Analysis (Services and Self)

Koan Bremner's view on life as a database and data warehouse professional / addict and non-genetic woman

Monday, March 28, 2005

Gadgets! I *love* them! :-)

Gratuitous geek gadget alert... on Friday, my good friend TJ (and his lovely wife, Katy) installed a new CD player / radio in my car... together with an interface for my iPod Mini, so that the latter can now be fully controlled from the radio head unit. It's just wicked! Of course, while they were hard at work, so was I; drinking their coffee, playing with their cats, and fixing my make-up, which I'd been too late out of bed to do. ;-) Anyway, the sound quality is amazing, and the killer aspect, for me, is that the content management metadata (e.g. play count, last played) is fully implemented in reverse; since I make extensive use of Smart Playlists in iTunes to manage the high volume of podcasts that flow through my iPod, that point was fundamental for me (and the primary reason why I had to throw my hands up in defeat at trying to achieve the same end (listening to podcasts in my car) by means of burning CDs. If I have *one* criticism, it's that I can't rate a track from the head unit (which would be, for me, the icing on the cake); but I'll forgive the manufacturer's oversight, this time. ;-)

The other gadget was one I actually bought a few months ago, a wireless networked media player, but was never really ble to use as fully as I'd hoped. The aim was to include this in my home entertainment system (i.e. it's wired up to my TV, as I don't actually have a full-blown Hi-Fi system) and use it to access media (audio files, video files, pictures) shared out on devices (e.g. my laptop) on my wireless LAN. This was great, as far as it went; but I couldn't for the life of me, get the player to play protected (i.e. subject to Digital Rights Management) Windows Media Audio files, nor could I use any of the supposedly-available online streaming services across my broadband connection. I tracked the former down to an issue with the firmware in the device; it needed to be at least Version 1.04 (1.05 was the latest, according to the manufacturer's web site, and mine was steadfastly rooted at 1.03EU). This looked suspiciously like a case of "one law for the US, one for Europe", and meant that I couldn't use the otherwise wonderful commercial Napster service until the firmware was upgraded. I wrote to the manufacturer... no response. Well, tonight, on a whim, I turned on the device to see if a firmware update was available, and lo, it automagically updated to 1.05EU.e1. One hard reboot of both the media player (and the laptop, hosting Windows Media Connect) later, and not only can I now make full use of the Napster service (which I will wax annoyingly lyrical about in a future post)... but there's now access to the streaming media service as well! :-)

Tonight, I'm in "geek gadget heaven".

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