forbidding_archivist: The Terrible Trivium (Default)
So I'm the owner of a new creative Zen MX, having stepped on my old Creative Zen and smashing the screen to bits while being my usual clumsy self. (Go me!) I like the Creative Zen because it's generally a tough piece of hardware (all feet aside), does everything I want it to, and doesn't add on all these frilly bits and extensions and wow-look-at-this-totally-cool-useless-'feature' that I hate. So, so far, so good.

Now to the downside. As you can guess, it comes with its own special iTunes-like software called Creative Centrale. Centrale is the buggiest piece of crap ever to grace an LCD, hogs more memory than iTunes ever will, and absolutely bites at recognizing whatever is in your music library. Unlike the iBorg, it the Creative Zen MX will interface with just about every music management software on the planet. Knowing this from the get-go, I finally settled on using J River Media Jukebox, a handy dandy music library program that does not have many bells and whistles and isn't a memory hog.

Are we getting that I hate bells and whistles? Good.

So after syncing and whatnot, I created a small playlist and transferred it over to the Zen MX. Sync, no problem. Unplug, bring up playlist...no tracks found. Wah? The tracks are there, the playlist is there, the playlist is in order and pointing to the correct locations, but the tracks still are not found. Totally confused at this point.

Some Google-Fu and varied research later, I discover a crucial flaw. When M3U playlists are ported to the Zen MX (and the Zen MX alone, mind you, not other Creative MP3 Player products), it requires that the playlist file paths and names be in DOS 8.3 10-character limit format.

What?

For those who are unaware, DOS 8.3 file naming formats are Stone Age. We're talking Windows 98 here. We are talking about a format that is reserved only for the oldest and balkiest crap and totally unsuitable for this day of working Plug n' Play, USB connections, and large hard drives. SCREW the DOS 8.3 format. And I'll be danged if I manually go through every playlist I create and rewrite to fit.

Yea, there is a solution though. An upgrade of the firmware to the current version will fix the problem. This confuses me; I just bought it, how old could the existing firmware be?

Silly me. A check reveals I'm working on 1.00.09 and the firmware upgrade is to 1.04.01. Translation: Yeah, the firmware is way out of date. So I update....rebuild...check and the firmware is updated....and still no joy. Change some of the formatting of the M3U file. Still no joy. OK, time for more research and experimentation.

The default format of my M3U files are:

..\Music\[artist]\[album]\[track]

Experimentation shows that removing the .. does not work either. On a hunch from a throw-away comments mentioned in the Creative forums, I removed all spaces from a single track and directory listing and matched in the M3U. Still no joy. At this point I'm becoming a tad concerned. This is a very big flaw. Relying on DOS 8.3 format simply Will Not Do in this day and age. And it seems Creative Support doesn't think it's a problem since it doesn't occur if you use their buggy Creative Centrale software.

My frown deepens, becomes permanent. I'm afraid this will be the last Zen I will ever buy. This simply Will Not Do.
Luckily there is a small app called WZ Playlist Converter that will translate a standard M3U into on the Zen into it's DOS 8.3 format companion. Testing shows this works without issue. I'm annoyed that I'll have to use a 3rd-party to translate M3U files into appropriate format, but it's an acceptable enough solution for something that I use only for playing music.

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forbidding_archivist: The Terrible Trivium (Default)
The Forbidding Archivist

November 2011

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