everything else

Earbud Lapel Clip?

Continuing with the theme of hiding the ipod when I’m not listening to it. I’m thinking of how to jury-rig something to clip to the collar that will hold the ear buds in easy reach. My thought is I want to clip the Shuffle clipped to the inside of my sleeve and run the earbuds up my sleeve to the collar. In theory, the wires will be hidden while I’m not listening. (That is unless people see the curious outline of the wire on my shirt.)

I really want to do something better than sticking the ipod and earbuds in my pocket. Having the Shuffle immediately at hand (literally!) would be really cool but I also need something to keep me from losing the earbuds in my shirt.


I’m Buying Music Again – Buying Music Online and Off

I’m fortunate to have passed over the horrible period of the previous decade when the major music labels and the RIAA were at their worst. Suing their own customers, wrapping music in heavy DRM, and generally hastening the death of DRM as we have known it. 2007 should actually be known as the banner year for online music. DRM is quickly falling away with EMI being the first major record label to sell DRM-free songs. Today we live in a new world where the consumer has many choices to buy DRM-free music if they are willing browse among independent artists. The Electronic Frontier Fountation lists some DRM-free music stores in their DRM Guide. The guide critizes several popular online music stores because they take away all of the customers’ rights of ownership that they would have if the customer bought a physical CD. Then gives those rights back but only on the labels’ terms. Taking it further, why should I even settle for a lossy mp3. What if an audio format comes along better than mp3 or there’s a new device that needs to be encoded differently? In my opinion, the lossless FLAC format is the only way to go to be future-proof against anything that might come later. To me mp3’s might be something I listen to daily but I need something archival quality that won’t change.

Physical CDs
The CDs I buy usually come from garage sales, flea markets, or the discount rack at the department store. When I get them home I rip them immediately to Flac then transcode it to mp3. abcde is an excellent piece of ripping software. Actually, abcde ties together several components such as cdparanoia, lame, etc to rip, tag, and transcode the disk automatically. Once I have the Flac files ripped I’ll transcode them to mp3 with flac2mp3.

Online Music So far Magnatune is the only online store I’ve bought music from. The site does not maintain any user accounts except if you leave an email address during checkout you can use it later to redownload all the music you bought. The catalog is relatively small but the music is handpicked to always be excellent quality. Magnatune also allows listeners to preview whole songs from the entire catalog. When you buy music you have rights to download any or all of various formats. Finally, the most unique feature of Magnatune is that you name your own price between $5 and $18 for each album you buy. Overall, I really like Magnatune’s attitude. Magnatune gives away it’s entire catalog, no one has to buy the music because you can download the low-bit rate mp3s for free. Yet, Magnatune is successful because it’s customers believe in what Magnatune is trying to do. There is something better than free.


I’m Buying Music Again – Choosing an ipod

It has been about six years or longer since I last bought a significant amount of music before this year. For the most part I stopped listening to the radio and have been mostly consumed with the dull work-a-day life. That is until I started seriously considering getting my first ipod. Since I started working third shift intermittently I noticed that several of the other employees were plugged into their own ipods. Since third shift is where I want to be full-time it seemed to be a good idea to ask for one for Christmas. Now that I have decided on getting a mp3 player should I consider anything other than an ipod? Well, other mp3 players are supported generically as a simple filesystem device but the ipod is different in that there is software and a matching library dedicated to supporting the ipod specifically.

Given that Linux support is paramount above all other concerns the ipod is a no-brainer. So what characteristics do I require in the ipod of my choice? In order of importance:

  1. Easily hidden on my person.
  2. To be useful the ipod would have to hold at least 8 hours of audio. To make it through a work day without repeating.
  3. I’m going to be recharging the ipod from my laptop so a short recharge time is necessary.

The ipod Shuffle fills all of these requirements, but not without a few disadvantages.
ipod Shuffle Pros

  • The Shuffle is obviously the smallest ipod ever and comes with a handy dandy clip.
  • From my personal collection, one gigabyte is about 12 hours. For 64Kbps, speech only podcasts this grows to 34 hours of audio.
  • The Shuffle has a battery life of 12 hours and will fully recharge in four hours.

ipod Shuffle Cons

  • There is no screen and no way to choose specific songs.
  • Many of the third party ipod accessories are intended for the ipod classic and won’t work.

During the several years that I wasn’t buying music I felt that there were really no opportunities for me to unplug from the world. Even during my breaks at work it is still required for me to respond to pages I hear for myself or my department. At home, I still live with my parents (sigh) I’m not alone there either. However, now I think the Shuffle is an excellent way to kill 10, 15, or 20 minutes while I’m waiting for something to happen. The key is for it to be small enough that I can have it on me at all times.