A new iPod

So it turns out that an iPod is a seamless multimedia experience. It has features. It is glossy. It has rounded corners for easy insertion.

The one thing it doesn’t appear to be is a music player. I have yet to get it to play the music I want it to play. After two hours of trying.

Maybe this is culture shock? Maybe I just need to think about music in the right way? Maybe having a piece of equipment do what I tell it to do is just so five years ago? Maybe I should accept that Apple does know best and I should just sit back and let it do whatever it is that it wants to do, including telling it what my credit card number is? And then getting another credit card when iTunes doesn’t like that credit card? Why the rubbery fuck does an mp3 player need my credit card number?

I’ve got a PhD from the University of Cambridge and I used to work as a computer programmer. Maybe I’m not clever enough to use an iPod? Maybe I’m too clever? Maybe I need a lobotomy?

Maybe I should take a hammer to this fucking thing?

22 thoughts on “A new iPod”

  1. Did you try reading the manual?

    (I mean, I totally didn’t and followed your way, banging my head against iTunes and eventually got it to do something vaguely similar to uploading music to my iPhone, but perhaps there are some times when it does pay to read the instructions)

    1. Yes. It told me how I can add songs to the library. It added a thousand songs that I didn’t want in there. So fuckit, am making more progress with Media Monkey instead.

  2. In a geeky online community I’m part of, someone coined the phrase “rugged individual” for people who insist on doing IT things their own way.

    It refers to a person that wants to continue to do things their way, even when the rest of the world has gone in a different direction. It’s not a criticism, and quite a few of them would admit to having it themselves in one or more areas.

    It’s even worse if you suspect the world might be right. I thought like you on music but then I got everything tagged correctly and, well, maybe it does work better.

    It is a kind of a warning – you’re swimming against the current and that always takes more effort.

    1. Except that it makes no effort to explain what the right way is. You’re just supposed to come to this as a blank slate, innocent of all that has gone before.

      Case in point – it didn’t ask me where I keep my music. It just found some where it thought I should put it. Hence it grabbed the wrong stuff without telling me what it was doing, or where it was getting that music from.

      I want to treat files as files. That’s hardly doing things in a terribly individualistic way. Actually, right now I just want to delete an album from a playlist, without having to do individual songs. How hard can that be?

      1. Files as files

        I’m afraid that treating “files as files” is a terribly archaic way of working, and appears to only be grudgingly supported in these Modern Times ™. The modern way is of course to store everything in a database. Preferably accessed using Ess Que Ell. (Pay no attention to the heathens that point out that a file system is a perfectly good database for the storing of files. They’re misguided, and will die out soon.)

        Ewen (who has his music as files in a file system, with hierachy and everything)

        PS: is right about the perils of Fighting the System ™, particularly when it comes to Apple. Apple is very much of the One True Way ™ school of thought, and anything that involves straying from the One True Way ™ is much much harder.

        1. Re: Files as files

          It is useful to have an index of some sort. While a file system will (if set up consistently) find files by artist/album/song it becomes very slow if you want to query your music collection for all the gabba with speeds over 180bpm.

          Also the directory of most modern filesystems is a b-tree-like structure, which is much the same as the index on an SQL database.

          The Google approach, of course, is that you have no directory structure and rely on search tools to find the files you want.

          1. Re: Files as files

            Yes, I’m aware that the directory structure on modern file systems is very similar to the indexes on modern (SQL) databases — in fact that was pretty much my point. I’m all for the “consistent hierarchical database” (ie, file system) plus indexes on the things you care about — providing the index gets rebuilt on demand when there are changes (and modern OS provides all the hooks required to do that). It’s the “everything must be stored inside one gigantic (database) file because Databases Are The Future ™” thing which bothers me. Especially when doing so cuts one off from accessing/updating it with any other tool but the all-in-one blob the developer provided.

            I’ve seen the “no directory structure, rely on tags/search tools/whatever” thing a bunch of times in my 25 years dealing with IT, and each time it has run up against limits. But I’m probably one of those heathens that still believes in hierarchy and ontologies and the like.


    2. There is some truth in that, but there is also the view that if there is a community of early adopters who do things one way (like treating a music device as a disk drive full of files) they should be supported. It used to be called “cultural backward compatability”.

      Also, I object to applications that decide they wish to be the centre of one’s world and proceed on that basis (putting shortcuts in all possible places, associating every file type they recognise, popping up nags every 30s).

      And in this day and age, stuff should be discoverable without a manual.

      1. From someone that says all of this stuff, I have absolutely -no clue- why you didn’t go the Rockbox and Foobar2000 route? Maybe it’s just easier to accept tools of tools of the average person while attempting to set yourself apart by whining online about your dislike for them?

        People’s grandma’s can figure out itunes.. i think you’re being a tad dramatic! 🙂

        But seriously 10 minutes of searching on trademe for a 5th gen ipod and 10 minutes of reading the rockbox manual.

        You can browse your music by file structure to your heart’s content (or build a database) and with foobar2000 it can even make renaming the files a billion times easier once you tag them properly (which is also damn easy to do off the file names).

        There’s features in foobar2000 to convert between FLAC and MP3, which is good since I keep my stuff backed up as lossless 🙂 Rockbox can play FLAC’s as well, which is cool.. so is adding replaygain to the files.

        Plus, since rockbox is open source, if I was a bigger computer geek and still had something to whine about, I could work on a solution for it.

          1. Yeah dude, and “integrates” with rockbox good with the file operations commands and presets. I’d love to see some actual integration in foobar for rockbox.. not sure if it exists or not. Potential project for ya? 🙂

    3. TBH, this is rubbish.

      Apple(tm) make a huge deal out of Just Works, and various fanbois continually bleat out that the Future Is Right. But here we have someone for whom basic stuff isn’t Just Works.

      None of the problems I see he’s posted are really “rugged” problems. Okay, filesystem one is, but most others are not. Why DOES a media player need my CC? etc etc.

      This experience and this sort of stupid response is exactly why I refuse to get into the Apple Exerpience and Brainwashing.

  3. I have utterly failed to understand why anyone buys an iPod when you can get a Sansa for half the price, and not have it try to insert “The apple way” into every orifice of your body along with storing and playing your MP3 files. It takes my files, and acts as a plain old USB hard drive when you plug it in to your computer. You can run Rockbox on them if you’re so inclined.

    Oh, right. people buy iPods because everyone *else* buys iPods.

    I had an “interesting” experience earlier in the year where i had handed someone a thumbdrive so they can plug it into their laptop (a Vista box) to copy over a video file from it and watch it. I later found that the iTunes on that Vista box had decided, without any prompting for input or permission, to create a backup sync of half of the music on the laptop onto my thumb drive. It did this in the background, without *any* indication to us that it was doing so, and i found it later when i suddenly had much less space on the drive than i thought i had. Screw you Apple.

      1. true enough. Myself, well, i just haven’t ever felt the need to have *all* of my MP3’s on any given device simultaneously, not counting my home server. I’ve somehow managed to always have a reasonable selection in the “tiny” 8GB unit i have. I think i’m just one of those crotchety old “rugged individuals” the IT folk hate. Heck, even when i was working in IT i was still one of those. Get off My Lawn!

  4. Wishing you did 6 yet?

    (i don’t give a flying fuck if everyone calls me an archaic rugged individual, i want a player that operates like a portable hard drive and proprietary softward can kiss my ass)

  5. Ideally, yeah. I’d like a music player that you just dragged and dropped music into and it just played it. That’s how it used to work, damnit, and it was good.

    I switched from my old Creative Nomad MK. I from memory which I’d had for years and years to a first gen iphod Shuffle, and I was frustrated as fuck for the first few weeks. I couldn’t drag and drop, only the fact that I could manually use the damn thing as a USB stick saved it from being binned. From memory, I eventually ditched iTunes, went to SharePod to upload (& download once when I lost all my music on my system to a hard drive failure), and I’ve been using ipods since.

    I like the hardware itself. It geuinuely ‘just works(tm)’. It’s the interface with the rest of the system that causes me trouble, because I’m used to doing that sort of thing myself. ‘tunes takes over the classification & sorting of music unless you tell it explicitly not to, and then when you upgrade the version you usually have to change all the settings again.

    If it wasn’t for the fact that the iTouch presently is perfect for my ebook reading requirements, I’d also be looking elsewhere for a music player. However, as you’ve found, there’s 100+1 varieties of flash based music players, and the ipod is largely the only player in the large hard drive based field.

    I assume that you have your music sorted into a file structure and you want to use that, right? If you’re using itunes still and haven’t used bell, book & bass to exorcise it from your hard drive, you can do the following

    Edit – Preferences
    Advanced Tab
    Click OFF ‘Let itunes scramble your music hopelessly’
    Select the folder where you have your music stored as your iTunes Music Folder
    Close out of the menu system
    Drop down to the Devices option with the iPod plugged in
    Check the ‘Yes I will manage my own damn music and videoes pretty please oh music fuhrer’

    You should now be able to just drag and drop from your library into the device if I remember how I set it up myself.

    1. i went that way for a while, from memory it would no longer let you synch? i mean, if you imported a bunch of music into itunes you also had to manually put it on the ipod?

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