Apple and the 3.5mm Socket

The release of the iPhone 7 heralded the removal of the headphone jack.  I was nonplussed, to me it disenfranchised those who had invested in high quality after-market phones.  While the arrival of the AirPods was thought to justify removal of “outdated” technology, and Apple was regarded as being courageous, it still seemed unnecessary.

An adapter being included was thought to assuage those wedded to 3.5mm jacks.  To me that seemed to be just an annoyance.  However, this is old news.  What is interesting is what was not said about that adapter.  It is not an adapter.  That is right, it is not an adapter.

The lightning port does not carry any audio output.  You can’t simply connect a headphone to it.  The adapter is a miniature DAC.

The photo is of the ear pods, but the adapter contains the same electronics.  Now the removal of the 3.5mm jack starts to make sense.  The iPhone delivers a digital signal, now you can use any technology of your choice to decode it.  No longer locked to DAC and amp in the iPhone an upgrade path exists.

The DAC adapter is being sold by Apple in the U.K. for £9, and it sounds as good as the iPhone 6, having tried it against the onboard 3.5mm.

Music Collecting

It has taken me a while to recognise it, but I am a music collector.  Maybe not that serious a one, but one nonetheless.  I thought that perhaps to be serious you needed 1000’s of CD and vinyl, and a drive to seek out that long lost recording of a band before they were famous.  I thought that it didn’t apply in the digital age.  I was wrong.

I read a couple of articles that collecting was dead, it had no purpose in the world of iTunes and Spotify.  That made me think.  Discovering Bandcamp also moved me.  Here is proof that music is alive and well outside the piped and streamed mainstream.

So my collection is digital, but unlike Spotify or Apple Music it is mine.  Music on demand is not free will.  Listen to a playlist on Spotify is listening to someone else’s choices, not yours.  I like the process of discovery.  It means more when you can remember how and where you found it.  Your collection defines you in the same way as your clothes, house and car.  You wouldn’t let someone else choose your clothes.

Imagine a library where when you take a book back, you get given the next one to read.  Not a title you have chosen.  This is streaming at its most inane.  The music industry likes it because it can control what you hear.  Like radio, you are not in control the DJ is.  So whatever “product” it wants to push gets the plays.  The sheep lap it up, no thought necessary.  More choice is less freedom.

For those not sheep minded Bandcamp is a reminder that there is real music out there played by real musicians.  People to connect with on an emotional level.  People with passion for their art and in control of production.

That is what makes me a collector not a consumer.  I care about where the music comes from and who makes it.  I care about who they are and what moves them to make music.  In short I care about music, and I want to have a choice.  Surrendering that choice to streaming services does not enrich the soul.  If I choose to add a piece to my collection I recognise its significance to me as a person.  I can’t think of anything more barren than listening to music and to have nothing to show for it.  Streaming commoditises music and makes it disposable.  Ultimately that does not respect the artist.  I buy albums because the complete work deserves my attention, and the greater expenditure requires more thought. A purchase is a matter of deliberation and the artist gets respected.  The artist is not respected in a world of play….skip….play….skip….next…

I can see streaming is attractive to consumer and producer, but more is less.  That path is not freedom, it is being fitted for a straight jacket where the producer controls the market and ultimately what you listen to.  To keep listening to music you love you have to keep paying.  Stop paying and you have nothing…..  Music deserves more respect.

I’ll keep buying and collecting; it makes me human.  Anyway, near to 6000 tracks probably makes me a collector.

Monkey Rocks

I have posted before about difficulty syncing my music manager of choice Media Monkey with my iPhone.  I thought I would try the 4.1.12 release of Media Monkey and see if the problems since iOS8.3 have been resolved.  These included the phone crashing, syncs becoming corrupted, and failure of play counts to sync back to Media Monkey.

Very pleased to report problem solved.  Only one glitch which was the phone crashing and restarting about 3000 tracks into a 5600 track sync.  However, the monkey simply picked up from where it had left off and finished the sync.  Whereas previously an aborted sync left orphaned files on the phone with a restore needed to clear them, this didn’t happen, sync just carried on, recognising the tracks previously synced.

I was using Media Monkey (beta) with iOS 9.2.1.  No problems since.  Perfect!

Inbox Zero

The mission – an empty inbox.  Not just empty once in a while, but always empty.

Mission accomplished!

Mission achieved by application of 5D.  Every email must be Dealt With, Deleted, Deferred (to a To Do list), Delegated, or Drawered (filed).  It can be done, the challenge is not letting bad habits creep back in.  Many years ago when business email was new, I went on a time management course.  The tutor advised to deal with email by deleting it all, and if it was important it would be sent again.  I am not sure if he was joking, or just didn’t “get” email.

Today email is a burden.  It gets in the way, and piles up like an overflowing in tray, clamouring for attention.  I have tried taming the “beast” before, with some success, but slipped back into bad habits.  This time I have succeeded, not just with one email account, but with all 3 primary accounts.  Time will tell, but it’s looking good at the moment.

My approach was to use the right tools and integrate them so 5D was easy.  Tool #1 Outlook, Tool #2 ToDoist, Tool #3 OneNote.  The key is to be able to easily, with the minimum of effort, move email that isn’t filed to a To Do list or Memo.

So, as the inbox fills, empty it.  Can the email be dealt with there and then?  Deal with it, then Drawer it if it needs to be kept.  Can the email be dealt with another day?  Defer it to a To Do list, then Drawer it.  Todoist is my weapon of choice as in Outlook I can integrate Todoist and quickly set up a task using the email, and Todoist will find the email again even if filed.  Unimportant or read only email then Delete it.  Is it for someone else to do?  Then Delegate it and set up a To Do to follow it up.  If it is an email confirming an order you need to hand, or you don’t want to file it in your email system due to space issues then Drawer it to OneNote or Evernote.

What is important is to keep organised so that you are not simply moving the clutter somewhere else.  For example a To Do list with incomplete tasks.  Whatever you choose has to work for you.  I have tried 5D before with some success but found that Outlook tasks didn’t work for me, as I couldn’t track them on mobile devices.  Nozbe and Toodledo were OK, but were IMO over complicated, ToDoist is multi platform, clean and simple.  Personal viewpoints as others no doubt swear by them.  With both Evernote and OneNote you can with a button on the toolbar copy an email into a memo system and then delete the original.  You need this for all the short life emails, an order confirmation, something for a meeting or discussion.  Or for filing that takes up space in your mail account.  Receipts are a good example.

Think you haven’t time for this?  Do you have time to search for emails that you remember you need to do something about?  Do you have time for dealing with emails chasing you for something you forgot?  Do you have time to manage and prioritise everything that needs doing among the 100’s of emails filling your inbox?