6/20/06

Unfriendly Behavior with iTunes

Let me start my saying that I am trying to use an unsupported, non-recommended set-up. I want to store my iTunes library on my Linux server in an NFS-mounted directory. Why? I bought a 60 GB PowerBook instead of an 80GB, and figured I didn't need to have the music taking up disk space (especially when I have a 200GB disk sitting here on the network). iTunes has an option to specify a different iTunes Music folder location (Preferences, Advanced, General).

The only problem I had (I thought) was when I fired up iTunes (or my PowerBook did in response to plugging my iPod in—I've switched that off also) and my server was turned off. iTunes insisted on resetting my iTunes directory back to the default instead of giving me an error message. It showed that a whole bunch of music was missing (of course) and stored new purchases or newly ripped music into the default location again. But, I thought that the only problem I had was that occasionally music or podcasts would end up in the wrong place, and I would move them.

Then yesterday, it happened and in the course of trying to fix things, I found that some music was missing. The missing music was on my iPod, but I could not find it anywhere on my PowerBook or my Linux server. Yipes! I was, of course, happy that it was on my iPod. But, iTunes has no mechanism to update your music library from the iPod, only vice versa. You can mount the iPod, of course, as a disk, but that gives you no access to the iPod music section.

I am not clear as to what happened or why, but I do think it has to do with the iTunes client preferring local storage and insisting on changing back to it when the configured directory is unavailable. (I'd like it to complain and give me a choice.)

In another entry, I'll discuss the program I found and used; it saved me from hours of frustration.

PodWorks—providing what should already be in iTunes and isn't

In a previous blog, I discussed why I needed something like this program. As described on the PodWorks webpage,
PodWorks is a Mac OS X … application that compensates for the iPod's only downside: Apple only allows you to copy songs to your iPod. If you have two Macs and want to use your iPod to transfer music from one to the other, or you only store your MP3s on your iPod and need to copy them back onto your hard drive after a disk failure, you are out of luck!

This is where PodWorks comes in: it allows you to copy songs from any Mac iPod to any Mac …
This small application is easy to use and did what it claims, quickly and cleanly. I recovered my missing tunes, and I also used it to back up all music on my iPod to another location. (And from now on I will do disk-to-disk back-ups of my Music library.) The unregistered version of PodWorks has the following limitations:
  • 30 day time limit.
  • 250 song copy limit.
  • Songs must be copied one at a time.
  • Single-drag copying of playlists is disabled.
I didn't need the 30 days to test it. After 30 minutes, I purchased it. Did I mention it only costs USD$8.00? A terrific and inexpensive product.

6/15/06

Weird Science #1 This Week

It was a strange week. The first item that jumped out at me was the headline on The Register's news item: Hawking: Leave Earth or die! At first, I thought someone was threatening him, but then I saw it was a warning from Hawking.

I don't know about you, but I'm not packing just yet.

Weird Science #2 This Week

And this, from the Canada Free Press, in response to Al Gore's version of Scary Movie, Scientists respond to Gore's warnings of climate catastrophe. Short version: they did not say, "Good movie, Mr. Vice President."

6/4/06

20 Reasons I am still glad I switched to Mac

Check out Computerworld's article by Scot Finnie, Visual Tour: 20 Things You Won't Like About Windows Vista. Twenty more things to like about the Mac move.

6/2/06

Extraordinary Crimes, Extraordinary Means? Back-ups again.

"Woman targeted by web hackers," is the headline of this BBC News article. It talks about someone who was victim to "new phenomenon, known as Ransomware."

The first thing I thought of? That the BBC won't print "Disk crash causes Greater Manchester woman to lose all files." Yet a solution to this old problem would provide a solution to this "new" one: Every user should have an easy way and an accessible place for backing up.

So, this is the current scheme on my home network: The PCs use Allsync®, backing up to a Linux server. On my PowerBook, I use Sync.

Now, I have to start periodically saving that backed up data from my Linux system to DVD-Rs. Hmmmm. Or, I suppose, I should nightly copy this out to one of my Internet-based servers. Duh. Should've thought of that before! Rsync it! Yes!! I'm not worried about Ransomware. But, a fire would do even more damage to the data.

The article closes with, "A Greater Manchester Police spokesman said: 'Our High Tech Crime Unit is aware of this new type of crime and incidents of this kind could increase in future.'"

To which I say,
"Extraordinary crimes against the people and the State have to be avenged by agents extraordinary. Two such people are John Steed, top professional, and his partner Emma Peel, talented amateur—otherwise known as The Avengers.
No. Really, Helen should've just backed up her data periodically. And not clicked on that link.