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THE THINGS I DO, LOOKING FOR A GROOVE

Hi, my name’s Scott, and I’m an online music addict.

I have a particular quirk with my online music habit. I buy it. I know, at this point you are probably overcome with laughter at my stupidity. But frankly, I’d rather just hit a button and get my quirky 15 year old dance tracks then have to suffer through 30 pages of Britney Spears search results just to get one track only I listen to.

I also have an iPod clone. I wouldn’t recommend it to others, because it’s large and the front cover doesn’t stay on any more. I use it mainly because my workplace has a no-MP3s-on-company-PCs rule. So to get around that I use a nifty open source Winamp plugin that plays my collection in Winamp.

By now you should realize two problems that I have:

1) I spend entirely too much time fiddling with my music, when normal people just stick in a CD and listen to it.
2) My first quirk is directly in conflict with my second quirk, thanks to something we like to call “Digital Rights Management”.

DRM is the music’s industry of saying “This MP3 stuff is just a fad!”. It tries to make it so that you can’t actually use what you download, by encrypting it and locking it. So I currently have accounts with 3 music stores (yes, I am sad).

First off we have the 900 lb gorilla, Apple’s iTunes. iTunes is basically supposed to force you to buy an iPod. Its DRM scheme ONLY works with iPods. If I want to, you know, listen to anything I buy, I have to burn it to CD, then rip it back into an MP3, at which point it’s finally mine. I dislike doing this, but, well, iTunes has stuff no one else has.

Next we have Napster. You remember Napster? Yeah. It was given a pre-frontal lobotomy and set forth into the world, drooling and wetting DRM all over itself. However Napster supports my iPod clone. I can buy something in Napster, click a button, and it just sort of gets there. I like this. However, Napster’s selection is somewhat limited.

And finally we have Virgin Digital. Just launched, has almost as many songs on file as iTunes, without the tether to the iPod. Finally, the ranch is saved! I buy a couple of albums from them, it works well, everyone’s happy.

Until I finally get quirk 2 working. You see, until the latest revision, Winamp would load my iPod clone’s library, and then promptly crash, which made listening to the music difficult. So I’d just listen to it on the iPod clone itself. But with the latest version it works flawlessly! I can plug into my PC and stream my music from my iPod clone and be lost on a nirvana of musical wonderment and everything is hearts and flowers and OH CRAP it hates DRM-encoded songs. Bleah.

So, I shrug. I have to do the burn and rip shuffle with my iTunes purchases, why not just finish the job and do it with the others. Except, well, Virgin Digital apparently WON’T LET you burn music. Oh, it has a nice flashing BURN CD button. Which doesn’t actually work. Whoops.

By this time I’m about ready to rent time on a Cray supercomputer in order to crack the DRM encryption on my songs. Which, by the way, I paid for. Instead, while, I confess, searching for ways to crack the copy protection on STUFF I PAID FOR, I find this page, which describes how to use a program which automates the burn and rip shuffle. You see, so many people are in my dilemma that there are third party utilities to fix this.

My savior, in Heaven, weeping.

Broken Toys, lost in technology so you don’t have to be!