Posts Tagged ‘Apple


Blake’s Weekly(ish) Update

It’s been a few weeks since my last “weekly” update, hasn’t it, guys? Sorry about that, it’s been a rough couple of weeks. But here’s a roundup of everything I’ve put out in the universe for you guys since the last time I did a recap.


An open letter to Apple Computers…

Hey, Apple. Nice to talk to you guys again, I know it’s been a while. But hey, you’ve been busy. iOS7, iTunes 11.1… those things aren’t going to release themselves, right? And as an iPhone and iPod user, I waited for these updates and downloaded them dutifully. And hey, Kudos on iOS7! It looks a little different, it’s going to take a little getting used to, but for the most part, it’s a good little system. I’ve got no complaints about it.

Then there’s iTunes.

Jesus tap dancing Christ.

Let me preface this by explaining the reason I use an iPhone — the only reason I use an iPhone rather than looking into the many, many Android devices now available… is because I’ve used iPods for years. It’s because I’m very familiar with the iTunes system, and because I’ve already got so much content in iTunes (including music, videos and apps) that I didn’t want to have to re-buy or risk losing tons of material by switching to a different system. So I went with the iPhone, although I still use my iPod Touch for most of my basic “listening to stuff” purposes, including music and — most importantly to me — podcasts.

Aside from the expected minor changes — wholly unnecessary, but tolerable — that come with an “update,” iTunes 11.1 has made listening to the podcasts I want to listen to (which, I emphasize, is among the primary reasons I own even one of your devices) virtually impossible.

Upon installing the “update” (I’m really tired of putting that in quotation marks, but to pretend that anything about this new system is somehow an advancement goes against my deeply-held belief in journalistic accuracy), I checked my podcast directory to find that literally hundreds of episodes had simply vanished. Episodes I’ve never listened to, episodes I listened to but wanted to keep rather than delete… simply gone. I managed to find some of them still in the hard drive on my computer, but a great many of them had vanished into the ether. Frustrated, I began to re-download the missing episodes.

It was then that I began to notice that, in addition to the missing episodes, iTunes 11.1 had somehow decided to unsubscribe me from the vast majority of my shows. The Flop House? Gone. The Nerdist Writer Panel? AWOL. Welcome to Night Vale? Vamanos.

I want to repeat that here — your program unsubscribed me from Welcome to Night Vale. In and of itself, that would be grounds for divorce.

Anyway, I went on to resubscribe to those missing podcasts and re-download those missing episodes as well, a process which (I’m sure you can imagine) took several hours. As those hours progressed I would periodically check back to see the number of podcasts I had not listened to (at least, not since re-downloading them) slowly grow. Until a few hours later, when it spontaneously dropped back to what it was after the Great Unwelcome Purge of 2013. With a little experimentation, I realized that this deletion was re-occurring every time iTunes checked for new podcasts, which I had the program set to do hourly. It would also do it again when the program started.

I’m starting to get tired of your shit, iTunes.

But I disabled the automatic updates to see if I could at least control the rate of attrition, even attempted to play around with it using the Podcast app on my iPod itself. (The app, by the way, in and of itself is an absolute mess… can you explain to me why it shows not just the episodes that are on the device but also dozens of phantom episodes that exist out there in “the cloud” and therefore are utterly useless to me when I’m driving in my car, where I do 99 percent of my listening? Or why, when an episode ends, the app tries to look for this phantom episode that’s not on the device and then freezes for 10 to 30 seconds while a “Playback failed” notification appears? Or even why the HELL the app doesn’t put the podcasts in simple alphabetical order, rather than the bizarrely random amalgamation that it seems to choose each time I open it up?)

This made no difference. If anything, it made it worse: the next time I synched my iPod to my computer it not only spontaneously deleted all of the episodes (again), but it also deleted the podcasts I’d listened to on my iPod since the last time I synched it, then began to spontaneously re-download those same episodes and mark them as new.




Question mark.

Now look, I don’t pretend to be any sort of computer genius. Although I have spent several hours at this point tampering with the iTunes settings and preferences, it’s entirely possible there’s some simple button I can click to make all of these problems go away (probably labelled “stop your iTunes from sucking”), and I simply don’t know where to find it. Unfortunately, there hasn’t really been any way to get help in this instance either, as I’ve sent several “feedback” notifications through iTunes — all of which prominently warn me not to actually expect a response — and any attempt to solicit help on the Apple message boards merely has me collide with a group of Macintosh sycophants who refuse to admit their beloved software could possibly have any sort of flaw and therefore it must be my fault that the damn thing doesn’t work right. (As I’ve already admitted, I’m fully prepared to accept that I may be doing something wrong, but if you refuse to tell me what that wrong thing is, how the hell am I supposed to fix it?)

So here’s the deal, Apple… you’ve got until my next paycheck to solve this problem. If I’m still utterly unable to listen to any of the things I want to listen to, I’ll be in the market for a new MP3 player — I’m sniffing around on right now and they’ve got lots of dandy options, some as cheap as $30. And I will use that exclusively for my music and podcasts from now on. Then, when my phone contract comes up and it’s time to look for a new device, I’ll get… oh, I don’t know exactly what yet, it’s far too early to decide such a thing… for now, let’s just call it “something without a lowercase ‘i’ at the beginning of its name.” And then we’ll be done.

Do we understand each other?


Oh, but I LOVE how you can just pull up simple functions like “do not disturb” and the camera on iOS7 just by sliding up from the bottom of the screen. Good call on that one.


Why I’m Excited for the iPhone 5

Although I’m writing this before the BIG ANNOUNCEMENT, the world is pretty much in agreement that the September 12 press conference by the Apple People will be the announcement of a new, shiny, fifth (or sixth, depending on if you can count or not) generation of its lauded iPhone. It’s gonna be bigger, flashier, faster, and as someone who has had a pretty crappy cell phone (THE SAMSUNG INTENSITY II — I AM SAYING THIS IN ALL CAPITAL LETTERS SO THAT SEARCH ENGINES WILL KNOW HOW BADLY THIS DEVICE SUCKS) for a couple of years now, I’m really excited about this announcement.

Because, friends, once that iPhone 5 is available, I’m hoping I can grab an iPhone 4s for a decent price.

Granted, we don’t know anything official about the iPhone 5 specifications yet (plenty of rumors, but nothing official), but if there’s one thing we can pretty much be certain of, it’s that it will instantly be the most expensive phone on the market and a legion of Gotta-Have-It Apple lovers will be lining up outside the stores even as the announcement is made, probably watching it on their iPads. I really don’t have any problem with Apple products — I’ve owned an iPod for years, I use iTunes regularly and I recognize the superiority of Apple computers for things like graphics and video editing — but aside from people who do graphics or video as their career, I’ve never understood those for whom Apple is a lifestyle choice.

I definitely want to finally upgrade to a smartphone. Last week’s soul-crushing media blackout following Hurricane Isaac drove that idea home more than ever — it was killing me to spend days without checking my e-mail (or… y’know… reading Bug online). But do I need to spend six hundred bucks for the privilege? Lord, no. If I can get a “lesser” phone for a “lesser” price, I’ll jump all over that.

What’s more, I simply cannot conceive what they could possibly put in the iPhone 5 that will make it that much better than the 4s. Higher memory? Great, but is it worth that kind of cash? A bigger screen! I’ve never really had a problem with the screen on my iPod, except when I try to read digital comics, for which my Kindle Fire is a far superior device anyway (thanks, Erin). According to some rumors, the iPhone 5 will be ten times faster than the current generation. Wow! That’s a lot of times! But good grief, how fast a phone does Apple think I need? I’m a child of the 80s, friends. I fought the Prodigy Wars. I remember the days when every effort to connect to the Internet was preceded by ninety seconds of “EEEEEEEEE-SKRRRRRRRRRRRRCH!” If I can save upwards of five hundred dollars, I can wait an extra ten seconds for that Angry Birds update to download.

Speaking of Angry Birds, that does point out the only real reason I’m predisposed towards getting an iPhone — any iPhone — as opposed to an Android device. Like I said, I’ve had iPods for years, and I’ve really enjoyed my iPod touch (basically an iPhone without 3G or the capability of making phone calls). I’ve got a lot of apps, music, and media that I got from the iTunes store. I’ve got it set up to download my podcasts and synch everything to the device just the way I want it. I think about having to start everything over — and losing a lot of that content — with an Android device, and I shudder. Yes, Apple has its hooks in me that way.

But that doesn’t mean I’ll let them keep me hooked in every way. The last iPhone 5 rumor I’ve heard is the one that makes me want such a creation least of all — all new ports and connections for the device. I’m sure if you ask Apple the reason for changing the way the phone connects to your computer they’ll tell you something about increased speed or upgraded terahertz or protecting you from grabulons in the gibbetygoo. But whatever reason they have, the practical application of it is this: buy an iPhone 5 and all of your accessories instantly become useless. The cable you use to connect to your computer? Wall chargers? Car chargers? Car adaptors? External speakers? Docks? Clocks? Socks? Smocks? We live in a world where they’re making it possible to plug your iPod and iPhone into your refrigerator, people. But if the iPhone 5 has a different kind of connection, every one of those proprietary devices becomes instantly worthless.

So yes, Apple. Bring on the iPhone 5! Let the lines form! Let the Apple People have their nice, shiny new toy! And more power to you, if that’s your thing.

Me? I’ll be perfectly happy picking up the leftovers you don’t want anymore, and keeping my wallet a lot healthier.

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March 2023

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