Monday, April 07, 2008

Using Floola and Media Monkey with the iPod Nano(iTunes Fails to Grant Joy)

I purchased a 3rd generation 8GB Nano for $187 & change(not including tax) at my local wholesale warehouse(Costco). I was excited to load several files on to the device for my wife so that she could immediately begin to use it for her birthday. I spoke with a friend who already had the files(hymns and religious talks freely available for personal use from LDS.ORG) loaded on his iPod, and I naively suggested that we copy the files from his device(an older iPod) to the newly purchased gift for my wife. My buddy grinned and explained why copying files from one iPod to another might be difficult and/or undesirable due to limitations of the Apple iTunes software. I understood that Apple would want to maintain a tight grip on their DRM business model, but files that are not distributed by Apple shouldn't be subject to these Apple restrictions, as the use of said files is governed by the author or copyright holder, in this case a company called Intellectual Reserve.

Even though the copyright holder had specifically designated the files as freely copyable and redistributable for personal use, iTunes limits the number of times files may be copied from one device to another, or from a library to a device.

I ended up using a program called Floola to copy the files from my buddy's Mac Mini(not directly from his iPod) to my wife's Nano. Floola is multi-platform and can run directly from an iPod, so I copied the Windows(a standalone executable FLOOLA.EXE) and the Mac(a DMG file) versions to the Nano.

  1. Installed iTunes 7.4.3 from to my wife's PC and copied an album in MP3 format I had previously purchased from to the iPod Nano using iTunes.
  2. Copied Mac & Windows versions of Floola to the iPod Nano & tested adding/deleting tracks - worked fine.
  3. Uninstalled iTunes from wife's PC.
  4. Went to Buddy's house, plugged in wife's iPod Nano and launched OS X version of Floola directly from the Nano.
  5. Used Floola to copy files from buddy's Mac Mini hard drive to wife's iPod Nano.
  6. Closed Floola, Disconnected Nano from buddy's Mac Mini.
  7. Verified that the files now existed on wife's iPod Nano.
  8. Returned home.
  9. Installed Media Monkey on Wife's PC as a replacement for iTunes, showed my wife how to use it in 20 minutes.

While the iTunes interface seems simple to use I really don't see the point in forcing Apple licensing limitations to media I already have the right to use. In my mind iTunes is crippleware because it restricts the playback, management, and transfer of media I already have the right to use and redistribute.

Additional Cons/gripes against the iPod Nano:
  • $187 for only 8GB of capacity seems too expensive - that's less than 2 DVD-Rs of storage.
  • The included USB sync cable is very thin - since the cable is used for charging(power) as well as data transfer and lacks additional shielding the transfer rate is likely compromised.
  • Is my sweetie really gonna watch video on this tiny screen? Rarely, if ever. A monochrome screen with 32GB of storage capacity would be much preferred, allowing for storage of many more audio files.
  • Having to pay $30 to install an after market protective cover(InvisibleShield) because the device so easily gets scratched.

  • Small & light, bright display with good contrast.
  • The wheel on the Nano provides a smooth interface. I wonder how often it'll get used by my wife since she's using playlists, though. It's a simple matter to find a playlist on any media player and hit play.


Anonymous said...

Floola is my preferred choice for updating my ipod now.

Lars Rasmussen said...

Review: WMP vs Winamp vs iTunes vs MediaMonkey