But only a little guilty…

As a birthday present for my sister this year I got tickets for her and I to go see the Barenaked Ladies play at the Xcel Center in St Paul last night. The show was pretty good, though I have to admit that I was a bit more excited about (and happy at the performance of) the opening act than I was was of the headliner. Mike Doughty was in fine form and did a great job warming up the crowd with some of his solo work as well as a couple of Soul Coughing tunes, though no one sitting near us really seemed to know who the heck he was. I really need to make more of an effort to see him do his own show the next time he’s in town.

Anyway, Barenaked Ladies also had a very good show and I did enjoy it very much. My sister and I have had an on-going strong discussion (because it’s not serious enough to be an argument) about whether BNL was as fun on stage as their fellow Torontans, er, Toronto-ans, um, band from Toronto Moxy Fruvous. Well BNL does a good show, but they’re nothing close to Moxy Fruvous on stage. Definitely fun, don’t get me wrong, but not nearly the quantity of digressions, ad-libs, and other wacky types of stuff that happens at a Moxy Fruvous show.

They also didn’t sing any songs in French. What kind of Canadian band is that, eh? ;-P

The really cool part of the show for me though was that while perusing the merchandise table prior to the show they had a sign up the “Barenaked on a Stick LIVE!” USB key for $25. The details are this: They record the entire show off of the boards and dump it to an MP3 file. They they copy that MP3 file and a PDF with the set list off to fifty USB keys and hand them out as soon as duplication is complete after the show. The two very, very tiny little issues that I have with this:

  1. There is exactly one MP3 file that has the entire show so it can be a bit unwieldly to listen to. So I’ve spent a bit of time today listening to the file in Audacity and spliting out tracks as I come to them. (Thus the post title…)
  2. It doesn’t include the opening act. Completely understandable but it would have been nice.

Overall it’s a really cool idea and it’s been fun to listen to. I’m trying to decide if it’s a good idea to get the albums they have available in this form or not though.

One last irritation

While I was uninstalling the Zune software from my system a thought occurred to me: I did not remember ever seeing an option of where to install the software during installation. Since the uninstallation was nice and painless I decided to restart the installation to verify my memory just to be sure and I could not find a way for an average user to change the installation location of the software.
So there’s one more reason to stay away for now.

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Strike 3! …4! …5! …

Further issues with the Zune software:

  • No dynamic play lists. While I occasionally will listen to a particular album or artist, my primary method of listening to music is a modified shuffle of the entire library, slightly culled by dropping any tracks that I’ve played in the last 1-3 weeks (My full library at home gets 3 weeks, my smaller library at work gets 1 week). This means that I really do often hear stuff that I haven’t heard lately which usually makes up for the other quirks in the default shuffle play systems of both iTunes and any version of Windows Media Player I’ve toyed around with.
  • Media updates will stop playback of that media. So after figuring I would at least try and listen to something in the interface, despite the aforementioned lack of dynamic playlists, so I queued up a recently acquired album (You Are Here by Banco de Gaia, which is really quite good world beat electronica) and started listening. Six minutes into the first track (which clocks at nine minutes and 15 seconds) the music suddenly stops. Somewhat mystified I pull up the player and notice a little banner at the bottom saying “Updating You Are Here…” or something similar. While that banner was displayed I could queue up other music, but not the one that was being updated. Again, iTunes and Windows Media Player don’t have this issue.
  • Does not minimize to system tray. I tend to keep a lot of windows open while I am working during the day and so being able to remove one item from the taskbar to reduce clutter actually makes quite a difference to me. Unlike iTunes and Windows Media Player, I cannot find a single option that allows me to minimize to the system tray.

I think the strangest thing about all of those points is that otherwise the interface looks and behaves almost identical to Windows Media Player 11, which I spent a fair bit of time playing around with over the past couple of weeks. Playback works okay and audio quality isn’t an issue that I can tell, but I see absolutely no compelling reasons to keep this installed on my computer.
I had also honestly been considering the possibility of getting a Zune, but until at least the minimize and dynamic playlist issues are fixed it’s just not an option for me.

The pain! The pain!


originally uploaded by nstohlma.

Strike 2! This is the first image I saw while the Zune software installation was running. How much more sappy can you get?

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It can be the little things

I decided to give the new Zune software package a try today just to see what it’s like. Why try the software when I don’t have the Zune hardware? iTunes is pretty good software and I’ve never owned an iPod.

However I’ve already run into the first item that makes me wonder about the whole Zune ethos: I can’t download the software using FireFox.

Just try and use the “Download Zune” button from this page in any non-IE browser and see how far you get.

Still going to try it anyway and see how it goes, but that sort of little idiocy starts to leave a bad taste in one’s mouth.

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