Saturday, August 13, 2011

Rotten Apple

The "new" iTunes Store

I came to the iPod party slowly years ago, having first used a variety of generic and then Dell MP3 players for a while before succumbing to the Apple juggernaut.  But eventually all those old systems failed to hold onto the pace Steve Jobs' people were setting and I relented and bought an iPod.  My god!... 80 Gb on such a small device!  What a revolution it was!  One little box no bigger than my first transistor radio that could hold my entire CD collection, 200+ albums and still be less than half full.  It was a world of difference better than hauling CDs around in my car for play on a portable device.  It was a new paradigm... the new world. 

In the beginning, and for quite some time thereafter, I only digitized my CDs.  That was plenty.  But it didn't take long to discover the iTunes iStore and the new world of podcasting.  Over time I found more and more free podcast content of various types that expanded the value of my new little device including news magazines, NPR specials, Photoshop video tutorials, music programs, and all sorts of great stuff.  And on the side I remained an interested spectator in the transitions the music industry and recording artists were making to this new medium as well.  DRM, digital rights management, was the new term in the news.  Napster and the lawsuits that followed were signs things really were changing.  I might have to as well soon.

Slowly the sources of music were swinging toward a fully digital model.  Record stores began to close and when my local Borders Books and Music shop went belly up the final chapter had been written.  By this time I had fully made the switch to the Apple model. It was no longer buy a whole album to get to the one song you like... just find that song somewhere, whether on tv, the radio, or in a podcast, and then go search for it in the iTunes iStore and pick a copy up online for $0.99-$1.29 and you're good to go.  Some were still “protected” but over time even that eased up.

All through this Apple remained a media darling.  The storyline went that they had single-handedly revolutionized the industry.  They've got bullet proof hardware.  Their software is immune to viruses and malicious hacking attacks.  All the news and rumor about Apple is golden.  There's never a problem with Apple, right?  All those Microsoft Windows suckers are just that... uncreative, plodding, and hostage suckers to Bill Gates and his evil world of mischief makers.  All of them just a mouse click away from having their personal identities, bank accounts, and lives stolen because of the stupid decision to use Windows instead of Apple.  Oh, the humanity... the useless suffering!

Well guess what?!  Apple isn't bullet proof or bug free after all.  It's a myth.  That's not 24 karat gold you see on their goodies.  It might be gold plating but it's not solid.  And there may be humans running the show at 1 Infintie Loop, Cupertino, CA after all!  Humans, not androids, who make mistakes just like everyone else.  Yes, kiddies, Apple software and hardware devices can be just as buggy as Windows.  That blank screen at the top of this page is virtual proof.

If you haven't gueesed by now that screen is the new iTunes iStore on my computer.  It no longer displays the familiar store home page with images of new stuff, will not allow access for purchases of new music or updates of podcasts, or let a user do much of anything except make account changes or credit card updates.  Things money-related take top priority...naturally.  But other than that it’s completely useless for anything.  The iTunes library I maintain is still fine, but the store is CLOSED!  No "We're Closed, Go Away!" sign on the door.  Just a blank screen.  Just enough to make you scratch your head.

The first thing you think when you see something like this happen is, “... it must be me”.  So you go thru the drill.  You check for updates to see if the software version is current.  Yup.  Even Apple says so, “you have the most current version (10.4)”.  You uninstall, download, and reinstall everything again anyway to see if that makes any difference.  Nope.  That’s no good either.  And when you exhaust all the ideas you can think of you send an email to Apple with the relevant details of your problem for software/tech support.  And then you  wait.  And wait.  And wait.  And wait until it becomes obvious there won’t be a reply coming.  Apple doesn’t care.  It’s your fault.  You broke it.  You fix it.

But you don’t think so, and you end up online at the Google search page looking for anything that has to do with, “iTunes iStore blank screen” pages.  And hundreds of hits come up, with the most recent only a few months ago, each one saying just about the same thing.  Apple Support isn’t replying to them either; Apple maintains the software needs to be reinstalled; Apple says, when they do bother to reply, that the problem is on the user’s end.  You can look thru all of them but it's not necessary because there are no answers from Apple.  In every case the threads die with users going away disgusted or the problem is eventually resolved when Apple updates iTunes.  Hmmm.

If there is a solution to this nobody is talking about it, and certainly not Apple.  Personally I’ve resigned myslef to waiting it out.  Apple is the one losing revenue during all this, not me.  I'm just inconvenienced by missing occasional podcast updates, but for now I have enough unheard material “stashed” on the device that it's likely I’ll still be working them when this does get fixed.  The worst hit by far is the one Apple’s reputation took in my eyes.  They’re no longer golden.  All of ther goodwill is gone.  When you treat me the same way that other software vendors have treated me... in other words, ignored me or hoisted buggy software - including spyware - on my computer.... you’re no better than they are.  I almost expect to hear an outsourced foreign voice on their tech support soon.  That'll be a death knell.

Bad Apple.  Bad.  I bit into you and found a worm!

1 comment:

  1. Eventually I did find an obscure forum entry somewhere that described the entire and complex sequence of Apple software uninstallations, file deletions, and reinstallations that had to be conducted before all systems would return to normal. And yes, this did include iTunes, Quicktime, and something else which I've now forgotten.

    It will be a royal pain in the ass if this ever happens again too because it will force me to look all over the internet to relocate the solution. Unless, and it just might be, that I was smart enough to stash the procedure somewhere on my system. I think I did. If this happens to you call me.