Tuesday, September 15, 2009

There Be Dragons In There

Apple recently announced iTunes 9.0 was comin' at us with a raft of cool, new features to make our lives easier. That assumes our lives are unnaturally focused on the care and feeding of our music collections - or at least the part of the collection that sits in iTunes. I sometimes imagine that iTunes is just an elaborate Tamagatchi toy - compelling us to feed, tickle, and stroke our digital music-pets lest they whither and die.

For the most part, the ballyhoo over iTunes 9.0 was lost on me. The new features might be cool, but I would probably just throw them onto the slag heap with all the other iTunes tricks I ignore. The one feature that caught my eye, however, is the new ability to manage iPhone/iTouch applications.

I've longed for a way to easily arranged all my little iTouch apps according to some categories that make sense to me - e.g. Screen 1 would have all the stuff I use everyday, Screen 2 would be games, Screen 3 would be reading material, etc. and whatever. Today this is only possible through spastic finger gestures on the iTouch screen - finger gestures that really don't lend themselves to anything useful other than Primal Scream therapy. The new capability in iTunes would let me do all of the work on my PC, and let iTunes tell iTouch what to do.

Tonight I discovered iTunes 9.0 was ready for me, and I clicked 'yes' to start the upgrade. First off, the new version (including iTouch app management) clocks in at a whopping +100Mb of downloaded software. I have written software for fun and profit for over 25 years - mainframes, mini-computers, PCs - and I cannot recall EVER having developed a piece of software that large. That, in itself, made me suspicious of just what the hell is inside iTunes. It also worried me that something could go wrong. That's a lot of code.

When I clicked 'yes' to install the iTouch app manager feature, nothing happened. It would download, but it would not install. No explanations were given beyond Steve Jobs' assurance that something went wrong. 15 minutes later, I finally coaxed the new software to tell me that it wants a Windows update first. A very specific update.

Mr. Jobs wants quid pro quo from Mr. Gates - and I think with that, I'll just forget the whole thing. It seems like a lot of effort for a stupid Tamagotchi.


David said...

My two Vista machines still refuse to acknowledge the other's Itunes library. I blame Apple.

I know I can just open the public directory on the other box and play the music with any of a hundred free applications, it's just that Itunes keeps telling me how wonderful it is, and how easy it is to use. Maybe they could work on syncing correctly first. Now it turns off if I even look at Itunes. A Tamagotchi indeed.

Adam Kantor said...

Ya know those folks who quit smoking only to annoy their friends with anti smoking rhetoric? Yeah, I think I am becoming that guy with my mac. My first inclination was to defend iTunes 9 because on the Mac it's pretty good. But from a Windows perspective... yeah iTunes is shit. I always hated is under Windows and I still do.

Crazylegs said...

Indeed, iTunes under Windows is a bloated toad.

And David - two Vista machines are about 2 too many. I still cling to a couple of XP boxes for our main PCs (I have one Ubuntu box for giggles). But The Boy has a Vista laptop which I loathe having to touch. Vista has so much fucking cruft in it, I hate to even breathe on the thing lest it lose its mind. Here's to hoping the good Windows 7 beta-hype translates into a usable o/s.

David said...

Surprisingly, I have found Vista to be rock solid on my machines. I just can't print across the network. Luckily (hah!) my engineer father-in-law bought a book about networking and thinks this will be a fun project for us. I hate to point out that you have to walk downstairs to the printer anyway, so why not just transfer the files and print them from there? But that's why he is an engineer and I play video games.

And the XP box blew up, and it cost more to get XP on a new one, and blah blah blah...I just went with the crowd.

Crazylegs said...

Oh I agree that Vista is a pretty rock-solid o/s. My issues are more about bloat and admin usability. Basically all the stuff that M$ says will be addressed in Windows 7. My fingers are crossed.

As for networking your printer, etc. - that makes me chuckle. We've had the same discussions at our house. We had 2 printers. I got rid of one to save on ink, etc. The remaining printer I put onto a wireless print server and placed the printer in the neutral zone - equally accessible by all PCs.

Long story short, my printer placement was disallowed and the printer is now back where it used to be. And now everyone has to walk downstairs to get their paper.

Putting your printer on a separate server (Linksys sells tiny ones for like $100) is not a bad idea since it negates the need to keep a PC powered on, acting as a printer server for everyone else.

Anyways, if you run into fun times setting up your network, feel free to give me a shout. One of mad corporate skillz is network design.

Adam Kantor said...

I have a similar setup since my ancient Kyocera laserjet isn't of that new fangled USB variety. Plus the damn thing is pretty big and ugly so it's connected to my home theater PC in the basement which is on 24/7 anyway. So all print jobs require a trip to the laundry room.

Funny thing is that the all-in-one Canon printer in the living room is hardly used because we can't keep paper in it because Simon will just take it out and color on it.

I have NEVER managed to get the Kyocera to work on the network even though it has a printer server built into it. It can't ever seem to grab a DHCP address from the router.

Crazylegs said...

Hmmm - ever try giving the Kyocera a static IP that's outside your router's DHCP range?

Your comment about keeping paper in the Canon made me laugh. I still catch my kids - in their teens - stealing printer paper for school or whatever. And I still read them the riot act when I catch them. I think it's become a game at this point.

Adam Kantor said...

I don't have DHCP enabled anymore. Everything is static now and even when I tried setting up the printer this way is didn't work. I'm guessing it's the fact that it was built in the Windows 95 era.

Just saw this post. http://lifehacker.com/5361672/five-features-we-want-to-see-in-itunes
Speaks nicely to the comments made here.

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