Friday, April 14, 2006

InformationWeek | AOL Music Now | AOL's Music Service Has A Good Groove | March 13, 2006

InformationWeek | AOL Music Now | AOL's Music Service Has A Good Groove | March 13, 2006: "AOL's Music Service Has A Good Groove"

This review is a little older than, and not quite as glowing as, the PC Magazine review below, but still solid for a service that is still in "Preview".

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

(no) Synchronicity II

Damn, I thought I could outsmart this sync bug by putting my miniSD card into my old Audiovox SMT56000 (running Smartphone 2003 instead of Windows Mobile 5.0), syncing all my WMDRM'd content to it, then swaping the memory card back into the SDA. I guess it was stupid of me to think that Windows Media DRM wouldn't prevent that, but hey... I had to give it a shot.

The interesting thing I've now noticed is that if I keep syncing, I seem to be building a collecting of more than 25 tracks. I don't know if the "bug" is just limiting it to 25 protected tracks *per* sync, or what. But at least now I've got a few dozen tracks on there. Someone at work actually suggested that this may not be a "bug", but a way for Microsoft to appease the carriers (for those that have aspirations to sell over-the-air downloads for a couple bucks a pop). It actually rings true to me, and is a frightening thought reminiscent of the Motorola Rokr and it's artificial 100 song sync limit. Scary.

Let's just hope T-Mobile doesn't have aspirations to be a music service provider, and releases the OS update soon... I can't rely on guaranteed Edge data rates that just allow me to stream everywhere I go.

Monday, April 10, 2006

SDA Sync Update - or Lack Thereof

So, I though if I bypassed Windows Mobile 5.0 and tried to sync content directly to my storage card (via a card writer/reader), then perhaps I could get around the 25 track "bug" (see earlier post).

Unfortunately, no luck.... although this time I get a different error. I've got a couple more ideas. Stay tuned.

Streaming Goodness

So, I was complaining yesterday about the sync errors I was getting with my subscription music content and Windows Mobile 5.0. But, who needs to sync?! I'm continually getting good enough Edge data rates, that I'm able to stream any/all of the 2 million tracks directly to my phone. Using a smartphone RSS reader (like Newsbreak), I can subscribe to any/all of my Music Now feeds - I'm partial to my Daily Playlist - click the link and listen in all 128kbps glory. You will get forced to login to the site (which isn't formatted for display on such a small screen - but you it's not all that bad).

This combined with T-Mobile's all-you-can eat data plan has me wondering... do I even need to sync my songs? I guess when traveling somewhere out of data range (e.g. a plane), but in my normal day to day, I'm not convinced I ever need to sync. More to come...

Saturday, April 08, 2006

AOL Music Now review by PC Magazine

AOL Music Now review by PC Magazine

Rick has made a minor misstatement about simultaneous streaming capabilities (multiple PCs can download songs and play them back locally simultaneously - but can not simultaneously stream from the service), but overall a stellar review. He wraps it up very nicely with:

"In the meantime, I'm enjoying Music Now immensely. The ability to access my music from any Web-connected PC is a major benefit, and for about the cost of one CD per month, I can pack my MP3 player to the brim with music. And I don't have to bother with the slow, clunky, and often confusing software that tends to bog down other subscription services. AOL Music Now is so simple to use that virtually anyone can figure it out: As long as you can work a Web browser, accessing the service's mammoth content catalog is a cinch."

T-Mobile SDA Reviews. Smartphones Reviews by CNET.

T-Mobile SDA Reviews. Smartphones Reviews by CNET.

So, I have been saying years that I'm waiting for the killer mobile device that had Edge, Wi-Fi, larger storage capacity, Windows Mobile 5 and support for my subscription media content (from AOL Music Now of course). On paper, the T-Mobile SDA is the holy grail.... and in fact, it's close. But inevitably, Microsoft has screwed the pooch with a frustrating bug (WMP Error Code 80070428) that leaves me in limbo.

For some inexblicable reason, the commercially deployed version of Windows Mobile 5.0 has a bug that only allows 25 WMDRM-protected tracks to be synced. If you check out the error message above, you'll see that Microsoft has basically washed their hands of the problem saying "we sent an update to your carrier". After going through 3 escalations on T-Mobile's support line (inevitabely making it to their India call center - where all the technical knowledge resides), I was told "sorry, we don't have the update - and have no idea when we'll get it or deploy it". Great. Followed up with an email, and this is the workaround I was given:

Thank you for contacting T-Mobile. We understand the frustration when you try to synchronize your SDA, you get Windows Media Player error .We will get it addressed for you today.

Unfortunately, we do not know when the update of Windows Mobile 5.0 will be available. You may find the information on our website whenever it is available. However, you may like to synchronize your files using the following procedure in the mean time:

NOTE: Backing up a file on your computer creates two separate versions of that file. Changes made to one file will not be reflected in the other.

  1. Plug the USB cable into the sync connector port on the bottom of your device.
  2. Plug the other end into a USB port on your computer. You will receive an audio alert when a connection is established.
  3. In ActiveSync on your computer, click Explore to open the Mobile Device folder.

Do one of the following: To copy the file to a location on your device, right-click the file and click Copy. Right-click the folder you want to move it to under Mobile Device and click Paste.

To copy the file to your personal computer, right-click the file and click Copy. Right-click the folder on your personal computer and click Paste.

For additional information on the T-Mobile services and features your SDA supports, please visit Should you have any questions, please feel free to contact us at 1 (800) 937-8997 or reply to this email. In addition, please visit to browse most frequently asked questions.

We appreciate your business.

Rep ID: 43527
Technical Care Specialist
T-Mobile USA

Now, I haven't tried this yet, although it sounds painful. I don't beleive that any of the licenses will sync at the end of my billing period, thus causing me to delete and recopy over my songs? Not sure yet, I'll try it and see what happens.

A couple of other minor issues:

  1. For some reason my WiFi connection has been spotty - although I think the problem is on my router side, and not the phone
  2. Microsoft and/or T-Mobile has decided to hide the Java Midlet Manager application - therefore once I downloaded the Java version of Google Maps (a MUST have - I couldn't find it again. I ended up having to "unhide all files" in the File Manager app, then find and create a shortcut to jmm.exe

Other than what I mentioend above (and potentially $80 wasted on a 2GB miniSD card that now holds a whopping 25 songs), the phone actually is pretty damn sweet. Although, it has taken me a few days to get it working in the way I desired. But, watching an episode of The Office that I recorded on my Media Center PC (via Orb - delivered at 130kbps (over Edge) was actually highly watchable, and indeed very cool.

All in all... the SDA is not quite ready for primetime, but when it is, it will be a big star.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Google Music Store Would Provide New Revenue Stream -

Google Music Store Would Provide New Revenue Stream - "Google is preparing to launch a music downloading service, according to research firm Caris & Company."

The rumors begin again..... unless Google does DRM-less downloads, I'm not sure how this is going to fly. I would be shocked if they supported Windows Media DRM, and we know that Apple doesn't want anyone using Fairplay. An introduction of yet another DRM scheme very well may cause market-wide paralysis at this point.