2005-10-15

iPod Nano and iTunes

You've probably heard at least some of the hype about the iPod Nano, very small, very light, feature-full little beasty. Exceedingly popular, with the whole of Hong Kong seemingly sold out as soon as they got them for at least one month after the iPod Nano debut. Joy. Well yes, the iPod Nano is all that but this device can also keep you slim and help you run faster and further. "Yeah right." you say. Well in my case at least, this is what I am seeing happen. I really didn't think I was going to get the Nano, but the idea kept creeping into my head that it was a very cool thing to have AND that if I got one then I would run every day for > 30mins. So I made a deal with myself that this would indeed be the case. So far so good. I also noticed that I run the entire loop faster while listening to music. I don't particularly know why, perhaps the music is distraction from the pain. I am not sure that ignoring pain is a good thing as your body probably has a good reason to try and slow you down with pain. I know that I used to ignore pain when swimming and would often stop, and suddenly realise that I had over done the exercise, and have to rush off to chuck up. No hurling with the iPod so far tho. We'll see what happens.

The iPod came with USB cable, the iPod, earphones, two pairs of earphone covers, some Apple stickers, CD of software, misc bits of paper, and a tiny slip of a manual that gives the barest operating essentials.

The software to talk to the iPod is iTunes (OSX & Windows). The iPod came with a CD containing iTunes 4.5, which after installing, wanted to upgrade to version 5, and then the next day version 6 was released ... another upgrade.

iTunes has a lot going for it, but it also has so much crap that I want to punch the designer in the face very hard.

I like the 5 star rating system. Genre is a good idea although some songs can belong to a couple genres ... I don't really use genre much anyway. Create a couple playlists and you can get around that problem. I created a playlist called "Up" and "Mellow" which allows me to suit my mood.

Copying of music to iTunes file structure sounds nice, but duplicates your music files. Sure I could have removed the originals ... but what perversion does iTunes perform on my files, and I like my music in my current folder structure, I don't really want Apple's idea of a folder structure imposed on me. Fortunately you can tell iTunes NOT to do this.

iTunes doesn't understand when you re-import a whole folder that you might have the same file appearing twice. So if I import "As Is - Ani Difranco.mp3", give it a rating, play it, etc, then I import the exact same file (from the same folder/name) I get another reference in iTunes. iTunes does not understand that both references it has in its listing are pointing to the exact same file. Stupidity. You can ask iTunes to show the duplicates and manually delete the doubles, but what a pain. I am sure there is a script out there that will do it for you.

There is a lot of complaining on the forums about all sorts of things, but one item that seemed to concern a number of people is that if you are a one computer family and have multiple iPods then you're in a spot of bother, you have to keep all the songs together and manually update your iPod. No way to have multiple libraries and auto-synching ... as far as I can tell.

I love podcasts, particularly as my favourite informative radio station "Radio National" keeps all the good programs as podcasts. Rocking very much! There are so many free podcasts that you can spend a good deal of time just listening to whatever it is that interests you. iTunes to subscribe to these podcasts very easily. Then whenever you plug your iPod in to charge via the USB cable, iTunes starts up, it will download the latest podcasts and update your iPod with them. Yeah!

Image hosted by Photobucket.comSeems everyone gets the urge to have their own podcast ... so there are a lot of podcasts available that are just people with opinions talking. Hmmm. You know how most opinionated people should shut the hell up ... well podcasts are an outlet for them. Kinda like blogs. Oh. Hell. Well there are plenty of excellent commercial and independant podcasts that are well worth listening to. Check out the top 50.

I pretty quickly encountered a problem with the podcast files. I didn't want all the podcasts on my iPod, but I did want to keep them on my computer and in iTunes. How do I delete them off the iPod while keeping them in iTunes. Sounded simple enough. I though the tick boxes next to the name on the libraries list would do it, and although it doesn't work by default, this is exactly what you neeed to do.

I downloaded a "The Stanford Soundtrack", over 70 tracks free. 40 were crap. But the deal is that it is my first iTunes music download. Nice. iTunes made a nice playlist. I went through, listened to them all, ticked five of them as pod-worthy then cleared the 40 that weren't worth keeping on the hard drive. The problem is that I cleared them from the play list, but this did NOT delete them from the system, I had to delete them from the library. Bugger.

Delete music from your iPod

To delete music from your iPod Nano while keeping it in your iTunes list AND not having to do everything manually (drag and drop), you can tell iTunes to "Only sync checked items" by clicking on your iPod under "DEVICES" and ticking the checkbox "Only sync checked items". Which means if the little check box is NOT ticked then the song will be removed from your iPod. You have to do this for both music and podcasts or itunes will copy the podcasts anyway. Then Sync (see below)

Alternatively, you can click on the iPod name under "Devices" then click on the "Music" tab. Then select which Playlists you want on your ipod. I use this method, having the playlists "My Top Rated" and "Recently Added" checked. "My Top Rated" is a smart playlist with everything I rate 4 stars or more which presumes that you have gone through iTunes and rated at least your favourite songs. Then Sync (see below)

If you go the "Only synch checked items" route then a quick and easy way to select songs is to sort by your rating (in the left panel, under LIBRARY click on "Music", then to sort click on the column title "My Rating") and tick all of the rating 4 and rating 5 songs (to quickly check all the boxes you can click on the first song, scroll down, then hold down the shift key, click on the last song, release the shift key, then right-click (or Ctrl+Click) on any selected song and from the menu that will pop up you click on "Check Selection"). This assumes you have taken the time to go through your collection and rate everything; which is well worth your time, use the software to its max and you will get the most out of it.

Note that checking a song will not automatically place it on the iPod straight away, you either have to (A) Under "DEVICES" right click on the iPod and select "Sync" (B) from the top menu click "File" then click "Sync 'iPod'" (C) eject the iPod, disconnect the iPod, reconnect the iPod.

Unchecking items has some effects on how iTunes operates: the unchecked music isn't played on the computer when you run playlists. Also the unchecked music will not be burned when you want to create a CD from a play list. So you have to temporarily check them, burn, then uncheck. That really sucks. Apple have OVERLOADED the check box functionality. Bad coding, BAD! There should at least be a different copy-to-iPod check box.

iTunes needs a symbol under the tickbox like a 4 state symbol or colour system:
Green: on the iPod and you want it there
Yellow: not on the ipod yet but you want it there
Red: on the iPod but you don't want it there
Black: not on the iPod and you don't want it there

Frozen iPod

My iPod froze! I think it was because I switched it off during a slide show, or while it was displaying a single picture then I plugged in the USB, the picture popped up and that was it, frozen, bugger. The shutdown (hold play down) didn't work, but a quick search revealed the fix: hold the middle button and menu button.

my main iTunes gripes

* Duplicates music files into iTunes folders unless you're careful
* Doesn't allow for multiple active iPods for different users
* Can have duplicate references to the same music file
* Awkward config to remove files from your iPod and keep them on your PC
* Delete music from a play list should ask you if you want to completely delete the file ... perhaps. Not sure about that one.
* Unchecked files do not play and are not burned from play lists.

Still early days, but I really do like the iPod Nano, and I have to agree with Michael Blankenberg that iTunes is probably one of the best music players out there.

4 comments:

Narbs said...

I concur - it's not perfect but they release so often that perhaps it will evolve to be better. Perhaps submit to Apple?

https://bugreport.apple.com/cgi-bin/WebObjects/RadarWeb.woa

Narbs said...

Woops, you have to be part of the Apple Developer Connection which will probably cost money. Sounds like you're out of luck there. Pay to submit bug reports - nice.

Anonymous said...

I Had the same problem with the I pod freezing. Thank you, for putting how to get it out of that screen. I was freaking out. So thanks again.

Anonymous said...

ok 3 easy steps to delete everthing off your ipod i found this out by pure acident ok i hope it works for you and if it dose please pass it around i think its like a master rest thing anyway

ok step 1
open up my computer and go to the drive that the ipod is under and open it

2. go tools and folder opitions click the tab veiw and look for show hidden folders click it and apply it

3. now there should be a couple more visible folders go edit select all and delete all you should notice you ipod come up with the apple logo that should mean that it has worked

hope this helps you cose it did me