iTunes update

screenshot of iTunes pageMy iTunes has updated twice in as many recent weeks. Unfortunately, as far as I’m concerned neither update has improved my listening experience.

I currently have 254 Albums and over the years I have come to know where to find each one in ‘album’ view – I have never liked the ‘song’ or ‘artist’ view.

Furthermore, I tend to have my MacBook Pro screen resolution set at 1152×720 because that has less strain on my eyes.  By default therefore, the iTunes album-icons are huge but until the recent updates, there was a tiny slider (bottom right of the iTunes screen) that I could adjust to reduce the icon size – which made scrolling through my collection quite a breeze.

However, the slider has now gone and there is no way to change the icon size in Tunes. Why?

It’s a question I asked at the Apple Store in the Trafford Centre the other day and no one there could answer.

The update seems to have been to introduce ‘Up Next’ which as far as I can see is something that basically Guilds the Lily. I’ve yet to see a reason for me to use ‘Up Next’ (I already have plenty of Playlists) so, had the icon-size slider still been there, the update wouldn’t have irritated me this much. Another change for change’s sake perhaps.

So Apple. Why?


iPhone Problem

I have an iPhone 3GS and despite various horror stories, I have kept up to the updates and have always been pleased with them. Until yesterday!

I plugged the phone into my MacBook Pro last night with the intention of transferring some photos to iPhoto. Bluetoothing would be easier (a task I accomplish regularly with my Nokia N95 + Mac) but that seems to be a feature that iPhone + Mac finds impossible (it might be me? – but I doubt it). Anyway, a box popped up with iTunes saying that an update to the iOS (4.2.2 I think) was ready – would I like to install it. As usual, I said ‘yes’.

Again as usual, it also prompted me (luckily) to synch recent purchases/updates on the iPhone with iTunes. That done I proceeded with the update/installation of iOS 4.2.2. And it never ended. The phone ‘froze’ and after an hour, I decided to unplug it and eventually, to restore factory settings. But the phone was well and truly frozen – nothing was happening. I left it on all night and nothing happened.

So this morning I attacked the support forums.

They are well worth browsing – but don’t, like me, ignore the essential information! Most of those discussing my own and similar problems said to make sure that ‘you’ were using the most up to date iTunes. I glibly assumed I was using the most up to date iTunes, because I have an auto-update switch ticked somewhere. However, when I was about ready for booking a genius appointment at the (not so) local Apple Store, Sharon made me check iTunes. When I say ‘made‘, I do of course mean ‘forced, coerced and/or shamed‘ me into doing it.

At that point, where the box came up and said ‘there is an update waiting for your iTunes’, I remembered it popping up on Sunday last – but I was busy then with something else so I told it to go away (postponed it!).

Anyway, iTunes updated and then, when I plugged in the iPhone, it began the restore process; followed by the re-synching process and ultimately by me giving up a huge sigh of relief. Phew.

I’m not altogether clear WHY iTunes HAS to be updated BEFORE any updates to peripherals but I do know now just how symbiotic the ‘i’ products are. I’d not previously understood just how reliant on iTunes the iPhone was and it has made me open my mind to the dark-side of Apple. Were Microsoft not prosecuted by the EU for making IE an essential part of their OS?

Last week I was told off by Ron Mitchell (told off is a bit harsh, smiled at would be a better description) for not backing up my ‘play’ Moodle installation before trying to install a new module – but I haven’t learned have I?  My advice then, to anyone reading this is ALWAYS make sure you have BACKED UP, or problems like mine above, become a crisis.

Here’s a drumming monkey I made last week!

MacBook Pro 3

Since my last posts concerning the MacBook Pro [see and], I’ve moved on quite a bit. I’ve sort of mastered iTunes, iMovie and iPhoto and I’ve also delivered three sessions using it as the main machine. So – what have I learned and how does it feel now?

(Before moving on, I must thank all those of you that commented on MacBook Pro 2 – your comments have been tremendously helpful. Readers, please view the comments on that post.)


Snippy I opened an image in [Preview] the other day: just why it didn’t open in iPhoto, I’m not quite sure yet; but found that there is a [select] function – a sort of crop-tool. However, it allows you to freehand select tool [lasso] – in much the same way as Snippy and the Snipping tool in Vista. So if you like funny shaped pictures – use Preview and its select tool. Shift + Command + 4 to capture a standard still image of screen (thanks Di). This image defaults to the desktop b.t.w.

I used iPhoto big time on my American holiday [] but it took some time to ‘get’ it. All images the machine comes across find their way into an EVENT folder. You can then add the images to folders of your own choosing. But: If you delete them from the EVENT folder, they disappear from everywhere else you might have put them (you can easily drag them from EVENT to a folder of your own choice but the dragging only copies – it doesn’t move).

Troubles with iTunes.

screenshot - iTunes view icons

It also took me a while to ‘get’ iTunes. For someone used to yellow folder icons populated by file icons and the ability to view these hierarchically iTunes has been a steep learning curve and the bends are still making me dizzy. I can ‘view’ my music ‘albums’ in Album view (the chess board-like icon above) and easily see which album is which. I can even select different views within this view (!!) I can view albums, artists, genres and composers and each set of icons will be re-ordered and re-presented to aid my viewing/searching. But – and here’s where it took me a while to ‘get’ it – when you choose the lines icon (on the left above) you just get one HUGE list of individual tracks. Which I find alarming – almost scary. And then there’s the Album Art …

Screenshot - default iTunes album iconIf iTunes can’t find the cover image for your ‘album’ it grants you the use of its own generic music icon, which is dark and dull and if you have more than two albums; wrist-slashingly dull. To overcome this you have to be patient and committed (don’t all shout at once!!). You have to double-click the (dull) icon to open the album and see the track list. The (dull) icon will appear on the top left. Right click (or Control + right pad click) this and choose ‘get info’. Choose ‘artwork’. Now – open your favourite browser and go to: to search for your album and a link to a CD cover image you can then copy and paste into the ‘artwork’ window you have left open in iTunes. Of course this may not be legal – so I may never have done it. But it is nice to see an image replacing the dull, generic icon. You could of course compose an image of your own – if you have the time. Oh – there’s another ‘beware‘ before I sign off this post.

If one of the albums you are importing into iTunes is a compilation (say ‘The Best of Eric Clapton’) it may (9 times out of ten for me) ‘split’ itself into two or three different albums (album icons). I had Eric on his own, Eric with John Mayall and Eric with Cream – which was space-takingly annoying. I just wanted one album, like I have in my CD rack. To repair this, Right click (or Controlright pad click) the previously (perhaps still?) dull icon and choose ‘get info’ and then ‘info’. Make sure that the artist name is the one you want and where there is a difference between the different splits (gosh this is confusing, sorry), ensure they become the same (?) and lo – your three (or more) albums will become one again, just like you wanted in the first place.

Phew. iMovie next time and other ‘stuff’