Friday Links #25 – A DRM-Free Snapshot in Time

I spent the bulk of yesterday taking a trip down memory lane. The destination: my long-forgotten iTunes folder, home to hundreds of CDs I ripped and countless songs I downloaded. Steinbeck was wrong: you can go home again.

Since shifting my listening habits entirely to Spotify several years ago — and the subsequent death of my decade-old iPod Shuffle (years in storage did what so much sweat and spilled Nuun couldn’t) — I’ve been a more passive listener. I subscribe to playlists that others curate and receive a drip-feed of new songs and artists that I can’t identify. It’s always on, streaming from my computer, my phone, my car, or one of the wireless speakers in my house. But I seldom bother to identify title or artist.

I hate running with a smartphone. They’re too big. Too bulky. The Mighty looks great, but is pricey. And I refuse to re-install iTunes on my computer so replacing the Shuffle was not an option. Fortunately, Sandisk, the memory company, makes the Clip Jam. I put a Christmas gift card to use and picked one up for $30. It’s got a built-in FM tuner, 8gb memory (with microSD card slot for expansion), works with Audible books, and will play any DRM-free music you already own.

Hence the dive into my music folder. What fun it was to go through the 44 gigs worth of music I haven’t looked at it in years to pick out the ones I want on my new running mix. I spent hours yesterday double-clicking so many songs I hadn’t heard in years. The soundtrack of my high school and college years; the bands I saw live and never thought about again; the one-hit-wonders; the soundtracks; the music I trained to a decade ago; the entire R.E.M. catalog for crying out loud! Artist by artist, album by album, song by song, I went through them all in a hunt for the unprotected .m4a files — damn you iTunes and your blasted protected .m4p files! I usually paid the extra twenty cents for the DRM-free 128 bit songs, but that wasn’t always the option. Like when I bought Faith No More’s The Real Thing because my favorite song of theirs, Zombie Eaters, was unconscionably absent from their Greatest Hits album.

Yes, you’ll hear P.M. Dawn on my new running mix. And yes, it might unintentionally remind me of my high school sweetheart. But it — and she — will be replaced again, immediately, by another song and corresponding memory. I’ll be cruising down trail listening to Guns N Roses, The Police, Blink-182, Jane’s Addiction, G. Love, INXS, Bad Religion, Ned’s Atomic Dustbin, and even some Moby and Massive Attack. There’re songs from the Singles soundtrack and Pump Up the Volume too. Every one of them with a specific memory. Long live the 90s!

I was contacted recently about a strategy guide I wrote back in 2003. Out of curiosity, I dug out the disc I saved my files to and popped it in. Corrupt. Was it the disc, the reader, the new Windows 10? I don’t know. All I know is 14 years isn’t too long. Chances are those old music CDs I sold 3-for-$1 at a garage sale would still work. I’m thrilled the digitized files do. And you better believe I’ve got them backed up to three drives.

Save your music collection: it’s (almost) better than any photo album.

Bookish Links

  1. The Dude, The Port Huron Statement, and The Seattle Seven – For fans of The Big Lebowski (that’s pretty much everyone, right?), this article by Colin Patrick at mental_floss sheds some light on what those bona fides claimed by The Dude actually refer to.
  2. Would You Read the Next Sentence? – Some of you may recall that I posted some commentary last year about the first lines in each of the books I read in 2014 and 2015. Here’s a selection of ten first-sentences, some you might recognize. Would you keep reading?
  3. You Could Get Lost in this Alternate Universe of Used and Rare Books in Downtown L.A. –  I was happy to spot this article last week about The Last Bookstore in Los Angeles, before my trip there for New Year’s. This shop was our first stop after dinner last Friday. It’s a pretty neat shop, though not quite as magical as the article makes it sound. Some very nice book-statues though.
  4. 22 of the Best Single Sentences on Writing – Spend any time on Twitter and you’ll soon think that writers spend most of their days dreaming up quotes about how wonderful/hard/impossible/inspirational their chosen field is. While cute, the quotes are meaningless. Here are 20 quotes that are actually helpful.
  5. The Seattle Times Best Books of 2016 – Seattle is routinely ranked as one of the best-read cities in the country. Here are the books that captured the city’s literary critics attention in 2016. I added a few to my To-Read list. Any catch your interest?

Bonus Link

Serving is a Disadvantage in Some Olympic Sports –  Is it better to serve or to receive? That depends on which sport you play, and whether you’re male or female. This is an interesting look inside the world of serve-based sports like tennis, badminton, table tennis, and volleyball. And it explains some of the riskier approaches players take, particularly in volleyball.

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