iTunes, Threat or Menace?

iTunes was always crap. I run the Windows version. It has inconsistent menus, disappearing menus, a different user interface on each page, a sync button here, an important checkbox there — overall an outstanding example of poor UI design.

My iTunes got corrupted and for years the text labels on most of the buttons and menu items were invisible. Some kind of font issue, I guess. I tried uninstalling, reinstalling, fiddling with Windows fonts, nothing helped. Fortunately, I remembered where the sync button was. That was all I needed, most of the time.

Then the computer that I had iTunes installed on conked out. I fixed the computer and installed a new hard drive and reinstalled Win 7 and iTunes. Works great but now it turns out that syncing doesn’t really mean syncing. I’m not sure what it means. All I know is that after I do it the file libraries on my iPod and iTunes don’t match. You can get them to match but only at the cost of deleting all of the files on your device. You cannot download files from your device to iTunes and add them to any new files you’ve acquired. It’s obvious why this is the case: Apple wants to keep people from busting the DRM on purchased files by downloading them to unauthorized computers. But Apple’s system makes life difficult for anyone who has a significant file library and replaces or upgrades his computer. There are workarounds but they are mostly a PITA for the user, and particularly for the non-tech-savvy user who replaces his hard drive or computer. This is a case where the customer doesn’t come first (though, to be fair, Apple is far from the only company that does things in this way).

8 thoughts on “iTunes, Threat or Menace?”

  1. I am done with most of these services. Pandora, Jango and/or any of the other free random music services are good enough for me for the limited amount of music listening that I do. Sure there is an ad every six songs or so, but I can handle it.

  2. I use itunes for sync/backup and to upload apps, ebooks, pdfs, and images to ipods/ipads, rather than for music. Itunes is essential for full use of Apple devices. Apple should have designed it better.

  3. I use Amazon, but I’m all android now. The cloud player syncs well across all platforms and works well with the Roku. Ebooks on the Kindle app. The only missing piece is Amazon Prime Video app for Android, but that can’t be far away. My only concern is Amazon’s business plan doesn’t allow them to make a profit, so I’m standardizing on something that could go the way of the betamax.

    I’ve used Pandora for a while now, but there has always been something that didn’t quite seem right. I finally realized it just recently. I had a song I liked by a band I only had an ancillary interest in, so I created a station thinking I would get to listen to more similar good songs. The “random” selections they generated all probably matched in terms of musical form, but they still didn’t fit into my expectations.

    Listening to it more and more felt like riding around in circles.

    Compositions may match in terms of harmony, melody, rhythm, lyrics, etc, but there are certain qualities that transcend structure or mechanics. Sometimes things can possess different qualities, and those differences, while meaningless in separate context, can turn into something altogether substantial in their synthesis.

    I get the feeling this is something people understand and employ on an innate level but isn’t easily articulated. I definitely don’t see it easily programmed into computers or algorithms.

  4. Avoid ‘walled gardens’. They are often attractive but remember what the walls are for, it’s not your freedom.

    I run Linux, write my own code and even my Steam games setup on windose, the only real reason I run it, is run by a bunch of hippies. Well I do need the Fuji RAW converter now as well. The X-E1 is a killer camera. Click on PenGun to see my site, entirely hand written.

  5. I buy my music from Amazon. If you buy the CD, they make the MP3’s available for downloading as well. They also have a web cloud player, so you can log in and play your music from any internet device. You can also copy all the music you buy. It’s a great service, and I’m very happy with it.

  6. What I’m trying to get at is that here you have these brilliant devices — tablets, phones — that are easy to use and beg to be used for all kinds of purposes. Yet the process for uploading and managing documents, ebooks, images, apps and other content to them, which should be as easy is possible, is made ridiculously burdensome by the technical limitations of Apple’s DRM schemes. There must be a better way to handle these issues.

  7. It’s more accurate to say that iTunes’ inability to pull from devices was the DRM price it had to pay to get the wide access to the record labels content it enjoys. I assure you they could have made their DRM more robust but didn’t. The flimsiness of the DRM has been an open secret nearly from the beginning. There are 3rd party apps that get around the restrictions. Try Media Monkey and follow the linked instructions to move everything over to something that will work better.

    Apple continues to play a balancing act between the record labels’ DRM dreams and the rest of us. It’s managed to keep the locked music much more available than it had been previously and much more available than a more doctrinaire “information wants to be free” will be able to accomplish for decades.

    That being said, their Windows versions have always been inferior to their mac ones. The differences in user experience are real and long standing.

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