I have to confess that a simple solution to my dislike of iTunes would be to not use but I have credit on the account and frankly I am not sure what I would change to. In fact this particular rant has no specific aim as I do know of that solution to the problem and chose not to take it, so I guess this is really more of an outpouring of fruit related frustration brought on by not be able to understand why something fairly every day took me over an hour and a half to do.

 

 

It is unfortunately necessary for me to explain what I was trying to achieve in the first place and I am going to confess the whole truth. My copy of the man manual (the Stork dropped it off with me) has a reasonably extensive section on music that a man is not allowed to own, it is very clear about the social consequences of breaching these rules and the rare occasions where indulging in such music is acceptable (i.e. when a girlfriend likes the music). My sin is Hanson.

It all started when I was looking for a version of ‘Magic carpet ride’ by Steppenwolf (if you consult your copy of the man manual you’ll note that this is perfectly acceptable), I am sure that I have heard someone do a more up to date sounding version but can’t seem to find it. Instead of that version and with the intention of discounting it I came across a live Hanson cover of it (not the greatest version but not something I would have guessed they would cover (years ago)) and didn’t entirely dislike it. In that YouTube sort of way I then browsed around the related vids and found a more recent acoustic live performance of middle of nowhere which seemed to work quite well and then another live performance but this time of their new(newest?) album which I was quite surprised by.

Anthem (the name of the album) is sort of unexpected, there are inevitably some songs that aren’t for me but then there are others such as ‘Already Home’ and ‘Fired Up’ which really start making me think of EasyWorld (You and Me, Junkies, Bleach etc), to a lesser extent Ben Folds Five and even Electric Six. I do get the feeling from the lyrics that sex and drugs is possibly secondary to church on Sunday, not that it matters it is just there is something noticeably safe about them – pop I suppose.

Basically it occurred to me that there was potential for creating a playlist that included Hanson and being a good law abiding netizen I fired up iTunes to make the purchase. I should also say that I did buy older hits as well but only really for the sake of completeness..... and they are irritatingly catchy (but please don’t bury me in a coffin wired to play them on an eternal loop).

 

I realise that was rather a lengthy explanation but as I have gone against the guidance of the man manual I must accept that an inquisition may arrive at the door at anytime and I want the record to show that I did consider the purchase and possible consequences carefully as I think that would count in my favour. Obviously I hope that such an inquisition does not arrive but you can never be too prepared, apparently no one expects them.

 

Anyway, I believe that counts as digressing.

 

Basically I was trying to buy about 20 songs and it took me more than an hour and a half.

Not so basically...

 

iTunes country or regionIn general I get irritated by Apple products, not always, it is just they have Apple way of going about things that seems baffling at times.

Things like selecting a country or region, how can that be made to really grind my gears? Well, by listing every other country as a subset of a region, Europe, Africa etc, South America etc. but listing Canada and USA as a subset of The United States and Canada – really, why aren’t Canada and USA a subset of North America? I am not bemoaning that the regions are listed (I presume) in order of customer base as that’ll make it inconvenient for the minority which is acceptable in this case. The people of North America are not so dim that they would be confused to find their nations listed under North America.

This is the sort of vital issue I notice in a program happily used by millions, I can’t help it, and it irritates me.

 

 

Putting that to one side and heading towards the point..... (slowly)...

 

 

I went to the store and purchased the album, it isn’t difficult to do and I have credit. However recently updated iTunes decided that the idea of downloading something was beyond the pale and whilst it didn’t freeze it was quite apparent that whatever thread is responsible for store to disk delivery on the client had joined a certain parrot as a member of the choir invisible. Then it became clear that the only resolution would be to whip out the ctrl alt delete stick and beat the iTunes exe about the head with the delete key (it only ends the process in task manager but is still a satisfying thing to do).

Upon the restart, being old fashioned, I thought that the download would simply start by itself – why wouldn’t I want to download the music. There is probably an option for this somewhere but I dislike having to press the alt key to discover the useful options in iTunes. So instead I had to wait until the inactive download icon appeared in the corner and then restart it again from there, after entering my password a disturbing number of times.

 

Download icon

The downloads succeeded this time which was nice but being as sharp as a shard of foam I spotted that I was missing the two songs that had been in progress when iTunes crashed. That presented somewhat of a problem since the download window presented no obvious suggestions for this (presumably) common occurrence.

Fortunately I come equipped with the ability to deploy rudimentary logical deduction to solve my own problems. Being a pro I naturally scanned the magic alt menu for something suitable but was disappointed, my next logical thought was to locate the inevitable account page (the purchase is associated with my account so that’ll provide some stepping stones towards the solution) and sure enough I found a suitable looking section called purchase history and fire that page up.

iTunes purchase history

Minimalism has its place in the world but it is a real pain in the backside when you are trying to select a item from a table when the identifying feature of the song (its name) is on the left and the thing you need to press is on the right, it is in fact really irritating.

There is also the curious idea of including an entire column of ‘Report a Problem’ with individual entries of ‘Report a Problem’ for each row in the table.... really? Someone who has a salary looked at this and thought ‘that doesn’t look odd’, clear evidence that having a job is not sufficient to make someone right.

 

Anyway, I dutifully clicked a problem link which did something I found peculiar, it opened a web browser sending me to a page that wouldn’t load, useful I thought (C*&^% I said). Giving it a good belting of F5 (knowing a web server is struggling and firing more requests than necessary may not make sense but it’s just inevitable) and an evil glare the page eventually loaded. Well, I say loaded when I really mean most of it loaded, there was something frustratingly absent, specifically the somewhat entirely necessary sign in box.

Lack of sign in box

Somehow I still managed to enter an incorrect password and got taken through the password reset process, that strangely didn’t result in my password being reset – fortunate really as I am dire at remembering new passwords.

Eventually I got to where the report a problem link intended.....

Help at last!

I do dislike support sections that attempt to assign blame to the user especially when there really is not a great deal a user can do when a program ceases to function. ‘Can’t be found’ makes me sound like some dribbling fool (an accusation I struggle to deny in general but is not relevant to this specific incident).

Anyway, this bread crumb of a support page says I have to iTunes in the Cloud....which is back in iTunes – so iTunes sent me out of iTunes in order that I could be sent back to iTunes, it doesn’t strike me as an entirely considered chain of events.

To me staying inside the application, especially since the solution is inside the application would have been better and most likely quicker, I have never heard of iTunes in the Cloud, I probably should have but frankly iDont care about Apple stuff that much.

 

Anyway, the advice to download this item from iTunes in the cloud is really misleading as I don’t have anywhere called that to go to. However as a fan of Lord of The Rings I realised that in fact the support page was a riddle, the clue is ‘.....purchase history.’. Again there isn’t actually a menu specifically named this anywhere, there is a ‘purchased’ link in the quick links section of the store homepage. Call me mad but didn’t I start off looking at my purchases in the account section?

It turns out that this purchased link takes you to another place that shows purchases in a different way.

Purchased, a miracle

I’d show that page populated with songs but having to explain all my guilty pleasures would take too long.

I know I am a bit odd but that doesn’t look like something called iTunes in the Cloud, it just isn’t.  Same thing from what I can work out, I presume it to compete with the Amazon mp3 service but just not what I was told to look for.

When I first looked there I was delighted to discover the missing songs sitting there ready to download, the solution was about three clicks away all the time. What was disturbing was that alongside the songs I knew were missing were a couple more. I admit I have done some drunk music shopping before and been surprised to find unexpected music the morning after, often resulting in the same duality of feeling that follows the discovery of a dead mouse in your bed if you have a cat – yes it’s nice to have a surprise present but it is a dead mouse.

Obviously I click the download button and grab the outstanding tracks and that’s where this now epic endeavour to legally acquired music ends.... well no, what actually happened was nothing. Really, iTunes did nothing; or rather it did something just nothing apparently to do with my request.

iTunes dividing by zero

I had made sure I had turned off Genius ages ago as that seemed to want to take forever to do anything. In this case iTunes was genuinely doing nothing and I left it like this for quite some time, had a sandwich, read war and peace, painted the fourth bridge and created artificial life on a far away world in the interim certain that iTunes must be doing something. Alas nay, it was stuck and worse than that it was making the cpu do some exercise which meant the fans in my computer were getting gradually louder as well as causing the ambient temperature of the room to rise which in turn led to sweating of the back.

I opened a window and it got cooler relieving the need for back sweat.

I hope you can see that I didn’t need to go via any website or deduce from a riddle this eloquent solution, I just opened the window, would be nice if Apple understood this more simplistic approach to problem resolution.

 

After giving it another beating with the ctrl alt delete stick iTunes did comply and actually downloaded the songs.

Think that’s going to be the end? No, that was just buying an album, I wanted to buy the other older popular stuff Hanson did years ago for the sake of completeness (I explained this earlier, before you were eligible for a bus pass).

Through politeness and to give the struggling program a chance I was careful to wait till it had finished downloading before trying to buy anything more. Once it had finished downloading I diligently returned to the store page and sort out the relevant offenders with only the slightest of issues that clicking on the price of the track (as one does to initiate a purchase) did absolutely nothing, not a sausage, this button was an ex button.

Close and restart....

Victory, ‘If Only’ was in the bag and downloading, easy. Nothing could go wrong after all, one song at a time.

if only, if only

Yeah, I don’t know how, really couldn’t even try to theorise an explanation, I didn’t buy it twice, I checked that. Also I realise that it isn’t difficult to fix, deleting is simple yet still how can one not be puzzled as to how that can happen.

 

I did eventually manage to grab all the songs but it was through a mixture of luck, patience and sheer determination.

Never in my life did I ever conceive of a situation where I would consider buying some Hanson tracks to be an achievement worthy of note in the annuls of my life but today is that day and I genuinely feel proud that my recently added play list looks like this;

Hanson all over my iTunes

It should be all about the music but really it is all about the achievement of simply having managed to buy something on iTunes. Honestly it took longer to acquire this music than it does to listen to it; this music is now precious to me. What started out as a purchase of some innocent background casual occasional type music descended into a hellish nightmare of Cupertino creation.

Hanson is now becoming a special part of my life, I didn’t intend this to happen but I am going to stay up till 6 am listening to these songs on repeat, not because it is my favourite music but because I had to work so hard to get it.

 

Just to balance this out a bit I am going to make the effort to specifically make clear that I have music other than hard earned pop –

Stones makes it okay

See, Rolling Stones balances it out.

 

There is probably a reasonable puzzlement in the mind of anyone that read this far down the page as to why anyone would write about two and a half thousand words on having a problem with iTunes.

One part of the answer is that posting up a long string of assorted swear words could be considered to be offensive.

The main part of the reason is that I have gaps on my CV and this is why, it isn’t that I do nothing it is just that things like this happen. This was only buying some music from the internet; I have to go to Tesco’s tomorrow.