I’m a Mac. And I’m a P.C.*

shuffle* Peeved Consumer.

Yesterday we gave our daughter a new iPod Shuffle.  It was partly to replace the generic MP3 player she used to have that died, and partly to celebrate (another) excellent report card.

So we already had a bunch of MP3s that I had purchased over the past couple of years (yes – purchased).  I blithely thought I could just transfer all the High School Musical, Jonas Brothers, Hannah Montana, and Lenny Kravitz(!) songs from my hard drive onto her new Shuffle.  So I did, then let the four hour charging period elapse.  When we took it off the charging station, presto!  Nothing!

My first thought was that our ancient home laptop (it only has ONE  USB port!) was incapable of delivering the charge to the Shuffle, and that’s why it wouldn’t play.  It never ocurred to me that there was no music there to play, because I could see the files that I had transferred sitting on the thing in Explorer.  So I brought it to work today to try my “real” laptop (SIX USB ports) on the job.  Nope – after four hours, the little “I’m not ready” indicator light was still blinking.

So I broke down and RTFM.  RTFM is short for “Read the f***ing manual,” which is what tech support people all over the world want to yell at DFUs every day.  DFU is “DumbF*** User,” the type of people who often have I.D. ten T problems.  Anyway, page 1 was “Download and Install iTunes.”  And one of the final steps was to “Click Eject before disconnecting” – the Eject button is in the iTunes interface.  I didn’t really want iTunes, since I buy my music elsewhere, had tried iTunes before and didn’t like it, and didn’t think you should need special software just to load files onto a peripheral device.  But whatever – it was for my daughter.

So I dutifully downloaded.  During installation, it made me reboot my machine, which I always hate, but again, whatever.  Upon startup, the wizard asked me if I wanted to automatically import any music file it found the the My Music folder on my machine.  I said sure, because I knew that the only files in the My Music folder were the ones I had just put there for my daughter.  Then I noticed it was actually grabbing EVERY MP3, WAV and other sound file anywhere on my drive.  This includes every Beatles song, a whole bunch of system alerts, a few dozen podcasts, the audio to some of my hour-long marketing lectures, etc.  So I had to spend the next 20 minutes deleting (one by one) every file that wouldn’t be to her liking.

Finally I was ready to push the music onto the device, and the manual helpfully said to click the “Autofill” button, and even had a simple drawing showing me where in the iTunes interface I could find it.  Except it wasn’t there.  Nor was it an option in any of the menus (basic interface design rule:  EVERYTHING should be available through a menu).  I finally found the right screen and the Autofill button, and 2 minutes later was listening to music.

I’m not anti-Mac or anti-Apple by any stretch – the first 4 years of my professional career were spent on Macs, and they were great.  But now I see how this whole zeitgeist that Apple has about simplicity can be annoying.  Sure, the close integration between the player, the download tool, and the store filled with available music is elegant and rich, but what if I don’t want/need one or more of the components?  They each shouldn’t REQUIRE the others to be there.  It’s like saying if I want to drive my Audi, I need to use Audi gasoline and drive on Audi streets.  I predict this model will not last.

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6 Responses to “I’m a Mac. And I’m a P.C.*”

  1. Jason Landry Says:

    I’m not so sure it won’t last – iTunes integration is a big part of what has made the iPod successful, despite the fact that many people hate it. The same is true for the iPhone.

    Also, speaking from experience, Mac software for Windows machines is never as good as the native versions.

  2. Clayton Says:

    Itunes is Apple’s Internet Explorer; the big application that even the die-hards love to hate, partly because they’re forced to use it.

    Are Macs better or worse than PC’s? Don’t know, don’t care. Nobody can show an end product that is better because it was created on either platform (but I do wish the smug Mac zealots would STFU about it)

  3. Derek K. Miller Says:

    As a longtime diehard Apple fanboy (I managed to get the only Mac at Maximizer, remember?), I agree that iTunes, while a good way to manage music, is way too much of a catch-all. I wish you could just drag media files to your iPod from the Finder or Windows Explorer. I wish you could get them off an iPod the same way. I wish there were alternative music managers for people who want them.

    I’d perhaps offer you the Zune I have, but we use it as an FM radio, and it has the same problem anyway, but the lock-in is to the Zune software. Sigh.

  4. The Apple Brand is Sticky « About Bars & Marketing - by Stephen Brooks Says:

    […] Apple Brand is Sticky March 30, 2009 — Stephen Brooks Following on to Friday’s post about my frustration with getting my daughter’s iPod up and running, I have to dish some mad […]

  5. netdud Says:

    This doesn’t really have much to do with operating systems per se, or the companies that make them. An audio player like you’re talking about it is just some storage, a little chip to convert bits to bleeps, and some way to make that louder.

    It doesn’t make sense to make something like that more complex to use than it has to be. I can copy files from my computer to all kinds of storage devices just by connecting them, and then dragging and dropping the little pictures on the screen. Why in the world would you pay a premium for something that makes that MORE difficult?

    I’m listening to music right now on the Mac I’m typing this on, in iTunes. It came installed, and hasn’t done anything to make me use something else. I can move that same music to my Sansa with Finder. On Linux, I listen to the SAME files in [whatever I normally use], and move the files in [whatever I normally use to move files[. When I use Windows, I listen in [whatever works], and move files in [whatever works].

    Adding another piece of software, be it iTunes or anything else, and then learning how it works–or how to make it work–on a specific machine is more work, and gets me less.

    “Dude, WTF?”
    –inscription on the wall of The Cave at Emptor.

  6. When a Product Tries to Be TOO “Easy to Use” « brooXmark – Marketing Consultancy by Stephen Brooks Says:

    […] In my dream world, plugging a camera into a USB port would be the same as plugging in a flash drive — you would see a whole bunch of files, and you could pick the ones that you want to grab.  (Similar to how I wish iPods would work.) […]


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