iTunes - Crap or is it just me?

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Mort
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iTunes - Crap or is it just me?

Post by Mort » Mon Dec 01, 2008 12:04 pm

So, we are now an iPod (nano) family, that gives me the credentials of being a "sticking it to the man" rebel showing my unique individuality by buying an apple product rather than some mass-produced "PC" thing. Expect more apple fanboi rants in the future...

For the time being though... is it just me or is iTunes a piece of crap? It does some things "easily" I suppose, but in the way that my parents told exactly what I could and couldn't do when I was a child. Things are always easy when other people are making all your decisions for you.

1. I already have lots of music files on a nice little network share for anyone/anything to connect to. It would appear that to sync to the iPod though, iTunes needs to copy (and convert) all those songs into it's own library. I have worked out how to store that library on a network share, but that seems to mean that I need to keep two copies of every bloody song now!
2. You can't just drag and drop music into a directory on the iPod itself.. that would be too simple. It has to do all sorts of dodgy crap to the files even when they aren't copy protected.
3. Syncing pictures... WTF! I can't just drag and drop the pictures I want to iTunes or the iPod, and I can't select some pictures from different folders. It only lets me sync one folder and all the pictures in it, and if I want to add pictures from another folder, it removes the previously synced pictures... so, to have a mix of pictures from different locations I need to copy them into a single folder for iTunes to sync with... so once again, multiple copies of the same files!
4. Syncing movies... No idea how to make this work. I've tried adding .AVI and .MOV files to iTunes and it just seems to ignore me. At best it tells me the .MOV files can't be played on this iPod, and if I try to "convert for iPod" it gives me an error about a file missing.
5. Album art. My ripping software has no problems finding album art using various online mucis catalogue sites, but iTunes only seems to know about album art for music that is sole on iTune, and you can't specify another online database to query. Even then, the match is pretty bad... who woulda guessed that Hi-5 is "really" a bunch of black rappers from the ghetto!

So, if anyone is able to educate an apple noob, please do.

As for the Nano itself, it's pretty cool, and I decided it would be the easiest for the signifcant other to use as far as UI and available docking accessories etc. For myself though I don't think I really get the hype around apple products, something like the Creative Zen X-Fi might be a go
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Brad
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Re: iTunes - Crap or is it just me?

Post by Brad » Mon Dec 01, 2008 12:57 pm

Couple of things:
0. yes, itunes sucks. Now move along. And if you think it is bad for a Nano, you have to see how bad it is for an iPhone. However, it is currently the best choice around. (I have tried lots of options but not found anything better, to the point of putting it on my wishful todo list to write some better software myself.)
1&2 . You don't have to convert your songs, unless they are in WMA. Apple stuff will handle non-DRM MP3s just fine. Just tell it not to convert and use the existing library. Under preferences / advanced unclick all the boxes re managing music folders. It won't monitor folders automatically, but it isn't that hard to add new music - just use the menus. Yes apple's support for drag and drop is dodgy (not to mention ignoring the UI guidelines for Windows - which would be a cardinal sin for Apple on OSX, but is apparently ok when using anyting else!), but I thought you were trying to avoid having multiple copies of the same song anyway.
When it converts it goes to AAC by default. However, the max quality it does on AAC is only 160kbps which is annoying. If you need to convert things, I wouldn't use itunes by default...
3. WTF are you putting pictures onto a nano for anyway? buying the kids a magnifying glass for christmas. I have no idea about managing photos - I don't do enough of it to worry about.
4. Movies on an ipod are touchy about what formats it can play. I have taken to keeping 2 versions of movies - one for archiving and a separate set for the ipod / iphone. I highly recommend Superhttp://www.erightsoft.com/SUPER.html as a free utility to convert movies assuming you are not doing it as you encode from a master. It has presents for ipod and has a drag and drop (if not terribly user friendly) interface. Plus it is free.
5. Album art really drives me nuts - it is not that difficult to edit the library to convert the artwork, and when you change one song on an album at least it updates them all. But the automatic lookup needs some serious work - no where near as good as media player.

I too was an applephobe, but the interface on the nano is extremely well designed. For non-technofiles, they are by far the cleanest / easiest player I've picked up. At the time I bought my nano 8gb a few years ago, there wasn't any real competition for high capacity flash based players, so it was the best option.
I have my iphone now, and you can take it away over my dead body. The interface on the ipod touch / iphone is so far ahead of anything else I have seen it is amazing. It's one of those things that you have to play with to fully understand, but I am completely hooked. And yes, I am slightly afraid that I have become an apple advocate after being an apple hater for so long.

Brad
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Re: iTunes - Crap or is it just me?

Post by Mort » Mon Dec 01, 2008 1:43 pm

I'll check out the "manage music" settings and see what they do a bit more. Another annoying thing though is if I select the root folder of my current music to add, it adds them all again as duplicates and doesn't seem to realise they are the same. That means if I add extra tracks to my current collection, I have to select them them folder by folder to prevent duplicates. Considering apple do such great UI, I find it quite bizarre that the actual functionality of the supporting software is so lame.

As for pictures and movies, I'm not thinking of these being anything other than a quick wallet size reference type thing. The wife and kids can just take some recent favourites to show people if desired... I'll check out that convertor.

I've never considered myself to be an applephobe or apple hater, I'm just indifferent and never had any need to go down the apple path before. PC's are my work and gaming platform, and I can cope with whatever music capabilities my mobile phone has. For the wife and kids though it's a different story, and really apple is pretty much the way to go for them. Mind you, the kids don't seem to have problems navigating incredibly complicated yum-cha media players after a couple of days.

Technology just seems to have this constant ability to frustrate me by just never getting things quite right. Apple does a better job than most, but they still seem to have some strange ideas. Maybe we *should* get together and start writing stuff for ourselves
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Re: iTunes - Crap or is it just me?

Post by Brad » Mon Dec 01, 2008 2:22 pm

Mort wrote:Considering apple do such great UI, I find it quite bizarre that the actual functionality of the supporting software is so lame.

I'm still surprised that the functionality hasn't changed materially in several years. I can't recall any real changes in functionality that aren't directly related to new players. And I don't call coverflow a positive change in functionality.

Mort wrote:Mind you, the kids don't seem to have problems navigating incredibly complicated yum-cha media players after a couple of days.

Technology just seems to have this constant ability to frustrate me by just never getting things quite right. Apple does a better job than most, but they still seem to have some strange ideas. Maybe we *should* get together and start writing stuff for ourselves

I don't have a problem navigating - it just annoys me every time I have to use it how little extra work would have been required to make it work properly.
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Re: iTunes - Crap or is it just me?

Post by Jeff » Wed Dec 03, 2008 6:28 pm

I have surrendered and use itunes exclusively now. I'm happy, yes I need MP3's for my music to DVD stuff I do for clients so I rip my albums as MP3's and pull them into itunes as MP3's. But these days I buy a most of my music via itunes as I use the ipod in either car for trips. Its great for the kids on a trip. No in car DVDS for us, we went to Melbourne two weeks ago and quick trips both ways.

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Re: iTunes - Crap or is it just me?

Post by Mort » Sat Oct 10, 2009 11:23 am

well, this could help improve things. It's actually kinda funny to consider what apple was saying in their 1984 commercial compared to how they act now :)
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