Monday, May 16, 2011

Why I Won't Switch to a Mac - iTunes

Get ready, rant begins in ...

I was given a new-to-me iPhone.  It was a nice gift, works "well enough" and since I do not intend to use it as a phone, I don't mind that it is an "older" phone.  iphone 3GS.   I intend to use it as a portable internet radio and an iPod.

Mind you I have an iPod, and have since 2006.  The problem is that while I've had the iPod, I have managed to avoid using iTunes.

Why I have avoided iTunes is because when I got the iPod back in 06, the software was so invasive and so heinous that I swore off of it.  There are alternatives.  I have gone ahead and installed something called "Rockbox" onto my iPod Video 30GB.  Rockbox is one of the best alternatives, and allows you full control over the look and feel, the placement of music, and even will run some software on it.  I think there is a version of Doom that will run on the thing, but I use it for the excellent equalizer and file management.  The wikipedia page for the software goes into deep detail, just consider that you're not locked into Steve Jobs' Walled Garden completely.

See, I'm A Manual Kind Of Guy.  I'm the first one to complain when someone's doing too much for me in software.  In fact, I'm not alone since there are web pages dedicated to bad autocomplete in text - which ironically usually happens on the iPhone.

Ok I've gotten the phone hooked to the cable.  I knew I had to put a copy of that near-virus iTunes onto a computer.  Why not put it on the old Mac G4 sitting in the corner that isn't really being used?  Great Idea!  It was a craigslist find and I got it free from a really nice lady in South Beach.  Putting it to use means that I'd have a reason to use it.   It has been helpful, I've used it as a server and an internet radio before I got annoyed that I couldn't hear the speakers in the front room, but it really never got to be something I heavily used.   Desktop computers in small houses in South Florida are not a good idea.   Laptops sell heavily here and I migrated onto one almost as soon as I moved here.   WAY TOO SMALL.

But I had it and finally got it started.  It runs surprisingly fast for a machine that Steve Jobs thinks is horribly obsolete.  It's just a desktop running OSX Tiger.

Tiger is the second problem - I would have to upgrade the Operating System to OSX Leopard (10.5.8). 

Remember the saying:  "There is no such thing as a free puppy"?

My free puppy of a shiny well treated iPhone is now presenting me with a choice.  Either:

  1. Upgrade the 6 year old Mac to run OSX at a cost of roughly $100 or
  2. Install iTunes on a windows machine.
I wasn't going to spend the money, this was simply going to be a handheld radio or a very light note taker.  I don't use a smart phone for a reason, and that is probably what I'll write about on another day. 

I gave in.  I have my old Daily Driver of a laptop.  It is an Acer Aspire running Windows 7.  I moved the server function off of the old Mac when I got the little HP I'm writing this from in a trade for 3 days worth of computer work in Key West.

I briefly tried to install it onto a virtual computer so I could reload it from backup but backing up my virtual computer would have taken another hour and I wasn't going to follow through with that.

First, install the software.  That was pretty simple, I surfed (with a cringe) and downloaded the dreaded software,  It wanted me to install something called Ping for social media, no thanks since I have the blogs and the websites, I'm busy enough with unpaid work. 

The software installed without a hitch. 

I plugged in the phone and that was where my fun started.  By fun I mean something akin to having my teeth drilled on without novocaine.

iTunes immediately sensed the phone, helpfully downloaded the latest updates and then presented me with its statistics.  In those statistics I had found that it had a phone number assigned.   Next step, research how to remove the SIM from the phone. 

On the iPhone, there is a teeny little hole for you to put in what I call the "Precision CD Extraction Tool".  Basically get a paperclip and bend it to fit the hole and push down lightly but firmly enough to make the SIM slide out.   The hole is next to the earphone jack on my phone.

Take the SIM out and set it on the coffee table to give to the person who gave me the phone. 

Plug it all back together and iTunes now says no phone number.  *whew* I didn't want this to become yet another "No Good Deed Goes Unpunished".

So I walked into the bedroom, got ready for the shower, and begun trying to convince the app store to download the Digitally Imported free radio app.  This was where Apple Annoyed Me ... again.

You see, the vast number of people do not use their iPhones the way I do.  I want to use it as a teeny little laptop and tiny little radio.  I don't want to pay for services or software.  I want freebies!  So now when it presented me with a window demanding personal information, I started cursing at the phone.   I did however fill in email, birthdate and year, address, and told it "None" for my credit card. 

I did not want to buy anything by accident.  They call that "Butt Buying" like when you sat on your phone and had it call your 92 year old Aunt in Lake Ronkonkomo on Long Island in New York at 2AM.

Sorry Betty, I will make sure it's locked!

After I keyed all of this in, slowly since I am not used to the whole soft keyboard experience (I'm a touch typist), it told me that my password MUST have one capital letter.  Great, "Annoyance number 10" means that I have now a NEW password to remember.   Write that one down and put it on a sticky pad under the server laptop...

It then created an account with Big Brother Apple and told me to go to the email account I gave it in the set up for a link to create the account.

I yelled at the software, the phone, and tossed it onto the bed while I climbed into the shower.

Apple, I Am NOT a Fan.

When I got out of the shower, I found the link and it effortlessly went through and validated me.  I was then able to download the DI.FM applet and now have it sitting proudly on my phone.  It is playing Trance now.

After all of that I guess I'll have to see what this thing is all about.  It does see my wifi network so I can use it as a browser and a Skype Phone.  I am one of around 20 people in the US that use Skype, and since it's purchase by Microsoft, it will most likely get more important.  It's quite good software, I use it as a voice phone and a video phone on my laptop and with a good friend (Hi Carter!) we created a one of a kind business between here, the Delaware Shore, Philly and New York.  Great experience being a CIO out of my living room I will say.

Oh and the phone?   It works well enough.  I just need to tilt it to the side so everything is just a little bit bigger!

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