Retro CD Purchase

I wanted to get a new album from a band that I like. I decided to break down and buy it. After searching iTunes and Amazon, it turned out that the physical CD was a dollar cheaper than the album download. What kind of sense does that make? You can see where I’m going with this. I ordered the CD from Amazon. I’m going retro again. I’ll take a disc over a download anytime the price is the same or less. Why not? The sound is better, I get a physical copy, I can rip it into whatever format I choose, plus I get the booklet. I look forward to popping it in my stereo and listening to it the old-fashioned way. Fun!

Macworld Feedback on iTunes Future

The September 2010 issue of Macworld magazine contains an article titled, “Where Should iTunes Go Next?” I wrote them a feedback letter, shown below.

I have a suggestion for Apple regarding the next version of iTunes. Instead of packing more features into iTunes 10, I think they should simply fine tune the application in much the same way they did with Snow Leopard. Personally, I don’t want any more features than iTunes currently offers. I would, however, like to be able to download tiny point-release updates to the software without being forced to download the entire 130 MB application every time they change one line of code. Why haven’t they made this happen already? I think this should be the focus of the next version. Bigger isn’t always better, and iTunes has grown big enough as it is.

Add Album Artwork to Multiple iTunes Tracks

For a long time, I’ve been confused on just how to add missing album artwork to multiple songs in iTunes. I know you can automatically have iTunes fetch album artwork, but it is probably the case that not all of the files in your library will be available via iTunes. Hence, no automatic artwork. The artwork must come from an outside source. In my opinion, the best cover images can be found on the Music site.

You can add artwork to any song that is currently playing by dragging a picture of the album cover over to the “Now Playing” window within iTunes. The problem with this is that the individual song must be currently playing. The problem is that I want to add a album art to all of the songs on a particular album! You cannot simply highlight all of those tracks in iTunes and use the “Now Playing” window. You have to select a group of songs and then choose “Get Info” and then drag the new artwork from your computer or web browser into the “artwork” window within the Get Info dialog box. For more information, see Apple’s support topic on this issue:

iTunes Plus Upgrades Are All-or-Nothing

Apple recently announced that it will offer all iTunes tracks as Plus tracks, which are high-quality, DRM-free tracks. Apple gave in to the music industry’s request to have a tiered pricing structure for songs, ranging from $.69 to $1.29 each. I suppose that is acceptable, but what I object to are the terms of upgrading my existing library of iTunes purchases. Granted, you don’t have to upgrade your tracks if you aren’t interested in doing so.

Upgrading existing songs cost $.30 each. That appears true regardless if the new Plus track is the same price that you paid the first time around. $.30 is too much to ask for each song that I already own. The icing on the cake of this absurdity is that you are forced to upgrade your entire iTunes purchase library to upgrade your tracks. It is all-or-nothing. Individual songs cannot be selected for upgrade. The price I was quoted in iTunes to upgrade my 310 tracks was $75. I shrieked. Get real. I’m not paying that. Not even.

While I am happy about all tracks being Plus tracks in the future, and I’ll continue being an iTunes customer, this kind of situation leaves a bad taste in my mouth. It is just another chance for the music industry to rip me off one more time for stuff that I already have. Just as they did when I replaced old, worn out cassettes with CDs many years ago. They seem hell-bent on forcing us to buy the same shit over and over again. Ugh.

My Advice to Apple: iTunes Plus

Apple needs to seriously negotiate a way to get most, if not all, of the iTunes Store tracks available as “Plus” (DRM-free) tracks. I don’t understand why Amazon has a deal with all of the record labels to provide high bit-rate, DRM-free music tracks across the board, and Apple does not. I just recently read that Napster has now followed in their footsteps. What is the deal with iTunes? Today, there are still a relatively sparse selection of iTunes Plus tracks. I’m certain that this has to do with some contracting with the record labels, but they need to wiggle their way out of that — if that’s the case.

I love iTunes, and I frequently buy the iTunes cards at places like Target, so I load up on downloads. Despite having credits from those gift cards, I’ve bought my last two albums from Amazon. You browse the music just like any other Amazon product, and use a batch downloader that they provide to get your music (For Mac and Windows). After that, the 256k MP3 files are yours to do as you please. Sweet indeed.

Until Apple offers the same, I’m afraid I’m going to have to continue buying music from Amazon. It’s a shame on Apple’s part, considering iTunes is such a big player. If others feel the same way that I do, they are going to be in trouble some day if they don’t turn this around.

So Many iTunes Updates

It seems like every couple of weeks, Apple releases an updated version of iTunes. It has become somewhat of a nuisance. I appreciate that the they are tweaking the product and providing updates, but every time a small incremental version comes out, you are forced to download the entire program in full. This is ridiculous. I hope that in the next big release (version 8, perhaps?) will be coded to receive small patches. This day in age, I expect all software to handle minor updates this way.

Sharing iTunes Library Over a Network

I was wondering how I could share my iTunes library from my desktop computer to my laptop. I searched for the solution online and was prepared for some hacking and tweaking to get this to work. I quickly realized it was as simple as a single setting in the iTunes preferences. In the Sharing tab, there are two simple options: Look for Shared Library, and Share My Library. Let me tell you, it works…fantastically. If only I’d known it was so easy. As soon as I checked the option to share my library from my desktop, it immediately showed up on my laptop iTunes screen as a new library. Remote playing of songs begin playing in seconds. Hooray!

PS – A new version of iTunes, version 7.1, was released this week.

Update: iTunes

I first posted about iTunes back in December. Since then, I have started using my iPod Shuffle almost daily. My last post was a bit generic, and since that time, I have discovered many new things. For one, I have completely devoted myself to the iTunes music library for managing all of my music files. I spent time to edit the tags for many of the files to help the search feature work more properly. The awesome Album View in the program is something I didn’t know existed before. With a single click you can turn your library into an album cover 3-D flipbook. I really love this feature, but I don’t use it by default.

Another effortless goodie is finding that iTunes was keeping count of how often I played certain songs, which is even true for the iPod. When I plug my iPod into my computer, it syncs with iTunes and it knows what songs I prefer and those I don’t. The AutoFill option for the iPod is something I hadn’t had any desire to try in the past. I finally clicked on it and I was stunned. It automatically filled my entire iPod with a random selection of songs from my library. It offered to erase my iPod first, have it lean more toward higher rated songs, and more.

I do have two things on my wishlist for future versions of iTunes. I want the music library to watch certain folders automatically, much the way that Google Picasa does for my pictures. When I add more songs to a folder, I want the library to automatically include it without me telling it to. This may already be the case when working with the iTunes file folder that it established, but I keep most of my mp3s in an outside folder. Still, it knows this. My second item to mention is minor, but it is a bug I think I have found. When I am renaming an album title or some other information tag in music files, and I have songs that have different capitalizations of the same phrase, iTunes tries to match my type to an already incorrect listing. Hitting [Backspace] and [Delete] have no effect. I have to type it elsewhere and cut and paste it into the field to correct the upper and lowercase differences.

Every day that I use iTunes, I have grown to love it more and more. I am always discovering something new about it, and also discovering what it was already doing for me without me knowing. In fact, it works so intuitively and easily that I have come to wish my whole computer could work in such a crisp, polished manner. Perhaps I should buy a Mac?


I have been using iTunes (for Windows) since I started using my iPod Shuffle, some time ago. Every aspect of it is so straightforward and simple that I can’t image using anything else to buy or play music. In the past, I had briefly used both the MusicMatch online music store and the Real Rhapsody service. I don’t know if either are still going, nor do I care.

I don’t have to tell you that iTunes is far and away the best online music store. Buying tracks and burning CDs could not be any easier. The selection is huge. Nearly everything I have searched for has turned up on iTunes. I have never used the podcast or video offerings, but I am extremely satisfied with their music selection. The Barenaked Ladies, one of my favorite bands, have dozens of full length live concerts available through iTunes. I was stunned to find the endless songs available. Most important, all music files are high quality and produce very crisp sound. Files are in an encrypted AAC format, and all have a .m4p file extension.

iTunes even got me to organize my music using the library. I keep organized file folders of all my music files, but I never before played songs using a library. I always shied away from using the library in the Windows Media Player. Using iTunes as a library and music player is easy and fun to use. Making playlists and searching for tracks are so simple and intuitive that a caveman could do it.

Granted, if you have an iPod, you’ll get a lot more out of iTunes. The way it syncs with my iPod is literally plug it in and go. The software even automatically updated the firmware of my iPod hardware all on its own. I can’t imagine other services having anything that matches the close knit functionality of the iPod+iTunes combo. But even without an iPod, you can still make great sounding CDs. Most albums are $9.95 as a whole, much cheaper than buying the physical CD. All songs are 99 cents, otherwise. you save a little if you buy the whole album.

The bottom line: If you regularly shop at a different music store, then I pity you.