Thursday, May 25, 2006

Audible 2006

I used to use Audible.com to download episodse of Fresh Air in 2004. Grace recently heard an interview she wanted to hear again so I decided to see if I could still do it.

The answer is "yes, but I'd rather be dragged backwards through flaming bags of dog shit." More DRM -- whoopee! To download, they expect you to choose a portable device, and if you don't have one (I don't actualy own an iPod), it won't allow that. When you click on a purchased file link you get a small file with metadata. I wound up writing to tech support.

You have to download a whole separate app, with multiple pieces. You have to restart your browser. Firefox would no longer give me an "open with" dialog after I told it once that I wanted to examine the file with a text editor, so I had to save the file, find the little helper app, and drag-and-drop it. I then had to activate that app with my username and password.

There doesn't seem to be a provision to export the file so I can just open it in iTunes and burn it as a CD and give it to Grace and forget about the original. There's a "burn mode" that will do that but it wants to install a boatload of components and then make me reboot my PC. I'm running about a dozen apps on this PC: terminal windows, compile sessions, editing a dozen files. The machine already burns CDs in several different ways. Audible wants me to reboot so I can burn a CD?

Audible's program lets me move downloads to another folder -- but they are folders under Audible's control. I can import it into iTunes, but even though I told Audible twice that I want to use iTunes, I've got to launch it and import it, finding the file in Audible's space under "Program Files," not in my user directory. And did I mention all the dialogs are a hideous green? _That_ is one application that I'm scrubbing from my machine as soon as possible, and gritting my teeth hoping it doesn't leave crap in the registry or weird DLLs all over the place.

All to give my wife her episode of Fresh Air... for a download that cost three dollars. Talk about punishing people for trying to do things the right way. I want to respect rights-holders; really, I do. I actually pay for content. My iTunes folders contain, overwhelmingly, ripped CDs that are sitting on my shelf at home, a few downloads from the iTunes music store, and a lot of podcasts and CC-licensed content. Really, compared to many people I know with massive collections of MP3s, my honesty feels almost embarassing, as if maybe I'm just too old and too square to enjoy the great bounty of pirated content that I could simply reach out and grab.

But I'm not going to jump through ten minutes of hoops to stay legal. Audible should be catering to _customers_. It ought to be _easier_ to use music legally. Click, play, I'm done. iTunes already knows what to do with the files. I'm not thrilled about Apple's DRM but I will say that it is not too terribly onerous for the end-user. Requiring a separate "Audible Download Manager," more crap in my toolbar, more apps, more components installed, more reboots -- not the right way. Sorry, Audible -- no more of my business!

1 comment:

ajd said...

http://freshair.npr.org/ has about ten years of archives online, for free. They're streaming RA files, but paying to listen would only be necessary if have to listen offline.