Friday, 11 December 2015

Changing habits

It's funny how you stick with a procedure, once you've got used to it, even though it has become outmoded and superseded by a much easier way of doing things.

I've been storing mp3 music tracks on my various mobile devices since 2002. Originally it was for my early-morning journey to the station, and then to keep me awake on the train to London. Sometimes I'd play them going home as well. I didn't have much occasion to play music on retirement in 2005, but I began again when I moved into the Cottage in January 2009, when I was on my own and my musical taste wouldn't be an irritation to M---. Nowadays I play music in the bathroom every day, and when engaged in chores like ironing. I am not musical, and many would chortle at what I like, but I enjoy everything in my collection. I don't bloat it by including stuff that might impress, but isn't to my taste. Currently there are slightly less than 1,500 tracks on my phone.

How did they get there? Well, initially, I'd rip the music I wanted from CDs I already had, or was still buying, using my PC. Then I'd connect the PC to the current mobile device with a USB cable, and 'sync' the track to the device using Windows Media Player, a piece of software I have never liked. After I bought my Nokia E71 smartphone in 2008, I installed Nokia Music Player, which lacked WMP's bells and whistles but was much easier to use.

And that set up a well-tried procedure that lasted for seven years, because I continued to use Nokia Music Player for transferring tracks from my PC to my phone right up to yesterday.

Latterly I'd buy a batch of mp3s online from Amazon, but still install them on the phone with good old Nokia Music Player, even after Nokia lost its way and was taken over (and killed off) by Microsoft.  But earlier this week I found that Nokia Music Player wasn't working as well as it once had. And of course, there was no current version to upgrade to.

So how was I going to get future mp3 purchases onto my phone?

At this point someone will say: you don't need to. Get yourself a music subscription, and have access to zillions of tracks - all the music you could ever want - without needing to install anything on your phone. It will just be streamed as required. Three objections to this:

1. I dislike being dependent on a subscription service.

2. I already have most of the music I'd ever want, so theoretical access to a lot more isn't really much of an advantage.

3. I don't enjoy a strong 4G signal where I live - and I usually don't in the places where I go caravanning. Streaming is therefore not to be relied upon. I need to have my music installed in a physical memory - music that I've purchased and 'own' - so that I can listen to it anywhere and anytime.

And then yesterday I suddenly adopted an entirely different procedure, which completely bypassed the PC. I installed the Amazon Music app on my phone, bought an mp3 track online using the app, and set the app up to download the track straight to the 64GB MicroSD card on my phone. This worked so well that there seems no point in ever again using the PC to buy mp3s with. Which avoids all that transfer kerfuffle.

You know, I could have been doing this for some time past...!

In fact there is no need to have any music on the PC now. I kept it there only as a backup for the music on the phone. But all new stuff is automatically stored in Amazon's own cloud, whether or not downloaded. And I can also do a separate 'physical' backup of all the music on the phone to a portable hard drive, at regular intervals.

So what's a PC really for, nowadays?


  1. Lucy, the PC is for reading your blog and picking up my emails and little else these days...

    I do wonder how long before electronic life becomes stable, everything seems to change so quickly, snatching away the means or method which you become comfortable with. I like the retro look and better sound of my first PC and the OS which it runs on so have been thinking of resurrecting otto be a juke box... I think this might be the first year ever when I have not bought any new music.

  2. I think that 'electronic life' is running out of steam. There can't be too many gimmicks left to introduce at a price the laptop-, tablet-, and phone-buying public can afford. I can see some manufacturer rationalisation in the next year or two, with some big names disappearing.



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