For Christmas we got our oldest son (who is 16) an MP3 player. I spent the week before Christmas ripping his CD collection and converting it to MP3s so that it would be ready for him to transfer immediately. That was the inspiration for me to finally start the process with my own collection.
I have a rather large collection. Several hundred vinyl albums that I absolutely will not part with, hundreds of cassettes, and a few thousand CDs (last count was something like 3500). There was no way I would get all of that transferred, converted, ripped or whatever in any sort of timely manner. I have very little spare time as it is, so I had to be choosy about what I would convert.
For about three days while work on the website redesign was in full swing and I couldn’t do much I babysat the “home” computer ripping a number of CDs from my collection. My first criteria for what I would rip was what would be good for playing during dodgeball – I play a regular Monday night pick-up game at the local community center. One of the players regularly brings a boom box that can hook up to an MP3 player and several people take turns bringing in their music, but the problem is that they always have the same songs, so I wanted to bring in some new tunes.
Another consideration is what I wanted to listen to while in Las Vegas for the 2009 Consumer Electronics Show. With space on the MP3 player a consideration, I had to pick and choose from my collection as to what would fit. I prefer to rip albums as a whole, even the entire catalog from an artist or band if possible. If I ripped my entire collection of Prince and David Bowie, that would pretty much fill up my player leaving little room for anything else, so I did a controlled random sampling of my collection of CDs to convert.
Here’s what I have – a 30Gig Zune. Go ahead. Laugh. I don’t care. I stopped worrying about being cool or worrying about public acceptance years ago. The process of starting up the Zune was a bit of a chore, because I got the Zune a while ago but never started it up. As a result the software has been updated, several times and a number of things needed to happen before I could get my Zune to work.
I inserted the install CD in my computer (running Windows XP) and was told that the program needed to be updated before running. I went to the Zune website, downloaded the new version of the software (version 3.1 as opposed to 1.0) and was given another error message. I had to run Windows Update, restart, run it again, restart, and run it again. After restarting, I ran the Zune install software and was then told that the version of Windows Media Center I have installed is not compatible with the Zune software. I turned to the Zune forums and was given some help – turns out I had downloaded Windows Media Center version 2002 (because my Windows XP machine is from that year) and needed to update. You would think that Microsoft would make these things a bit clearer in the software installation process. A simple “click here to install the proper components” option would have been nice.
After downloading and installing the latest available update to Windows Media Center , then restarting my computer once again, I was finally ready to install the Zune software. I then restarted the computer – again. I think I restarted the computer more times that day than I had any other computer on any other day under any other conditions, including when I booted up my office computer after not turning it on for three years (which needed what seemed to be an endless string of updates).
So what do I have on my 30Gig Zune? 266 albums – well, by their count. Some of those are “singles” which I ripped so that I could have the B-sides available when listening to the album. Yes, I am that kind of music nerd.
I only ripped three box sets, AC/DC’s Bonfire, Cheap Trick’s Sex, America,and Cheap Trick and The Police’s Message In A Box. I was damn tempted to put my Randy Newman and Posies box sets in, but decided to hold off. I actually didn’t rip any of the Posies, which I am actually regretting at this point because I rather want to listen to that band right now. I am compensating my listening to “Bedbugs” by Odds, one of the greatest albums ever made, but that’s going to be the subject of another blog post in the future.
What else did I not rip? None of my Duran Duran made the initial transfer, nor (and I am most surprised by this) The Clash. Anybody that knows me would be surprised by this. Most surprising though is the complete lack of one of my favorite bands. Devo. The band has even inspired one of my tattoos, so to not have them be one of the first bands is odd, even I have to admit.
If you’ve made it this far, you may be wondering what I did rip and load up on my Zune. Well, I’ll tell you – even if you’re not interested. First up is my entire Ramones catalog. Everything that the band has released is there. Same thing with the Beastie Boys, The Briefs, Flogging Molly, Green Day, The Hives, Madness, Odds, Sir Mix-A-Lot, Third Eye Blind and Voice of the Beehive. I also ripped everything that I have of Cheap Trick, Weezer, Soul Asylum, Queen, Portishead, The Pogues, Mustard Plug, Motorhead, Joan Jett, The Goo Goo Dolls, Annie Lennox, Blur, and AC/DC. I also have some selected albums from artists like Barenaked Ladies, Bjork, Cyndi Lauper, The Dickies, The Replacements (just the first four albums because I haven’t picked up the last four album reissues), Bob Mould, Garbage, Mudhoney, Oingo Boingo, Peter Gabriel and U2. You can get an idea of where my musical tastes are from this list. This is, of course, not a complete list.
So I’m enjoying my Zune. I’m glad I’m not locked into having to use iTunes and Apples proprietary music format and service. There are improvements to the Zune software that I would like to see. When playing an album I’d like to see the total play time, not just for the song currently playing. That’s the first thing that comes to mind. I know I have a few other items, but can’t think of them right off the top of my head. That, however, will be the subject of another blog post.