What A Nightmare

I must have been a glutton for punishment last night.

Yesterday, Ann picked up the 15th anniversary, limited-edition, super-special digitally enhanced version of Tim Burton’s emo classic The Nightmare Before Christmas. (Note: I’m not emo; I just dig the movie.)

At any rate, the movie comes packed with three discs: the movie, the bonus content, and a disc with Disney’s latest innovation called Disney File Digital Copy which allows you to rip the movie to your PC for transfer to your iPod or viewing on your computer.

If you intend to view it on your iPod, the process is a snap. Simply insert the DVD into your drive, wait for it to read, then enter some information. Once completed, you choose which format you desire: iTunes of Windows Media Video. Because I have no use for WMV format I wisely chose iTunes.

Within a minute, iTunes opened and the disc was recognized. From there all you need to do it enter the validation code, rip it to your iTunes library and transfer it to your iPod. The process worked flawlessly and I watched some of it on the train ride to work.

Then, for some reason, I thought I’d try to copy it in WMV format. What a dumbass I am.

I started the process over and chose WMV format. I was then greeted by so many damned messages it was unfunny.

First it told me I had to update my Windows Media Player so I did, only to find out that my version of Vista is running the latest version of Windows Media Player. I did this multiple times and each was a waste.

From there I thought I’d be smart and explore the DVD contents in order to find the WMV files. I found them and clicked on them and they didn’t play. WMP told me I had to download some Security Update in order to play DRM material. I also copied the WMV files to my hard drive. So I downloaded the updated and…still nothing.

I then figured that I’d come this far and maybe some troubleshooting info would help. This is when I threw my hands in the air and began to curse Bill Gates and Company. To see what I mean, visit the Disney File Web site and click on Help & FAQ at the top. From there, scroll down to the last two questions and just sit with your mouth agape at the answers.

Holy Catshit, Batman! WTF?! While by no means a nerd, I consider myself a bit tech-savvy: I’ve installed DVD burners, authored DVDs at home, done all sorts of neat stuff with the computer. But Jesus H. Tapdancing Christ, there was no way in Hell I was going to even bother tackling this.

Just imagine how somebody a bit less tech-savvy will feel.

In a world where copying DVDs to iPods has become so buggy and painful, I have to salute Disney for creating such an innovative product and Apple for making the process easy. Bravo to both, and I hope that this is only the tip of the iceberg for Disney File. Let’s hope other studios catch on.

Downloadin’ Fool

I love my Pioneer Inno XM radio/MP3 player. I take it everywhere I go: train, work, car, etc. It just works the way it should.

Part of the reason I love it is because I can record stuff from live broadcasts and with the variety of music played, especially on Bob Dylan’s Theme Time Radio Hour, I can listen to my new favorites whenever I like (limited to storage capacity, of course). There are, however, a few problems with that.

First, storage capacity. You can either partition the 1GB non-expandable storage to either 100% XM recording or 50/50 XM recordings/MP3 files. You have to give up one for the other.

Second, the XM is partnered with Napster. In a perfect world, you connect your Inno to your PC, open up Napster, find the song you recorded and purchase the MP3. So what’s the problem?

Napster’s selection sucks. Unless you’re in need of Britney Spears’ or Black Eyed Peas’ latest release, you’re pretty much out of luck. I think I’ve used Napster to buy two songs and neither were the aforementioned “artists.”

As such, if you’re storage space is dwindling down and you want to keep your recordings you can’t copy them from the unit to PC (that I know of). You have to either a) transfer them real-time to a PC or MP3 recorder or b) buy the songs elsewhere because, and I don’t know if I mentioned this yet, Napster’s selection sucks.

And that’s when you take into account what your time is really worth, or what I like to call the Free Gas Syndrome. (The Free Gas Syndrome dictates that anybody who makes more than $8/hr. and sits in line for hours for a “free gas” promotion is an idiot because they exchanged work hours for the sake of “free gas,” when they would have been better off going to work and earning money that would have gotten them more than one tank of gas.)

I tried to record some of them and realized that task was going to be tedious and time-consuming: recording, transferring, editing, etc. Not only that, some songs had drop-outs because of bad reception. So rather than waste my time I decided to start purchasing the songs–and not through Napster.

I’ve been using Amazon Music because I like that they offer DRM-free stuff. Should the day come when I buy a non-iPod player, I’ll have a collection of songs ready to go. I got most of them from here but what I couldn’t find I had to buy via iTunes.

Interested to see the list? Read on.

Continue reading