Wednesday, May 27, 2009

my wife served me the Apple cult Kool-Aid, and I think i'm gonna like it

they say that parenting is its own reward, but my lovely wife and son very nicely and generously decided to enrich me further yesterday with the gift of a shiny new iPod Touch.

this brings to an end the long and arduous timeline of me every so often saying aloud "you know, i think i'd like a portable music player for my car rides / office work / toilet time"

this is my first product ownership experience with the iLifestyle so enthusiastically endorsed by my good friend and fellow blogger Steven and i think it will be a good one after i slog through the maddening swampy morass that is digital music management - file formats, libraries, etc.

about half a decade back i had a bad experience with iTunes; it ran slow on my computer at the time (still isn't a lightning-fast app on our new laptop) so i opted primarily to listen to music through Win Media Player which has always been a steady if somewhat dull application. at some point though i purchased a Marcy Playground album, ironically entitled MP3, that was only being sold through iTunes.

now, if the album format had actually been MP3s that would have been peachy because Win Media Player can play MP3s; however, the album was in iTunes infamous DRM - AAC format, abbreviations which basically mean a format that could only be copied a certain number of times and which could not in any way shape or form be played on Win Media Player.

the realization that i couldn't listen to that album on my usual Win player left a sour taste in my mouth and i kept a wary distance from iTunes from then on.

well with this sharp new Apple product at my disposal, iTunes is going to be a part of my life again and in the time since we last met Apple has claimed to mend its ways by offering downloads in the new iTunes Plus format which is higher quality, isn't hampered by DRM (limited copies), and a claim that they can be played on "many other digital players".

the problem is that Win Media Player isn't among those "other" players, so if i should somewhere down the line decide to kick Apple and the iTunes scene to the curb and i made all of my subsequent music purchases in iTunes Plus format i'll either be S.O.L. or at the least have to find and go through some conversion process to fix all 11+ GB (and counting) of music into some workable format for Win Media Player.

so for now at least i think i'll be buying music from Amazon and other places that sell in the universally-accepted MP3 format.

another adoption issue i had to contend with last night was re-introducing my music collection to iTunes - you see, also some time ago Win Media Player drew me aside and said seductively, "hey why not convert your mp3s to our wma format, which is better in almost every conceivable way" (how exactly it's better i can't now recall). so i said 'sure why not' and let win media player convert all my files to .wma .

now when i pointed iTunes in the direction of my music folder so it could create my all-important iTunes library, iTunes said "WMA? well, we at Apple certainly don't associate with that kind of scum" and started converting the files to the unwanted iTunes Plus format based on default "import" options. before i could put the brakes on the process, it had already converted most of my Alice in Chains and other A - B artists.

not sure what i can do about those at this point, but i was able at least to change the 'import' option to classic MP3 and let iTunes chug overnight converting all my remaining WMA back to the MP3s that they all were originally when i first downloaded them :P

so now the worrywart in me is silently wondering if the multiple conversions are going to have a noticeable effect on sound quality, though realistically if i wasn't repelled by the sound of the converted WMAs years ago i'm probably not going to detect anything amiss with the re-converted MP3s.

lastly i think i have to come to grips with discontinuing my use of Windows' My Music folder and get with the iTunes folder; since iTunes puts copies of the files it converts into the iTunes folder, it'll probably be cleaner in the long run if i just put all of my music in there.

lingering questions remain, such as the fact that i haven't yet found in iTunes any feature like the "monitor folder" feature in Win Media Player that periodically looks at your music folder and adds any new items found to your "library" (i.e. available songs for playlists); so far it looks like you have to manually tell iTunes every time you add new music to your folder?

and so it goes; the happiness of receiving a cool gift from my terrific wife, only marred slightly by my neurotic nature with regard to technology :)

1 comment:

Karyn said...

I recently inherited an iTouch device and have spent most of an afternoon figuring out how to download and sync my machines. BTW, if you do one day want to convert back to Win Media Player, use "Noteburner" software to "burn" the iTunes (MP4s) to chnage them into MP3s. It has worked beautifully with April's MP3 player.