So many iTunes iProblems and iBugs

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iTunes Logo

My wife and I have amassed a very large collection of music over the years from our CDs. I’ve painstakingly ripped all of the CDs to Ogg Vorbis format and mp3 format. There’s rougly 10,000 files on the Music slice of the FreeBSD media array I’ve built for this purpose. It’s big.

She has a 20″ iMac that I bought for her last Christmas and I have several Linux machines and one Windows machine. The Windows machine runs iTunes, while the Linux machines all run AmaroK (which blows iTunes out of the water in functionality and intuitive features).

The Windows machine has an M:\ drive mapped to the Music share on the FreeBSD server via Samba. From here, I can load iTunes and drag all of the albums into iTunes. About an hour of importing, fetching album artwork and conversion later, I have a fully populated library of music in iTunes to work with.

Almost.

The first problems began when I realized that iTunes doesn’t like having the “My Documents” folder stored on a network share (My Documents → My Music → iTunes is where iTunes stores its Music Library). if iTunes tries to launch at login time, it will barf and truncate the existing music library to create a new, empty, default music library. This means I have to reimport all 10,000 music files again.

Once I realized that, I made sure the My Documents folder was opened (initiating the network mapping) before iTunes attempts to load. Now that part works… but it is still an iTunes bug.

The second problem I found, was that iTunes doesn’t like Samba locking. The music files we have are shared on a tightly locked-down Samba share. This share looks like the following:

[Music]
        comment         = Music
        path            = /usr/local/array/Media/Music/
        case sensitive  = yes
        writeable       = yes
        guest ok        = no
        browseable      = yes
        locking         = yes
        public          = no
        write list      = @gnu
        hide files      = /.DS_Store/

Note the Bolded portion. If I have locking enabled on the Music share, iTunes won’t allow me to edit the id3v2 tags in the mp3 files. If I disable locking (NOT recommended for a multi-user share like this), then I can edit the mp3 tags, metadata and other pieces.

Why?!

Thirdly, I tried importing ALL of our music into the iTunes copy running on Windows, and then using the iTunes Sharing option to share that entire music library on the LAN, so my wife’s Mac could see and use it.

They got that wrong too.

When you share one iTunes Library, you basically create a “streaming radio station”, nothing more. This means my wife can’t plug in her iPod and pull music from the shared library to her iPod and load it up. She can only click on music and listen to it while she sits at her Mac.

No iPod functionality with iTunes music sharing. Lovely.

AmaroK 2.0 and KDE4 is soon to be released for Windows and OS X. The sooner that is done, the sooner I can be rid of this broken piece of software called iTunes on the Windows machine and on the Mac. Once we’re all on AmaroK, things will work much better.

Bose Quiet Comfort 3 is less then 2

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Another post in a series of “De-evolving Technology Products

I used to own a Bose QuietComfort v2 headset. I loved it when I flew back and forth across the country, even without music plugged in. It actually does make me less fatigued when I disembark from the plane after having used them for most of the flight. I don’t have that draining, exhausting airplane engine noise in my head, and my ears don’t have to work harder to try to cancel it out as background noise.

Bose QuietComfort v2 Headphones

But after about 1 year of very careful use, the rubberized cups surrounding the ear pieces, started to “degrade”. It was as if the rubber itself had reached its half-life, and was turning into this flakey ooze that would peel away from the headphones.

Of course, the warrantee from Bose covers every single part of the headphones, EXCEPT the primordial ooze degradation of the rubberized headphone cups. You can’t purchase replacement cups either, even if you wanted to.

So after 1 year of use, your $300.00 Bose QuietComfort noise cancelling headphones are now rendered useless, garbage, and the only resort is to throw them away. They’ve recently updated the design of the v2 version, but it may still suffer from the same problem.

When did expensive technology become so disposable?

Looking for an upgrade, I spied the QuietComfort v3 headphones. The reviews for these are mediocre at best, but they are lighter, smaller and potentially better than v2.

Bose QuietComfort v3 Headphones

Boy is that assumption wrong! Let’s go over the basic features of the v2:

QuietComfort v2 Features

  • Uses an external controller box
  • Around the ear design to help isolate incoming sounds
  • Very light in weight
  • Uses a standard pair of AAA batteries
  • Works without a player attached to the other end
  • When the batteries die, you can still use them as “normal” headphones

And now let’s see why the v3 is WORSE than the v2:

  • Heavier, even though they’re smaller
  • Proprietary, expensive rechargeable battery. No AAAs, and requires purchasing a proprietary international charger to keep it going if you buy a second battery (necessary for long flights)
  • When the battery dies, so does the music
  • On-the-ear design means more sounds get in, and the noise-cancelling drivers must be louderto compensate for ambient noise leaking in.
  • Less comfortable to wear on the ears
  • Noise cancelling feels “artificial” compared to the v2. Not as good as the v2.

I picked the v3 items up from a few reviews I found, including this detailed review. I can only speak for the v2 headphones that I’ve personally owned.

But based on the higher price, lower quality, heavier weight, proprietary battery and lack of flexibility.. I’d stick with my v2’s or some other vendor’s model of NC headphones.

There are plenty of other headphones that will fit the need and some at less than 1/4 the cost of the Bose. Seek them out and stay away from Bose for these two models. Perhaps the v4 or v5 will solve the problems with price and convenience, but one can never be sure.

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