Category Archives: iTunes

Apple sucks ass

Apparently Apple has started inserting cryptographic checksums in the DB of music stored on iPods. This breaks 3rd party software for managing your iPod music library, tying the iPod to iTunes.

I’m sure there are a lot of bad reasons for implementing this, like keeping people from creating applications that let people share music directly between WiFi enabled iPod’s and iPhones.

I use iTunes, I own Apple stock, but really, this is complete customer hostile crap. Screw them.

More bps and no DRM equals more iPod sales?

Apple announced today that they’ll start selling tracks on the iTunes Music Store without DRM.  As an added bonus, those tracks will be 256kbps, rather than the 128kbps currently offered.  This should make a big difference in quality.  128kbps AAC isn’t quite good enough, in my opinion, 256kbps is just about right.

Doing so also establishes 256kbps is the new quality standard.  It’ll be interesting to see if the make 256kbps the default for ripping CDs with iTunes.  If they do, it’ll speed up the growth in storage required by people’s music collections, which will mean it’ll be time for an iPod upgrade sooner.

EMI & iTunes go DRM free, for a price

Everyone in the world is already talking about it, but EMI and Apple have just announced that higher quality (256kbps AAC) DRM-free tracks of EMI’s catalog will be available for sale on the iTunes music store for a 30% premium.

This is huge news. As a consumer, I’m pretty happy about it. The existing iTMS offering has been sub-par (marginal bitrate, DRM encumbered) at a price that wasn’t quite attractive enough. As a result most of my music money has still been going for CDs. The improved product is much more attractive to me, at least when I’m only interested in one or two tracks.

I’ll be interested to see if the other labels follow suit on this. I imagine they’ll be happy at the chance to boost their average sales price for dowloadable music.

Update: The premium price only applies to single track purchases.  Full album prices remain the same even without DRM and with a higher bit-rate.  Sweet!

Stupid iTunes Podcast Tricks

I installed iPodder shortly after its release and after trying once or twice to listen to podcasts, I gave up on it. The podcasts I found weren’t that interesting and the “online podcast directory was weak”:

I liked the whole idea though, and so when Apple decided to make it easier to consume podcasts in the latest version of iTunes, I decided to give things a second look.

There are certainly a hell of a lot more podcasts to choose from these days, thats for sure. I lot of established media players have jumped in, driven, in part, by Apple’s entry into the space. All of which is cool, but I’m most interested in podcasting because of the opportunities it offers the unaffiliated up-and-comers.

In the early days of the iTunes podcast directory, those very people, the people who had pioneered the medium, seemed to be shoved off to the side in favor of the big media types. It took some digging to even find them. Happilly, on my latest visit, the “indies” as Apple calls them, are featured more prominently, including a section featuring a handfull of “interesting indies” near the top of the directory.

But, as you can tell from the title, I found something to gripe about. The process of subscribing to podcasts is utterly irritating. Once you’ve found an interesting looking podcast you click a subscribe button to add it to your subscription list. This is where things get bad.

As soon as you click subscribe, iTunes exits the podcast directory and jumps to your podcast subscription list. The browser buttons disappear and the only way (that I can find) back to your place in the directory to subscribe to something else is to start from the beginning again in retrace your steps. VERY LAME!

The podcasts I’ve listened to lately have been better than the early batch, but there are still a lot that are clearly not worth my time after one or two listens. It would be nice if I could easily unsubscribe from a podcast from my iPod.

When iPod news isn’t new

Over a year ago, “Downhill Battle”: did a little math on some numbers from some Apple press releases and came to the conclusion that there have been an average of 21 songs sold on the iTunes Music Store for every iPod sold. It’s a striking statistic that’s been getting a lot of attention after “Boing Boing linked to it”: yesterday.

What’s getting lost in the retelling is that the data is over a year old. Boing Boing includes the full dateline on the quote in their post, but “other people”: aren’t being careful about including the year, making it look like the data is recent. I have to wonder if they are even aware that this news isn’t really news.

Other’s picked up on things and note that the current numbers (now that more than 16M iPods have been sold) are more like “31 songs per iPod”:

I think it’s also important to keep in mind that 13M of those iPod’s are less than a year old and so the owners haven’t had that much time to accumulate songs from iTMS. Broad averages don’t necessarily tell you much about a dynamic and varied population.

That said, I’ve had my iPod about 18 months, and I have 47 songs i”ve purchased from iTMS. In that time, i’ve probably purchased 2-4x more tracks on CD. There are a couple reasons for this. First off, i’m not entirely satisfied with 128kbps AAC tracks. Lately I’ve been ripping at 160kbps. Secondly, the discount for buying via iTunes isn’t quite enough to make me feel good about being stuck with a compressed copy of the song and, on a related note, I don’t feel the loss in flexibility that comes with DRM is compensated by the discounted iTMS rate in many cases. Basically, if I just want one or two tracks off an album, I’ll buy off iTMS, but if I think I want most of the album, I put up with the added expense and hassle of buying a CD from a local store or online retailer.

Stupid iTunes Trick

I just loaded a couple of days worth of songs from SXSW into iTunes this weekend. I was careful to add them all to a playlist so I could find them again.

Now I’m trying to sync my iPod and it’s complained there isn’t enough room. So, what I’d like to do is uncheck all the songs in the playlist and tell iTunes only to sych checked songs, but as far as I can tell, there is no damn way to check or uncheck items in bulk.

Dumb, Apple. I guess I need to buy a bigger iPod, or not.

Update: Problem solved. I just have to open the help file, find the keyboard shortcuts, scan the list, and discover that control-clicking will do what I want.