomping the Yeti.

Now let me preface what I’m about to say by explaining I’m not a technophobe. I don’t hate advances in technology. My cellphone is an LG Voyager with the touchscreen and internet access. I have two laptops. I have a late model Marantz 7.1 home theater receiver.

That said, I have no real desire to get a Kindle. Why? Most of the books I want to read will never make the transition. I’m fairly confident of that.

I have a large vinyl collection. Many of the albums I own, fairly obscure, will never make it to CD.

That’s what I started writing. I never finished it, never posted it. Honestly, today, rereading that, I don’t even remember what I was thinking or where I had planned on going with it.

As I said, what a difference a few months make. I have an iPod and recently I’ve joined eMusic. On eMusic I’ve found some rather obscure albums by 1970s bands such as Nektar, Atomic Rooster, and Magma, to name just a few. Bands I had feared I’d never see offered.

But more to the point, since the direction of that previous blog post was going to be to slam the Kindle and electronic books, I have just this month installed “Kindle for the PC” on my laptop (buying a Kindle, at $250, well, presently I can’t justify that expense). And I’ve started downloading books and Surprise! many of the books I thought I couldn’t find, are there and Surprise! many of those same books are FREE!

I have downloaded “A Princess of Mars” by Edgar Rice Burroughs for free. Amazon has a good collection of Burroughs, many free, that I just didn’t think would be available.

I’m still exploring, but I’m very pleased with the fact that many classics, “Dracula,” “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,” “Frankenstein,” and so on, are available and all free!

Other books that I enjoy, such as “Sherlock Holmes: The Complete Collection,” which contains every story Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote on the Holmes character, cost me all of $0.99!

So, here’s me, eating crow over a blog post I never even made, but I thought you’d like to know. My reading list on my Kindle for the PC grows larger every day.

But you can’t beat free! If it was Amazon’s plan to lure me in with free and then wham! hook me into reading electronically, well, it worked.

I am now a Kindle book reader.