USB

#984: 2 Terabytes of Road Trip

Cottage season starts today!  In celebration, we take a look at how packing music for a road trip has changed, even in just the last five years.

 

RECORD STORE TALES #984: 2 Terabytes of Road Trip

Because music goes so well with the road, I’ve written a huge chunk of stories on the subject.  Heck, we even made a list of Top 5 Road Trip Singalong scenes from movies.  What I have come to realize now is that the days of painstakingly selecting music for the road are over.  For good.  Never coming back.  And I’m fine with that.

Without music, driving is often a mind-numbing experience.  A good soundtrack alleviates a lot of the irritation.  As kids, we were fortunate enough to go to the cottage in the summer.  All we had to do was make it through a two hour drive in the back seat.  For entertainment, that required these three minimal things:

  1. A book/comic book to read.
  2. A Walkman with fresh batteries.
  3. Two hours of music (two cassette tapes).

Today, trying to read a book in the back seat of a car makes me road sick, and I don’t even own a Walkman anymore.  Fortunately, now I am also the driver.  That gives me access to the car stereo.  I don’t know what the rules are where you come from, but around these parts, it’s “driver picks the tunes”.  Aside from that one year that the speaker in the driver’s side door of my old Plymouth Sundance died, music has never sounded better in the car than when I’m behind the wheel.

With those years far behind me, I realize now that the biggest change to road tripping today is that I no longer spend hours choosing the music.  I just load it all on a 2T hard drive and plug it in.  As long as I own it and ripped it to the PC, then it comes with me everywhere.  Every song I ever loved (and many that I don’t!) are with me at all times.

Before the advent of this wonderful technology, I would spend many hours packing for trips.  Enough clothes plus some extra?  Check.  All the necessary toiletries?  Yes.  Reading material?  Of course.  Phone and charger?  Can’t forget that stuff.  But then I would spend an hour or more combing through my CD collection, picking all the music that would be with me for the next several days.  Albums and mix CDs would be packed in a little portable CD carrier that I had.  What you picked was what you had to listen to — no going back, so choose wisely!

The passengers, if any, would have to be considered.  I don’t purposely play bands that people hate.  But ultimately, I was choosing music to entertain myself, the driver.  What the others liked or tolerated was of secondary concern.  If Judas Priest had a new album out, damn right I would be packing the new Judas Priest.  Point being, I have spent many painstaking hours choosing music to bring on the road with me.  The limits were how many would fit in my CD carrier and whatever else I had to travel with.  I would have to add an hour to my prep time, just for the music.

The dawn of the USB drive made things a lot easier, but still, storage space was very limited.  And no matter how big the drives got, they were never big enough.  I was still spending hours copying and pasting albums to the drive.  Removing them when I realized I didn’t have room.  Having to pick and choose through the Deep Purple live albums so as not to overload the drive with Purple and give some other bands a chance.  Hours spent!

I don’t think I have ever properly appreciated the time that the 2T portable hard drive has given back to me.  That one huge step that every road trip required — gone completely.  More time to actually sit and enjoy my music!

#897: Spam

RECORD STORE TALES #897: Spam

Making a long-ish story short(er):  before launching this site in 2012, I was an active reviewer on Amazon.  On a good day I could finish two or three.  Those reviews became the bulk of content when I launched my own site.  I must have written so many that I ended up on the Amazon Canada “Hall of Fame”.

From my Amazon profile, you can get to this site. I figured, “Hey, if somebody liked my reviews enough to click my name, then maybe they’ll like the ones I have on my site even better”.

It took me a little while to put two and two together, but a year or so ago, I started getting bombarded with emails asking me to do Amazon reviews.  The emails would come through the contact page here.  The requests would be for USB cables, lights, HDMI cables, you name it.  Anything but music.

The first few requests were vague.  “Would you like to write some Amazon reviews and get the product for free?”  I would respond, “Sure, I am looking to review the new Metallica album,” and that would be it.  I wouldn’t hear back.  They clearly didn’t check to see what kinds of products I was reviewing, which were almost exclusively CDs and DVDs.  They just saw “Hall of Fame” and jumped.

Some of the requests were more detailed — like a form letter.  I would have to buy the selected product myself, but after posting the review, they would refund the money and I keep the product.  Some of the emails specified a “positive” review.

I don’t need extra clutter, and am generally uncomfortable writing reviews on request like that.  I know a lot of those products and I would be writing a negative review on some of the USB cables and lights.  The whole thing seemed kind of shaky to me.

The requests kept rolling in, so I put a disclaimer up on the contact form on this site:  “no Amazon review requests”.  And the request emails immediately stopped…

…Only to continue on my Instagram and Facebook pages.  I have to admit the first one to come in on Instagram surprised me.  (Nothing on Facebook surprises me.)  An Instagram one really bugged me by calling me “dear” repeatedly.  I blocked that one, and then suddenly mysteriously was contacted on Facebook by a  seller who called me “dear”.  Persistence like that only earns the Instablock.

The last request was for an electric toothbrush review.  Eventually I figured out that I needed to put the disclaimer directly on my Amazon profile — “no review requests please”.  That was a couple months ago and I haven’t had a single request since!

This message came in at 1:57 AM!

 

One small victory against spam.  Then again, maybe I really blew it.  Maybe I could have had the best USB cables and lights.  My teeth could have been whiter and shinier than ever!  I don’t know anyone who’s gone for one of those review deals, so if you have any insight or feedback, let me know.

Just don’t ask me to review your damned electric toothbrush!

#327: Flash! (saviour of the musicverse!) (RSTs Mk II: Getting More Tale)

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RECORD STORE TALES Mk II: Getting More Tale

#327: Flash! (saviour of the musicverse!)

My current vehicle is my first to have a built in USB port.  What a revelation!  Only in the last few years did I finally make the digital leap with my Sony mp3 player.  Now with the car USB port, I finally have the ability to bring music with me in the car, without worrying about damaging a CD or packaging.  It’s a very liberating little gadget.  Listening to a Deep Purple box set in the car is no longer an exercise in delicacy.

The first music that I began ripping and loading onto a flash drive were in fact my box sets.  Let’s face it: some box sets (Pearl Jam’s Ten, Pink Floyd’s Shine On, Deep Purple’s Listen Learn Read On) are not very portable.  I find the car to be a great place to listen to a box set.  This week, I decided to revisit my 12 CD Marillion singles box sets, straight through.  Everyone who drives to work on a daily basis probably spend a lot of time in their cars.  It works for me to listen to something really long and involved on my drives, over the course of a week.  Many of my reviews have been mentally composed in my vehicle.

Unfortunately it’s not the perfect setup.  The GM factory stereo has some flaws.  One thing that bugs me is it doesn’t display the track times, unless you’re fast-forwarding or rewinding.  It also doesn’t interface well with the big 32 gig flash drives I’ve tried.  The stereo can’t remember where it left off on a drive that big.  Now I use a couple 8 gig drives, which work much better.  I can pick up the tunes exactly where I left off.

The biggest and most annoying flaw is that it will not play certain mp3 files.  I have never figured out why.  I get an “id3 tag error” on some files.  Some cassette rips, and some bootleg CDs will give me that error when ripped and played in the car.   Some official CDs even give me an issue once ripped.  Anthrax’s Anthems EP for example won’t play in my car after I ripped it.  (I should try re-ripping and see what that does.) Others are no problem.

It’s incredible how much things have changed since I was a kid, when it comes to listening to music.  When I think back to packing cassettes, and then CDs, for road trips…and now just loading up a flash drive, it’s amazing.  Yet the process remains the same: I still go through album after album trying to find the perfect batch for a particular trip.  The ease of doing so has been a massive shift for my listening habits.  I don’t know if they still make vehicles without USB ports, but unless something better comes along, I will never do without one.