By pickassoreborn 6 Comments
If you live in the United States of America and you are reading this, then first of all - congratulations. You truly are in the land of the free. Also a lot of this blog warble will fly over your baseball capped heads as they fill with thoughts of "stupid moaning limey". Read my tale of podcast woe and you too will understand why this is the case.
Before I even started to add music on the Zune PC client, I immediately created new folders and assigned them to the four main categories of conent which my new phone could handle - podcasts being one of them. I've used computers for a while now and it was a no-brainer to grab mp3 files of podcasts and save them onto this podcasts folder; the theory (and common sense) being that Zune will read the podcast file mp3 and display it for me on that slickly hip interface. Seems easy in practice, right? I downloaded the latest Major Nelson podcast and sure enough - it was there on the Zune list ready to play. "Aha, excellent. This should be a cinch." I thought to myself. I grabbed some more of the podcasts I used to listen to on my old iPhone and assign them to the same save location.
"This content is not associated with the country of your account. Please select the country which your account is part of" - or words to that effect. United States was selected on the drop-down menu. Like the well-educated, scone-eating Brit that I am, I selected United Kingdom and lo! It was at that point that I suddenly realised I was once more in the wrong country and I was only fooling myself: "This content is not available in your region". We say that the internet is this globe-spanning thing of wonder, but there will always be those boundaries not created by the oceans or borders, but by the lawyers of the world.
I did a bit more digging around. In short, if you're using Zune for the Windows Phone 7 in the UK and want to listen to podcasts using Zune as a client, then you're shit out of luck. I noticed that Zune.net removed its "podcasts" option once I confirmed the location of my account. A bit more digging around, and it seems that this problem is also inherent in every other country other than North America. The iPhone suddenly becomes the more desirable option if you're a fan of podcasts. The iPhone was the device I migrated from with the assumption that I would be able to play podcasts just like any other smartphone device with a bit of smarts. Not the case.
I have investigated and there are apps other than the Zune app which allows for access of podcasts, though it amazes me that I had to snout around for them like a pig looking for the right kind of truffle. Money is requested, but that one-off payment is small when you consider how much frustration I will be sidestepping. It is a poor show though from Microsoft - they scratch their heads and wonder why not more people invest in the Windows Phone when they pull shit like this.
In other news, I tried to chase up how to access those 50 free music downloads I was promised for such a daring change of phone. Another incentive to buy into the Windows Phone 7 which falls flat when I tried to chase up those mythical downloads. Stephen on the O2 Live Chat was pretty fucking useless. "Have you installed Zune?". He pointed me to the O2 Customer Service phone number and I was soon talking to Anna - who was equally useless. She said I should visit the HTC site or perhaps e-mail a specific person about it. "What should I include in my e-mail? My account details?" to which I got the unsure reply of "Yeah, I think so". I eventually discovered through the Windows Phone site (not the O2 site) I needed a redemption code I hadn't received. Back onto the Live Chat and I was talking to Zak - who managed to sort it out for me. "Yep, we'll send you a code via e-mail". I have yet to receive the e-mail.
I also did a bit more fishing about the Marketplace - it's interesting to see just how unregulated the place looks at times. For instance, there are several BBC News apps - some appear to be more homebrew than official. Already there's a seed of confusion in my brain, although a good pointer is to go for the app tile illustration which doesn't look like it has been hammered up in a short amount of time on GIMP. I grabbed the "official" Weather app from Microsoft too - although the live tile functionality doesn't work and the tile background itself is a horrible shade of brown, which doesn't seem to match up to my shiny orange tile set. The HTC Hub's weather tile was the previous way I found out about the weather although those long-winded animations tend to grate after a while, even if they have been polished to an unobtainable shine.
I managed to get the free Xbox Live Flowers game to work after downloading it in Zune.net rather than grabbing it online - it is a simple yet charmingly addictive puzzler where you have to match gems of a certain colour and set off chain reactions of other gems. I really, really like the way you can try purchases before you buy them - it's a nice alternative to the iPhone's method of having a full game and a "lite" game as two seperate installs. I used the try mode to check out the Hydro Thunder game - which looks good and plays well using the phone's gryoscopic control scheme. I also checked out Halo Waypoint and was impressed with the slick presentaiton and the ease of use - it was also the path to the first video I played on the phone - the Mega64 Halo Anniversary skit.
The wife has just reminded me that I can exchange the phone in the next two weeks. I'm going to grab the least-crap podcast app and give that a try. I think this podcast issue has been a major bone of contention for me. You iPhone users have it so easy compared to the mountainous hike non-American Zune owners have to navigate. The thing is that I really love the HTC WP7. It's a lovely piece of kit and has impressed me more than disappointed me. The easy option is to backtrack and get an iPhone 4, but that's such a cop out. I don't think I can stand the smug iAdvocates and their "told you so" tweets.
I'll keep you posted.