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Late Again

Today was supposed to be one of winding down and getting ready for the weekend. Initially that was how it started. You know, waking up, shower, wake up a bit more, keys, wallet, mobile and then wander down to the station. I have been doing this for years and I am not even aware that I am doing it. At the station, I had a couple of minutes to kill so I started playing with my MP3 player. The train arrives and I get on. It was 30 minutes later when I realised that something wasn’t right. Wrong train. So after a flurry of apologetic emails to colleagues and some sarcastic replies I had time to reflect on how I had got myself into this situation.

It was the MP3 player of course. About 2 years ago I bought a Sansa Fuze. It has been excellent. I am not a fan of Apple. I’ll talk about this at some point in the future but for now I will concede they make excellent products. But the Sansa is great value for money, it is very robust, you can override the EU volume limitation and it is not an ipod. You want a good mp3/4 player then get this one unless brand names are your thing. In that case you have no choice. Anyway, despite my love for this gadget it has increasingly taken second place to my phone. That was until last night when I managed to hack it with different firmware. It is amazing what things can be jailbroken/rooted/hacked these days. Someone was telling me they had changed the firmware in their digital photo frame the other day. It’s hard to explain why you would want to do such a thing. For me I guess it’s about challenging the contrived “customer experiences” and other marketing babble that we are force-fed. It’s a bit like drawing a moustache on a supermodel picture, just a way futile way to subvert someone’s business model is all.

So I came across Rock Box which is community that makes open source firmware for a variety of media players (including  iPods). Installation was pretty straight forward and they provide a tool that automates the process. The only slight quirk is you need a copy of the original Sansa firmware but they link to get this.

As to the result. Well the new user interface is not that great to be honest. It betrays its open source heritage and looks a bit old-fashioned. The original Sansa interface is much better in this respect. On the upside it is the interface is very configurable and there are many themes that can spruce it up a bit. I particularly like the retro cassette recorder with the rotating spindles. Where Rockbox really scores  is the additional functionality it brings to the Sansa. It can play games! So it was while I was playing bubble breaker that I got onto the train without looking at the departure board.

Categories: Rockbox, sansa fuze
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