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[P]
Spokes on the Digital Hub: Apple's iTunes and iPhoto

By br284 in Op-Ed
Wed Jan 09, 2002 at 08:44:04 AM EST
Tags: Software (all tags)
Software

Having recently become an Apple owner after being a Unix / Windows diehard for years, I've become increasingly interested in Apple's strategy of becoming the center of the futuristic digital hub that was hyped at this year's MacWorldExpo. Read on for my thoughts about two of Apple's core technologies for the digital hub.


After having been very impressed with the user experience that Apple has given the user with the Mac OS X and PowerBook G4 products, I started to try and do something useful with this platform. While I appreciate the lower-level, more hands-on aspects of some applications, I can also appreciate the effort that Apple has put into their tools to give their customers a straightforward and simple way to accomplish things like playing digital media, compiling music collections, and sharing photos.

The two programs that I evaluated are free Apple offerings for Mac OS X users called iTunes and iPhoto. These are available to users via Apple's website and through Apple's System Update utility. The versions that I'm reviewing in this article are iTunes v2.0.3 and iPhoto v1.0. iTunes is the more mature of the two applications, while iPhoto was debuted at the latest MacWorld Expo. The hardware that these are running on is an Apple G4 PowerBook with a 550 MHz processor and 256 MB RAM.

iTunes

I will probably give iTunes a more rigorous review as I'm familar with the various personal jukebox programs available for the Windows platform. I obtained iTunes with my default OS X installation and obtained the latest updates via the System Update utility.

I am a user with many CD audios and for the past two years, I have maintained a collection of these songs using MusicMatch. For the most part, I have been very happy with MusicMatch and I wondered if Apple would be able to make me think about switching from MusicMatch to iTunes. The most obvious advantage that Apple has with the iTunes package is its ability to serve as a "docking station" of sorts for the iPod and other MP3 players. Since most of my money was spent on the Apple hardware, I do not have a personal MP3 player from which I can make any sort of meaningful comparison with. However, given Apple's typical way of doing things (and the Jeff Goldblum commercial), I suspect that this is a drag and drop affair.

In terms of music playback, iTunes is at the same plateau as almost every other MP3 player in existence. At the moment, I am piping the audio output from the Apple into my Creative Audigy soundboard on my PC, and it sounds fine.

I experimented with networking my collection on my Windows 2000 PC to the PowerBook. I used the built-in SMB support to map a network drive on the OS X desktop. After that, I started up iTunes and configured it to look at the network share for music files. I was slightly confused when the albums did not appear on the interface, but this was soon solved after I took the root folder of the collection from the network share and dragged it over iTunes. It took about ten minutes to import 172 albums worth of MP3's. After the import was complete, I was presented with two windows on the iTunes interface. One was for artist and the other for albums. Playing a single album was as simple as selecting the artist and then double-clicking the album to be played. Playback was instant, and just as I would expect playing from MusicMatch. (The files were played from the Windows 2000 PC over a 100 Mb network link.)

While it is simple to play complete albums, mixing and matching individual songs from different albums was a bit more difficult. I am used to MusicMatch's paradigm of being able to pick a song and drag it to a default playlist, or insert it in a currently playing playlist. The way to do this under iTunes is to create a new playlist and add the songs to that list. It is easy to add songs in between songs, but it is not possible to add songs to a playing playlist without double-clicking the playlist so that it has its own window and dragging from your library in one window to the playlist in the other. This is one area where a little more interface improvement might be made in later versions of the application. However, overall the MP3 playing experience was mostly straightforward and on par with most current jukebox programs.

I'm currently unable to comment on the CD-making aspects of the program as I'm without a CD burner in the PowerBook. I did rip a copy of U2's All That You Can't Leave Behind. I was prompted to play the CD as I ripped it and elected to do so. It actually took about a minute for the audio to start playing (I assuming that iTunes was playing from the initially ripped parts of the disk.), but after that, it ripped at about 4.7x - 5.2x speed. This is slightly faster than my Windows box (PII 450 MHz). While the ripping was not as fast as I expected, it was very acceptable and timely enough. It also helped that I could listen to the album while ripping, something that I cannot do under MusicMatch.

The one area where iTunes soundly beats the competition is in the area of Internet radio stations. I had previously subscribed to MusicMatch's Radio MX service, but I had found that it was very sensitive to campus network congestion to the point of eventually being unusable. While I appreciated that MusicMatch included the functionality in the software, I was dismayed by the pseudo-browser pages that I had to sign on to every time to get CD quality radio. With iTunes, there are no embedded browsers to deal with because the interface for accessing the Internet radio stations looks similar to the playlist interface and is quite easy to use without having to log onto anything. While the iTunes radio functionality is more like a traditional radio station than MusicMatch (MusicMatch had an interesting feature where you could select several artists and it would generate a radio station with songs similar to and including the artist.), there is a good variety of station types to select from, and a respectable number of stations of each type. iTunes also lists the broadcast bitrate (from 24 kbps to 128 kbps) of each station. It is pretty simple to select a station that matches your bandwidth and then stream. While listening to the radio station (I'm partial to Wolf FM), I noticed that while there were occasional interruptions in the playback, iTunes was quick to notify the user and recover and resume playing. Thus far, I've been most impressed by iTunes radio functionality. (Plus, it is free!)

So, looking at the iTunes big picture, I'm pretty impressed with this application bundled with the operating system, and the radio in particular, at the moment I do not plan on migrating my entire MP3 collection to iTunes. Not that that matters as I can play them in both iTunes and MusicMatch. While it does not have the complete strengths and advantages to make me consider wiping out MusicMatch, it is a damn good application for this type of stuff for Mac-heads without something already.

iPhoto

iPhoto was one of the big things at this year's MacWorld Expo, and I thought that I would see if the hype was warranted.

Before I begin with iPhoto, let me explain my photo needs. I have a Kodak DC215 zoom digital camera with a 32 MB CompactFlash that have used for the past few years to take and archive digital photos. I use a PCMCIA adapter to connect the CompactFlash to my Windows laptop and I edit and resize photos in the venerable PaintShopPro 5. I have a large collection of photos that I've taken during the past few years and I'm currently using Yahoo! Photos to catalogue them and make them available to my friends and family.

That being said, I evaluated iPhoto from the perspective of it being a solution that I can run locally and be able to export my photos in a web-based format that I can make easily available. As far as I know, there are not any integrated solutions on either the PC or Mac side.

The first thing that I did upon starting the application was to attempt to dump the images that I currently have stored on my camera into iPhoto. Since I do not have the USB connector, I tried my PCMCIA CompactFlash reader and it popped up in OS X on the desktop as another hard drive. Good so far. I opened the drive, selected all of my photos (and an additional PSP browser file) and dragged them over into iPhoto. It took about five minutes to import about 70 640x480 photos of JPEG and Kodak format. After the import, all of my photos were looking at me from the "Photo Library" pane.

I like to separate my photos into smaller collections of 25 - 50 photos, and it took me a minute to realize that I needed to create an album to do so. I created the album and attempted to drag the photos from the Library to the new album. I was confused when I dragged them and they were still visible in the Library. I had expected them to disappear after being moved. What happened is that photos are always part of the Library and the albums are best thought of as filters that only show certain photos from the Library than being thought of as actual separate collections. After getting over this counter-intuitive hump, I created a couple of albums.

After creating a few albums, I experimented with the slide show functionality, which is very slick. It is a simple slideshow, but Apple provides some music to play while cycling through the photos. You can also elect to play your own music.

After tinkering with the slideshow, I attempted to remove some of the worse pictures that I had taken. I initially tried from the Album view, but only succeeded in removing the photo from that collection. In order to remove the actual picture from the library and disk, you must remove it from the Library view. This can be tedious if you have a non-trivial number of photos. After removing the more egregious photos, I played with the red eye remover. I had a couple of photos of my little brother with slight red eye. The remover worked okay in some cases, but in other cases, it made the picture worse. As far as other editing functions, there is a built in editor, but the extent of the tools are rotating, cropping, and monochrome conversion. Apple was smart in this area of the design as you may select an external editor to use in place of the built in editor. As Apple's editor is a bit too limited for me, I may elect to use the external option as soon as I find a decent editor under OS X.

From this program, it is also possible to make an actual book from your photographs which Apple sends to you. I did not make one, but there are handy pre-formatted pages that you can plug into your book and add text. It is also worth mentioning that Yahoo! is also offering a similar service. I think that it is pretty neat, but I will wait to experiment further when I have the actual intent to make a book. (It might make a neat gift for a loved one one of these days.)

The last facet of the program is the Sharing tab. From here, you can select to print, generate a slideshow, order actual prints, make a book, generate a homepage, or export the photos as a JPEG, TIFF, or PNG. Since I don't have a color printer and have described the book and slideshow, I'll get on to the homepage generation. One note... In order to use the homepage generator, you must be an Apple iTools subscriber. This is a free subscription and if you installed OS X yourself, chances are that you've already signed up. So, to make the homepage, you select an album that you want and click the Homepage button. Pretty simple. You are prompted for the type of frame that you want in your pictures and some text for the page and pictures that you can use to describe the images. This process is straightforward and after you are finished, you click the Publish button and the pictures are uploaded and you are given a URL for the photos. Here is a sample page that I generated. Now, these pages are not accessible through the iTools network drive, but they are accessible through the iTools web interface. This is very well integrated within the iTools hompage stuff. I thought that this aspect of the program was pretty neat, if a little bit limited at the moment.

Overall, I would say that iPhoto is a pretty good application given that it is currently at version 1.0. There are some areas where expanded functionality would be appreciated, and there are some places where the intuitiveness of the interface is lacking, but I expect these to improve as Apple receives customer feedback and updates accordingly. I look forward to the day where I am able to move my photo collection from Yahoo! to iPhoto.

Overall

I think that these two technologies, while catering to the ease-of-use crowd are good applications for the power users. They suffer from a few kinks in interface and functionality, but if Apple's past performance in updating and adding functionality is any record, I expect great things from these tools, not only for the grandmothers with cat pictures to put online, but also for the power users who want clean applications that do useful things without having to resort to writing them themselves.

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Poll
Digital hubs...
o ... the wave of the future, with Apple getting the big piece of pie. 17%
o ... the wave of the future, with Microsoft getting interested real soon. 23%
o ... overblown buzzword for integrated functionality. 46%
o ... only good for grannies and PBKC-types. 2%
o ... eh. 10%

Votes: 39
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o Yahoo
o recently become an Apple owner
o digital hub
o iTunes
o iPhoto
o MusicMatch
o Jeff Goldblum
o Radio MX
o Yahoo! Photos
o Here is a sample page that I generated.
o Also by br284


Display: Sort:
Spokes on the Digital Hub: Apple's iTunes and iPhoto | 24 comments (24 topical, editorial, 0 hidden)
PBKC (none / 0) (#1)
by rajivvarma on Tue Jan 08, 2002 at 11:34:19 PM EST

What is a PBKC-type?
Rajiv Varma
Mirror of DeCSS.

PBKC (4.00 / 1) (#2)
by br284 on Tue Jan 08, 2002 at 11:40:22 PM EST

It's my shorthand for Problem Between Keyboard and Chair, shamelessly stolen from some page about phone tech support.

-Chris

[ Parent ]
Ahh, I was wondering as well... (none / 0) (#3)
by Ranger Rick on Tue Jan 08, 2002 at 11:55:08 PM EST

I've never seen it that way, only as PEBKAC (Problem Exists Between Keyboard And Chair). =)

:wq!


[ Parent ]
I may have gotten it slightly wrong. (nt) (none / 0) (#5)
by br284 on Wed Jan 09, 2002 at 01:01:59 AM EST

:-P

-ck

[ Parent ]
PEBKAC (none / 0) (#10)
by wiredog on Wed Jan 09, 2002 at 07:43:46 AM EST

Problem Exists Between Keyboard And Chair

Also known as the id-10-t error ;-)

Peoples Front To Reunite Gondwanaland: "Stop the Laurasian Separatist Movement!"
[ Parent ]

digital hub. (3.50 / 2) (#4)
by dieman on Wed Jan 09, 2002 at 12:58:10 AM EST

Initial notes: If your listening to "Wolf FM", isn't that just shoutcast?

I also agree that iphoto is neat for people that havent mastered how to just manage their files yet, or need an alternative 'view' for their files. Perhaps a nautilus 'filmstrip' and 'album' view is in order. :)

I just use IDS (http://ids.sourceforge.net/) right now becuase it works, and also just deals with 'directories' for sorting, nothing fancy.

On to the rest of the comment....

It's not the digital hub in my opinion, its the digital content creativity device.

The digital hub will be closer to moxi/psx2/whatever... It will be receptive-only, consumer-based, and set to replace tv's, cd's, and going to the store for most home entertainment content.

I'm not saying this is good or bad, though. I'm not really sure yet.

Then, there will be ways to put your content online via these devices, etc. But I don't think the money is in enabling creative content wanting users, but is giving the masses a passive 'digital' medium to blow away tv. And then just enough glue to make them want to plug anything 'digital' they have into this thing to make it go online or connect to put some photos up on a website... or just store them on the hard drive of the unit, or music on a mp3 player, or mp3s on the unit (if the riaa lets them without making it hell on earth), etc.

They will also literally be the 'hub' to your computers, as moxi really wants to also act as a cable modem/firewall/router/wireless AP.

Accessories for these devices to put music/movies/recorded tv on portable players, print out photo-quality photos (awwwyeah, i get my dye sub next week, i cant wait), and so forth will come too.

The digital world is coming, but any PC will be towards the edge, not in the center. It might be the most used, or perhaps not. My fiancee loves her tivo more than I think she would ever love having something that would order $30 photo albums that she could make herself in real life. (on a side note: scrapbooking isnt really that hard, and $30 for a precanned 'creative format' just seems so cheezy. I fully expect to see an onslaught of photo albums from mac users that all look the same in design, and dont really feel 'creative' anymore.)

This is only the begenning, and I don't really feel like it should be over yet. Jobs seemed to make it feel like the digital hub was complete allready, and it felt really much like I missed something along the way. But I guess for Apple, content creation has allways been their high point. :)


---
blah
smush - digitalhubcaps (none / 0) (#8)
by br284 on Wed Jan 09, 2002 at 01:50:25 AM EST

Wolf FM: I don't know if it is Shoutcast or not. Whatever it is, it works well without me having to know anything other than the type of station that it is.

Photo management software: Granted, I've not combed Sourceforge and Freshmeat for photo management software, but here's what I want:

    It should allow local storage and manipulation for times when there is not an Internet connection. This disqualifies most web-based options.

    It should be relatively simple to store photos under different collections and be able to generate albums with the same photos. For example, I may want to create a photo album for the pictures that I took in Vuyborg, Russia. However, I may also want a chronological series of albums where the Vuyborg pictures could also appear in the July 2000 album. This disqualifies many filesystem-based solutions.

    It should allow for the owner to export an album or multiple albums to something readily accessible to the rest of the world. At the moment, this is as JPEGs and HTML files.

Now, at the moment, iPhoto seems to be aiming in the general direction of where I would like this software to go. Here's some improvements that I can think would make it much better. (Any Apple engineers out there?)

    The software-provided templates are swell, but saavy users should be able to create their own web templates. (This may be possible, but undocumented?) Furthermore, saavy users should be able to upload the pages via FTP, scp, or whatever to the server of their choice.

    Fix the interface notes I made above.

    I would kill for functionality that would snake photos off of other web-sites such as Yahoo!. You would enter a URL and the site type, and it could import a Yahoo! photo album into iPhoto. (Yes, I'm lazy. But I also have 23 MB worth of JPEGs and PNGs up there.)

I figure that I can afford a couple version increases before I start worrying about it too much.

Digital Hub: I guess I don't envision the appliances and PCs future being centered around a single hub as Jobs seems to want. I always envisioned a more network-centric approach where each device did what it was made for, but others could communicate to activate that functionality. For example, assume 30 years from now you have a car that can drive itself. Imagine that you are sending a child (who cannot drive) to a friend's. You would take your combo key-dongle device, encode the destination into the device and you put the key in the car and the kid goes to the friend's house.

That's only one idea, but the general principle that I see happening is that each device becomes increasingly intelligent about what it does and auxilary devices know enough about each other to augment one another in creative ways. I guess that I'm more inclined to believe Sun's vision will come to pass than Apple's. However, Apple does hold the advantage as they are currently the ones that are getting known for this with the general populace. It'll be interesting.

-Chris



[ Parent ]
iPhoto -- close, but not quite (none / 0) (#21)
by stripes on Wed Jan 09, 2002 at 10:15:53 PM EST

However, I may also want a chronological series of albums where the Vuyborg pictures could also appear in the July 2000 album. This disqualifies many filesystem-based solutions.

Wouldn't any of the filesystem ones that allow hard links or symlinks work?

What I want is ability to manage off-line photos (I frequently shoot 300M a day, I can shoot over a gig -- so it would be nice to have older photos live on CDs not my hard disk). I also want the ability to use an external photo editor (which iPhoto does allow) and still be able to revert to the original (I realize it would require keeping an extra copy of hte data...).

Oh, and it's too bad iPhoto doesn't let me see any of hte EXIF data (f-stop, shutter time...).

I like iPhoto, but it is pretty limited. I don't know if that is because it is version 1, or because I need a "real" program to do it (like someone that needs Final Cut Pro rather then iMovie).

[ Parent ]

Photo Albums (5.00 / 1) (#6)
by strepsil on Wed Jan 09, 2002 at 01:03:43 AM EST

Now, these pages are not accessible through the iTools network drive

Funny - mine are. In the "Sites" folder. I had no homepage defined and as well as creating the "PhotoAlbum1.html" file it also created an index.html that redirected to it.

Take another look - they are there.

<shamelessplug>The photo album I created during my own messing about last night.</shamelessplug>

Hmm... (none / 0) (#7)
by br284 on Wed Jan 09, 2002 at 01:23:45 AM EST

They are there now. They weren't there when I looked earlier. *shrug* Network congestion, perhaps?

Another interesting tidbit about iDisk is that it is mountable under Windows 2000 / XP using the mapping web folders and FTP sites. The instructions are ironically only accessible once you log in through your Mac. (If someone knows otherwise, let me know.)

I thought that it was handy.

-Chris

PS. Cute kid.

[ Parent ]
a couple of points (4.50 / 2) (#9)
by sakusha on Wed Jan 09, 2002 at 04:09:54 AM EST

I should point out that iTunes already has unixy extensions, I just saw someone released a LAME encoder extension, and the new GForce improves on the one Apple shipped as default. Both iTunes and iPhoto are scriptable, so if you want to import those 23Mb of photos from Yahoo, you can write an applescript for that. Also, iPhoto doesn't just work with digital cameras, you can drop a folder full of images on the app and it will import those too. So those of you who want to organize your pr0n collection are all set. I've been exceptionally impressed with iTunes over the months I've been using it. It's a strong app, and I expect that iPhoto will be equally strong by v2. Now all we really need is iVCR, something like a TiVo-on-a-board, and the digital hub will be perfect.

iPhoto works on pr0n!!! (none / 0) (#11)
by Electric Angst on Wed Jan 09, 2002 at 02:00:06 PM EST

Sign me up!
--
"He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster." - Nietzsche
The Parent ]
my thoughts too (none / 0) (#19)
by mikpos on Wed Jan 09, 2002 at 07:54:44 PM EST

When I first saw Steve showing off the iPhoto's publish to the web dealy and then mentioned how all the photos would be stored on Apple's servers, I thought "man, Apple's legal department is going to have a hell of a time keeping kiddie pr0n off of there". And then I thought, "well, maybe not so much kiddie pr0n, but pr0n at least".

I suspect in order to avoid any trouble, Apple would take the ultra-super-conservative-PC (as in politically correct) approach, as Apple is prone to do, and just rule out everything that could ever possibly be considered "offensive". Have a picture of your friend on there with an anarchy symbol on his sweatshirt? Too bad. Picture of your kid in the bath tub? Too bad. It's all heresay at this point, of course :)

Then again, Apple is undoubtedly putting boatloads of money into servers to host the PC pictures, so it's pretty hard to complain :)

[ Parent ]

Marketing by Barney? (1.16 / 6) (#12)
by Jack Wagner on Wed Jan 09, 2002 at 02:15:27 PM EST

As a well known fortune 500 consultant I feel the need to speak with some authority here. I've done work for most of the large Fortune 500 companies in the US, including Microsoft, and I must say that Apple is making a huge marketing blunder here. Let me explain what I'm talking about.

A good marketing plan is more important than a good product line, you need to focus your forward pipeline towards building tier one collaborative relationships. This can only be done, according to the Pesian[tm](Stanford 1993, cti.) strategies, by defining a common synergy which aligns your value framework into that with the public. Apple fails miserable here. Lets face it, with names like iTunes and iPhoto and MusicMatch one has to wonder if Apple's marketing team didn't watch Roger Rabbit before they came up with these names. The head writer for the big purple ape, Barney, could have come up with better names. Lest you think I'm being over the top here let me tell you that I was part of the Internet Explorer finishing team and I was instrumantal in changing the name from "SurferBaby" to Internet Explorer. The rest is history.

To summarize, it won't matter how great Apples products are if they don't get their marketing team into line and flesh out a good plan. As it it now they are simply killing themselves with these downright goofy names.



Wagner LLC Consulting - Getting it right the first time

You think so? (4.00 / 1) (#13)
by TheNefariousNoodle on Wed Jan 09, 2002 at 02:48:50 PM EST

"...they are simply killing themselves with these downright goofy names"

Are they? The release of the iMac was Apple's ressurection, those few years back. The names may seem stupid to you, but apparently most people who might be interested in buying from Apple either like them or don't really care anyway.

You can call it marketing idiocy all you want, but that doesn't change reality, and reality is that Apple's 'stupid names' are probably aiding its success, not hindering it, as far as I can tell.

Sure, you may say you're a well-known consultant, but that fact (if it is indeed so) is not in itself enough evidence to support your opinions.

{The Nefarious Noodle}

PS: MusicMatch is not made by Apple. Read carefully next time.

[ Parent ]

I think I just figured it out. (4.00 / 1) (#16)
by broken77 on Wed Jan 09, 2002 at 03:22:00 PM EST

Don't feed the trolls.

I'm starting to doubt all this happy propaganda about Islam being a religion of peace. Heck, it's just as bad as Christianity. -- Dphitz
[ Parent ]

Wow. I just can't seem to know for sure. (3.00 / 1) (#15)
by broken77 on Wed Jan 09, 2002 at 03:11:51 PM EST

Was this post an attempt at humor? Or are you serious?

I'm starting to doubt all this happy propaganda about Islam being a religion of peace. Heck, it's just as bad as Christianity. -- Dphitz
[ Parent ]

A couple of points (4.33 / 3) (#14)
by fraserspeirs on Wed Jan 09, 2002 at 03:02:13 PM EST

It is easy to add songs in between songs, but it is not possible to add songs to a playing playlist without double-clicking the playlist so that it has its own window and dragging from your library in one window to the playlist in the other. This is one area where a little more interface improvement might be made in later versions of the application. However, overall the MP3 playing experience was mostly straightforward and on par with most current jukebox programs.

It is actually possible to drag an Artist, Album or Song selection to a playlist in the left pane and have all the relevant tracks appended to the playlist. You can't put the dragged songs anywhere other than the end of the playlist with this technique though.

It actually took about a minute for the audio to start playing (I assuming that iTunes was playing from the initially ripped parts of the disk.), but after that, it ripped at about 4.7x - 5.2x speed. This is slightly faster than my Windows box (PII 450 MHz). While the ripping was not as fast as I expected, it was very acceptable and timely enough. It also helped that I could listen to the album while ripping, something that I cannot do under MusicMatch.

Two things about ripping with iTunes. I find that it rips faster if you don't play the CD you're ripping from while extracting. Playing other MP3 doesn't seem to affect rip speed.

You're on a PowerBook, right? I have a white iBook G3-500 (with CD-ROM) and a Dual G4-500 with DVD. The G4 can rip at over 9X, while the iBook can only manage 3.1x. This is to do with drive speed, but the iTunes encoder is also Altivec-aware and multiprocessor-aware, which I guess gives a mighty good speed boost.

Just some observations. Good review, BTW.



CD-ROM laser physics (4.50 / 2) (#22)
by haflinger on Thu Jan 10, 2002 at 12:52:03 AM EST

Two things about ripping with iTunes. I find that it rips faster if you don't play the CD you're ripping from while extracting.

Right. This is because the CD-ROM drive is reading from two parts of the CD: the part it's ripping from, and the part it's playing from. This slows it down. This is true of every player/ripper in existence that allows CD playback during the rip. It's physics. ;)

Playing other MP3 doesn't seem to affect rip speed.

Right. This is because the MP3s are not on the CD and do not require the laser to move.

Did people from the future send George Carlin back in time to save rusty and K5? - leviramsey
[ Parent ]

Ripping on G3/500 iBook (none / 0) (#24)
by bartmoss on Mon Jan 14, 2002 at 07:37:52 AM EST

I have yet to make ripping of mp3's work on my g3/500 iBook (Combo Drive). Sooner or later, the process just dies with error messages. I assume it could be copy-prevention schemes at work, but I ahd this problem with ancient audio CDs too, so I rather doubt it...

[ Parent ]
Extra info on iTunes (4.66 / 3) (#17)
by haflinger on Wed Jan 09, 2002 at 03:25:58 PM EST

The most obvious advantage that Apple has with the iTunes package is its ability to serve as a "docking station" of sorts for the iPod and other MP3 players. Since most of my money was spent on the Apple hardware, I do not have a personal MP3 player from which I can make any sort of meaningful comparison with. However, given Apple's typical way of doing things (and the Jeff Goldblum commercial), I suspect that this is a drag and drop affair.

Your suspicions are generally correct. I have a Rio 500; when I plug it into my iMac, iTunes pops up an extra playlist window beneath the Radio Tuner. There are a couple extra buttons to do things like wipe the Rio's song list clean, create folders on it, etc., but generally it's exactly the same as moving tracks between playlists (and you can drag and drop entire playlists to it as well, given sufficient RAM).

I'm given to understand that the iPod automatically synchs to your entire Music Library whenever you plug it in and iTunes is running, so long as you've got 5GB of MP3s or less anyway. :)

It is easy to add songs in between songs, but it is not possible to add songs to a playing playlist without double-clicking the playlist so that it has its own window and dragging from your library in one window to the playlist in the other.

This is untrue. You can drop new songs into a playing playlist, reorder a playing playlist, and so on. It's fiddly work because if you accidentally double-click a track, then iTunes will automatically jump to that track, but it can be done quite easily. (I have a Scratch playlist in my iTunes that I use for playing whatever I feel like that day; I usually cue up three or four songs in it, and start playing as soon as I have the first one chosen.)

As a final note: the burner function works fairly simply. You can either burn audio or ISO 9660 CDs; iTunes calls the ISO discs MP3 CDs. You pick which one in Preferences. On audio CDs, it allows you to set the gap between tracks on the same screen: unfortunately you have to set a single gap for all tracks (unlike Toast which allows you to choose different length gaps for different tracks). The default is 2 seconds. You activate the burner module by clicking the burn CD icon in the upper right-hand corner; it prompts you to insert a blank CDR, and then just does it.

Did people from the future send George Carlin back in time to save rusty and K5? - leviramsey

Intuitive iPhoto (4.33 / 3) (#18)
by Colol on Wed Jan 09, 2002 at 05:45:29 PM EST

I agree that the organizational behaviour of iPhoto may be somewhat different from what many Windows users would be used to, but at the same time it almost makes more sense than the usual "drag it here, and it disappears from the world" idea.

If you think of the photo library as a library (you know, the kind with all manner of books), it makes perfect sense. While the library may be divided into sections by some arbitrary system, the books in those sections don't cease to exist within the whole.

Boiling it down (4.33 / 3) (#20)
by Pseudonymous Coward on Wed Jan 09, 2002 at 09:57:11 PM EST

I'm not sure that saying, approximately, "iTunes is almost as good as MusicMatch, but not quite enough to make me switch" is a ringing endosement, considering that MusicMatch is a fairly garishly awful piece of software.

I haven't actually used iTunes, so I have no basis to form an opinion on the validity of the comparison, but if it compares almost favorably to whatever shovelware came with a sound card I'm not encouraged.

MusicMatch (4.00 / 1) (#23)
by br284 on Thu Jan 10, 2002 at 09:05:34 AM EST

For the most part, I've been a very happy MusicMatch customer. I've used it mostly as a CD replacement for the CDs that I do have. I can see where MusicMatch would be a terrible piece of software for those with scads of different MP3s taken from different sources (mf GF does this), but I'm not too keen on these types of collections, and prefer to rip the disks myself and listen to my music as a collection of albums than a collection of songs.

For this purpose, MusicMatch has worked really well and better than any of the competition that I'm aware of (such as RealJukebox). It does have its quirks, but I've learned to work around them for the most part.

If my saying that it is almost as good as MusicMatch makes you hesitant to view my take on iTunes as a favorable one (which it is), you might want to use MusicMatch a bit more or try out the registered version ($20). I've been registered since version 5.0 and have been a very happy customer. Comparing it to MusicMatch is my was of saying that iTunes also makes me very happy, but I'm not willing to exclusively migrate my entire collection over. (Though I have already imported it...)

-Chris

[ Parent ]
Spokes on the Digital Hub: Apple's iTunes and iPhoto | 24 comments (24 topical, 0 editorial, 0 hidden)
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