Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The iCasino

Apple's vaunted advantage over Windows is the "easy to use" interface.  Am I missing something?


iPods are on the agenda today.   I was recently at a party and a friend commented that he wanted to add music to his iPod, but was afraid to "sync" the iPod with the iTunes software, lest it erase everything he had on there.   He asked me how to add music to the iPod and quite frankly, I have dealt with it so infrequently that I could not remember exactly how it is done.

Yes, you can load iTunes onto your computer, sync your iPod and have it scan and load all media files on your computer to the iPod, automatically - in crappy MP3 format, of course.   You don't need to sign into iTunes or anything - or even have an iTunes account.

The problem with this technique is that you end up with multiple copies of music on your iPod.   So if you copy the files more than once, you end up with duplicate copies of all the songs on your iPod.  One way around this is to wipe the iPod first, using the "reset to factory settings" and then uninstall iTunes, erase the iTunes directory in "My Music" and then re-install iTunes and have it do a search for music on your computer.   Provided you have all your music on your computer, you should not lose any songs.

On the other hand, if you have downloaded music from iTunes, you will have to go back to iTunes and re-load those songs.   It is kind of a pain in the ass.

Shouldn't a "vaunted user-friendly user interface" realize that you have sixteen copies of the same song on your iPod and then at least offer to search out the duplicates and erase them?   Maybe there is a way of doing this.  I certainly can't find it.

(Of course, Microsoft is no better - if you do a "media search" with Windows Media Player, you may end up with duplicate copies as well.   Manually going through a library of 11,000 songs and deleting duplicates is an heroic task!).

What ends up happening is you end up with this crazy mix of music listed under a number of different listings (sometimes songs are listed as albums and whatnot).   And no matter how you slice it, MP3 sound just sucks.

I keep all my music in CD resolution (using Windows Media Player) on my hard drive, which makes it easy to back up and store.  It also allows you to play the music from your computer.  Sadly, Microsoft never leveraged its advantage with Windows Media Player to develop a portable player.   They tried, with the "Zune" but decided that a music rental format was what people wanted.   What a lot of  people wanted, was a way to load their CDs onto their iPods so they didn't have to lug their CD collection around.

What people didn't want was to re-buy their music (yet again, after buying it in vinyl, cassette, and CD) from the iTunes store or to rent it from Microsoft.

Which brings us to the point of this posting.   If you want to dick around with manually loading music from your CDs onto your computer and then onto your iPod, you can do this, and it is indeed free of charge.   However, it ain't easy, and you will likely have to go through your library and edit out duplicate copies of songs and manually enter artist, song, and album names for a number of albums whose data isn't available online.

On the other hand, if you want to just buy music from iTunes, it is as easy as falling off a log.   Just get out your checkbook, or more precisely, a credit card, and start a-spendin'.   Just like the Casino, where it is easy to get in and nearly impossible to get out, they create a well-worn path that involves, of course, spending money.

And the problem is, it is a lot of money.   I have over 10,000 songs on my iPod, not counting duplicates.  To purchase this much music from iTunes would cost me well over $10,000.  That obviously is not an option.

As a result, I find I am using the iPod less and less.   It seems a pain in the ass to load music onto it and then to try to find music.

So what are the alternatives?   Well, for starters, some car stereos allow you to use USB thumb drives, which you can load with music - in high-resolution format - simply by using the Windows "copy" feature (as opposed to the archaic nonsense on iPods).   Simply copy the music to the thumb drive, insert in the slot in the stereo, and play.  The stereo will even display album names and artists, and allow you to scroll through them, just like you are accessing data on a hard drive.   How hard is that?

But as for being "easy to use" I just don't get it.   And my experience with the iPod is one reason I never bought - or intend to buy - any other Apple products.  They just want you to pay, and pay, and pay, and I have better things to do with my money than give it all to Apple, just so I can listen to music I already own.

If you have a workaround for the iPod, please let me know.  Because frankly, I think it is the biggest piece of junk ever foisted off on the American people.

13 comments:

  1. Of course, today, many young people don't even bother buying or owning music. They just stream music from Pandora or whatever. Old people too.

    The problem with this model is, it is like listening to the radio - complete with ads. You hear only what they want to play for you.

    I like to see live music, and when I see a live band or whatever, and they have CD for sale, I buy it. And I do this because most musicians are not making a lot of money, and moreover, I want to hear their music later on and remember the experience. Often, these are the CDs that are listed as "unknown artist", "unknown album" and "track 1", "track 2", etc.

    Of course, many of these artists are now offering their music for download, either free or on iTunes or other commercial outlet. Sadly, these pay services often limit how many devices you can play the music on, and if you change computers, etc. you may lose the music.

    And if you have music from a number of different sources, well, it gets even more complicated.

    So that leaves the last option - consume less music.

    And we wonder why the record industry is dead....

    ReplyDelete
  2. I may have finally figured it out. Open windows "my Music" and then drag individual (or highlighted groups) of icons over to the "iPod" listing. It will automatically convert the non-MP3 format songs to MP3. This takes a while.

    Now, make sure your "My Music" doesn't have duplicate songs, or songs with "unknown artist", "unknown album" and "track 1".

    Something to do while you are waiting on hold....

    ReplyDelete
  3. Be sure to check the box that says "Manually edit music on iPod" or it won't like you drag new music from your hard drive.

    Everything is buried under a number of different menus. If this is user-friendly, I'm a Martian.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Well, it works, sort of, except that for some reason it won't move some songs over, no matter how many times you try to. It is an odd, quirky, weirdly laid out interface, with odd symbols next to each song that are not explained anywhere.

    Easy to use interface? My ass!

    ReplyDelete
  5. For some reason, iTunes will convert WMA files if you "search for content" and scour your entire hard drive. But if you try to load one file at a time manually, it asks if you want to convert, but won't actually do the conversion or transfer files to the iPod.

    So a 3rd party conversion software may be needed.

    Note also, if you use "autofill" that "random" is automatically checked (!!!!).

    iTunes software blows. So does Quicktime. This is the great vaunted Apple that everyone raves about?

    Sorry, I just don't get it. Even clunky Microsoft crap is easier to use than this!

    ReplyDelete
  6. For some reason the latest version of iTunes won't convert WMA format files to MP3. Older versions did, but the new version does not. Weird.

    ReplyDelete
  7. OK, you can manually convert WMA files to MP3 by accessing them from the iTunes pulldown menu and then loading them into the iTunes "library" on your computer. This creates confusion, of course, as you have two "libraries" one on the iPod itself, and another on the computer (under my Music/iTunes) and then you have to "sync" the two.

    For some reason, when I loaded my iPod years ago, this was done automatically. Today, you have to manually select songs.

    This is not a user-friendly interface at all!

    ReplyDelete
  8. OK. How to add one song or album to your iPod from Windows WMA files, without having to Sync or use the iTunes store:

    1. Plug in your iPod to your computer

    2. Install and run the iTunes software

    3. In the upper left-hand corner is TINY TINY little box like thing. Easy to find, right? Click on it for a pull-down menu.

    4. Select "Add files to Library"

    5. Find the files you want in your MyMusic or Music directory. You will either have to select one music FILE at a time, or if you hold the shift key and use the down arrow you can select more than one file. Hit "OPEN"

    6. iTunes will give you the same warning as it does when you try to DRAG these files directly to your iPod. It will ask if you want to convert. Click on "Convert".

    7. The conversion process is slow. When done, however, it may make a DING noise. The progress of the conversion is shown at the top of the iTunes window.

    8. Once converted to MP3 format, you can then move the files MANUALLY to your iPod without having to "Sync" the iPod. Click on the tiny iPod icon on the menu bar.

    9. Under "On My Device" click on "Music" - it should show the entire contents of your iPod.

    10. Open your "Music" library on your computer in a new window. Find the "iTunes" directory - it should be under "Music" or "MyMusic" on your computer.

    11. Under the "iTunes" directory you will find "iTunes Media" and under that, "Music". The files you just converted should show up under the artist's name (directory) and under that, album, and under that, song. You should be able to just DRAG (or copy/paste) this album to your iPod listing and it should copy the entire album (or individual files selected) to the iPod.

    12. If you did this right, the files should show up on your iPod shortly. You do not need to SYNC or connect to the iTunes store. This is handy if you want to add ONE album to your iPod, and you are not on your home computer or on a friend's computer.

    For bulk conversions, the only way is to convert the entire library at once, which I am attempting to do right now. The problem with bulk conversions is that if you don't do it right, you may end up with 5 copies of the same song on your iPod!

    Also, bulk conversions can take hours to perform, depending on the size of your media library.

    Hint: Back up your media library to an external drive or another computer, often!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Be sure to check off the box, "Manually manage iPod" or whatever. It is in one of those windows, somewhere.

    Whoever wrote this software decided they needed to punish Windows users, I think.

    Apple blows.

    ReplyDelete
  10. To bulk convert, try selecting "my Music" and then dragging it to the media LIBRARY (not the iPod directly). Once you have converted all the music in your library (which may take hours) you can drag the songs from the iTunes library (as noted above) or try to "sync" the iPod with the iTunes library.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Well, I was able to load some music to a friend's iPod. However, since Apple stores music differently than Microsoft, it appears under five different album names.

    Oh, well.....

    ReplyDelete
  12. I am going through my Windows Media player library and painfully deleting duplicate copies of songs, and replacing "unknown album" and "track 1" with the correct titles.

    So far, I am up to the letter C - in terms of artist names. Should be done sometime in May... if I do a letter a day.

    I then covert the files to iTunes, which I can do with a drag and drop. It puts them in MPEG (Motion Pictures Expert Group) 4 format, not MP-3 as I previously noted (I guess the older version of iTunes did that.

    When it is all done, so long as the database is not "contaminated" it should play everything just fine, once synced with the iPod (which I have wiped now for the fifth time). With the dupes deleted, still about 7,000 songs.

    NEVER click on "Scan for media" in either Media Player or iTunes, as it will make duplicate, triplicate, quadruplicate copies of songs you already have. Seems like a simple thing to make a routine for (delete dupes) but they don't do it.

    One more thing about Apple: Their Windows interface has all the charm of an APPLE ][ Computer (maybe an Apple III) or an Altair 880. The "graphical interface" was apparently written using AppleDOS, and uses ASCII characters to create images. For example, the scroll bar on the side is a two-tone grey bar.

    Talk about phoning it in? Or are they just punishing Windows users (the majority of their customers)?

    Apple sucks, period, and has every since they drove Franklin computers out of business.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apple_Computer,_Inc._v._Franklin_Computer_Corp.

    ReplyDelete
  13. The odd thing, of course, is that iTunes seems to run from planet Apple, while Windows Media Player is from Planet Microsoft.

    So an album that I had meticulously added track titles to (because data is not available online) reverts back to "track 1, track 2, track 3" in iTunes.

    Another album with no track titles, suddenly gains song titles in iTunes.

    Single copies of songs in WMA become multiple copies on iTunes, for no apparent reason. It is all very odd.

    You would think you could figure this out with some sort of well, computer program or something.

    I am 1/3 the way through my media library....ugh!

    ReplyDelete

Sorry, Comments have been disabled due to the large amount of SPAM and TROLLING as well as GROOMING comments. Thanks for reading, though.

NOTE: Blogger says below that "only members may comment" - however comments have been disabled and I have no idea how to make someone a "member". Sorry!

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.