Why Apple Why? My thoughts on iTunes 12.4

Yes, it’s time to talk about iTunes. I went on a little bit of a Twitter rant earlier in the week about the problems with iTunes. This topic has been covered very ably by 9to5mac, The Verge, and many other sites. Now I’m going to add my two cents to the mix.

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Above is an image of just one of the many bugs I have encountered with iTunes recently. This bug doesn’t crash iTunes or make it unusable, but it makes Artist view basically unusable and I would like to be able to use that view again. As I tweeted, this problem was around before 12.4 was released.

But the problems with 12.4 are less about bugs than they are design. 12.4 took what was already a lackluster user interface and made it even worse. The sidebar is now permanently displayed again, which is awesome for the Music section of the app. But for Videos, Podcasts, AudioBooks, and literally every other section of iTunes, it is pointless.

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Actually, it is worse than pointless. Because you cannot turn it off and still use all features of the App (you do need it in the Music section), it is actually a nuisence. All it does is waste landscape real estate, and make it harder to keep the app window small and manageable. Above are photos of the nearly empty sidebar for my TV show and Podcast sections of iTunes.

I feel Apple has two options on how to fix this mess. Option 1 is to go along with what everyone else wants and to split iTunes into separate apps like on iOS. Make Apple Music its own app. Make a Videos app, a Podcasts app, and integrate AudioBooks with iBooks like on iOS. For syncing with iOS, Apple already has the trademark for iSync from when other phones synced with Mac OS X. Bring that name back with a new purpose.

Option 2 is the less good option-I feel Option 1 needs to happen sooner or later. Option 2 is to go back to iTunes 12.3’s UI. Make the sidebar optional again. I actually didn’t hate iTunes 12.3 from a UI perspective. It had bugs and issues with performance but the UI was workable for me.

I know none of this is news to people who follow Apple. iTunes has gotten slammed by every tech critic around. And Apple needs to fix it. Fast.

And now… The opposite of a favorite thing.

Ok. It’s now time for me to talk about gun control. Before you stop reading this post, let me explain myself. Today, my local mall in Bethesda, Maryland is suffering from a mass shooting. Three people have died so far. The worst part is that life doesn’t have to work this way.

Australia, as John Oliver explains in the piece below, had a horrible mass shooting. Then they instituted really strict gun control. And now they don’t have the epidemic anymore. There are still occasional problems, sure. But it’s not at the same level as we have here. Nowhere is as bad as here.

Every week, we hear about at least one new mass shooting. Most weeks, more than one. And Americans all over this country get angry about it for 10 minutes, and then don’t channel that anger into any form of action. The majority of Americans support gun control of some form according to every poll I’ve seen. Why can’t Congress get something done?

There are many pessimists out there who say that after Newtown happened and no legislation was passed, gun control is a lost cause. My mom is one of them. My only hope is that now that this issue is happening in a rich neighborhood like my hometown, the wealthy people get angry and push to get something done. Let’s face it, our politicians only care about staying in power. Until something threatens re-election chances for them, they won’t change their policy positions.

What needs to be done? I don’t know. Personally, I think the second amendment should be overturned by a constitutional amendment. It was written in the age of armed militias and rifles, not machine guns and tanks. If the government wants to take over your area, they will easily be able to. They have nuclear weapons. Your guns, regardless of how powerful they are, will not stop them. It’s illogical for us to still have laws from that era that have become so outdated.

Realistically, we will always have the second amendment because America is stubborn. So we AT LEAST need tough background checks on guns AND ammunition. We need a waiting period to get a gun. We need to make sure people who have guns are trained on how to use them. We need to limit the amount of ammunition people can buy at a time. We need to ban weapons that are not used for hunting and are solely used to commit murder. All of this stuff is common sense, so why can’t we do it?

How to save Nintendo in 3 easy steps

  1. Release the NX this year, and make it a killer mobile/home console hybrid that plays Wii U games as well as a new generation of games. Price it at under $250 and make sure the games do not exceed $30 each.
  2. To fund this new console while having money left over, release lots of virtual console games on iOS and Android app stores. Not new games-make new games exclusive to NX. But old games should be sold on other hardware. If I could buy Pokemon Yellow, Crystal, or Emerald on my iPhone, I’d do it in a heartbeat at any price that’s under $25.
  3. That’s it.

Nintendo executives, take my advice. Don’t be stupid like you have been in the past. Once you get smart, you can all enjoy swimming in your money pond like Scrooge McDuck.

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Podcast: Top 7 Best Idol Moments

Here’s a link to my podcast about the top 7 best Idol performances. Below are links to the 7 performances I talk about, as well as a few honorable mentions.

No. 7: Jessica Sanchez and Jennifer Holiday – And I Am Telling You

No. 6: James Durbin – Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow

No. 5: Caleb Johnson – Dream On

No. 4: Nick Fradiani – Beautiful Life

No. 3: Candice Glover – Lovesong

No. 2: Adam Lambert – Mad World

No. 1: David Cook – Billie Jean

Honorable mentions:

Haley Reinhart – Bennie and the Jets

Allison Iraheta – Alone

Crystal Bowersox – Up To The Mountain

Trent Harmon – Chandelier

Kris Allen – Heartless

Thoughts on the American Idol series finale

First, congratulations to Trent Harmon on being the 15th and final (possibly) American Idol. At first, I was disappointed that La’Porsha lost, as she was more consistent than he was. But now that she has made some homophobic comments, I can say I am happy with the result. Trent has an amazing voice, and if he is given the right material he could do really well. His gorgeous cover of “Chandelier” by Sia and his encore of his winning single “Falling” were my two favorite performances of his.

The finale went by really quick-which never happens for me usually. Only when JLo was performing did I ever look at my watch. I’m going to move on from that performance now because it went on 5 minutes too long and it took time away from the Bowie Tribute with the 5 winning White Guys with Guitars (including my favorites David Cook and Nick Fradiani). If THAT performance was longer, it would have been nice.

Regardless, It was amazing to see so many former contestants come back, and it really proved how great Idol has been at making stars. Highlights included Kelly Clarkson’s pretaped medley, Caleb Johnson and James Durbin dominating the rock medley, Jessica Sanchez killing “The Prayer” again in the acoustic medley, Pia Toscano’s solo and Allison Iraheta coming into the spotlight in the pop medley, and Candice Glover and Melinda Doolittle slaying the end of the soul medley. Carrie Underwood’s duet with Keith Urban was also great.

It was nice to see Simon Cowell return to the show and make fun of Paula again. It was great to see Dunkleman make fun of himself a bit. And Ryan’s speech at the end of the show got me pretty emotional, especially the long pause before he said “For now”. Speaking of said sign off, I hope Idol does come back in two or three years, because I will really miss this show.

Thoughts on Hillary Clinton’s Baltimore Rally

I attended Hillary Clinton’s campaign rally in Baltimore today, and it was an interesting experience. The turnout was larger than anticipated but the venue wasn’t that big-my guess is there were 800-1000 people there.

There were two protestors of some kind at the event who the Hillary supporters successfully drowned out. I know they was successful because Hillary and Representative Elijah Cummings (who endorsed her at the event) had no idea why the crowd was chanting so loudly while Rep. Cummings was speaking.

Hillary gave what I presume was her normal stump speech, but with two Baltimore-specific references thrown in. She endorsed building the Red Line in Baltimore (which made me happy to hear), and she referenced the venue as being owned by Under Amour’s CEO who is using the venue to bring innovation back to Baltimore (or something along those lines).

The speech was good, and it was clearly more of a speech aimed at the general election. She took two jabs at Bernie but I wouldn’t call either of them dirty-they were both policy oriented. Hillary was projecting confidence that she will be the nominee, and the odds suggest that will be the case.

Personally, I am still undecided, but I am leaning more towards Hillary today than I was yesterday. My biggest issue in this campaign actually has little to do with 2016. It’s all about 2020. I want the next President to be great at assisting in down-ballot races and getting Democrats elected to state government too, because that is the only way we can fix the districts that have been drawn to so heavily favor Republican representation. Without making the electoral map more fair, it won’t matter what Hillary or Bernie wants to get done. The House Republicans will block anything as long as they are in power, which they will be until 2022 at the earliest.

 

Apple Turns 40

On April 1st 2016, Apple turned 40 years old. And I was thinking about the best way to discuss that on this blog. What I decided was to post videos of the 3 most important product announcements of the last 40 years. Apple’s magic has not just been about their hardware or software, but also how they sell that hardware and software to the general public so effectively. And so here are the 3 most important Apple product announcements:

3: The original iPod – This product changed Apple from a moderately successful computer company into the leading consumer electronics company in the world today. While the iPod is now on its way out (thanks to the number one announcement on this list), it changed the music industry forever and made Apple more than slightly relevant. It made it an industry leader.

2: The Original Mac – Before the Mac, computers were very different. They were pretty elitist. They revolved around command line interfaces. Nobody knew what a mouse was before the first Mac in 1984. The Mac was not the first computer with a mouse, but it was the first one that people could afford. The Mac made computers easy enough to use that all future innovation (including the World Wide Web, desktop video editing, desktop publishing, the list goes on…) would be accessible to everyone, not just the few geeks who could figure things out.

1: The Original iPhone – The iPhone changed everything. Not just for Apple, but for the entire world. Before iPhone, nobody loved their phone. The mobile internet was a joke-totally unusable. Smartphones all had physical keyboards and buttons, and the software wasn’t even close to desktop software. There was no vibrant App community (although that came a year later with iPhone OS 2). Android would not be what it is today without the iPhone. And iPhone changed more than just the tech industry. The video camera on iPhone captured lots of breaking news events that we wouldn’t have known about if someone didn’t record them. Every modern protest movement seemingly revolves around the internet and people using devices like iPhone. So it is easy to say that the iPhone is Apple’s most important announcement yet.