Thursday, January 13, 2005

It's Smackdown Time!

I know you all have been wondering where I've been, maybe a little concerned at my inactivity as of late. What I've been doing is wrestling with my fucking iPod. Wait, let me revise that, because I love my iPod. Wrestling with my iPod made by Fucking Apple! Not that Apple is any worse than other large, market-dominating corporations, but they've really pissed me off!

I complained earlier about iTunes' lack of the crucial songs I want from The Police's Message in a Box box set. So I was watching some Jimmy Eat World videos online yesterday, and I noticed a link to the Real Player music store. I upgraded my Real Player software and browsed the store, and lo and behold! They have the songs!!! Sweet!!! They also say that they can play on iPods. Sweet. I spent about 15 bucks for all the songs I want. I plug in my iPod and put the songs on it with the Real software, since I can't add the songs to iTunes (they're a protected Real format). The songs get on and I'm stoked. Then I tried to play one. It didn't work! Damn! Then I open iTunes to see if I can play it off the iPod through that, and iTunes doesn't recognize my iPod. It's telling me I have to restore it to factory settings, which will erase all my over 10 gigs of music!!! On no you di'int!! So I deleted the offending songs off the iPod, and iTunes still won't read my iPod!

It turns out that Real and Apple are having a good-versus-evil battle, with both sides calling the other a minion of darkness. Apple has rigged the iPod to only play songs bought on iTunes, not other online stores. It will play regular old mp3s, but not Windows Media or Real files. Real got pissed that Apple wouldn't license the code for this song protection (i.e. let Real pay Apple to sell songs that will play on iPod) so it reverse engineered a process that makes its songs look like iTunes songs that the iPod will play. Apple got pissed, accused Real of hacking its proprietary information, and threatened to sue.

But that's not all Apple did. Apple then released a normal software update that it tells all of its iPod users to install. They said the update included enhanced shuffling, or whatever, and people like me installed it. What Apple didn't tell people is that the update came with a feature negating the play-ability of Real iPod-formatted songs. Those sneaky bastards!!!! What I haven't been able to find proof of is that not only does the update prevent you from playing Real songs, apparently it punishes you by not letting you manage the iPod with iTunes anymore! That's really fucking petty and low, Apple! You suck! I guess I could just use the Real Player to rip CD's and buy songs from now on, but I'm not sure that will work, and I don't want to take that chance. Plus, Real Player is famous for putting spy and adware on your computer, and I'd rather not deal with removing that and reducing the player's functionality in the process.

So I spent the day looking for a program that will backup my iPod, with all the songs and organization intact, that I can use to put the songs back on after I restore the iPod. If that doesn't get me back into iTunes, I'm planning a Fight Club style bombing of Apple's offices. Or I might just try using the Real Player. I have backed up the iPod and put the songs into iTunes. Now I have to take the plunge, erase the iPod, and hope iTunes recognizes it so I can put all the music back on. Wish me luck.

iPod: Nothing! Because it's plugged into my computer waiting to be stripped and emasculated.