There's nothing like the convenience of online music. Tasks that would've taken hours a few years ago now take mere days. Let's review the steps for getting a song onto an MP3 player, shall we?
I decided that I wanted to put the song "Athena" on my Archos.
1. Ask around to see if anyone has a CD of "It's Hard." No one does, because it's crap.
2. Find a copy of the song online. For this particular endeavor, I chose buymusic.com because it doesn't make me sign up for the Apple iTunes lifestyle, and I didn't have to look at the smirking Napster logo, now incorporated for your convenience.
3. Find the song. No big deal.
4. Pay 99 cents. Again, no big deal.
5. Download the song. Here it comes!
6. Look at what I just got. MP3? No! DRM-protected WMA file.
7. Try to play the song, but since I'm offline on the train, I can't because it can't get the license from the server.
8. Try again to play the song, and have to log on again to get the DRM license first. Okay, it plays.
So I have my song. How hard can it be to put it on my MP3 player?
9. Realize that my Archos MP3 player doesn't support WMA files.
10. Attempt to convert the file to MP3, which fails because it's rights-managed.
11. Burn an audio CD with a single song on it.
12. Rip the CD back to MP3 format.
13. Hook up my Archos to the USB 2.0 port on my laptop so I can copy the MP3.
This is where things get a bit tricky.
14. Get a message that the USB device connected to my machine has malfunctioned, so replace it.
I'm not going to replace it, and anyway I bet the port's broken or something.
15. Hook up the device to another machine, with a USB 1.1 port. This freezes the machine until I unplug it.
Things are looking down. So I
16. Head out to Best Buy and pick up a USB 2.0 PC Card.
17. Choose the one that's $10 cheaper than the brand I've heard of.
18. Fail to have the external CD drive for my laptop on hand, so...
19. Search for the drivers online. The company doesn't seem to have a Web site. But it turns out that I only need USB 2.0 Windows drivers anyway.
20. Plug the card in and let it install. For some reason, the card can't provide its own power, so I need to...
21. Connect it through a little wire to the machine's USB 1.1 port if I want the ports to be powered.
So Windows tells me everything's good to go. I'm ready to copy the MP3 to my device!
22. Plug the Archos into the new USB 2.0 port.
23. Get a message: the USB device connected to my machine has malfunctioned, so replace it.
24. Write to Archos customer support.
25. Wait three days.
26. Get no answer.
So right now there's no "Athena" on my MP3 device. There's no customer service from Archos. I'm sure they're all busy making preparations for the "Shitty Device of the Year" awards ceremony at Radio City next week. And there's no way to get files on or off of the device that I can figure out. Life is grand.