Posts tagged “itunes”.

iTunes Match: for me, a solution in need of a problem

December 6th, 2011

Thomas Brand at Egg Freckles:

For normal people iTunes Match will solve the problem of getting the music they have on one computer to all of their computers and Apple devices without networking, filesystems, or sync cables. For me iTunes Match is a frivolous expense…The only advantage iTunes Match provides me is the flexibility of streaming or downloading songs on the go when I am away from my computer.

I’ve talked about this a few times on The hello Show, but this new way of doing your music that Brand explains is, to me, much like MobileMe was in terms of syncing: it doesn’t solve a problem for me. Brand mentions he already knows how to sync his iTunes libraries across multiple machines. My sticking point is that I have the one true iTunes library, and everything runs from that without problems.

My process for syncing is tied with the way my routine goes. Before I head to bed, I plug my iPhone into my Mac for recharging and syncing. Any changes made on the iPhone (appointments, contact updates, etc.) get synced to the iMac, and any new updates on the iMac (podcasts, songs, calendar additions) get synced down to the iPhone. Then, the next morning, I unplug the iPhone and head off to work.

Most of the music I want to listen to on my iPhone gets synced through iTunes. If I notice something is missing, during the next sync I add that artist or playlist. There are no kinks in my system.

Yes, the higher-quality music files from iTunes Match are attractive. The tradeoff is I have to dip into a system I’m not entirely comfortable with yet.

An iPod for music lovers

August 24th, 2011

iPod classic

Kirk McElhearn at Macworld:

Both iPod classics (black and silver) are ahead of the iPod nano and shuffle in any of their colors. So while many people think the classic is a niche device, this might not be the case. Even if it were a niche, it would be one worth holding onto, because the buyers of this model are the real music fans, with lots of tunes, and want a device that holds as much as possible.

Agreed. My first iPod, a 30 GB iPod video from 2005, is still my only classic iPod, and it’s no longer big enough for my music library. I’ve thought about shopping for a refurbished model just so I don’t have to worry about the song juggling that McElhearn talks about.

For true music lovers, and especially for those of us with large music libraries, the iPod classic is still a viable option – sort of like a Mac Pro for tunes.

The hello Show: episode 18

February 3rd, 2011


Leave it to David to get the episode numbering system all out of whack.

But being English, he might not know what “whack” even means, right?

Anyway, check out episode 18 of The hello Show, where we talk about the Mac App Store, DSLRs, Instapaper, my plans for the Verizon iPhone, and whether it’s Happy Christmas or Merry Christmas.

Be sure to check us out on iTunes, too, where you can subscribe and (hopefully) rate or comment on the show. We like both.

Random thoughts on the Mac App Store

January 10th, 2011

Browsing through Apple’s new Mac App Store, a thought hit me:

If you’re a non-techie person (define that however you like), systems like app stores allow you to try out software that, without the store, you might not have known about. In other words, the applications that aren’t allowed on the Mac App Store don’t appeal to people who only find apps on the App Store. If you don’t know about Onyx, or have any idea what it does, would it appeal to you even if it was in the App Store?

That’s why I think some of the pro-style apps, and their developers, will be fine making a living in a world where the Mac App Store exists. Those developers’ products cater to a different audience. So maybe those apps that rely on root access in OS X, like backup applications, cater to those of us who know how important it is to backup and make sure to do it on a regular occasion. For everyone else, there’s Time Machine.

And as long as Apple allows Mac users to use applications outside of the App Store, the platform will still appeal to UNIX geeks and users like me, who use and appreciate more of the pro-level apps.

Also, what do you do about software developers who still sell their applications in boxes in a retail environment? These titles, on physical media like CDs and DVDs, are obviously outside the reach of the App Store. So the App Store can’t be the only place to try and use Mac software. Otherwise, you’re excluding all these retail titles.

Personally, I like have my applications in some sort of physical form. It made me feel better, for instance, to purchase Bento at the Apple Store, bring home the DVD, pop it into my iMac, and install it. I could have purchased the application online and downloaded it that way, but there’s something reassuring about having a backup copy – you know, just in case.

Which is why I’m conflicted about an application like Apple’s pro photo editor, Aperture. Purchase it at an Apple retail store and you pay almost $200, but you get a nice box and DVD. Purchase it on the Mac App Store and get it for better than half the price ($80), but it’s a download-only install. It’s hard to argue with the dramatically discounted price on the App Store, unless you’re like me and you value holding the app in hand.

The benefits of having it as part of the App Store, however, are obvious: automatic updates, lower price, no physical media to lose or damage. And the good news is that Apple still allows free 30-day trials of Aperture 3 – something the Mac App Store doesn’t allow for its titles.

app store aperture

For Apple, having a title like Aperture available on the Mac App Store helps it become more discoverable. As I write this, Aperture is in several of the “top” lists on the App Store, which means Macs users can find it on the App Store homepage, which means more users are more likely to buy it. This approach might be working, because Aperture ranks as the top-grossing App Store title. That could be because of its relative high price tag compared with the rest of the Mac App Store titles.

Searchability, discoverability – if only the App Store had try-ability, it would be perfect.

I wonder where we, in the Newton community, would be if it weren’t for sites like UNNA, where all the available Newton software that ever existed is in one convenient spot. Imagine if we had to hunt all around to find that one app that we want to try. It used to be that way, with some Newton apps sold retail style, in boxes on store shelves, while other titles were available only as online downloads.

Today, however, Newton sites are disappearing. Thank goodness for one, centralized hub like UNNA.

What would’ve happened if the Newton, back in the day, had it’s own app store? If we could have accessed Toolkit and DataRescue from one central location, and have the ability to try out apps for fun (something, admittedly, Apple’s own App Store doesn’t even allow)? It’s a fun thought experiment.

There are repositories like this for classic Mac software as well. I browse the Macintosh Garden on a regular basis for fun, pre-OS X apps. We should hope that someone is doing this for OS X apps as well.

I think the whole idea of a well-run, successful app store will be one of Apple’s great legacies. You could extend that to stores in general, based on how well the company runs its retail and iTunes stores. Making things easy to buy, and easy to try (like iMacs at the mall, or song previews on iTunes) is a win-win for the customer and for Apple.

New iTunes icon: I dig it

September 1st, 2010

New iTunes 10 icon

As reader Joseph said, I kind of asked for this one, didn’t I?

The new iTunes 10 icon is nice. It fits with the rest of the circular, glowing orbs that Apple trots out these days. It’s simple and clean, and has the old-school Aqua look to it.

And as Steve said during the keynote, the CD era is about to be eclipsed by everything digital. With version 10, now is the time for a change.

Time to change the iTunes icon

July 12th, 2010

iTunes icon

Apple’s iTunes icon has remained relatively unchanged since it’s release 10 years ago: a CD with music notes in front. The number and colors of those notes have changed, but overall the icon has stayed the same.

Isn’t it interesting, then, that some Mac users pick on Microsoft for using the floppy disk for saving files (rightfully so, I think) when Apple, who is speeding past the physical media age, relies on a flat disc of plastic to identify it’s media app?

From the days of “Rip, Mix, Burn,” Apple has encouraged users to think beyond the compact disc. With the iPod and the iTunes Music Store, our media could be captured in bits and bytes, 1s and 0s, not rotations of a disc over a laser beam. And since the post SoundJam days, iTunes has become a home for other media besides music – like books, movies, games, and podcasts. Arguably, it’s still mostly about music. But more and more iTunes has become a hub for the digital lifestyle – a homebase for all our media.

So why stick with the CD on the icon?

Recently, I read a Rolling Stone survey that said most people still get their music from CDs (I’m one of them). Record albums are becoming popular again, and legal MP3s are a close second, but more than 87% of music buyers still get their music from compact discs. With all the talk of the electronic media age, I found the survey results surprising.

But still, iTunes is becoming less and less about tunes and more about all manner of digital media. It’s hard to parse the “tunes” part of iTunes when you combine it with books, movies, TV shows, games, and iPod/iPhone management. The tunes are just one part of a collection of consumable entertainment.

Is there a good enough case for Apple changing the icon? Or is it so ingrained in popular culture that any change, like the floppy disk in Microsoft Office programs, will be unwelcome?

iMovie icons

Think back to when Apple revamped iMovie, with the new icon.

Quicktime icons

Or QuickTime X – quite a change from the nearly-20-year-old QuickTime logo before it (above – courtesy of The Logo Factory).

It’s not like Apple is afraid of change, visually or philosophically. In the case of hardware, it’s usually revolutionary (think iMac G3 to iMac G4). Even OS X has undergone a few visual transformations over the years. Why leave the iTunes icon unchanged after so long?

Maybe the question is, what could replace the current iTunes icon?

Mac OS 8 doesn’t play nice with iTunes

May 27th, 2010

iTunes vs. Mac OS 8

As I get ready for Seven Days of System 7 (or, more accurately, OS 8), my focus is on loading my PowerMac G3 with software that I might need over the week. Apps like a good, sturdy browser, an image editor, and a music player are all important.

For music, I have a few options – all apps that, as the classic Mac OS period ended, paved the way for iTunes’s dominance. These are apps like SoundJam, iTunes predecessor, and Audion from Panic. I grabbed the final copy of Audion, but wondered if OS 8 could handle an early copy of iTunes.

In a roundabout way, it can. Apparently, the original version 1.0 and 1.1 are both able to run on Mac OS 8.6, with help from a certain patch. Load the patch, install iTunes 1.0 or 1.1, and enjoy the wonderfulness of Apple’s first version of its now-dominant music app.

Except when it comes to legacy software, patches, and theoretically-incompatible operating systems, failure is always an option.

First, the patch. Developed by Loizos Pavlides and last updated in 2001, the patch requires that the iTunes.smi file, the patch installer, and the iTunes installer all reside on the same slab of hard drive space. In my case (and from what I could gather), the best place was the Documents folder.

If you try simply installing iTunes on the Mac’s hard drive, it will proceed as normal. You just won’t be able to open the app.

There it sits on your hard drive, useless and almost foreign with that classic icon. Instead of today’s well-known double eighth note, the iTunes icon used to sport three eighth notes, all different colors.

iTunes patch install

The patch and the two iTunes files now sitting side by side in the spatial Finder, running the patch is a no-frills affair. Pick your copy of iTunes, select everything you want to install (above), and away it goes.

CD Authoring warning

Except that if you pick the “CD Authoring” options, you get this weird warning about incompatibility and USB devices. I had enough trouble finding a USB patch for Mac OS 8, so I opted not to include the CD authoring support. For one, it’s probably the longest non-gibberish warning dialog I’ve ever seen. And two, what a hassle.

If this means I live without iTunes’s CD ripping abilities, I’ll live. There’s always a CD player (so ’90s!) handy.

iTunes for Mac OS 8

After the patch does its thing, you now have another version of iTunes sitting in the iTunes folder, with a “for Mac OS 8” title. This is the one to use if your Mac is running OS 8, right?

iTunes 1.1 crashing

Wrong. At least in my case. Each time I try to run iTunes for Mac OS 8, it crashes.

The dreaded Error Code 3. Digging into the Classic Mac OS error code database, error 3 means “illegal instruction error,” and running iTunes in Mac OS 8 is definitely illegal. Like, PRAM-zapper-proof illegal.

Though Macwizard says it’s “very common,” the solution isn’t. I came up empty-handed after a bit of digging into the possible solution to the problem. And no matter how many times I reset the PowerMac, iTunes never opens without crashing.

One solution is to simply upgrade the G3 to OS 9, but as I’ve said before, I like the idea of having a Macintosh for every version of the Mac OS.

Reading more of the comments from the patch only added to the confusion – and frustration – seeing that other users were experience hit-or-miss installations of iTunes on OS 8. So for now my attempts to get the thing going are stalled.

For Newton users, UNNA is our App Store

January 21st, 2010

While the original iPhone was a hit, some would say the success came when Apple offered the App Store – a one-stop shop for everything from games to to-do applications.

The Newton never had such a place. In the ’90s, if you wanted a Newton app, you could either get it in a box, or as shareware, with some software developers offering their wares on the web. But there was no encyclopedic interface for app shopping.

In later years, however, the United Network of Newton Archives (UNNA) has served as a modern day app store for Newton owners. Here you’ll find most of the available Newton apps in one easy-to-browse site (complete with eWorld icons). It’s an organized database that makes finding an app easy. Instead of hunting down an obscure app, you can visit UNNA and probably find what you need.

There are other sources for Newton software, sure. But UNNA offers the most App Store-like interface for Newton apps.

That got me thinking. With all the comparison between the rumored tablet and the MessagePad, how closely could UNNA offerings match what Apple’s App Store offers? Discounting iPhone social media, photo, or video apps, where do UNNA and the App Store reach agreement?

More simply, what can you find in the App Store that you can also find in the Newton app world?

Here’s what I found.


Interested in mapping our your biorhythm cycles? You shop around on the App Store, or you could check out NewtORhythm for your MessagePad or eMate. These apps are for plotting your physical, intellectual, and emotional…uh…potency (?) on any given day based on your birthdate. NewtORhythm would be more helpful if it labeled the plot lines (or if the Newton could handle color), but you get what you get.

The App Store offers plenty of GPS apps, now that iPhones contain a GPS receiver, but so can the Newton with a few add-ons. App-wise, look for GPSView, a landscape-only app that works with a DeLORME Tripmate.


For musicians, the App Store offers everything from metronomes to chromatic tuners. On the Newton, you need a good ear for Guitar Tuner, a “Simple wave based guitar tuner that plays individual samples of a guitar in standard EADGBe tuning.” No fancy dropped-D tuning, but if you want to tune a guitar you haven’t touched in a while (I’m guilty of this), Guitar Tuner is a useful app.


The App Store has no shortage of list management apps, including grocery list apps that help organize your next trip to the supermarket. The Newton comes with its own default to-do list app, but for food you can use Newt Grocery. There are other list management apps, like the (originally-named) Lists, so you can find something you prefer.

For the weekend chemist, the App Store features plenty of affordable periodic table apps (and games) to satisfy your inner iodine. Periodic Table for Newton OS 1.x devices.

Power Translator

Parlais Parlez vous Francais? Non? iPhone language translator apps are great for traveling overseas or in your nearest city’s Chinatown. The Newton has Power Translator, with 60,000 words in English, Spanish, German, French and Italian. You can even add and alter words in Power Translator’s dictionary – great for foreign language students looking for a more colorful vocabulary.

SmallTime stop watch

For fitness training or food eating competitions, you can pay $0.99 for a stop watch app on the App Store, or you can use the free and super-simple SmallTime (above) – an app so small I almost didn’t spot it. To start the timer, simple tap the little circle with your stylus and the countdown begins. That’s it. Nothing fancy.

And speaking of fitness, the Newton offers a few exercise apps to get your New Year’s resolutions off to a good start.


Night sky gazers have a wealth of apps to choose from through iTunes. If all you need is a simple star chart, the Newton’s StarChart.

The iPhone is the perfect personal information management (PIM) tool, but before the iPhone, the Newton carried Apple’s PIM title with all kinds of apps.

And if you need the simplest of simple tools, the iPhone can help with flashlight apps. So can the Newton if pointed in the right direction.


Feel like having some fun? The iPhone has become a competitive mobile gaming device. Back in the day, however, the Newton had its own selection of fun, monochrome gaming titles – like nBattleship (above).

Deep Green for Newton

Some games, like the Newton’s Deep Green chess app, made a successful transition to the iPhone.

There are a ton of other examples, from Newton system utilities to apps for getting online and getting some work done, where UNNA mirrors the App Store – even if UNNA offers neither the breadth nor depth of available software.

On the other hand, the openness and flexibility of Newton developers, plus the lack of an approval process from Apple, leaves the doors of the Newton app world wide open. Here we are, more than a decade after Apple killed off the Newton, and smart people are still developing software for the MessagePad. No app store makes Newton software harder to find, but at least it’s still there to discover. Apple can’t leave the latest version of NCX floating in approval process limbo.

Minus a jailbrake, will that be possible after the iPhone is gone?

iTunes 9 mini player restored with update

September 23rd, 2009

According to PC World and some great commentors at my original iTunes 9 mini player post:

As of iTunes 9.0.1, the pre-iTunes 9 behavior has returned–clicking the green button switches to the miniature player mode. (Option-clicking the green button now maximizes the window.)

This, friends, is victory.

Hit “Software Update” in your Apple menu, or download iTunes 9.0.1 (with restored mini player functionality!) over at

Newton Web Tablet

August 28th, 2009

Chris Barylick from O’Grady’s PowerPage, on upcoming Apple announcements:

Also likely is an introduction of iTunes 9, which has widely been rumored in recent weeks to make its debut with a handful of social networking features. Nothing is expected to be heard about the much anticipated Newton Web tablet, which isn’t expected to surface in any form until the first calendar quarter of 2010.

Hilarious. Apparently Barylick doesn’t agree with me or any other Newton fan who realizes that the rumored Apple tablet will not, in fact, be called a Newton.

[Via splorp.]