I recently received a call from my 80 year-old mother-in-law proclaiming her excitement that she bought an MP3 player. While I was excited for her, and anxious to get her started, my first reaction to her was asking how she could purchase an MP3 player (which she knows nothing about) without first consulting me first. Her answer was that it was an impulse buy - "I saw it at the store and decided why not?"
I was not mad at her. How could I be? The simple fact that an 80 year-old woman would go out on her own and purchase a device that she knew nothing about, other than she thought it would be cool to go on her walks with a tiny music listening device attached to her wrist, was all I needed to hear.
It turns out that she purchased a Flash-based MP3 player from RCA (Lyra RD1071). It came with 128MB of built-in memory and an expansion slot to add more down the road. The device was tiny, so I could see why she was attracted to it. It was not the right player for me (since I have a large music library), but it would suit her fine.
Lesson 1 began by explaining to her that listening to music on an MP3 player is a two step process. First you need to rip the music from an audio CD to an MP3 file, and then you need to transfer the MP3 files to the player.
The player came with a CD with Dell's Musicmatch, the recommended software, as well as some drivers that needed to be installed to use the device with the software. We put one of her favorite CDs in the player. I showed her that by being connected to the Internet before she created the MP3 files, the Internet would automatically fill in the names of the songs for her. We then ripped the MP3s to her hard drive noting the location of where the software put them.
After ripping a few more CDs, it was time to transfer the files to her player. We plugged in the player into the USB port on the front of her computer and turned it on. We fumbled around with Music Match for a little while before I realized that for her purposes, it would probably be best to do the transfer by hand. The software was a little complicated for her needs since she only listened to a few CDs.
I showed her how to click on My Computer to find the player on her computer. We brought up another window and found her MP3s and copy and pasted them onto the player.
While she was excited that she was learning so much, she became quickly dismayed by a message that said that her memory card was full after only copying 2 of her compact discs. However, she became excited again when I told her that luckily she had bought a player with a memory expansion slot so she could fit more songs on her player after she bought a new card.
The next question was how big of a memory card should she buy. Obviously, it depends upon how much music she wants on her player and the cost of the media. Since she only had about 8 total compact discs, we opted for a 256MB card bought online for about $50. Armed with a now 384MB player, she is happy listening to her favorite music, but now realizes the importance of talking to her expert first before making that impulse buy!