· How can I keep my PC and my car player in perfect synch?
(Entry last updated on January 5th, 2005)
Many people want their car player to have exactly the same songs as their PC's hard disk. That way, every time you add songs to the PC, you can update the car player with the same songs.
This can be done, but there are a few limitations you need to keep in mind. Emplode doesn't keep track of what songs are on your PC's hard disk, it only cares about what's stored in the player. Although there has been some talk about turning Emplode into a complete music-management program, at the current time, it only works with the database stored on the player. This is actually a good thing for most people, as it allows you to manage the player's database from any computer, without having to worry about what songs are stored on that particular computer's hard disk. You can also throw songs onto the player and then delete them from your PC's hard disk without looking back.
But for some, it's important to be able to maintain two separate collections. One way to do this is to religiously update the player by hand each time you update your MP3 collection on the PC.
Some people, though, will go for long periods without updating the car player, and can't remember what they've added to their PC since the last synch. In this case, the easiest way to keep the player and the PC in synch is as follows:
This system isn't perfect, though. There are some important things to remember:
- Make sure you are using version 2.0 or later of Emplode, and software version 2.0 or later on player itself (instructions here).
- Organize your PC's hard disk so that its folders and MP3 files are arranged in the exact same tree structure as you want to have as playlists in the player's database. For example:
- Make sure that your tag information is completely and correctly filled out for all of the MP3 files on your PC's hard disk. Whenever you add new songs to the PC's hard disk, put them into the proper folder structure as shown above, and correct their tags.
- Then, whenever you want to update the player, select all of the parent folders in your PC's "MP3s" directory and drag them onto the "Playlists" folder in Emplode, as shown:
- Emplode will take a while to churn on the list. Perhaps quite a while, if it's a big list.
- Songs that already exist on the player, and which haven't been changed on the PC, will be considered a "duplicate" and will be skipped. Emplode will eventually show a dialog box reporting how many duplicates were skipped, and how many new songs were added.
- At this point, you can synch, and if all goes well, only the new songs will be added to the player.
There are also some completely different options available. Some people have created special scripts using the command-line version of the Linux Emptool utility. These can be written to take special cases into account, like deletions and changes. If you're interested in using this kind of a script, ask around the Unofficial Empeg BBS for help. You can also use mp3tofid, running either in Linux or in Windows-with-Cygwin, to synchronize your PC to your car player.
- This doesn't help you with deletions. If you delete a song from the PC, it won't get deleted from the player. You still have to do those manually.
- It doesn't help you with changes to the songs. Emplode uses the song tag information as one of its criteria for detecting a duplicate. For instance, if you change a song's tag on the PC, Emplode will probably mistake it for a new song and add it to the player without deleting the original song. You have to handle edits manually.
- When Emplode checks for duplicates, it only checks for them within the same folder, it does not scan the entire file set for duplicates. So if you move a file from one folder to another on the PC, Emplode won't catch it as a duplicate and will just copy it again to the new folder.
- If a song exists on your hard disk in two places, it will get copied to the player twice. Please read this for notes on handling duplicate songs.
- If you want to keep additional playlists other than the basic artist/album playlists illustrated above, you'll have to handle those manually. For instance, on my player, I have "mood" playlists named things like "(Low Key)" and "(LAN Party)", for special occasions. These contains links to other songs already in the artist/album playlists. I still have to manually update those playlists each time I add songs to the player. It would be nice if Emplode would interpret M3U files on the PC's hard disks as "soft" playlist links, but at the moment, it doesn't. It just blindly imports any files pointed to by M3Us, and if they already exist in an artist/album folder, they will be considered duplicates. Another option would be just to create complete "mood" folders on your PC and fill them with a second copy of each of the songs. This would work, but it would waste some disk space on both the PC and the player.