Zune Software + Audiobooks = SUX

It isn’t a good sign when I revive the Sarah on User eXperience acronym – but sometimes there are bad user experiences that really deserve the SUX label.

Disclaimer: I hate writing disclaimers, but I need to make sure that you understand that these are my personal experiences and my personal thoughts. My employer is not responsible for my posts. Also for the record, I am active in the Microsoft community, and this isn’t meant to be an anti-Microsoft post. This is a call to action for them.

I love listening to audiobooks on my Zune. My recent experience though has me a bit dismayed about the whole process, and I hope Microsoft can get this straightened out.

When I download audiobooks from my local library, I can transfer the audiobooks to my Zune thanks to Zune firmware 3.0, which supports OverDrive audiobooks. But what the firmware seems to support is the transfer to the Zune. Deleting expired audiobooks from the Zune is a different story, and hence the reason for my dismay.

With my Zune, there seems to be a step missing. I use the OverDrive software to transfer to my Zune, but the delete process isn’t obvious. The audiobook experience with the Zune is like Hotel California – you can check out but you can never leave. You can expire, but you can never delete – at least at a first glance.

After a long time poking around on Live Search, I came across this process on how to delete the expired audiobooks. I apparently must get the OverDrive transfer wizard to a point where I can Browse the device and then delete each file individually. So I need to initiate a transfer in order to delete something – this alone is counterintuitive. But at the same time, the OverDrive software is just to transfer to the device – why doesn’t the Zune software have the ability to remove the audiobooks from the audiobooks section of the device?

When you have a lot of audiobook files – like the numerous files behind Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged”, in addition to some L.A. Theatre Works productions – this process is tedious and drawn out. If I have gripes about this user experience, I can only imagine the headaches of the non-technical user.

Microsoft dropped the ball in this case. The other devices out there provide ways for deleting audiobooks – be it through their own software or through Windows Explorer. With the Zune, neither path is available.

So Zune software devs, I have a suggestion for you. You know that section of the Zune software where you can see music, videos, pictures, podcasts, friends, and channels – how about adding a section there called “audiobooks” with the delete functionality so that Zune users can easily delete expired audiobooks from their Zunes?

Until this counterintuitive and frustrating process is addressed, I will stick to audiobooks on my non-Zune devices (laptops, desktops, netbooks, and other media players). I look forward to Microsoft adding the functionality to their Zune software to delete audiobooks so that I can eventually go back to listening to audiobooks on my Zune.

Badge Collecting, Not Girl Scout Style This Time…

Many moons ago, I was a Girl Scout, collecting badges for my sash in Brownies and then for my vest in Juniors. But once the troop dissolved, I stopped earning badges.

Here I am decades later, now collecting badges on my blog’s sidebar. So what’s the deal with the badges? Here we go:

Sarah's Test Tag

This isn’t a badge, although it appears with my badges. This is one of the Microsoft Tags that I’ve created, and I will unpassword it when the timing is right. For a very informative post on Microsoft Tag and some of its capabilities, check out Jeff Blankenburg’s post on Microsoft Tag.

Ignite Cleveland

On Saturday, February 28th, I will be speaking at the first Ignite Cleveland. With an Ignite event, you have 20 slides, 15 seconds each, for a total of 5 minutes. The title of my talk is “Marketing Your Event Online”. In my 5 minutes, I will be showing some of the tools to market events online – including Eventful, CrowdVine, Meetup, and Twitter. While showing off the tools, I will be mentioning effective ways of using them and some of the local companies that are using these tools. I’ve been mentioning this event on Cleveland Tech Events and as clevtechevents on Twitter.

PyCon 2009

On Sunday, March 29th, I will be in Chicago, speaking about IronPython at PyCon. I’m looking forward to hearing some of the Python and IronPython talks, and I look forward to meeting more people there.

Central Ohio Day of .NET

On Saturday, April 18th, I will be in Wilmington, Ohio for Central Ohio Day of .NET. I’ve submitted talks on Iron Python, SQL 2008 data types, and XAML, but their call for speakers is open a bit longer, so I won’t know if any of the talks will be accepted for awhile yet. I know of another IronPython talk being submitted by Darrell Hawley, and if both of our talks get accepted, I’d recommend checking them both out – I’m hoping to do a “look at the cool things you can do with IronPython” kind of talk, whereas he’s hoping to showing off some of the tools to use with it and how to get into debugging and stuff.

Even if my talks don’t get accepted, I plan on being at Central Ohio Day of .NET and hope to see you there!

If you want to hear me talk on anything, check out my list of presentation abstracts. IronPython, databases in general, and social networking are the main things that I like talking about, but I’m always looking into new technology and may add more to my list of interests. Drop me an email at sarah at codinggeekette dot com if you want to hear me speak!

25 Things About the Coding Geekette

This meme has been making its rounds on Facebook, and some of my friends have escalated it to their blogs. So I’m joining them in posting 25 things about me here – and these are not the same 25 from my Facebook list, so if you want to know even more, check there to see what else is up.

01. I can fingerspell when needed and know a handful of words in sign language. The most random time I’ve used it was at Marc’s at Coventry, when I noticed a gentleman sign to another when he came in and then he got in our line but was frustrated it was slow. When I was able to fingerspell that the cashier was getting change, that changed his mood.

02. Part of why I can fingerspell is because the sign language alphabet was in my Girl Scout handbook. I made it through Junior Girl Scouts before our troop dissolved.

03. Another reason why I can fingerspell is because I worked at a summer camp in the city that dealt with a lot of deaf children. It was interesting to learn more sign language and be exposed to the deaf culture.

04. The last of my sign language facts – one of my favorite signs is “cookie”, and I learned that from my cousin Maureen before she died. She had Downs Syndrome and knew how to sign and speak.

05. When it comes to movies, I’m a sucker for musicals – like Chicago, Moulin Rouge, and Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog. I’m not a fan of horror films though.

06. I loved reading when I was a kid and had hoped to one day work in the library. However, my current job gets me close enough – working aboard the Digital Bookmobile and programming for OverDrive – a company that deals with eBooks, audiobooks, music, and video.

07. I have a hard time reading technical books cover to cover; I see them more as reference. However, I’m currently reading “IronPython in Action” (with a review to show up in the next week or so) and really finding myself enjoying it.

08. My husband and I have bad luck with finding awesome restaurants – they usually close within a month or two of us finding them. But in a weird twist of fate, one of the restaurants we had liked got bought out by someone who wants to do technical events at the location. So here’s a shoutout to LeanDog at their home, the former Hornblowers restaurant.

09. I can count to ten in a handful of languages – including English, Spanish, French, German, Gaelic, and Swahili – thanks to a day of boredom and playing with Encarta on my parents’ computer back when I was a kid.

10. I learned the term “lapidary” (related to jewelry making) from playing “Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?” – I loved that game!

11. I learned the term “philately” (stamp collecting) from the Plain Dealer Spelling Bee when I was a kid. After beating the boy I had a crush on in the 1st grade class spelling bee, I had dreams of representing my school at the Plain Dealer Spelling Bee. In 5th grade, I got to go watch it. In the 7th and 8th grades, I represented my school.

12. Going hand in hand with spelling, I also can get picky when it comes to grammar. I did get to put that to work while in college, serving as the Special Editor for Reviews for ACM Crossroads.

13. If I ever get out of programming, I’d like to go to pastry school or get into teaching.

14. Some of my friends have tried getting me to watch anime, but the only series that I’ve watched in its entirety is an anime series on epic bread making – Yakitate!! Japan.

15. I’ve been friends with one of my groups of friends for almost 10 years – we met online while posting on Asheron’s Call messageboards and eventually took it offline. Although we’re spread mostly between Ohio and Michigan, we still get together for quarterly LAN parties.

16. Although we met in person from having classes together in high school, my husband and I spent a lot of time getting to know each other while talking over ICQ.

17. Although I’m terrified of open air heights, I have done some working with Habitat for Humanity and had an awesome project manager who talked me into hanging siding while on a roof. Talk about having to swallow my fears and just do it!

18. That same awesome project manager in #17 spray painted fighting words on a guy’s garage so that our demolition team (which I got to be a part of) had encouragement. Tearing down a brick garage with sledge hammers while wearing hard hats was a lot of fun! This is how my love for sledge hammers came around.

19. Sticking with Habitat for Humanity, one of my favorite projects – besides the demolition crew – was working with the masons and building the foundation of a house. We had the foundation up and had to build “stairs” out of cinder blocks to get out of there.

20. While my friends talk of Commodore 64s and TRS-80s, I got into it late with my parents’ Compaq Presario (a 486 computer). That computer would follow me on to college and was put to rest sometime between 2000 and 2002.

21. I’ve always been a leader – be it being the oldest of 4 kids, being the oldest of 10 grandkids, serving on councils, representing groups and schools at conferences, leading the college chapter of a professional organization, and managing a tech support team less than a year out of college.

22. As much as the song annoys me, I truly believe that it’s a small world after all.

23. One of my favorite authors when I was a kid was Dr. Seuss, and I bought a few of his books in Chinese to help me learn how to read the language.

24. When I visit my brother down in Columbus, I make sure to stop for bubble tea, since it’s easier to find down there. Iced tea with tapioca pearls (no, not the pudding… just the pearls)… and no jellies for me.

25. Every now and then, I look back to a business plan writing competition that my husband and I entered back in college and wonder if we’ll get into forming a business of our own. We took 2nd in the competition for an Internet cafe plan, and looking back on it, I think there’s potential to have our own business one day.