WWDC 2014 | OS X Aqua – The End of Era

Aqua Blue Apple
Yesterday marked the end of an era.  OS X “Aqua” interface is officially dead. Yes, it’s been phased out for A LONG time now, but there was always a sense of it within OS X.  Aqua started so bold, brash – different, than anything on the market at the time.  It was… ugly.  It became beautiful though.  It took ‘windows’ and turned the look and feel of an OS – different.  It was abrasive at first, but man, did it ever evolve to a solid, powerful, workhorse – starting with OS X 10.2.8.  I remember the first time I saw OS X along side the newly released Windows XP.  I remember it was at a CompUSA in Gaithersburg, MD.  I remember OS X was running on that infamous G4 ‘Cube’.  And hey, I liked the cube – being a Windoze fan-boi, even I noticed ‘The Cube’.
10.2.8 vs. XP was never a contest.  Windows had its claws embedded in the next generation of geeks.  OS X 10.2.8 was scoffed at by the world, minus a few ‘Mac Labs’ at Colleges, where most still ran OS 9.  No, OS X 10.2.8 was never popular.  Too many of the apps that the Mac Geeks used, ran better on OS 9.
But that interface!  Transparency!  Those icons!  And… the Dock!!  I mean, there was an application launcher that was animated?  Whaaa?!
It turned my head.  I saw, iTunes 2.  The interface was simple, AND METAL!  I wanted a Mac.  Music was and is a big part of my life, and I really wanted to use iTunes as my music manager.  I stopped laughing at the ‘Think Different’ campaign, and started drinking Steve’s Kool-Aid.  Yeah, I did.  This may be a lame reason for wanting to use a computer, but hey, I’m being honest.
I then bought a used G4 PowerMac.  I called her “Baby” (she still runs fine, by the way).  I remembered the first time I fired up Baby, and BOOM, there was that interface.  The buttons were so jelly, I wanted to eat them.  The transparency – never seen that before. The font was so beautiful. The icons were like steak – and freaking brushed metal was my music player.  It was a former art-boy turned geek masterpiece.
OS X only grew more mature and refined as time went.  OS X “Panther” made the classic “Apple” stripes subtle vs. IN YOUR FACE, and the brushed aluminum was extended to ‘Carbon’ apps only.  Panther was the first time OS X was serious.  Serious applications really started to support OS X.  The remaining bugs that 10.2.8 squashed, died. Finder became usable.
Over the years OS X has gotten only better IMO.  Refinement after refinement, OS X is serious.  It has surpassed Windows as the ‘standard’.  Now, if people can afford a Mac, they buy OS X – no longer a PC.  To be fair, the PC has only gotten better too, but we don’t have parties for ‘the next version of Windows’. Instead, we have ‘I hope they don’t screw Windows up’ days.  Sadly, they took the fantastic Windows 7 and “screwed it up”.  Sorry.  But us OS X-ers still have “Release Day”, where we look forward to the next version.  This is 100% backed up by adoption stats.  XP anyone?
Now, OS X is finally yesterday.  My time as the young, budding, geek, has come to a close.  Today OS 10 is touted, and the interface is akin to iOS 7.  To many this will be a welcome change.  The features touted on the web page and during today’s WWDC look great.  I personally can’t wait to have OS 10.10 Yosemite.  Like – I really can’t wait.  It’s the fresh desktop UI we’ve been waiting for.  It’s the continuation of the love relationship of iOS and OS 10.  The features being touted is what Windows 8 should have been.  The marriage between mobile and desktop.But I can’t help but to think, this isn’t Steve’s OS X.  This is Tim’s OS 10.  I think this is the first time I heard “OS 10″ than I did “OS X”, by everyone on the stage.  My heyday growing up with a humbler Steve, and looking forward to the next “Aqua Wallpaper”, is 100% over.  That iconic interface is gone.  And I mean 100% gone.  This is the next generation’s Mac OS… and I’m fine with that. I really am.  But I will admit, I’m a little sad.
At least I can say “I was there at the beginning” of Apple’s rise from the ashes.  I was there at all the important podcasts.  I was there when their stock hit $40+ for the first time in a LONG time.  I was there buying the “Mac Addict” magazines just to get a glimpse and write up of the next OS X.  Heh, one of my favorite geek memories was during a layover in Atlanta, GA coming back from my honeymoon.  ”Mac Addict” release their “September 2008″ issue with a preview of OS X “Tiger” on the cover.  With my sick and sleeping newly-wed wife beside me, I got up and bought that issue.
I still have it.  I look at it from time time.  The menu bar was glossy?  Whaaaa?!
R.I.P. Aqua.

Apple’s September (Not To Remember) Event

apple invite september

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I will just come right out and say it: Apple’s 2013 “September Event” was the most boring, typical, ‘Apple cookie-cutter’ of an event, ever. It could not have been worse.

Apple has not done anything different with their keynotes for three years now, and it is absolutely sad. The keynotes were the keynotes, because it was STEVE JOBS. Move on from that. Move on from that because the remaining cast sucks at it. Without Steve to open, announce, and close, things are horrible. It is just plain sad because they try so hard to keep that “Steve Keynote feel”. Heck, I’d take a Ballmer moment at anytime now.

I can’t believe I just said that.

The ‘script’ that Steve was able to make entertaining, or believable (i.e. the ‘Steve distortion field’), does not work under Tim Cook and company. The low lights, the same-exact-presentation of numbers, ‘facts’, and hype, really only worked to a point. IMO, that point was when Apple didn’t have near the competition it has now. It worked for Steve because he was the tech celebrity, prodigal son of the underdog tech company talking about crazy stats and statements. Remember “Flash is dead?”.  :)

Yes, yes it is.

But Apple isn’t the underdog in the post PC world now… they’re the top dog.  Number 1 or Number 2, depending on the week and the tech journalist.

Tim and company need to change the keynote m.o.

The only way you can look at this latest Apple yawn-fest is to look at them with no expectations. It’s kinda hard now though when the tech journalists “wag the tech-dog” so bad months prior to. With this being said, I will try to remove my expectations. I am going to try and look at this from a logical, neutral POV.

Apple discontinued the ‘carrying of the former product’, or former iPhone model, and instead gave us a huge presentation why the former iPhone is going to be great in plastic. This was the most overhyped product launch event Apple has ever done. It is ‘literally’ an iPhone 5 in a plastic shell. B… F… D.

tim cook iphone 5c colors

Look, I get it, an iPhone 5 that feels like an iPhone 3GS. That’s cool… it’s a smaller Galaxy S3, or a Nokia Windows 8 phone. Why in the world spend 30% or more of the event discussing this? It’s an iPhone 5 in a colorful package. Colors.

Dare I say it, Steve would not have agreed with this.

Okay, so Apple needs something “fun” to entertain other markets that have money (China). I get that, but Steve would have insisted they offer a mute color, like black and grey to the line up. What if I wanted to get a less expensive iPhone 5 this year? My color choices, (which they made a big deal about) are colors not even found in a Crayola box, but the ones from shirts from George Michael concerts from the ’80′s. C’mon, the only safe color for a 36 year-old dude in the 5C class is white. I want black. Thus, I think this is a fail for Apple. Heck, they could have marketed it along with the new “Darth” Mac Pros. Personally, I am sad that I will not be able to get a ‘slate black’ iPhone now. But I could get a yellow one! Seriously. WTH.

The 5C is an iPhone 5 in a 3GS feeling plastic case targeting kids that like bright colors. And as much as that is not a bad thing, (and as cool as it may be to see the technology behind making a plastic case), it is not worth more than a quarter of the stage time it got during the revealing parts of the event. When we got to see a video of a robot making the plastic case in a plastic mold (for last year’s phone) and being told how awesome that plastic case is, that was the moment when I realized how ridiculous the hype I was hearing was. No, really… a robot, filling a mold with plastic… and that was supposed to be ‘amazing’. We’ve been doing that since 19-forever. To actually spend the money and effort to make a video, and then have a script talking about the design of last year’s phone in a plastic case… and… oh well…  I just have to stop. I am losing respect for Apple.

I can imagine what Apple’s board room was like:

“What do we have this year?”

{crickets}

“Nothing? Okay… show a robot making a plastic case for the iPhone 5″!

Getting away from the presentation and focal points and on the the actual iPhone 5S itself, the device is actually sort of exciting. I was kind of floored by the ‘S’ specs, and I know many are asking the logical question… “Who needs a freaking 64 bit processor in a ‘phone’”? ANSWER: ”This Guy”!

iphone 5s 64 bitAgain, away from the presentation and focal points, Apple literally just ran another year ahead with technical specifications – all the while throwing colorful (but not black!) plastic duds at them in their wake. In my opinion, having a 64 bit processor in a phone is complete overkill. There are no apps that will utilize it 100%, and that’s really because there’s not enough RAM in an iPhone to make a 64 bit hum. What gets me excited though, is having a 64 bit processor in an iPad (the “PC Killer”). Yeah, an iPad can use a 64 bit processor and some nice RAM to go along with it. But what I think is going to happen…and call me crazy… I think the Macbook Airs are going to receive a processor like this in the years to come. And as much as I will not like the draw away from the industry standard Intel processor, (thus killing the major uses of VM’s in OS X), I can see Apple doing this.

If I have to be honest here…I wish this ’64 bit processor’ was on a tablet with 4+GB of RAM, along with an OS with apps that will actually use it.

iphone 5 fingerprintThe new finger print technology was delivered really well. Really well. It was the only thing that made me even consider upgrading my phone. It was the first thing I heard that made me say “I gotta have a 5S”. I really enjoyed the technical presentation behind such a small feature. Being a security guy in tech, I agree with Phil’s statement behind passwords. Most peeps don’t use them or have REALLY weak ones (thus defeating the point of having one to begin with). Enforcing that the person to use the Fingerprint scanner through the use of a MDM or something, interests me greatly. I am left wondering just how good and fast that “Touch ID” technology is. I remember the Android ATRIX 4G’s fingerprint scanner worked, but it was clunky and only worked if you did it ‘just right’. I watched many a people swipe their fingers over and over to ‘log into’ their ATRIX. By that time, my “weak password” and I were already in my phone. Apple touts Touch ID will work in 360 degrees – so I want to see it.

The new camera is as always, awesome. This is one area of technology that really have a good handle on… digital photography. It used to make me sick when someone bragged about having an Android phone with a 12, 15+ megapixel camera, when real digital photography is all about the light sensor in the camera – and then the lens taking that photo. Photography itself is all about light. If your lens sucks with letting light in (and then the digital sensor not being able to manipulate the white balance), who cares how big your megapixel count is? You can easily brag about having a 41 megapixel camera (phone), but that light sensor and your lens better be amazingly awesome – or you’re bragging about taking really big horrible pictures that waste your hard drive space. The iPhone 4, 5, etc., cameras have ALWAYS been the best in the market for very good reasons.

What’s the number one camera used on Flickr? Wait for it… an iPhone.

Lastly, I’ll have to wait to see the new camera flash to believe it. Currently, I turn my flash off – because flash is only worthwhile if you have a defuser or can bounce the flash off of an object. Flash (when used straight-on) kills any picture – it doesn’t matter what camera you use. It could be a $3k camera… doesn’t matter… if you use flash straight on, you’re a photo-taking-poser. Oh, I’ve met quite a few of them in the last five years. If I have to use flash for a picture, I won’t take the picture. It’s a waste. So if Apple really did come up with a flash “not even professional cameras can do”, call me skeptical. Besides, I think a statement like that only Steve could pull off. And by the time this technology was discussed during a “Steve Keynote”, he already would have sucked me into his reality distortion field.

One last thing… RIP slate black iPhone. You were probably killed because you couldn’t hang with the scratches – but you were beautiful out of the box. I am still enjoying your slate blackness on my iPad Mini (which I baby in a nice black leather case, because you suck so bad against the mighty scratch). But seriously… you were hawt. Ah well, at least I’ll have your half-breed brother from planet Zelex, “Space Grey”.

Alas, we’re at the end of the show and this piece. The presentation is now over, and it was not enough for me. iOS 7 is enough of an upgrade for my iPhone 4S – which I still love. At this point, I am fine holding out for an iPhone 6 or 6S.

A Review of Apple’s WWDC 2013

Apple WWDC 2013
Last week at Apple’s WorldWide Developer’s Conference, the company announced some cool changes and additions to its lineup. iOS 7, iRadio and new Mac Pros all hit the stage, so here’s my take on what went down.

I’ll start with iOS 7 – which made massive, almost shocking, visual changes. But did they introduce anything “new”? Not really. Just another evolution of iOS, or more touting of fluff features that no one will use. There’s some nice new eye-candy features, but nothing mind-blowing IMO.

So what would have been mind-blowing? User accounts, true multi-tasking, side-by-side apps, maybe a hardware dock to dock it up, wireless charging, better syncing features, better battery usage because the OS is so slim and sexy.

The only real new ‘feature’ is background usage, or how the OS utilizes apps that are in the background, is nicer, but it’s still not true multi-tasking (like Blackberry and now Android 4.1). They made massive upgrades to the stock camera app and that’s real nice, so yeah, I like that.

One big thing is that there’s no iOS 7 love for iPads… yet. iOS 7 ships in the fall, which means I can’t test iOS 7 out on iPad for a bit. That’s BS. I’m sorry, but iOS 7 beta should be available for iPads, ‘today’ like the iPhone’s is. Why? Because the iPad is supposed to be this great mobile device slayer-of-traditional-PCs and they don’t have its new OS beta, filled with a bunch of new “features” (

Apple iradio WWDCNext up is something I really did like… the introduction of iRadio!!! And the price!? FREE! (with ads) and FREE with an iTunes Match account which has no ads, (25 bucks a year). That’s just huge. I like how Siri is bigger, integrates with iRadio, and hopefully she’s better. As documented in other pieces on this blog, I have an iTunes Match account… and I’ll certainly be enjoying this.

Now on to the new Mac Pro… and finally, they brought out a new form factor. After ALL THESE YEARS they bring out a new form factor and… it’s BS. What in the hell were they thinking here? I mean, it’s almost like Apple said, “G4 Cube, meet the Intel Cylinder”. HA… BS. And if that wasn’t enough, there’s something else that really gets to me about this. It’s not the form factor, or its guts, but it’s what it doesn’t offer. If you want to “expand” your ‘tower’ or ‘desktop’, you have to go ‘external’ peripherals. BULL. SH*T.

Apple new mac pro WWDCOkay, so tell me again what is the difference between the new Mac Pro and a Mac Mini, other than massive video and processor etc.? Nothing. I mean that’s a silly statement sure (the hardware pales in comparison), but geeks like ‘desktops’ because you can expand them and add upgrades over time. This new cylinder is garbage. Apple is forcing me to buy an extremely limited and expensive ‘Thunderbolt’ connected external devices to match the current internal speeds of these said devices. BULL. SH*T.

That brings the score to: Design, 1 – Useful Needs of the Consumer, 0.

It is the exact same crap they pulled with the iMac, etc.

At this point, your best bet is a MacBook Pro or a MacBook Air (at least with the Air you know you’re buying a throw-away laptop). I guess their angle is that they took the ‘traditional’ desktop and made it (nothing but) a Mac Mini on steroids. What really happened was that they took the ‘PC’ and killed its form factor, neutering any internal geek love. The iPad didn’t kill the PC, Apple just did. Now if I want to upgrade, I have to build it at checkout, and that is going to be über $$.

Speaking of their notebook line, I LOVE the MacBook Air I have. I absolutely love it. The new MacBook Airs will finally be on the cutting edge, shipping with the brand spanking new Haswell chipset from Intel. This is huge. If I were to own a new Mac, for my dwindling usage of a ‘PC’, I’d own a phat new MacBook Air, hands down.

OVERALL… I’d say it was a half-decent event. I give them a solid ‘B’ today – ‘B’ for, yup… Bullsh*t. I’m sure some out there might still wonder, “Why so harsh, Aaron?” Well, I’ll tell ya. It is because they are the second richest company on the planet, and all they gave me today was a new UI for stock apps on my iPhone and iPad. BFD.

Apple iOS 7 WWDCI mean, this new interface must be the greatest thing in the world to develop. I mean, it must be the hardest most expensive thing in the world to have done – and not have done for the iPad (today). I mean, truly a new UI borrowing features from existing competitive companies, introducing new ‘features’ that have been around for years with other phones, and hacks, etc., must have been so expensive to develop – OF COURSE that’s all we get! Cupertino… start YOUR copiers. At least Redmond designed something different (sucks, but different).

Apple Inc. is the richest tech company in the world, and Google (bless their privacy stealing, sometimes pathetic apps, and wasteful, black hearts) are running circles around them. Why can’t we have built-in ad blocking in the new Safari? (I know why BTW) Why can’t OS X have received a UI overhaul to match iOS 7? Oh, because they needed ALL their resources on iOS… bullsh*t. Developers have redesigned UIs for years now (I used to for both Windows and OS X) and it’s not ‘that’ hard.

Apple is the richest tech company in the world… how about they hire more people if this is all they can put out?

Finally, Apple Adds Two-Factor Authentication to Apple ID

phone security

Just a quick note on something Apple was actually behind on…

Google has had two-factor authorization for a little while now, so Apple finally got up to speed with it. Here’s the “how-to”:

 

I just did this for both of my Apple accounts (iTunes & iCloud), as a little more security is never a bad thing.

The key to take away is… you get  a recovery number. So… DO NOT LOSE THIS NUMBER… or else :)

In my opinion, the entire world should move towards two-factor authentication.

This ends today’s public service announcement.

My Music Library Refresh with iTunes Match – Part Four

Apple iTunesFinally… weeks later – and with the re-ripping of a couple of The Mavericks CDs I still needed… I’m done.

Some Stats:
- when I started, I had 5,000+ songs less than 256bit
- now that I’m finished, I have 250+ songs less than 256bit

- when I started, I had 3,000+ songs less than 256 AND were ‘matched’ in iTunes Match service
- now that I’m finished, I have 7 songs less than 256 and still matched by iTunes Match service

- I downloaded approximately 3,000 songs from iTunes Match service to replace lower grade/quality songs

Now on to what I learned over the course of the process…

The Bad
- Some of the finite details do not work. List play count from an iOS device no longer syncs up with your library, this bothers me greatly.
- I would never pay monthly for this service. At 25 bucks a year, or even 50 bucks a year, I can handle it. It it was a 100% flawless service. Okay, so perhaps monthly (at a good rate), I might consider it.
- For whatever reason, some of the songs that are in the iTunes catalog will not “match” the songs in your library – therefore you can’t download it at a higher bitrate… but upload it. Dumb.

The Neutral
- Get your library in pristine condition prior to signing up. It will make everything so much easier.
- The songs from iTunes, though DRM free, still have your account associated with it in the metadata.
- The finite details with iTunes Match can be annoying as you’re trying to get things up and ‘perfect’, thus why I brought up the first point in this section

The Good
- If you love music, the service as a whole is indispensable.
- Having a library above 192 bit, I never thought it would be that much better. It is, in a big way, IMO. I hear things in songs I haven’t heard before.
- It completely revamped my music. Or another way of putting it – it made my investment in music worth more.
- The songs from iTunes, downloaded, are of MUCH better/higher quality than the ones that had previously.
- (I can only state this since I used Verizon) Even with 1 bar of 3G, or no 3G, iTunes Match still works! It’s… amazing.

Conclusion

frames fitzcarraldo albumDoing all of this really helped me get almost 9,000 songs in order. I found that I had a lot of duplicate titles from various songs that were on an albums – so those could be deleted. The same goes for some of the songs that I simply don’t listen to anymore (or never have). Old “bootlegs” of songs that I was desperate for at that time (of rather horrible quality in comparison to the rest of the library) are gone. With pretty much everything at >256, it easily exposes lesser quality music. I’m over 8,800 songs now, so getting rid of 200 songs was worthwhile, IMO.

Now my library is a tight, fit, streamlined, library of music. No “crap”, horrible bootlegs, songs never listened to / never gonna listen to, etc. Everything in there has a purpose. Songs, albums, metadata have been updated, broken track listings fixed. It’s fit! It can easily bench press 400 pounds! :)

To handle almost 4,000 new files of bigger size, I also had to clean my hard drive. Having to clean it turned out to be a plus. At the start, I was really low on space (5GB) – but now I have a good 44GB left after all is done.

Even my wife loves this service, as it has completely changed the way she listens to music. It took her 32GB iPhone and gave her a music library of 88GB, and now she can’t live without it. In addition to her phone, her 16GB iPad can now be used as a radio. This is new for her, as her iPad has now been taken to a new level of cool.

Fun tidbit… I had a modest collection of The Frames’ music but I didn’t know some of the B-sides that I had at really low quality were matched. I downloaded them with iTunes Match, and BANG! Then, I found out they re-released their first three albums remastered.  I then bought the second album (as it had a rare song on it – as in it was part of the ‘re-release’).  I only ever had a sucky 128 bit version of it (unmatched)… and wow… that song was awesome and it completely changed the entire album for the better.

As you can probably tell by now, I can just go on and on with this.

So to wrap it up, if I was asked “Is iTunes Match worth the trouble?” –  I’d say a very resounding… “YES… very much so. Especially at 25 bucks”.

This concludes the fourth installment of My Music Library Refresh Series reports, but stay tuned over the coming weeks/months for more thoughts on this continuing experience. If you missed the first three parts of the series, have a look at them here: iTunes Match Part OneiTunes Match Part Two, & iTunes Match Part Three.

My Music Library Refresh with iTunes Match – Part Three

Well, the process is still a-kickin’.

beatles music coverThe more I do this, the more I see that some digital music is simply not the same as other digital music. Taking it a step further, some digital albums are not the same. This is because of various reasons. For example: the actual recording process, the track order, or the quality of the music from start to finish. Therefore, I am actually rating my music now too as I go. If I see a song or album that was not rated, I am taking the time to rate them accordingly to my opinion of my music. Since they’re on my hard drive, (as I have deleted other files I do not need), it is safe to assume that even a “one star” album/song is something that will still be to my liking. I also have about five albums that are personal favorites that simply can’t be messed with. And lastly, I have albums or a music collection that is beyond a rating – the Beatles.

Therefore, my rating process will look like this:

1-3 stars @ 256.
4-5 stars @ 320.
Top 5 or 10 albums (to me) @ Apple Lossless.

This method should position me permanently for the future, as compression rates have not changed since the 90s – and they still top out at 320. Anything more than 320 (Apple Lossless or 100% uncompressed) will never change because it’s just math at that point. It just can’t get any higher than uncompressed.

mavericks-it-time-musicAs far as the re-ripping goes, I’m now up to the ‘M’s’ of my library as I just finished my Mavericks collection.

By the way… not to sound like an Apple fanboy, but iTunes Match is great. I just can not express this enough. So far, I’ve had no issues with the service – even in areas where my mobile reception is poor. To me, the service still working as well as it does with limited mobile reception is huge. It may be simply a testimony of Verizon’s awesomeness, I dunno. I have always received awesome throughput with Verizon at one bar. So at this point, iTunes Match is a huge deal to me.

Taking the time to bump up the quality and updating metadata as I go extends the power of my 83.65GB music library and it makes iTunes Genius that much smarter. To an audiophile like me, it’s indispensable. In other words, I now depend on this service.

Yes, it didn’t take long for me to do so. That more than anything should speak volumes of iTunes Match. If you have great music, then this is a service worth 25 bucks a year.

This concludes today’s report, but there’s more to come. Stay tuned over the coming days for more of my Music Library Refresh Experience. If you missed the first two parts of the series, have a look at both iTunes Match Part One and iTunes Match Part Two.

My Music Library Refresh with iTunes Match – Part Two

After a lot of time in front of my Mac, I have just finished the first pass of the iTunes Match downloads. My “work” went from 4,000+ songs down to 1,500+.

That’s a lot of downloads throughout the course of the day.  The rest will be re-ripping CDs (1,500+ songs). Also… I’ve SMASHED my hard drive space. The good news is that I’m pruning things – removing a lot of duplicate songs and albums/songs not worthy of my hard drive or cloud space. So I’m managing as I go. BUT… it’s coming along. Once this is over with, I’ll be set for a long time.

My First Hurdle

drm music cdI’m a little shocked, actually. It would appear that ‘back in the day’ there was DRM protection burned into music CDs. The ‘Mac’ (or OS X) didn’t care back then and did its thing to rip the audio from the CD.

Now, a decade later (as the music CD is now 10 years old), OS X actually “respects” DRMed music CDs! I actually had to use Windows Media Player to rip the music (in WAV format of course).  I’ll take that WAV file and convert it to Apple’s 320 Bitrate.

The funny thing is, I used my Mac to rip this music back in the day at 192. It had no problems then. Now, OS X just ejects the disk – it doesn’t even mount. This is rather unbelievable and disturbing. Disturbing that Apple, not Microsoft, is respecting DRM for once…? Wow.

An Update On Where I’m At Now

All of the music I have that is not on CD has been re-downloaded by iTunes for “free”. All of the music that is not >256 and on CD is a pain in the arse. This is mainly because re-ripping is a slow process. Since I have a lot of CDs that are <256… it’s going to take a while.

I also continue to prune my hard drive. I have freed up space by getting rid of music I simply do not listen to anymore. I’ve deleted probably 100+ songs. I have also made the decision that any album that I deem to be “good” but not “great” will either be re-ripped at 256 or simply downloaded via iTunes Match were applicable. This will speed things up.

So far, I can conclude the following:

icloud music library1. If you’re going to do this, get your library as much in order as possible before starting. Therefore, prune your collection for unwanted material and get your files in order.
2. Downloading from iTunes is fast and easy… and kinda fun.
3. Any song that is not found in the iTunes catalog is uploaded to iCloud, so make sure all of the metadata is as accurate as possible.
4. iTunes Match is not very customizable. Therefore, once you hit ‘go’… you’re off to the races.

Current Thoughts

I’m quite proud of my music library and I’ve felt this way since 2004. It’s been this way because of the iPod, and eventually it paid off BIG TIME when ‘Genius Playlists’ came to light. But my library is huge, and since 2004 it has become slightly unwound. I am tightening it back up with higher quality music files and optimized metadata. I have found that pruning what you don’t listen to or care about anymore is very important. The overall process is like making your music library get into shape. It’s going to be slow at first, but the payoff will be huge.

iTunes Match is best served with a tight library. Since it’s designed to work with a tight music buying ecosystem (iTunes Store), iTunes Match is flawless. Since I have a vast music collection and more than the iTunes Store catalog, it’s this part in particular that must be tight before clicking ‘go’.

Personally, I kinda like doing this stuff. It really is flexing your hard drive space which happens to be a big source of entertainment – and the payoff is just too great. All you have to do is it once, then the rest is cake. Well… maybe again a decade later.

After everything so far, do I recommend that iTunes music lovers go through this process?
Absolutely. Yes. Do it.

Take control of your music and hard work.

This concludes today’s report, but there’s more to come. Stay tuned over the coming days for more of my Music Library Refresh Experience.


My Music Library Refresh with iTunes Match – Part One

I recently signed up for iTunes Match so I could update all the music in my library that is less than 256 bitrate. Being the perfectionist that I am when it comes to music, this is the only way to go. This idea exposed me to the fact that a lot of music needed to be re-ripped, as I used to rip my CDs at 192 back in the day. So, for all of the music that I own on CD, I had to re-rip back into iTunes at 320. For all of the music that has been downloaded previously lower than 256, I had to use iTunes Match to download. This process will be both fun and educational, so I figured I’d keep track of what I find and share it here on Vegau’s Tech Blog.

And so, the documentation of my experience begins…

itunes-match

This is going to be almost as much work as it was back in my first music library refresh back in 2004. Now, eight years later, and approximately 60GBs more music/files, it’s going to be time-consuming. So far I’m in the letter ‘C’ in my library.

Before I go any further, I’ll give a brief set of thoughts behind the iTunes Match service. iTunes Match, when it works (I’ve had no failure BTW), works awesomely and is perfect for a music-lovin’ guy like me. With it enabled on my iPhone, I now have iTunes Genius playlists, (not to be confused with regular Genius playlists). To me… this is the ultimate awesome.

I approach my music just like I do my movies – I only own it if it’s worth my money and hard drive space. Period. With iTunes Genius playlists, I literally have a radio station of music genres, with ALL with MY music (not just 16 or 20Gbs worth locally). I have no idea what is coming on, but chances are, I’ll like it because I own it. To me, this is the ultimate in music bliss and well-worth the price of 25 bucks a year. This is what I am most stoked about, hands down.

verizon lte towerAgain, Verizon delivers. Although their network is not as fast as AT&T’s, it’s definitely more reliable. It’s this reliability that allows for a flawless iTunes Match experience whilst traveling. See… this isn’t just my “local” music… it’s my entire 80GB music library. Since I don’t listen to 80GBs of music at a time, I didn’t think I’d care about having such a large library.

I probably listen to 35GB of my music, but having all 80GB on a Genius Playlist is pure perfection. I just increased my library of Genius pulling stock 55% overnight. I’m not talking about iTunes selecting “radio hits” from my library – I’m talking deep cuts off of albums. This… this is awesome. The combination of radio singles and deep cuts by similar artists- not in my local iPhone library – is the ultimate. To sum up, I have never had a love affair like I do today with my music. I compare it to my iPod Touch back in 2008.

When it came to setting up iTunes Match, it took three solid days of it just running in the background. By day two I thought something was wrong. I stopped it, rebooted my Mac several times, etc.  In the end, nothing worked but time. I read online in a plethora of places about many people having the same issues – so all it took was time… and that’s completely fine by me.

Now that all the music is scanned and “matched”, I can delete any song and redownload it from iTunes at DRM free, 256Bit. I set up a Smart Playlist (luckily, more on that later), with it showing my library with less than 256 bit music, that is “matched”. I’ve been deleting those songs, and then redownloading them with absolutely no issues whatsoever.

The only issue I’ve had so far is that Smart Playlists don’t work all the time. THIS pisses me off. I never thought turning on a function would break another here in Apple’s “MacLand”.  It did though – and apparently it’s a known issue in the community. Smart Playlists still work – it’s just that “new” Smart Playlists sometimes don’t work. I wish I had known this beforehand, but I’ll keep learning as I go.

That’s my initial report. Stay tuned over the coming days for more of my Music Library Refresh Experience.


iPad Mini Retina Display Could Add 30% To Total Parts Cost

ipad miniAccording to a recent report, adding a Retina Display to the iPad mini could add 30% to Apple’s total parts cost. Like the original iPad, however, I think the Mini is two years away from Retina. Also, (like I said about the iPad with Retina), I don’t really care unless the weight is the same or lighter than the current model AND the thickness remains the same or thinner. It is all about size, not the display… that is, even if they did bring it to market this year.

Now that I have switched to a Mini, do I miss a sexy Retina display on an iPad? Yes, but not nearly as much as you would think. The iPad Mini’s display is just fine in comparison, for now – although I do think Apple can bring in a better display (one akin to the Nexus 7). I also believe the big mods this year will be a faster processor, hard drive space (@128GB), and (hopefully) more RAM. These are all specs I would gladly upgrade to, but I won’t.

In my opinion, the Mini IS the iPad to get – even right now, without the Retina. Give me a Retina, but refuse to compromise on size and weight, as the size and weight is the Mini’s biggest advantage.

New Mobile OS’s Will Be A Future Trend

google android flawEarlier this month, a story surfaced about Google asking journalists to tone down the story of a massive Google Play security flaw.

Personally, I am not surprised since this has been going on since 2008. This is yet another reason why I loathe anything Android (and a good chunk of Google, in general).
This is very serious stuff, and I feel like it falls on deaf ears when I bring it up. My mind just cannot comprehend the populous’ decision to purposely lose their privacy and be a money-making whore for a faceless company.

It is of my opinion that in the coming years, Google will start experiencing the same backlash much like Apple is now.  Android has reached its saturation point (similar to Apple’s iOS) and other ecosystems beyond Android and iOS will be coming. Samsung (the biggest Android provider) is starting the switch with its Tizen OS. I was a tad shocked to see Samsung moving off of Android and starting their own, but it makes sense when it comes down to business. In the years to come, I foresee more hardware companies that will opt to go in this same direction.