Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Breaking News...Apple Still Sucks

So, for Christmas I acquired an MP3 player. One with a 30 gig capacity. With it I now have the capability to carry around my entire music collection (approx. 650 CD's) in something that will fit into my pocket. I quite like it. It's nice to be able to go from home to car to work to car to home and be able to listen to any song I have. Plus I can use the CD holder in the console of my car to hold potpourri.

One major distinction, though. I did not buy an iPod. Not that I was inherently anti-iPod. I think they're quite stylish and functional...you know, nifty. What I could not get my head around is why I should pay 40% more for 33% less capacity while losing little, if any, functionality. Some have even said that the sound quality of the one I purchased is better than that of the venerable iPod. I might even be talked into the fact that the iPod is a somewhat superior product, but not by a wide margin. Even if it is, the facts remaining true, I have to wonder why anyone would buy an iPod today. This is not so for those have been carrying one around for a couple of years. Back then, this was a cutting edge product whose competitors were priced similarly. Why not go with the iPod? But now? Now doesn't it just come down to the "cult of cool"? Is this not just the Members Only jacket and parachute pant for the Oughts' techno literate/music lover?

I guess it's just not cool to get value. But how else do you explain that iPods are still out selling all comers when I was able to get a 30 gig jukebox, a smaller, 128mb player for jogging and such (with an FM tuner and recorder. Take that Shuffle!) and an FM Transmitter for less than the cost of said 20 gig iPod? But all of this is not even my point. "If you want to be gay and deaf and go have deaf babies, have at it."

Despite the fact I believe iPods are currently a rip-off, I do not deny that Apple has made a good product. A product people like. One that I'm sure I could enjoy if given one. This had me softening on my stance that Apple wasn't all that bad. Every once and while they could get off their high-horse and make something which all us hoi polloi could enjoy. Along with the iPod came iTunes. In the wake of the death of Napster, it was also quite popular. Selling digital songs for 99 cents. What's so bad about that? Nothing I would say. I've had the iTunes software downloaded for quite some time, and found it quite functional as well. After downloading the software comes the obligatory avalanche of email. iTunes features a free (FREE? I love FREE!) download each week. The events of me actually reading the email and seeing a song that might interest me finally collided. I dutifully opened up iTunes and after having to set up an account; I downloaded my first track from iTunes. How easy was that!? Don't we all love Apple?

Skip ahead a couple of days. Time to add said (FREE!) track to my juke for listening at my leisure. I go into the software that accompanied the player (because iTunes only recognizes iPods, of course) and can't find the song. There's the directory. There's the folder. No song. Huh. Go back to Explorer (Alert! I'm working in a Windows environment here) and there's the song. OK...? What format is this in? Oh, AAC (A.K.A. M4p)? I bet I need to just set my software to recognize that format. Not there. Dangit. Ok, I just need to change the format of the file to Mp3. iTunes gives me the option. I take it. STOP! "iTunes cannot complete task because Apple sucks and wants you to assimilate... I mean... the file is protected." Yes, of course. Any song you download from iTunes is in a protected AAC format. One that iTunes cannot reformat. Genius. Of course. If you've got this great software and this huge catalogue of songs you would obviously want to set it up where only people who purchase your over-priced product can use it.

I can still do this. I will not give up. I am not a quitter. I know! Google will rescue me. Search for "Format ACC to Mp3" and I bet it will take me to some freeware that will fix me right up. (Slumps at keyboard)...Or not. It just takes me to dozens of other sites where guys are having the same problem as me. With it I find that I am left with 3 options. (1) Download this very odd software that runs in DOS mode and takes (reportedly) 2-3 times longer than ripping a song off a CD to reformat the files. DOS and long delays, sign me up! (2) Burn songs from iTunes onto a CD and then rip them back in Mp3 format. That seems efficient. Why don't I just listen to the song and then hum it into a microphone attached to my computer? (3) Devoid my computer and mind of ever using iTunes (and most likely any other Apple product) again. Guess which way I'm leaning.

This all brings up one other question. Why is Microsoft, which I'm honestly not a huge fan of, always demonized for being a "monopoly" when Apple builds machines that use a singular operating system that only they produce? Then they create a music service that sells music, but only in a format that the machines they produce will recognize. How are Apple's practices less anti-competition than Microsoft's? And besides, Apple sucks.

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