Wednesday, December 17, 2003

Comments on my MP3 player, and some rambling about my computer

Warning: self indulgence to follow.

Dell gave me a "free gift" with my new computer. I had a choice of an all in one printer/scanner/copier, a second battery, a digital camera, or an MP3 player. I already have a printer and a scanner so I didn't get this (although given that my laser printer needs a new drum (which I knew, but was trying to pretend was not so) and my scanner's driver causes a BSOD on the new computer (which I did not know) I may have made the wrong choice in this instance. I already have a digital camera (somewhat better than the one they were offering) so I was never going to go for that. A second battery is likely useful (although the battery seems to last for about five hours of use, which is much better than my last laptop, and in any event it isn't that hard to find a coffee shop with lots of power outlets - Starbucks are particularly good in this department), but the final option was a new electronic toy I didn't already have, so I got myself a new electronic toy. The MP3 player in question has only 64Mbytes of (flash) memory, so it isn't like I got an iPod, but none the less it is quite useful. It is about the size of a cigarette lighter, weighs practically nothing, and is far, far better than a cassette or CD based Walkman of just a few years ago, and makes portable music easy.

I have ripped my entire CD collection to MP3 (using a bit rate of 160kbps) and stored it on my hard disc and I am playing music on my laptop using iTunes, which is fun. When I copy these MP3s to the MP3 player, I only get about an album and a half of music, unfortunately. It is a shame that the MP3 player does not have a memory card slot or simply more memory, but that is the price of getting about the cheapest possible MP3 player. (The player in question retails in shops for about £60 and a little less over the internet). The other option of course is to transfer the music to the MP3 player using a lower bitrate. The trouble with that is that I want the high bitrate for computer based use, and the lower bitrate for portable use, which probably means I need to keep two copies of all my music on the hard disc. I wonder how I get iTunes to duplicate the entire music library at a lower bitrate. I really don't want to go through the process of putting all my CDs in the CD-ROM drive again.

Still, not the end of the world. This sort of thing is why I got the 60Gbyte hard disc, which I am thinking was a very good decision. Certainly it gives me more flexibility than the giant 5Gbyte disc on the old laptop. (Of course, by standards of not very long ago, 5Gbyte was giant, but it now seems quite puny). On the other hand, it might have been better to have taken the "free" printer/scanner and just bought an MP3 player with slightly more features. Except that I wouldn't have done that. Getting an MP3 player was in indulgence I wouldn't have gone through if I had had to fork out actual money. However, if I now go and buy a new printer or scanner out of necessity, I will have spent a similar amount of money. The idiotic thing about laser printers is that I can now buy a new printer for the cost of a new drum for the old one. And I can buy a new inkjet printer for less than half that. So I am not sure quite what I will do.

But for all that, the MP3 player is fun. It doesn't eat batteries quite as fast as the digital camera does, but getting some rechargeables for it was also clearly imperative. It uses a single AAA battery, so I needed different batteries from the AA ones used by the camera. But sizes fit into my existing charger, however, so I just needed the batteries. The cheapest NiMH AAAs were £7 for a pack of four. I only needed one or maybe two, but that is not an option. And of course I could buy a pack of 12 for £10, which seemed a good deal, although I did not need that many. So I now have 12 AAA rechargeable batteries. But somehow, I feel I am going to need a lot of rechargeable AAA batteries in future, so this may be good preparation for the years ahead.

And I need to get myself a high income again, so that I can stop going neurotic over things like this.

Except of course even when I do have a high income, I still get neurotic about things like this. It is just my nature.

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