Posts Tagged ‘Audible’

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audible.com feature request – the audiobook you want is now available

March 9, 2010

Books I want to read Neal Stephenson’s Anathem. I could just go into Waterstones and buy it but I want to read it as an audiobook.  I get much more time for audible books than physical books.  Anathem has been recorded as an audiobook and is available to audible’s customers in the US.  Unfortunately, due to the usual misguided machinations of publishers, the Anathem audiobook is not available in the UK, at least not yet.

Every now and again I check on audible.co.uk to see if it has materialised.  Stephenson’s Cryptonomicon has shown up in recent weeks, but not Anathem.

What I would really like to see is a feature on audible’s website where I can lodge a list of books I would like to be alerted about by email when they become available.  That would be so helpful. I guess there is the issue of making sure that the target book has been identified uniquely. I would have to key in the title and author myself, as opposed to selecting it from a list, so for example  minor spelling errors might cause identification problems.  Maybe we could be allowed to enter the ISBN number of the print version as an alternative.  Or a link to the corresponding page on Amazon.  Should be no issues there since Amazon now own audible.

In addition to helping customers discover when the audiobooks they want are ready to buy, the system could be helpful to audible in assessing the demand for different titles.  If large numbers of people entered Anathem as a book they were interested in, that might help speed discussions with the publishers by demonstrating there was a market for that title as an audiobook.

Just a thought, dear Audible, you might like to consider.

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This iPhoneless Life #10 – Almost enough to make me buy an iPhone

August 10, 2009

iPod As I have been documenting over the last few months, I have got my WM6 phone pretty much doing all the same things as an iPhone but with the added advantage of wireless stereo Bluetooth earphone support.

Of course there are some downsides.  The device, an HTC TyTN II, is not as svelte and elegant as an iPhone and the user interface, being based on Windows Mobile, is not as slick and well integrated as the Apple equivalent. Also, the looser software/hardware integration of Windows Mobile devices, and in particular the greater reliance on third-party utilities, is more likely to cause grief.

A case in point is the clash between Windows Media Player Mobile (WMPM) and Audible.com’s player. For reasons best known to themselves, Audible will not allow their audiobooks to be played on WMPM, instead requiring users to install Audible’s proprietary audiobook player. Maybe it’s because WMPM does not support bookmarking. It  would not have been that much of a problem to have to use two separate applications for music/podcasts vs. audiobooks were it not for the fact that they conflict with each other causing the phone to crash.

The culprit appears to be the Audible player.  Once it has been run, it seems to result in some persistent locking of resources which interferes with the operation of Windows Media Player, even after the Audible player application has been closed.  You can still open and use Windows Media, but when you try to close the latter down, as you would if say updating your podcasts or synchronising your music, the phone locks up and requires a time-consuming soft reset.

I have tried installing various bits of kit to try to troubleshoot or debug the problem, but whatever it is has its hooks too deep down within the operating system and I cannot fathom it.  It is very annoying but I guess I’m stuck with it for the foreseeable future unless anyone has any bright ideas.

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This iPhoneless Life #8 – Full circle

April 13, 2009

iPod Having tried a number of Windows Mobile audio player programs I am back with Windows Media Player Mobile (WMPM), at least for everything apart from audiobooks.  And I am back to AudiblePlayer for the latter.

As I explained in a previous post, I had moved away from AudiblePlayer because it did not support my bluetooth A2DP earphones properly, with the result that the audio (which is mono) was coming out of the left channel only.  I had therefore embarked on a tour of proprietary media player solutions, in the hope of finding one that would play audiobooks properly and (ideally) handle my music and podcasts as well.

I had all but settled on Pocket Tunes, which ticks most of the boxes but is quite expensive. It also offers syncing direct with iTunes, as opposed to my current two-stage solution of  using  iTunes for podcast capture followed by WMP for syncing with the phone. Ironically, it was my attempt to get this iTunes sync functionality working which ultimately did away with the need for Pocket Tunes at all.

To explain how this came about we need to introduce my old nemesis, ActiveSync, into the story. Strictly I should call it WMDC, as Microsoft have rebranded it for Vista in the hope that we’d all be fooled into thinking it really isn’t as bad as we remember it. It turns out that when I installed WMDC on my Vista PC a year ago it was missing certain key drivers.  An updated version was released later but not rolled out automatically. Of course, I had no way of knowing that. But I had noted that some applications for the phone refused to install over WMDC, giving error messages of various descriptions. Where CAB files were provided by the vendor I could use them to get software installed on my phone, but in other cases I was stuck.  For example, I had not been able to get the latest versions of Audible Manager and AudibleAir installed on my PC and phone.  The installs failed and, at the time, I didn’t understand the error messages. It wasn’t stopping me enjoying audiobooks at that point so I didn’t waste time trying to get to the bottom of the problem.

Of course, when I attempted to install the Pocket Tunes iTunes sync software I hit the same issue again, the error message being “Can’t find CE Application Manager“.  This time I was less inclined to give up.  Googling took me to this website. Now being aware that I had an out of date (and incomplete) installation of WMDC I installed the current version.  This had the benefit that I was at last able to install Pocket Tunes iTunes sync and establish that it worked very nicely.

And while about it I also installed the latest Audible software, both to my PC and my phone, now that the path was clear.  This included an upgrade from AudiblePlayer 5.5.0.6 to 5.5.0.7.  And guess what? The new AudiblePlayer supports bluetooth properly so audiobooks play on both channels.  Still mono of course but at least in the middle of my head rather than in one ear only.

Conclusion? I don’t need to spend money on Pocket Tunes. I have gone back to WMPM and am using the latest AudiblePlayer for my audiobooks. Problem solved for an outlay of nil, plus a modicum of perseverance.

Mind you, ActiveSync/WMDC had the last laugh. After I installed the latest WMDC, it wouldn’t sync with my phone unless I removed one of the two established relationships.  I wasn’t sure which one was the one I needed so picked one more or less at random. After the next sync every single appointment had been wiped from my Calendar in Pocket Outlook. Thank you, WMDC. So kind. At least it had the good grace to leave my contacts alone.

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AudibleReady Zune … Sune

April 22, 2008

iPod Audible.com and Microsoft have finally reached agreement on audiobook support for the Zune.

It’s confirmed by Paul Thurrott so I would trust this.

I gather the delay has been something to do with firmware. Audible require compatible devices to have the required support in the firmware, but MS were being difficult about this.

Maybe they didn’t like the idea of an outside party dictating what goes in the Zune’s firmware, but Audible support is too important these days. For many people, lack of Audible support alone is a deal-breaker. That would certainly be the case with me.

The Zune (in its second incarnation) is a credible and attractive proposition, but I am one of a growing army of converts who enjoy listening to audiobooks in the car or otherwise out and about. I have enough junk to take with me when I am travelling around so there is only going to be one mp3 player type device. If the Zune remained unable to play audiobooks it would definitely not come into contention when I retire my current iPod.

As it is, with this latest news, it stands a good chance.

I’m assuming here that if, as suggested, it is all about support for Audible in the firmware, then existing Zunes can be made compatible by means of a firmware upgrade, as opposed to having to wait for the 3G Zune.

As for when all this will happen: by the end of the year according to the link above, … so reasonably sune.

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