DRM you will not win

It was with much excitement that I received a shiny, new iPod nano for Mother’s Day. If there was ever a year I deserved an extravagant celebration of being a mom, this would be the year. (I may argue this point in about 16 years.)

Having developed the training for our staff and patrons on using NetLibrary I was well aware of the fact that downloadable audiobooks will not play on an ipod. NetLibrary and OverDrive both use a specific format that is not readable by iPods. I am totally clear on this and understand the rationale behind it.

I was still excited about my gift, and I was sure there would be a way to crack the DRM so I can listen to audiobooks.

Disclaimer: Can I just say that I am not a criminal. I am not going to distribute copies of audiobooks. I simply want to listen to them on my shiny, new iPod. The same device that the majority of consumers use for listening to digital audio. Between my husband and I we have three other MP3 players that will play these same audiobooks. Why don’t I use one of those? Because they do not allow you to bookmark your place in a book. So if you stop in the middle of an 8-hour book you have to fast forward to your place each time you go back to the book. The other morning it took me 30-minutes to find my place in Tipping Point. By that time I was at work and had to turn the system off. The publishers are not losing money from sales to me. iTunes is not losing money from me. I am legally checking out items through my library account. Why oh why do they need to be locked down.

From the OCLC site:

Attention iPod and Zune users:
NetLibrary eAudiobooks cannot be played on the Apple iPod or Microsoft Zune at this time. Those players use technology that is incompatible with the DRM (Digital Rights Management) that protects the eAudiobook content and allows it to expire on the due date.

Ironically I have never had a NetLibrary audiobook expire on my old MP3 player. I’ve had one book on it for a few years now.

I was excited to learn that OverDrive will soon be offering MP3 downloads to iPod users. However if you research this further it will only be 15% of their collection and it will only be a select group of new items. Existing items will not be converted to MP3. The MP3 titles will only allow one copy – one user which means that you may have to wait a while, a long while, to listen to a book. No word yet from NetLibrary on whether they will follow suit.

So what does this leave one to do?

  • Return the iPod? Can’t do that as the box has been opened. Besides it is much better than the other MP3 players I’ve used!
  • Buy software that will strip the DRM and convert the NetLibrary/OverDrive files to MP3? I’ve tested this and it works. It’s an option, but I’m hesitant for pay for software to fix a problem that should not exist in the first place.
  • Install freeware that plays the NetLibrary/OverDrive files and rerecords them as an MP3? I can’t even believe that such a thing exists! I’ve tried it and it works. It takes a long time, but you can schedule it to run over night. You lose a little sound quality, but it’s not even noticeable for an audiobook.

Regardless of whether we personally use iPods or not we need to be activists for our patrons customers. The iPod has 70% of the market share for MP3 players. There is a campaign encouraging libraries to embargo companies that distribute media with DRM. While I personally don’t think we need to go as far as an all out embargo, we do need to let our vendors know that our customers want to listen to downloadable audio on the devices that they own–not just on a few select devices. Along with that iPod and Zune users need to contact Apple and Microsoft and demand that each device stop limiting the file formats they can play.

Random House wised up and dropped DRM on their audiobooks after they found that no one was pirating DRM protected downloads. Hopefully the other companies will wise up too!

Technology Training and Competencies for Libraries

Are you doing tech training for your staff? What challenges are you facing? What successes have you had? I would love to hear your story and thoughts. Please comment or email me at reedlori “at” gmail.com. I’ll be glad to read your responses or set up a time to call you.

By the way Sarah Houghton-Jan gave another fabulous OPAL presentation today on Technology Training and Competencies for Libraries. If you missed it check the OPAL Archives to view a recording. Sarah had a lot of great ideas to share whether you are just beginning or have an established technology competencies program.

Comment Challenge Day 7

Day 7: Reflect on what you’ve learned so far.

Hmmm. I will start out by saying this is a lot of work! All of it. Blogging, reading blogs, and providing meaningful comments. Luckily a wise person once told me to stop watching TV. I took her advice and I have lots of time for fun things like this.

I think the key to being successful in this community is you have to manage your time well. It’s so funny how often this world reflects the real world. In the real world I would not spend hours flipping through hundreds of magazines looking for interesting articles. Instead I would pick a few favorites, read them thoroughly, and occasionally try a new one out.

For me I think blogging needs to be the same. For the past year I have subscribed to almost every library or training blog I’ve come across. That might help explain my 611 feeds. I will admit I don’t read all of them. There are a few that I read daily. The rest I skim for information. I have this fear of missing out on something. But I’ve come to realize that as long as I subscribe to a few select blogs I won’t miss anything! The biblioblogosphere is good about sharing information!

So my task will be to pare down the feeds. I am not going to unsubscribe. Instead I am going to rearrange my folders so that my favorite blogs are in their own folder and focus my time on those. I’ll also work on narrowing down my search feeds. Do I really need to see every post that has the words library and training? Probably not.

So while my reflection has little to do with the comment challenge, it sets me on the path to being able to be a better commenter by focusing my attention.

I’d love to hear from some of the other bibliobloggers who I’m sure have massive amounts of feeds. How much time do you spend a day reading feeds? Do you read all of them? Do you filter feeds with searches? What other tips can you share with the rest of us who suffer from too many blogs, too little time?

Michael Stephens, Meredith Farkas, Helene Blowers, Sarah Houghton-Jan, Jenny Levine just to name a few. Anyone else please feel free to comment too!

Comment Challenge Day 1-6

I’m a bit behind in the comment challenge. I’m so excited that other library folks are joining in. Meredith, Lauren, Marianne. There may be other librarians who I haven’t found yet. There are over 100 bloggers participating!

Day 1: Self Audit

  • How often do you comment on other blogs during a typical week? It really depends. Normally I only comment when I have something of value to say. I rarely comment just to comment. I abhor comment spam! Sometimes I’ll do a short “nice job” comment to let someone know I am reading. I found when I first started blogging that small gesture helped motivate me to keep blogging. It’s important to let people know that you are reading. Blogging is a lot of work! Here it is 10:30pm and I could be asleep but I’m here blogging. It’s nice to know that someone reads this.
  • Do you track your blog comments? How? What do you do with your tracking? This has been a huge frustration of mine. If I comment on a blog and want to see if I have a response I either subscribe to the comment RSS feed (if there is one), or tag the post in delicious to follow up (the challenge is remembering to check my follow up tags). I’m happy to be trying a new tool as part of this challenge coComment. It seems like a lot of extra work, but maybe it will get easier as I become more familiar with it.
  • Do you tend to comment at the same blogs or do you try to comment on at least one new blog per week? It varies. There is no rhyme or reason to it.
  • Review Gina Trapani’s Guide to Blog Comments and ask yourself how well you’re doing in each of the different areas. Are there any specific areas where you think you need to do some work? What do you want to do to address these issues? Yeah I’m guilty of a few of these but for the most part I’m on track. My challenge is more in finding time! I have over 600 feeds and 784 unread posts in bloglines right now. Maybe it’s time to weed my feeds!

Day 2: Comment on a new blog

I commented on EdTech Workshop. Andrea wrote about her challenges with coComment and I replied to let her know I’d had the same challenges. Not the most exciting comment in the world but at least she knows she is not alone. It’s all about community! It’s also cool that she is a teacher in the area where I went to school. It’s a small world!

Day 3: Sign up for a comment tracking service

Signed up for coComment. You can find me here if you have an account. If you don’t have an account, it’s free.

Day 4: Ask a question

I asked a question on Michele’s site about getting coComment to work. It turned out that Marianne Lenox and I tested things among ourselves and we answered my question. This is the thing about comments on blogs. If you allow them, you need to read them and respond to them. I was in the habit of emailing each new commenter to thank him or her for commenting. I need to get back on track with that. It’s a good habit and helps build community!

Day 5: Comment on a post you disagree with

Ironically I commented on Meredith’s post about the comment challenge and what started out as a “hey cool your doing the comment challenge” turned into me sharing a different point of view about a comment Meredith made on another blog. Maybe this shouldn’t count. I don’t disagree with her, but I like to play devil’s advocate sometimes.

Day 6: Engage another commenter in a discussion

I’m still working on that. Originally I thought this was engage the blogger in a discussion via comments. But as I type this I realize it is engage another commenter. That’s more challenging because you don’t want to hijack a post. Here are two discussions that I have tried to generate in comments: Banning Babies from the Library, Staying Organized. If you have time, please join in!

With that I think I’m caught up for the week! p.s. It’s not too late to join the challenge and become a better blogger.

What is innovation?

From Indexed:

So many people have told me this throughout my career, “Don’t go to management with problems; go with solutions.”

Innovation is finding a solution to a problem but I would also add it is finding a solution to a problem that you did not know exists!