Saturday, January 01, 2005

Lots of information, but still stupid

Ever send something via the US Postal Service, ExpressMail? They issue you a tracking number for your package, just like FedEx and UPS. The big difference is that the USPS web site is updated once per day, only if they feel a package has changed status.

I recently was sent a package from New York. There was no update on their site for two days - from when the package entered the system to when it was delivered.

They should be embarassed.

Apple, King of the User Interface?

If you get past your euphoria after unwrapping your new iPod, did you happen to notice:
  • the battery takes 5 hours to charge?
  • the date and time are wrong?
  • the unit needs to be formatted before use?
  • there's no obvious reference to formatting in the manual?
  • there's no index in the manual?
  • during formatting, there is no indication of how long it will take or when it might finish?

So, you've waited the several hours to charge and format your shiny new toy... Now, you need to tell iTunes about all your music. This is when you discover how bad the meta data in your files really is! Take the several hours to cleanup the artist and album names!

Once you're done with that, now you need to wait to download all your music. Whatever you do, don't do this wirelessly! :)

So, now you've downloaded all your music... Congrats!

Out of the box, what can you do with this new toy?
  • play by artist. If your favorite artist begins with Y, be prepared to scroll a lot!
  • play by album. Of course, you have to remember who recorded that album you own titled, "Greatest Hits".
  • by song title. Now you have a big problem if you ripped your music with the track number in the title, e.g. "01-House of Pain", because that's how they'll sort. You know, with over 5,000 songs, it won't take long to clean that up.
  • by genre. This is the from the meta data when you ripped the CD, which I believe is user-contributed. Anyone know the difference between Alternative and Alternative Rock?
  • by composer. I haven't downloaded my classical music yet, but I don't think any of my other music had this piece of meta data.
So, you pick a Genre (the most populated set) and start listening.

If you hear something you like, you can mark it with more stars (1-5).

More things you can't do from the iPod:
  • add songs to playlists
  • get back to the playlist you're using if you navigate somewhere else
  • tell what playlist you're using
If you update the meta data within iTunes, it seems to download the entire song to the iPod. You'll do this a lot while cleaning up the beta meta data from the ripping process. Why can't they checksum the audio contents and determine that the song hasn't changed?

Things that don't work well in iTunes:
  • it has autocomplete when entering artist and album names, but it doesn't limit the album choices to the known albums for this artist.
  • sync'ing just the pictures from iTunes to the iPod. In theory, you should be able to un-check all the songs (ctrl-click) in your library before syncing to have it ignore them, but iTunes crashes everytime I try this.
  • import a cd, then eject it. Insert a new disk. There's no way to refresh the song list.

Oh, here's another fun one... I finally was able to uncheck all the songs in my library without iTunes crashing. I checked the 70 songs that I had added or edited and plugged the iPod in. Can you guess what happened? It deleted the 5,000 other songs from my iPod and left me with 70 songs. Now I have to push all this data back to the iPod again! A bonus feature is that all of the ratings I had set on the iPod since my last sync were lost when it deleted the songs.

Things that actually work:
  • ratings set on the iPod make it back to iTunes.

Seems like they have a few issues to address. At least we've paid them enough money for the hardware that they won't need to have layoffs.