Maybe it's because I'm getting on in years but I'm not much of a gadget person, especially considering my chosen profession. I've been able to get by quite nicely on Mrs. Hillbilly's cast-off devices, which come more frequently than you might imagine. And, being a technically-minded and gracious hillbilly, I'm often called upon to swear and curse at the UI designers of her latest gizmo.

Recently, that included a new Zune and a new Treo. I'll start off with the Zune because my major complaint with it is pretty easy to explain.

I can't create a playlist on it.

Oh I can transfer a playlist to it from my computer. Very easily actually. The software, which I'm guessing is a branded version of Windows Media Player but I'm too lazy to look it up, is intuitive enough. I just can't select a list of songs that are already on the Zune and create a playlist from them.

Here's the scenario: It's a 30Gb Zune and given that it could accommodate both the missus' collection and most of mine, she graciously allowed me to use some of the excess space. So I stumbled my way through and added all my songs.

Cut to a few days later: The ol' lady comes home and says to me, she says, "Codin' Hillbilly, ya gotsta git yer musick off'n this har Zoon! I canst get it to play just my songs without yer Tribute to Yodellin' mixin' it up with mah Il Divo!"

"You got it, Cabbage," says I, "I'll just add mah toons to one o' dem playlisties and you kin listen to them big throaty guys all ye want!"

So boot up the Zune and lo! All the songs I've recently added are nicely listed in a Recently Added list so I don't have to go hunting for them. But no! you are not, to the best of my knowledge, able to create a playlist on the Zune without creating it on your computer first. And when you do that, it wants to add all the songs in it to your Zune all over again.

The solution I am currently implementing (which is not to imply it is the correct one):

  • Delete all my music from the Zune (using the handy "Recently Added" list)
  • Copy all the missus' music to my computer
  • Delete the missus' music from the Zune
  • Create two playlists on my computer, one for her and one for me
  • Copy both playlists back to the Zune

Thankfully, the Zune copies things wicked fast otherwise I'd be in a pretty skunky mood right about now. And before I move on to the Treo, I'll just point out that my three-year-old Dell Digital Jukebox has an awesome interface for this. To wit: it shows up in Windows Explorer and I can drag and drop songs at will. Into both the device itself and playlists that I create on it (also directly from Windows Explorer).

The scenario for the Treo 650: Cabbage has a romantic streak in 'er and thought it'd be nice to have a certain song play whenever I called her on it. The song is not nearly as interesting as what your collective imaginations are dreaming up so let's just say for the sake of argument that it's Whistle Stop by Roger Miller. So the task is: Get a fragment of a song on to the Treo and assign it to a specific number.

I gotsta tell ya, it's easier to skin a raccoon with dull machete.

After a LOT of trial and error and at least three pieces of trial software for various tasks, none of which I eventually actually needed, it was done. Here are the trimmed down steps I performed (and again, I don't want to imply that this is the correct answer):

  • Edit the song in whatever MP3/wave editor into a clip that makes sense as a ringtone.
  • Save it as a wave file unless you want to deal with third-party software because the Treo, out of the box, doesn't support MP3 files as ringtones.
  • Make sure your Treo is set up to receive e-mail (using VersaMail, not MyMail and not Messaging; and on that note: why are there three ways to get mail on this thing?!?)
  • E-mail the wave to yourself. I kid you not, this is the ONLY way I found to copy a wave file on to the Treo using the software that comes with it.
  • Try several times to download the e-mail before it times out
  • Click on the little file icon next to the attachment name (NOT on the attachment name itself)
  • There are three options: View, Save to card..., and Select viewer... Click on Select viewer... (ya, that was MY third choice, too)
  • In the Select Viewer screen, change the Viewer to Sounds. I shouldn't need to explain this because it should be pretty obvious but just in case you aren't picking up on the sarcasm, this will copy the file to your Sounds folder (or area or whatever).
  • Click View
  • Now press the Home button to go to the main screen
  • Go to your favorites (by pressing the green Call button which was NOT easy to figure out)
  • Scroll down (again, not obvious that you can do this) and select an empty slot
  • Leave it on Speed Dial
  • Enter the phone number you want to apply this to (or select an existing contact by clicking Lookup)
  • Change the ringtone to the one you just saved
  • Click OK

I could comment further but I think the list of steps involved speaks for itself.

Kyle the Luddite