Archive for the 'Sony' Category

98% of statistics are made up on the spot

I’ve been using Google’s Analytics package for a little while now and the statist­ics make inter­est­ing1 reading. I’ve been quite impressed with it really. The inter­face is a little ugly (hey, it’s Google), but it gets the job done nicely.

So what do they tell me?

Firstly, you lot need to buck your ideas up. Over half of you are still using Internet Explorer, you crazy fools! There’s plenty of better altern­at­ives out there — and they’re free! Firefox and Opera are the obvious ones.

One of you is still using Internet Explorer 5. Whoever you are, you really need to upgrade.

You lot don’t like Sony, do you?

It’s no surprise to find that a lot of you have trouble with the Sony SonicStage and Connect software that came with your Walkman. The most popular search phrases are about those two, and my rants about them get by far the most traffic. Those of you still looking for an answer, might like to try the ml_sony plugin for Winamp.

Of course I won’t be writing much about them anymore, because they simply don’t work on this shiny new Mac. That’s good in some ways, but it also means that I’m left with a Walkman full of music that I can’t update. If anybody fancies writing a Mac OS-X driver…

Ahem…

Second most popular search term? “Cumfest”. Nicely done folks. I bet you’re not looking for pictures of mountain bikers in the snow either, are you?

Speaking of which, the rest of you are into your bikes. Unfortunately those of you looking for Hope Technology and 24Seven bikes aren’t going find much more than my rants about their awful web-sites.

Hmm, ranting is becom­ing something of a recur­ring theme here isn’t it? I’m quite happy-go-lucky in real life…

 

1. But only if you’re me.

Connect Player or SonicStage? Not even Sony know…

Sony confuse me.

They appear to have two pieces of music manage­ment software compet­ing for the same space. There’s SonicStage, which came with MiniDiscs and the HD series of players. It’s ugly and horrible to use but had the massive advant­age of being fairly stable. Then they’ve got the new upstart, Connect Player, which comes with the new A-series Walkmans (Walkmen?). It’s both prettier and easier to use, but until recently was horribly slow and crashed every few seconds. I’ll ignore the third option, which I believe shipped with the PSP.

The thing is, they’ve finally got the Connect Player working as it should. It’s not perfect, but it works properly. Hooray! But now SonicStage is about to trump it again, adding support for the very Walkmans that Connect was designed to work with.

Come on Sony, make your minds up. What’s it to be? Connect Player or SonicStage? It was good to keep SonicStage around while you got Connect Player into a usable state, but surely now you should drop it? If you do keep devel­op­ing it, it needs a major inter­face upgrade at the very least. It still looks and feels like some “scene” software from the heyday of the Amiga A500.

Maybe I’ve been spoilt by the likes of iTunes — software that makes it easy to look after thousands of songs — but then so has the rest of the world. I think Sony need to think long and hard, then cull one of these applic­a­tions and bring the other one up to spec.

Update — It seems that the Connect Player is no more. Let’s hope SonicStage gets an inter­face upgrade in the next version, because even version 4.0 is miles behind the competition.

Sony’s Connect Player is back on track

Screenshot of Sony Connect Player v1.0.04.16100. Sony recently updated their Connect Player software (to version 1.0.04.16100) and I’m very glad to report that it’s a huge, huge improve­ment. It now runs at a decent speed on my fairly modest Athlon 1800+ system and appears to be stable. Nice one Sony.

Non-Starter

The new version wouldn’t start at first though — it just hung at the “Initialising Library” stage. The fix was fairly simple: I went to C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Application Data\Sony Corporation\CONNECT Player\Library (the path may be slightly differ­ent on your machine) and deleted everything in there. Once I did that, it started up with an empty library just fine.

From there, I went to File > Import Files... and pointed it at my iTunes music folder. It picked up everything (all 36.6gb of it) and impor­ted it fairly quickly.

GAARGH! Compilations!

Alas Connect Player went the same way as SonicStage and impor­ted each track in my various-artists compil­a­tions as a separ­ate album. A bit of trial and error found a fairly easy way to correct this:

  1. Switch the view mode to Group By: Album.
  2. Open up one of the albums that make your compil­a­tion, right click on the track within and select Properties.
  3. Under Album Artist enter Various Artists (or whatever else you want it to say). Click OK.
  4. Now, select all of the other “albums” in that compil­a­tion (shift-click or ctrl-click to select more than one album) and drag-drop them onto the one you’ve just modified. Click OK to the warning box and hey presto! They’re all in one album.

Sync

Right, now for the one thing I’ve not tried yet: Syncing it up with my Walkman. Wish me luck…

Sony Walkman Wishlist

So then, the Sony Walkman NW-A3000. It’s a lovely machine in many ways. It’s beauti­fully made as you would expect from Sony. The sound quality is fantastic too, once you’ve purchased some decent earphones. The supplied ones really aren’t too hot.

Unfortunately, a few things let it down, so I’ve put together a wishlist of things I’d like to see improved:

The Software

  • The Connect Player is unusably slow and it’s TinyHTTP.exe process is very resource hungry and unstable. Sort it out, please.
  • The altern­at­ive, SonicStage, is better, but only in so far as it’s usable. It’s not altogether stable itself, and when compared with it’s biggest compet­i­tion (iTunes), it’s not a very good music player / manager at all.
  • Support for compil­a­tion / various-artists albums defin­itely needs improve­ment. Specifically, when viewing my music, it should give me the option to separ­ate compil­a­tion albums out from the rest of the music. The option to separ­ate artists that only appear on compil­a­tions from the rest of the artist listing would be great, too. The same complaints apply to the player itself.
  • It would be nice if it could do the same with Podcasts. Some sort of poscast aggreg­a­tion built into the software would be very nice, too.
  • Make the whole playl­ists exper­i­ence nicer to use. If they were sorted out on this side, i’d use them a lot more on the player itself.
  • The ability to import playl­ists from other software — iTunes and WinAMP in partic­u­lar — would be a very nice feature.
  • Support for the Mac and other altern­at­ive platforms would be lovely, thanks. In fact, just document­ing the disc format you use and releas­ing it into the public domain would be a huge help. You wouldn’t have to do the work then, would you? The folks over at Songbird would quite likely do it for you.

The Hardware

To be honest, there isn’t a great deal wrong with the Walkman itself. The major­ity of the problems lie in the software that sits on your PC. I do have a few bugbears though:

  • It can be so very very slow at times. It’s usually when navig­at­ing through the music library while music is playing, but quite often it grinds to a halt and shows the “access­ing” screen for ages while nothing else is happen­ing. This is very frustrat­ing. More speed please Sony.
  • Support for compil­a­tion albums isn’t brilliant on the player either. Separating them out from the rest of the library would be nice. The same would be nice for Podcasts.
  • Um… it’d be nice if you could squeeze in a bigger hard disc. 20gb simply isn’t enough for me anymore.
  • You know deep down, what I really want, is to be able to just drag and drop folders of music straight on there as if it was an external hard drive. Not going to happen, is it? No, I didn’t think so.

Dear Sony…

I bought myself a Sony Walkman A3000 shortly before christmas.

It’s a really good bit of hardware: The sound quality is great (especially with a decent set of earphones), looks lovely, is nice to use, line-out mode is handy for plugging it into the stereo, I could go on.

Alas Sony have largely ruined it. How? Well, they’ve gone and bundled it with the wonder­ful new Connect Player v1.0.

Now, to look at it’s quite nice. All dark colours and smooth edges — very Sony. Alas to use it is a complete nightmare.

Connect Player falling over. Again.

It uses up shedloads of memory and CPU time (how does 674mb and 97% sound?). It takes upwards of five minutes to start up. Despite using all that memory and CPU time it’s slower than a snail climb­ing Everest. On top of all this it’s not even stable: It usually crashes when you try to import a lot of music at once. Nope, I wouldn’t reccomend that anybody even tries to use it.

Instead, march straight over to the Sony Website, grab a copy of SonicStage 3.3 and use that instead. In terms of looks it’s the complete antithesis of Connect — being an ugly thing. On the other hand, it’s loads faster, a lot more stable, uses less memory and will quite happily trans­fer music over to your new player.

Alas this means you’ll lose some of the extra functions of the Walkman (the Artist Link and some of the intel­li­gent shuffle features), but to be honest I don’t think you’ll miss them. The joy of being able to finally put music onto the new player without tearing out your hair ought to more than make up for it.

YOU NEED TO SORT YOUR BLOODY SOFTWARE OUTSONY!

Thankfully, it looks like they’re making steps in the right direc­tion. ATRACLife reports that they’re taking a leaf right out of Apple’s book (quite liter­ally) by poach­ing Tim Schaaff and making him Senior Vice President of Software Development. Still, that doesn’t help those of us using the software right now…

Sony Network Walkman

I want a music player with a gert big hard drive in it again. I’ve seen the adverts for the new Sony Walkman and really really want one. Or at least I did.

You see, I wandered over to Amazon to see how much they are. Not a lot more than an iPod Nano and 16gb bigger! It looks ace!

Then I started reading the user reviews. Everybody seems to think the player itself is fantastic — which is no surprise. Sony have tradi­tion­ally been the daddies when it comes to portable music hardware.

Unfortunately, it would seem that software is not their strong point. Phrases like “the Connect software does its best to wreck your PC and prevents you loading any more than a handful of albums” kept popping up. I googled around for some more reviews and the same thing comes up over and over again. One review summed it up:

It’s the broken software that lets this product down, not the player — it’s such a shame that Sony haven’t been able to get it right. They’ve put so much effort into getting a great MP3 player out for Christmas — and they’ve forgot­ten to finish the software.”

Bah humbug.