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I'd Like To Teach The World To Sync, In Perfect Harmony

My vision of the world is that you should be able to buy music once and listen to it anywhere. Eventually everywhere on the planet will have Internet access and we will be able to stream music from one location - the jukebox in the sky. It will be some years before that becomes a reality, so until then syncing is required. (Syncing means copying your music library to another device for playback.) Ideally, users should be able to sync to wherever they listen to music: their car, phone, stereo, PC, portable player, etc. But big corporate forces are stubbornly refusing to make devices inter-operate while they wrestle for control of the digital music business.

Take a look at BadApple

I have an iPod, but like many people I have other music players. I have a small MP3 player I run with that has a LCD display and FM tuner along with the MP3 player. I also carry a Treo smartphone that has a MMC (memory card) that can hold 1GB of music. In addition, I have an Archos video/audio playback device. I want to be able to quickly and easily load my music on all these devices.

iTunes has always been able to sync to iPods, but that's where it ends. If you have other devices you're required to manually drag files which is cumbersome and difficult to keep organized. There's a new plug-in for iTunes called BadApple, which overcomes this problem by letting iTunes sync to any MP3 players, not just iPods. This free software, available immediately at, comes with a simple installer - no registration required and of course no spyware. Once downloaded and installed, it adds functionality to iTunes to communicate with any USB-connected device. Now to load my music onto my MP3 players, I simply plug them into my computer, click a few times within iTunes and my music is synced to each of those devices. (For the MMC card that I use with my phone, I have a USB adapter, which works well.)

There are some features and limitations of BadApple that you should know about. When you sync, BadApple is smart enough to only copy new tracks that you do not have already. So if you sync once a week, it will only copy the new additions. If there's not enough storage on the device, it will copy a random selection of music.

BadApple does not work with digitally restricted music (DRM). If you've paid money to rent music from the iTunes store those tracks always comes wrapped with DRM and thus cannot be copied to other devices. This is a good example of why not to spend money on DRM. BadApple will work well with all songs you've downloaded, purchased from MP3tunes or encoded from your own CD collection in MP3 format.

Take a look at Lsongs with an iPod mounted and being browsed
For Linux users, Lsongs continues to make great strides as a capable music manager. It has a music store integrated directly into it that sells tracks in MP3 format. This Linspire-sponsored open source project now has the ability to read iPods, and the syncing function is in testing. Linspire users will find it one click away in the CNR Warehouse. Recently, it has been ported to other Linux versions such as Gentoo, Mandrake and Kanoptix. You'll find more information on the Lsongs website.

Whatever your operating system or software choice, I want the world to be in sync. Hopefully using the MP3 standard along with BadApple and Lsongs will help make that a reality.

-- Michael

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