Is it possible to fill an iPod legitimately? I will ignore the fact that the act of ripping your own CD is still an infringing activity under UK law due to the absence of a private copying exception in copyright law. As reported earlier, the British Phonogram Industry has kindly communicated that they will not enforce such actions.
I hadn’t realised just how much space 60 GB is until I started trying to fill it. In the last weeks I have been engaging in a ripping festival transferring my CD collection into unprotected AAC and MP3 formats. I have ripped the majority of the 305 CDs that I own (latest and final count), and left some that I was not interested in ever listening to again. Leaving out some songs from other CDs, and removing duplicates, this produced an excess of 4,300 songs. This is still considerably short of the advertised 15,000 song capacity of the iPod.
The next stage was to load my MP3 collection, which was surprisingly small once I removed all the music that I owned and burned the music that I actually want to listen to. I have been increasingly reluctant to download music permanently from P2P newtworks, I think that it is more ethical to purchase the music if you like the artist, and as a professional with a salary I see no reason why not to do this. My downloaded collection is made up mostly of Latin music that I cannot obtain here in the UK, which is the manner in which I justify owning downloads.
With that done, this left just under 5,000 songs on the iPod. I then proceeded to browse the iTunes music store. There is quite a lot of choice there, but I have been troubled by the DRM protection in the music. My first purchasing experience was to buy Carmina Burana; the operation was seamless, and the music was available in seconds with excellent quality. However, the iTunes DRM does not work well with other players. I have been listening to my music with Winamp because of the playback quality and a MP3 digital effects enhancer that I use to improve the sound, but the purchased music would only play with iTunes. There are several solutions available online for this problem, but some require untested third party software. My choice is to burn the purchased music into a blank CD, and then rip it back into MP3s, which removes the protection. I have been wondering if this constitutes a circumvention of the technical protection measures as present in the WIPO Copyright Treaty, the European Copyright Directive and the UK’s CDPA. It probably does, but I cannot see any other way of playing the music in the way that I want and with the player of my choice.
Another source of music has been a growing Creative Commons music collection. I now have 83 songs released under various CC licences. I was particularly glad to find an MP3 CD with the materials distributed at the iCommons Summit in Rio; this CD contained music from all over the world, some of it is extremely good! I hope that the music can be made available for download eventually. The other source is the famous Wired CD, which can also be downloaded in its entirety from the Creative Commons website.
The next step was to find worthy podcasts to subscribe to. This has been quite a revelation for me, I was aware of the popularity of the new medium, but I have been blown away by the wealth of choice. It seems like everything is subject to a podcast nowadays, from Anime to World Cup coverage. However, I have been disappointed by the few options in Spanish. Even Costa Rican podcasts seem to be recorded mostly by American expats and Christian missionaries. I have now subscribed to a series of techie podcasts:
(links to RSS feeds)
- Byte (en español), México
- Digital Planet, BBC.
- EFF Line Noise, EFF.
- New Scientist Podcast, New Scientist.
- PRI’s The World Technology Podcast, Public Radio International.
- Science on Guardian Unlimited, The Guardian.
- Slashdot Review.
Unfortunately, these podcasts barely cover 100 MBs. What else to do? There are the video and picture capabilities of the 5G iPod. I have now uploaded 660 pictures into the pod, a nice way of keeping your pictures mobile, and you can create a slide show that will display your photographs while playing music. A word of warning though, if you use iTunes to load the pictures, they are loaded into a proprietary database that can only be read by iTunes and the iPod software. An alternative is to create a folder with Explorer and just upload the files into it. As for video, I have uploaded the excellent Troops, and will probably upload some other favourites, like The Power of Nightmares and Macross Zero, although I need to convert them into Quicktime format.
With 35 GB to fill, I’m running out of ideas.