Winner: A picture is worth 300 albums

The winner of the “A picture is worth 300 albums” contest is: No one. 🙁

Nichole is the only person who submitted an entry. Notably, all four of her answers were correct. However, she missed two of the four Anita Baker albums. As a consolation prize, she has won her choice of one of the six albums involved in the contest. Congrats, Nichole!

The answers are below for anyone who is curious. I hope to have a better showing in future contests.

Contest Answers - Wall

Anita Baker

  • The Songstress (1983)
  • Rapture (1986)
  • Giving You the Best that I Got (1988)
  • My Everything (2004)

Coldplay

  • Parachutes (2000)
  • X&Y (2005)
Contest Answers - Covers

A picture is worth 300 albums

I have written about the Zune desktop software previously and one of my favorite features is the “Album Art Wall.” Basically, the software displays a random assortment of cover art from albums in your music collection to completely fill the screen. The example image below was captured at the full 1920×1200 resolution of my primary display at home. It’s a neat way to see about 300 thumbnails from the 1065 albums in my collection (ranging from Aaliyah to Zapp). The Zune desktop software is available as a free download even if you don’t own a Zune device. I highly recommend it over iTunes if you listen to music at your computer.

Here’s a challenge for you: Coldplay is one of my favorite groups and and TB loves Anita Baker. Can you name the Coldplay and Anita Baker albums visible in the “Album Art Wall” below? If so, leave a comment with your answer. The first person with the correct answer will win something fun.

Zune Album Wall

(Click here for the full-size image)

Zune Desktop Software vs. iTunes

Here are some screen shots of the Zune desktop software showing its various modes for managing music, pictures, videos and podcasts on the device, the PC and in the Zune marketplace/store. (Click each thumbnail to see a larger image.)

00-Zune-Software-Device-Music 01-Zune-Software-Device-Playlists 02-Zune-Software-Device-Videos 03-Zune-Software-Collection-Pictures
04-Zune-Software-Collection-Podcasts 05-Zune-Software-Device-Status 06-Zune-Software-Marketplace-Music 07-Zune-Software-Marketplace-Podcasts

While this version is still significantly less functional than iTunes, the Zune software has a much better user interface with its cleaner, less-cluttered methods of transporting various media on and off the device. iTunes, by comparison, looks and behaves more like a sluggish spreadsheet on my machine. You be the judge:

00-iTunes-Library-Music 01-iTunes-Library-Podcasts 02-iTunes-Store

My biggest gripe with iTunes is it doesn’t recognize album art stored in folder.jpg files. Despite all its capabilities, this reason alone places iTunes in the “sucks” category—I’d rather use Media Monkey.

My biggest gripe with the Zune software is the removal of auto-playlists and removal of folder.jpg album art in this version—both worked before. The auto-playlist support is painful but I’m using a utility a co-worker created for exporting auto-playlists created in Windows Media Player to the Zune software in its .zpl format. It’s a great workaround in a clunky, non-automated kinda way. The folder.jpg issue is bizarre since the software does recognize album art stored in ZuneAlbumArt.jpg.

A quick command-line utility is all it took to create corresponding ZuneAlbumArt.jpg files for the 1010 albums currently in my collection by copying the existing folder.jpg files. Keeping multiple copies of the same file is wasteful but a necessary evil since Sonos, Windows Media Player, Media Monkey and Windows Vista all recognize folder.jpg.

This only matters to people like me who still buy entire albums and adhere to a well-defined Artists/Albums/Tracks organizational structure where the folder.jpg convention makes sense. If you buy individual tracks from iTunes or the Zune marketplace you probably prefer having the album art embedded in the same file as the song. What’s baffling is there is no technical reason iTunes and the Zune software cannot support both methods. Bummer.