Diving headlong into the library’s latest technology
April 8, 2008
Ever since my eyes started failing a few years ago, I’ve been ripping through the Pitkin County Library’s substantial collection of books on tape and CD, a whole different world of “reading,” but one not entirely foreign because my mother used to read aloud to us every evening and nonstop when we came down with measles, mumps and strep throat in those pre-antibiotic days.
Not long ago, I heard the library has a service that can access even more books by downloading them from my computer with a device called an “MP3” player. I am not totally computer illiterate, I use a computer at work and at home, but I am pretty much computer ignorant when it comes to new technology.
I don’t have an iPod and had never heard of its relative ” the “MP3″ player ” but, advised by my co-worker John Keck, I went over to the library and bought one for $55 as the first step to accessing all these wonderful books that would be magically transmitted into my house through cyberspace. No tapes, no CDs.
Jeff at the library told me that when I got adept at doing that, he’d teach me a more complicated computer process, which could access even more books. I am motivated!
The first challenge was to get the device out of its hermetically sealed hard plastic container, which seemed designed to safely contain nuclear waste. This chartreuse MP3 player is so tiny I might accidentally ingest it, mistaking it for one of my pills.
The accompanying literature was a multilingual onion-skin road map folded into the size of a Chicklet and written in one-point type. Legal notices are printed in six-point type, so this required my heavy-duty magnifying glass. First thing, the instructions said, was to find the serial number, which might be on the packaging or on the gadget itself.
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Using the little circle on my glass which magnifies another 10-fold, I finally found the serial number ” 13 digits (not sure if some of the 6s were 8s or vice versa) and six letters ” on the back of the device.
John Keck said I needed to plug it into my computer, next to an icon that looks like a three-pronged candelabra. I searched in vain, and my friend Hilary finally found it behind a little secret door in my hard drive.
I don’t do well with the little earplugs, with which this device was equipped, so, being in need of a new radio anyway, I repaired to the Miner’s Building hoping to kill two birds with one stone. Sure enough, they had a $60 radio that they said I could plug the MP3 player into and listen to audiobooks on real speakers.
Over the weekend I charged up the device, downloaded the Overdrive Media Console, made two visits to the library for instruction and clarification and, thinking I was ready to roll, attempted to download “The Wizard of Oz” as a test, only to get failure notices.
Hilary stopped by and messed with it, and apparently there is a problem with the Windows Media Player. Audio Books was looking for version 22.214.171.124, and I have version 126.96.36.199; lordy lord how I hate this computer crap. By the time I get this gizmo working, half the town will be involved.
Then the big test will be to see if I can really plug this teeny tiny device into the new radio and actually hear a book being read aloud over the speakers, speaking of wizardry.