Tuesday, November 13, 2012

iTunes Update Messes Up iPod Synching

I tend to ignore the constant updates Apple does to iTunes. The reason is the reputation of major problems following updates. This could be solved if there was a different system in place. This is the only software I know that makes you install the entire 200 MB package all over again.

So here's what happened to me. After several months of ignoring the update, I finally installed it a couple of weeks ago. Then yesterday I bought the iTunes LP "The Resistance" by Muse. (Amazingly the extra stuff like photos, videos & lyrics took longer to download than the entire album) Fine. Then I burned a CD like I always do. The reason is to make sure I have a backup. Plus it's an audio CD I can play, so I know the download actually worked, & I can re-install it if something happens to the computer.

Again this worked fine. Then I plugged my 4th generation nano into my computer. Not so fine. It never showed up in the sidebar. So I unplugged the nano, plugged the USB cable into a different port. Still nothing. Went online, looked for info. Lots of convoluted explanations of what to do. Finally shut down iTunes & restarted it. Then it worked. Whoopee!

All I can guess is that I haven't syncronized my iPod in quite a while, & certainly not with this version. This also is not the first time this has happened. It seems to be a problem with new downloads. If I add a Cd in my collection it doesn't seem to do this. Meaning that strangely, iTunes sometimes has issues with it's own files, which doesn't seem to make sense. It should have more problems with outside devices like CD's,especially since you don't have to be logged in to upload a CD.

I still contend, although Apple would disagree, that the music store should be separate from the manager/player. Put the store online, meaning make it a website like Amazon. After all, you can download from Amazon & have the file sent directly to iTunes, so that shouldn't be an issue.

Once you do that, iTunes becomes a smaller program, with probably less need of absurdly large update files. The use of Quicktime appears to be an issue to some people. Not sure if thats my issue or not. Not popups saying it is, but I notice in the support forums that it is for a lot of people. Remove it, either use the hated Flash (I've never had an issue- all video works fine on my computer), or HTML5. Size diminishes, meaning less problems.    

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Why We Can't Vote Online

Today is election day. Like a large number of people on the west coast, I voted weeks ago by mail. In my state (California-largest in population), over 50% will vote by mail. The two neighboring states of Oregon & Washington are 100% vote by mail. Voter participation is high for this reason.

Could it be even higher? Why can't we log on to a voting website & do it that way? Because of fraud. It is well known how certain groups are good at hacking. Touch screen voting was a disaster here & other places because of software issues. Issues that included counting all votes for one candidate than who the person actually selected. Paper receipts were eventually required, but that didn't help.

The Republican Party & it's mouthpieces talk about voter fraud, but in-person voting has very little. They just don't want people to vote, especially minorities because they know they will vote Democratic. So they send out "watchdog groups" to intimidate voters. This is not democracy.

So how can we get voting to join the 21st Century? There has to be a concerted effort to make online voting possible. Mail voting still means hand counting. Meaning someone with an agenda can cook the results. Software needs to be created that can't be hacked, or at least is very hard to, so one can vote through a smartphone app, or by going to a secure website. Once that's done, we can take care of a bigger problem. The fact that only 60% of eligible voters cast a ballot.  

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Mickey Mouse Meets Darth Vader

I was very surprised when I read that George Lucas had sold Lucasfilm to Disney. Then I saw the video where he said he had been planning to retire for the last four years. This is a big deal.

Then Bob Iger says there will be 3 new films. Remember, at one time it was claimed that there were supposed to be nine films. The original 3, 3 that took place before (that would be trilogy #2), & 3 that took place after the events of SWIV (Return of the Jedi). 

The only question is the actors. Do you set it enough in the future (30+ years) that you can have Harrison Ford & Mark Hamill play their characters at real age? If they even want to do it. Or a different time frame.

And does Disney release new DVD's using that annoying business of "last chance before it goes in the vault for 10 years"?

Or is this deal just an excuse for Disney to get hold of a real special effects company, namely ILM? And will Lee Corso now have to dress as Yoda?  

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

ESPN Latest To Require Verification Of Cable Subscription

The shift in the last few months towards a verification model to watch streaming media is a last ditch effort by old media to keep their audience. While young people are talking about "cutting the cord", the service providers are fighting tooth & nail to prevent it.

First it was Comcast & the ugly My TV Everywhere nonsense. Two years ago you could watch streaming Olympic video just by clicking on a link on NBC's special website. This summer you had to sign in through your cable or satellite provider's website to watch. 

Two years ago you could watch World Cup Skiing simply by going on Universal Sports website & clicking on the video. Last year you had to pay $60 for the season to watch. This year you have to verify that you subscribe to the network through your provider.

HBO does this through HBO GO. But that makes sense because it's a premium channel. Now it's ESPN. I've always been able to watch pre-recorded games. I work on Saturdays, so I would watch college football on my days off, Mon or Tues. Never really watch live stuff. Last night on a whim, I tried to stream the MNF game. Now ESPN requires verification! And even worse, doesn't support Directv. Meaning even though I subscribe to Directv, I can't watch live because there's no deal between the two.

So what does one do? Here's something that may or may not be legal. A  European website called First Row Sports streams through ESPN America, the European cable partner. In fact they stream all Sunday games from Fox, CBS & NBC. No American TV commercials, all ESPN America ads for other games. Now do the cable operators know this? Do they care, or do they figure no one knows? I'm guessing a little of both.

Eventually this will be settled. The verification model will not last. Those in the know can get around it. Otherwise we will end up having to pay a subscription to watch online or by the event. I assume this is what the providers would like. But that model will eventually die.     

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

$329 For An iPad Mini?

This may be the silliest pricing ever for a tech device. Why exactly would anyone pay $329 for an entry level iPad mini when $499 gets you a full sized one? I realize that Apple fanboys are not the brightest shoppers out there & will spend any amount of money just because it's Apple, but really, cmon.

Since the Nexus 7 & the Kindle Fire are $199 I fail to understand the pricing for this. Except that since the days of Steve Jobs, Apple has been about massive profits upfront. Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon has made it clear from the beginning that the Fire breaks even, & Amazon makes it's money from Kindle owners shopping in the store.

Google will do the same thing with the Nexus 7. Apple doesn't seem to care about convincing people to shop in the iTunes store. They know apps aren't that expensive, & most buy e-books from Amazon, so that justifies the pricing for the iPad. I'm not sure that's true. But the iPad does outsell the Kindle Fire, so maybe people really are hypnotized by the Apple name. I'm not & won't be buying one. But then again, I won't be buying ANY tablet. I have a full sized desktop. Works for me. 

The Dissapearing Mailbox

I live in a condo complex with central mailboxes. The one near me has a broken door, meaning instead of the door being locked until the mailman opens it to collect outgoing mail, it's wide open. Needless to say, this concerns me. So instead of dropping my bills in there, I went out on the street looking for another box.

I couldn't find a box on the street, so I had to turn around, go back in my complex & find another box. Here's my issue & question. There used to be a box on every corner. Now there aren't any. Is this because no one mails letters anymore or is the post office just using that as an excuse to cut back on pick up & delivery?

I think it's the latter. Yes people are e-mailing & texting, but bills still come via the mail, as do magazines. Yes you can pay bills online, but what does that really mean? It means combining all your bills under a single account, usually a credit card. but how is that paid? Surprise, a bill that comes in the mail. I'm not sure companies want to set up accounts to withdraw funds from bank accounts, & I sure don't want them to know my bank account number.

So this means the old way of doing things is still the best way. You may not like mailing money but until a better system comes along, this is the way to go. 

Monday, October 22, 2012

Music & Lyrics Online

I don't know why it is, but there doesn't seem to be an easy way to combine digital downloads with song lyrics. Why this is I don't know. iTunes policy is that you can paste or type in lyrics on your iPod, but that's not really a perfect system.

A better system would be to have the lyrics embedded in the file. I'm guessing that the reason this hasn't been done is another example of copyright nonsense.

When I'm on my desktop this is what I can do, & in fact did this morning. Open two tabs on my browser. One on You Tube or iTunes for a particular song, the other tab or window on songlyrics.com, a site that allows you to find the lyrics to thousands of songs. So find the lyrics to the song, return to the other tab with the song, hit play then switch your browser to the lyrics. It works, but it's not perfect & again, you can't transfer the printed lyrics to your iPod, iPhone or whatever device.

At some point there is going to have to be a better way. Mind you, the music industry is against anything that is in the best interest of the consumer. If it doesn't enrich them, they are not interested.