Friday, August 31, 2007


I live in a gadget-infested house. That's not that surprising, it kind of runs in the family. However, I realized the silliness of this today - I'm both interested in gadgets and cheap, which is a deadly combination. My space becomes a sort of Island of Misfit Toys. However, every now and then something comes together. Here's an example:

Lately, I've been listening to a lot of music downloaded from eMusic (current favorites - Bobby Bare, Jr., and the Volebeats). However, I'm branching out a a bit and so I don't always recognize the songs that I've saved off to my first-gen 512MB iPod Shuffle. OK, what could be sadder than the Shuffle, right? I should just hit Craig's List and buy an 80GB iPod Video. But, I can't. They're too much. So, it's time to improvise. What do I have that would display my song titles while it plays? Well, in my home office I have two Shuffles, 2 Mac G4's, a couple of printers, and a box'o'stuff. You probably have a box of stuff too. Here's what's in mine:

  • Kyocera 6035 smartphone from 1989 or thereabouts
  • Steinberg phono preamp for converting vinyl to mp3
  • Nokia 770 Handheld running Linux
  • Handspring Visor with a wirelesss ethernet adapter (!)
  • Radio Shack VoltOhmMeter
  • Another Visor - I've an original Palm around here somewhere
  • car adapters, power bricks, usb cables, mice
  • Tom Clancey ghost recon game (there's a story behind this)
  • USB to phone cables (data transfer project)
  • Quickpad plus
  • An analog wristwatch that plays MP3s - through a 2.5mm headphone jack (believe it or not, I won this for writing some code)
  • Headphones for the watch
So, how can I play MP3's portably without spending any money. First, let's try the very cool Nokia 770. The 770 is my favorite gadget.... and there's a cool new media player for it, and it's written in Python. Cool! Off we go on a day-long journey down this rabbit hole. In the end, it just seems like too much trouble. Unfortunately, that happens more often than I would like to admit with the Nokia. It's a device I want to love, but I don't, unfortunately.

Well, the mp3 watch doesn't help, but something about the watch reminds me that phones use 2.5mm jacks. Hey, wait a minute! I have a Palm Treo 650 phone. Palm has not been getting a lot of love lately. However, the phone has actually worked pretty well for me, especially when teamed up with Goodlink and Exchange. To make a too long story less long, it turns out the the Treo has RealPlayer installed. And this version of RealPlayer will play any mp3's located in a folder called "Audio" at the root of the SD card for the phone. Now, I will grant you it's not quite as beautiful as the iPhone as you can tell from the screenshot. Anyway, it works.

So, I just drag a selection of songs from my eMusic folder on my desktop into the card's "Audio" folder, load the card back into the phone, and there you are. It works very well, actually. You can read the official instructions here. Of course, if you don't have a spare set of 2.5mm headphones in your box-o-stuff, then you'll need a 3.5mm to 2.5mm adapter.

Here are a few of the songs that I've downloaded to the phone.
  • We See, Thelonious Monk, Alone in Paris (I've got the rest of the album on there too)
  • The Time of the Preacher, Johnny Cash
  • Daddy Rhythm Guitar, Paul Burch
  • Sin Away, Grievous Angels
  • Life's Lonesome Road, Wayne Hancock
  • Paranoia in BB Major - The Avett Brothers (The Avett Brothers rock!)
  • Shame - The Avett Brothers
    • Lyric sample: "I promise things won't end the same
      boatloads of shame,
      day after day,
      more of the same,
      Blame, please lift it off
      please take it off
      please make it stop"
    • You might not think that this song is hysterically funny. It is.
  • Life of a Fool - Paul Burch
  • W-I-F-E - Old '97s
  • Love Train - Yayhoos (It is that Love Train, and this is the rockingist country version of this you will ever hear)
  • Favorite - Neko Case
  • No Depression in Heaven - Carter Family
  • 99 and a half won't do - Dorothy Love Coats
  • Sky and the Ocean - Volebeats
  • Annabel - Volebeats
  • Parallel Bars - Robbie Fulks (yes, it's a country song, and yes, they're talking about drinking establishments)
  • Boots (Original Melody) - A remake of Lee Hazlewood's most famous song from his last album. It's fantastically good, very euro-jazzy, very distantly reminiscent of the Yoko Kanno intro for Cowboy Bebop (which Em introduced me to)
There's a bunch of other stuff too. If only I had a larger memory card...

No comments: