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Emoji Movies

Posted on July 17th, 2017

Dave!I love good marketing.

The problem is that so few companies manage it.

Apple happens to be a company that excels at good marketing. Like when they converted the banners in the iTunes Store to LEGO in celebration of The LEGO Batman Movie being released.

And now... the banners across the top of the "Movies" section of the iTunes Store were all movie titles constructed out of emojis! (in celebration of The Emoji Movie perhaps?) I copied all of them because I just couldn't stand the idea of such brilliance being lost. How many can you guess?

Emoji Movies

Emoji Movies

Emoji Movies

Emoji Movies

Emoji Movies

Emoji Movies

Emoji Movies

Emoji Movies

Emoji Movies

Emoji Movies

Emoji Movies

Emoji Movies

Even the "featured titles" were spelled out in emoji...

Emoji Movies

Emoji Movies

Emoji Movies

Emoji Movies

Emoji Movies

Emoji Movies

Emoji Movies

Emoji Movies

Emoji Movies

Emoji Movies

Emoji Movies

So great.

   

LEGO Cinemania

Posted on May 20th, 2017

Dave!In celebration of The LEGO Batman Movie being released on iTunes (a film I absolutely recommend you should see)... Apple put a bunch of movies on sale and gave their visuals a LEGO treatment.

I liked them so much that I wanted to be sure and save them to my blog in case I ever wanted to see them again...

LEGO-fied Movie Poster!

LEGO-fied Movie Poster!

LEGO-fied Movie Poster!

LEGO-fied Movie Poster!

LEGO-fied Movie Poster!

LEGO-fied Movie Poster!

LEGO-fied Movie Poster!

LEGO-fied Movie Poster!

LEGO-fied Movie Poster!

LEGO-fied Movie Poster!

LEGO-fied Movie Poster!

A couple of these films could have been vastly pproved if they were LEGO creations... just sayin'.

   

iTuned

Posted on October 22nd, 2015

Dave!Since the beginning of the home computer revolution, I have used thousands of programs (apps, for the kids out there). Some have been good, some have been bad, some have been amazing. But, in all that time, only one of them can be crowned "Worst Software of All Time."

And it's Apple's iTunes.

No joke... iTunes is the single biggest pile of shit I have ever encountered.

It started as a music player called SoundJam back in 1998, and I was a huge fan. When it came to playing your digital music collection, it was easily the best solution out there. Apple knew this too, which is why they bought out the program and self-branded it iTunes to fit with the whole "i-esthetic" they had going on at the time. And, for a while there, all was good. Apple changed a few things and made it look a prettier, but it was still the SoundJam I enjoyed.

But then everything changed. No longer merely a music player and cataloger, iTunes quickly became Apple's "hub" for digital media thanks to the release of the iPod. It wasn't too bad at first... sometimes I had a hell of a time syncing my music but, for the most part it worked well. It was also around that time we got handy additional features, like "Smart Playlists," that were a welcome additions to the program.

The honeymoon wouldn't last.

As more and more "features" (aka "crap") were added to iTunes, it grew into a massive pile of bloatware that was complicated, confusing, and bug-ridden. iTunes wasn't exclusively for playing music any more, it was a storefront for the iTunes Music Store. Movies and TV shows were added. And ringtones. And podcasts. And apps. And internet radio. And books. Very quickly iTunes was suffering an identity crisis, and Apple struggled (and failed badly) to come up with a user interface that made sense across all the shit it was supposed to be managing.

Then, just when you thought it couldn't possibly get worse, Apple Music was crammed into the mix.

And suddenly I was longing for the days that iTunes was merely complicated, confusing, and bug-ridden. Apple's streaming music solution, which I could give a fuck about, further pushed iTunes into utter ruin. The program is so fucked up now that you don't use it... you tolerate it. And even that's too much to ask sometimes.

Take for instance video streaming.

I have been ranting for years about how fucking stupid it is that Apple forces you to download your movie and television purchases so you can watch them. Never mind that every other digital content provider on earth allows streaming video, Apple did not unless you wanted to watch on an AppleTV. But, surprise surprise, video streaming was added along with Apple Music. No more being forced to clutter valuable hard drive space with a download when you want to watch The Matrix for the hundredth time... now you just start playing.

Except when you can't. Which is often.

I can't tell you how many times I've tried to watch a movie only to have it stutter, drop out, go out of sync, or even crash. This evening I wanted to watch Edge of Tomorrow and found it impossible. Start. Stop. Start. Stop. Start. Stop. Start. Stop. Stutter. Stutter. Stutter. At first I wanted to blame my internet connection. But streaming from Netflix was fine. Streaming from Amazon was fine. Streaming from YouTube was fine. It's just Apple's piece of shit service that doesn't fucking work. So I have to wait 20 minutes for the movie to download before I can watch it. Used to be you could watch a movie while it's downloading, but the stuttering was worse than when I tried streaming. It's absolute bullshit that Apple has BILLIONS of dollars at their disposal and can't get this shit figured out when literally everybody else has.

And what about music?

Apple added a subscription service called iTunes Match back in 2011 which allows you to put your music in "the cloud" so it's accessible anywhere. And not just your music purchased from Apple... all your music, no matter where it came from. And it was too good to be true. All that music I ripped from my CDs at a low bitrate because I didn't want it taking up hard disk space? Well, if Apple sells it, they automatically match it and upgrade the file to the best quality they have available. And since it's in the cloud, it's taking up -zero- megabytes on your drive! Brilliant!

Except when it isn't. Which is often.

The biggest problem is not really Apple's fault. If a music publisher all of a sudden decides to withdraw their music from iTunes, you lose it. This goes for every last song you purchase from Apple. Unless you've downloaded a backup it's gone. And since this scenario is in the licensing agreement you sign off on, you have no recourse. So... always have a backup of your music. This is critical.

While the concept of iTunes Match is good, it's not utopia. Sometimes music you own won't match for some reason... even though Apple sells the song. Other times Apple will match the wrong tracks. I bought The Beatles collection in mono... the way it was meant to be heard. Apple matched everything to the stereo version. And of course there's no way to fix this in the system. Annoying, but not a deal breaker.

Other problems arise when the iTunes service is down. Or Apple's streaming servers are overloaded and streaming badly. Unless you have local copies of your music (defeating the whole purpose of the cloud), all your music is inaccessible. That should be a deal breaker.

And it gets worse. iTunes is such a massive pile of crap that sometimes you can't access your music even when Apple's streaming service is working flawlessly. I have 30 "albums" by Depeche Mode. When viewing my library as "Songs," everything not purchase through iTunes disappears (even if you have "SHOW ALL MY MUSIC" checked). Change to "Artists" view and suddenly they're back. The program is so hideously complex that little problems like this are everywhere.

Topped off by the fact that iTunes is FOREVER asking you to type in your fucking password. Most of the time for no damn reason.

It's to the point now where I regret having purchased any of my digital content from Apple. Especially movies and TV shows. Far better to have purchased my digital content from a company that actually gives a flying fuck about providing a workable solution to their customers.

And Apple is absolutely not that company.

Probably isn't going to be any time soon.

   

Apple Music

Posted on July 2nd, 2015

Dave!Well, gee, where do I start.

In summary: Apple Music is a poorly-executed, bug-ridden, embarrassing pile of crap that is sadly typical of the utter shit that permeates anything to do with iTunes. If you've already got Spotify, there is nothing to see here. I'd argue that Apple's execution of a streaming music service is actually worse than Spotify in just about every sense. After the three-month free trial is over, I'll be dumping Apple Music like the steaming turd it is.

Shall we begin?

  1. Apple Music "iCloud Music Library" corrupts your iTunes data. Ever since activating Apple Music, everything has been completely fucked for me. Clicking on one song plays another. Album art is a jumble. Songs are missing. There seems to be no end to the bugs that Apple Music is responsible for. Apple's "fix" for the problem seemed to have worked... but then I started having problems again (even though I turned iCloud Music Library off). It is entirely possible that I have lost some of the CD music rips I entrusted to iTunes Match, and I am very, very pissed about it.
  2. Apple Music has made the iTunes UI even more stupid. iTunes has a user interface which is about as bad as it gets. And then along comes Apple Music to make things far worse. It took me forever to figure out how the fuck to even get to Apple Music, because it's under a tab titled "For You." What the bloody hell "For You" (suggestions for music you might like) has to do with a streaming service I have no idea. But any time you search Apple Music for a song, you pop back into "For You" again, so there it is. Why the fuck Apple calls it "Apple Music" but labels it "For You" is anybody's guess because it's just so damn idiotic.
  3. Apple Music "For You" suggestions are shit. Seriously? Apple has access to every damn song I own, which means they know exactly what I like to listen to. But does their "suggestions" reflect that? Not in the least. It's filled with shit I wouldn't dream of listening to. I mean, Lady Gaga? Really? But here's the real problem... you can "love" a track, but you can't "hate" a track. If you can't "hate" a track, how in the hell is Apple Music ever going to learn what you don't want to hear?
  4. Beats 1 Radio is worse than Clear Channel. I never understood how a "worldwide radio station" could manage to appeal to everyone. Turns out it can't. Either the music being played is the same Top 40 playlist trash you can get off a regular radio... or it's some esoteric crap I have zero interest in. After a day of listening, only rarely was I listening to something I actually enjoyed.
  5. Apple Music Connect is just so lame. After Apple canceled their rather embarrassing social media music experiment "Ping," they seem to have brought it back with less features as "Apple Music Connect." Basically, it allows you to keep in touch with the artists you like. And those you don't like. Connect automatically subscribes you to any artist with an account that happens to be in your library whether you want them to or not. I have a song in my library by Avril LaVigne... don't ask me why... maybe it was free or something, because I don't care for Avril... but that was all it took to have Apple subscribe me to her feed. So now I'm stuck having to waste time UNFOLLOWing Avril and most of the other artist appearing in Connect. Or at least trying to. Clicking UNFOLLOW doesn't work most of the time. Lame.
  6. Apple Music is missing some important music. Want to listen to some Prince? I don't blame you. So go start up some Prince on Apple Music! I'll wait...
  7. Apple Music makes everything more difficult. Seriously unintuitive. Things that are effortless on other services are confusing, complex, and time-consuming with Apple Music. I was so confused at one point that I was Googling for help. That's when I ran across this gem. Just pathetic. Did anybody at Apple actually test this shit?
  8. No Sonos support. Blergh.
  9. All the iTunes bugs are still there. Having to sign in to iCloud over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over again? Yep. And what about movies that want to download no matter how many times you delete them? Yep. And being forced to download a movie to watch it instead of just streaming it? Yep. ITunes Store still being brain-dead about movies you've already purchased? Yep. Purchased movies not showing up in your "My Movies" tab? Yep. iTunes Match titles not being available every time you start up the app until you logout then log back in then turn Match back on? Yep. Random crashes? Yep. None... NOT ONE of the many, many bugs that plague this pile of shit have been addressed with the latest "Apple Music" edition. Pathitic.
  10. The new icon is butt-ugly. Well, it is.

I have no clue as to what's happening at Apple these days. More and more they just can't seem to get their shit together. Apple Music is just one more failure in a series of failures, and it's getting tiring.

I shouldn't have to work so hard to be an Apple fan.

   

Telehistory

Posted on January 30th, 2015

Dave!My favorite television show of all time bounces between Cupid (the Jeremy Piven original, not the shitty 2009 remake) and Veronica Mars. Interestingly enough, they were both created by the same guy... Rob Thomas (not the singer from Matchbox Twenty).

Cupid has never been released on home video, so the only way I get to see it is to watch digital recordings I copied from VHS tape. Needless to say, "crappy" doesn't even begin to describe their quality (or lack thereof), so I am always on the watching for an officially release on iTunes or something.

It never comes.

The good news is that over the past decade we've seen a number of shows I've been waiting for finally get a release. Once I noticed the fantastic Now and Again was out last Fall, I decided to see what else was available...

And here's a list of shows I'm still waiting for...

  • Cupid (the best television show ever).
  • Oh Grow Up! (Alan Ball pre-Six Feet Under).
  • I'm With Her (Great television knock-off of Notting Hill featuring one of Peter Dinklage's best roles as a slimy Hollywood agent... plus a cameo by Betty White in one of the episodes that's among her best).
  • Grapevine (The original, not the sucky remake).
  • The American Embassy (Another American in London show).
  • Strange World (X-Files type conspiracy show).
  • Bands Reunited (I've already raved about this awesome show).
  • P.S.I. Luv You (CONNIE SELLECCA!!).
  • Duet (Alison La Placa hilarity).
  • Marker (Yes it's Richard Grieco, but doesn't suck!).

And I don't get why they haven't been released. The process for converting old TV shows to digital video is undoubtedly fully automated by now. I can't imagine it costs very much to do... especially since you don't even have to press DVDs any more.

I dunno. Maybe television studios don't want the money?

Because I'd be happy to pay.

And so would a lot of other people, I'd imagine.

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Categories: Television 2015Click To It: Permalink  5 Comments: Click To Add Yours!  

   

Bullet Sunday 357

Posted on December 1st, 2013

Dave!Time to strike up the band and pour the champaign... because Bullet Sunday starts now...

   
• Walker. I was sad to learn that Paul Walker died yesterday. Not so much for his movies (because I'm not that familiar with them outside of the "Fast and Furious" franchise) but because he was a really decent human being whose humanitarian work helped a lot of people. His Reach Out World Wide is a wonderful organization, and I would hope he gets some recognition for all the amazing work he did in founding it.

Paul Walker
I searched and searched for a picture with proper credit, but couldn't find one.
Why don't people credit their photos?

Rest in peace, sir. You did good.

   
• Comics. I don't read many comics any more... I just don't have the time... but Comixology had a sale on some "Avengers vs. X-Men" titles I've been wanting to read, so I went for it. And ran across this...

Wolverine and Cyclops Want It!

Now THAT'S some sparkling dialog right there! I know not every comic book can be Watchmen or Dark Knight or whatever... but this kind of blew my mind.

   
• Maps. My love of maps is well-documented here at Blogography. Over at Buzzfeed they made me love maps even more when they had Brits label American states on a map. The results are fantastic...

US States Map

You can see the big version of this one (and many more) by following this link. And, because fair is fair, here's an even more fantastic look at Americans trying to name European countries on a map.

   
• iTunes Fail. I have numerous issues with iTunes. The biggest one being that I can't stream my movie purchases and am forced to download them if I want to watch... when every other company in the digital movie business allows streaming. Incredibly backwards and stupid, but Apple says "no." But even putting crap that iTunes can't do aside, iTunes is frustrating because it has so many problems with what it can do.

I have a MacBook Pro with Retina Display. It's display capabilities are beyond HD. Way beyond HD. And yet, I still get this ridiculous error message form time to time when trying to purchase HD content...

iTunes FAIL!

But even more shocking than that is iTunes occasionally telling me it doesn't support QuickTime... the fundamental video system of every Macintosh computer since video has been on Macs...

iTunes FAIL!

Stupid shit like drives me insane. Partly because it's so random, and you never know what's going to cause it... but mostly because it's Apple, and there's no way you can just call them up and have it fixed. Yes, they have "proper channels" you can go through to report problems, but I have never had a problem solved going that route. Hell, I've reported mistakes in Apple's "Maps" application that have gone completely ignored for months (years maybe?). Oh well. It's Apple.

   
• Nigella. I'm a massive fan of celebrity English foodie Nigella Lawson. She's bright, funny, smart, a heck of a cook, and drop-dead beautiful...

Nigella Lawson
I searched and searched for a picture with proper credit, but couldn't find one. Again.
Why don't people credit their photos?

Lately she's been in the news for some not-so-pleasant things, and it's got me wondering where my breaking point is when it comes to famous people I admire (a more popular American example being Alex Baldwin's recent homophobic rant). Do I care? Should I care? Is it even true? So what if it is? I have the answers to none of those questions. It probably depends on what the issues are and how they affect things I care about. But that doesn't stop the "news" from telling me how I should feel about it. Which is everything "journalistic integrity" is not, but that's where we are now. It's what we erroneously call "being judged by the court of public opinion" when it is, in fact, the media which leads the public to their opinion. And you can be pretty sure that their judgement is going to be on the side of whichever option sells more papers (or whatever). I don't know how we got to this point, but it's been driving me crazy lately because I can't see anything else when stories like Ms. Lawson's hit the newswire. I guess all I can do is grit my teeth, wish Ms. Lawson the best of luck, and hope that she bounces back like Martha Stewart instead of crashing and burning like Paula Deen. I guess. Since all my information comes from the news media on all these people, what do I know?

   
Alas yon bullets now go gentle into that good night...

   

iTunes Radio

Posted on September 19th, 2013

Dave!One of the big new "features" for iOS that got touted at Apple's event was iTunes Radio, so I'm busting it out to take a look.

It's very cool.

It's also very dangerous.

But first we'll start with the cool stuff...

iTunes Radio Home Screen

Newly integrated into iTunes, iTunes Radio is a similar service to either Pandora (free-listening ad-supported) or Rhapsody (ad-free membership service through iTunes Match) whereas you can listen to a variety of songs which have been helpfully organized in "similarity groups" based around artists, genres, or songs you like. For example, if you like Depeche Mode as I do, setting up a "Depeche Mode Station" is dead simple. Just search for the artist and pick your poison...

ITunes Radio New Station

Annnnnd... done! Your station cues up immediately and starts playing...

iTunes Radio My Stations

It's important to understand that this station is not Depeche Mode exclusive. You'll get occasional Depeche Mode, but you'll also get similar artists like Erasure, New Order, Pet Shop Boys, and Eurythmics. Just as if you were to create a "Depeche Mode Enjoy the Silence Radio Station" it's not just going to play that one song over and over... you're going to get that song plus similar tracks.

If you don't have an artist in mind, iTunes Radio has some "featured stations" to get you started. These include stations based on iTunes chart-toppers, popular genres (like Pop and Rap), sponsored stations (like the Pepsi Pulse Pop station), and even "Guest DJ" stations by popular artists and performers...

ITunes Radio Stations

"Guest DJ" stations have commentary by the "guest" which may add information about the song (if it's theirs) or provide insight as to why they like the song (if it's somebody else's). Unlike songs, which can be skipped, commentary has to be played all the way through.

Which brings us to "skips."

Just like other internet radio services, iTunes Radio puts a limit on the number of songs you can skip past... six per hour (regardless of whether or not you are an iTunes Match subscriber). This may sound limiting but, if you find yourself wanting more than six, you're probably not listening to the right station in the first place. But what if you can't find a different station that's closer to what you're looking for? Fortunately, iTunes Radio gives you options to customize your stations so that they'll be more to your liking and less "skippable." The easiest way to do this is head to the "Star Menu" and tell iTunes Radio whether you want more songs like what's playing... or not to play that song ever again...

ITunes Radio Like

I could be wrong, but I think choosing "Never Play This Song" only applies to the current channel. So if there's an artist you really hate, you'll want to ban them from every channel manually. Fortunately, that's not quite as horrible as it sounds. You don't have to wait for each of their songs to show up, you can just ban an entire band from your station, or add them, if you'd prefer...

iTunes Radio Adjustments

Also note that you can temper a station between "Hits" (most popular songs), "Variety" (all songs), or "Discovery" (obscure songs). To be honest, I don't notice a heck of a lot of difference at this point, but maybe that's something that will get better with time? Or maybe I just wasn't giving iTunes Radio enough time to build a list. I'm impatient that way. One thing that would be nice would be if "Discovery" mode looked at your library to play stuff you don't have... and perhaps that's the intent... but it's not very effective if that's the case.

And now for the problems. Which are surprisingly few so far.

The most puzzling problem is duplicate songs. On more than a couple occasions, a song will play again for a second or third time after it's just finished. It's happened to me four times now, and I'm not quite sure what the deal is. At first I thought that maybe they were coming from different albums (original album, greatest hits album, compilation album)... but a quick check under history shows this is not the case, so I don't know what's going on...

iTunes Radio Doubles

The other problem is something that may not be an actual problem. I had thought that iTunes Radio was going to be dynamically syncing across my devices. Meaning I can start listening to a song on my Mac, then pick up where I left off when I head out with my iPhone. But maybe I heard something wrong... or misunderstood. In any event, it ain't happening. It should.

And here's where we get to the dangerous part.

With every song played, Apple conveniently places a "BUY ME!" button next to it. Whether it's in your play history, or in the track info window, you're being given every opportunity possible to purchase whatever it is you like listening to that you don't already own. Like so...

iTunes Radio Purchase Button

Now, this is dangerous for two reasons.

The first is that you'll find yourself buying a lot of music because it's just so convenient. I ended up purchasing $26 of new stuff in just one day (curse you, 1980's and your delicious music!). I'm not an avid Pandora listener by any means, but I maybe purchased two whole songs in the years I've been using it off-and-on. Good thing I have a $50 iTunes Gift Card to burn through.

The second danger is more serious... iTunes Radio doesn't seem to check your library to see if you already own the song. So, unlike the iTunes Music Store, you're in real danger of purchasing stuff you've already bought. In some cases, this is somewhat understandable. The Depeche Mode song Something to Do that I own is, I suppose, different from the Something to Do: Remastered version that Apple wants me to buy. But that's not the case with Yaz's Only You which is the exact same Only from the exact same album I already own (twice if you count the version from the 1999 Best Of... album), and yet, when it plays I'll be encouraged to buy it a third time...

ITunes Buy Me!

Note that the Upstairs At Eric's version that iTunes Radio played and wanted me to buy has been "matched" by iTunes Match. Apple knows I already own it! The second copy from the Best Of... album was actually purchased from iTunes. They definitely know I own that! So... like I said... dangerous. But, than again, I haven't actually bought music I already own (that I know of), so maybe Apple checks with the iTunes Store and iTunes Match before it actually charges you? I dunno. If this is the case, they really should go a step further and not waste your time encouraging you to spend your hard-earned money on something you already own (but may have forgotten about). It happens when you own thousands and thousands of songs.

So... anyway... danger aside, I love iTunes Radio. Love it.

Once I fine-tune a station, I'm getting even better play-lists than I did from iTunes Genius Mixes. Plus discovering some terrific stuff I either never knew about or didn't recall hearing before. And that's about the best I could have hoped for.

I just hope I don't go broke buying new music while listening to it.

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Categories: Apple Stuff 2013Click To It: Permalink  4 Comments: Click To Add Yours!  

   

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