Archive for the 'Music' Category

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.


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.

All these things rock:

  • My Orange 222. Stable, planted, fast, FUN! Oh, and removing the brake-arm didn’t appear to make any difference to the ride. One afternoon’s riding without it isn’t exactly an extensive test, I know…
  • Topshelf Components. I ordered a custom built new wheel, and found it waiting on the doorstep the following day. Fantastic service. The Aireal stuff they sell is pretty damn good aswell.
  • G-Dog’s new trails. Funtastic aceness – except for that drop. It’s just plain silly.
  • Falling off your bike and not hurting yourself.
  • Fog. It made Cheltenham disappear entirely, which looked cool from the top of the hill.
  • The current albums by Maximo Park, Hard-Fi and Bloc Party, not to mention some older ones by Everlast, Haven and The Black Keys.
  • Apple crumble and custard. In fact, I think I deserve another portion…

They’re a funny old bunch, Sony.

On the one hand they’re a bunch of idiots, whose copy-protected music CDs can leave your computer open to virus attack. OK, I’m sensationalising, but that surely is a sign of a company that just doesn’t get it. It’s like they believe that if they don’t install something really nasty on the CD, the consumer is just bound to pirate it. Meanwhile, illegal copies of the CDs appear through the usual channels within hours of release – as per usual. This sort of thing just doesn’t work Sony – it’s only ever going to generate you bad P.R.

On the other hand, they produce some absolutely fantastic hardware and commission some wonderful adverts [thanks Eeen] in which to showcase it.

Go figure.

Update: It gets worse for Sony

Brilliant: It would appear that Sony’s copyright protection software is itself in breach of copyright [thanks Andy]. They’re really thought this one though, haven’t they?

Album of your life

Owen posted an album of his life today. He’s by no means the first either – Stuart posted the wonderful Ubermix a while back aswell.

I’ve thought about doing a similar thing myself a few times in the past. The thing is, I don’t think I could – at least not without it being a huge multi-disc compendium. There’s just so much that i’d want to put in there, and I can’t see myself being able to edit it down to one CD at all.

The problem lies with albums, or rather that I can’t pick out one particular track. I too remember the evenings in the first year of college spent listening to Portishead’s Dummy. There’s no way I could pick one standout track from there – there’s too much good stuff to choose from. Then there’s the other albums that I played to death back then: The Fat of the Land, Mezzanine, Brothers Gonna Work It Out and Asylum to name but a few. How can I take just one track from each of those? I can’t (especially seeing as one of them is a mix album where are no tracks as such).

Sod it I thought, I’ll list off my all time favourite albums. That’s all well and good, except even that list got far far far too long within a space of about ten minutes. Right then, favourite artists it is then. Or rather, it isn’t, because again, there’s bloody loads of them. So I’ve given up on that idea for now.

So it seems that Olly’s favourite band is “Various Artists”. Stick that on your shiny new iPod, it’s bound to be good.

I got the poison!

Prodigy, live on Radio 1, right now.

Very loud, very very good indeed.

That is all.

The iTunes Visualiser

I really like iTunes‘ built in Visualiser. I could watch it all day.

No, seriously, I could. I find it absolutely mesmerising. Back in the days of Winamp I’d seek out loads of different visualisers but this one makes all the pretty patterns that they ever did at the click of a button.

This is a bit sad really isn’t it?

Mr Scruff

So we’re sat in The Conservatory having a pint on a friday night. The DJ ends his set with I might as well plug the album. Its called Trouser Jazz and its been out a while.

BLOODY HELL! That’s Mr Scruff! Playing in our local!

About 24 hours later, Owen and myself are at the town hall for his proper gig. Pete was supposed to be joining us, but unfortunately he was stuck at some family do or other. Its safe to say that he missed out, big style.

We had a fantastic evening, spent chatting at the bar to various random people we hadn’t seen in ages and dancing to one of the most random mixes I have ever come across. A nice selection of classical jazz standards, mixed in with various cool rhythms from around the world. Then just when you thought it was safe he’d chuck in some big and bouncy hip-hop number or some classic techno. This was of course sprinkled with Mr Scruff’s own tunes — Spandex Man went down a storm. The graphics up on the big screens were ace too. Classic Mr Scruff imagery mixed in with a selection of fantastic slogans like Wobble Those Legs!, Drink Tea!!! and Big Up Cheltenham Massive.

Before we left Owen bought a tea towel and I got myself a nice mug. I’d probably have bought a teapot too, but they were a tad expensive.

All in all a quality night out, despite the lightning and torrential rain on the way home. It was quite amusing watching people absolutely jump out of their skin at the sound of thunderbolts.