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.