iTunes – not as shit as I thought

Now that I’m fiddling around in OSX I figured I’d give the default music player a bash. I didn’t have the option in Linux, obviously, but I did use iTunes occasionally when using my work XP machine, or on my girlfriend’s PC.

My previous exposure to iTunes left me with the impression that it was quite pretty but a bit dim. It didn’t really seem very easy to use and lacked a number of important features. Maybe it was just me but I really preferred using Amarok on my Linux machine or some of the alternative music players in XP, such as MediaMonkey. I just thought that iTunes made it all a bit difficult, that it tried to take control of your music and subsequently succeeded in obfuscating your collection.

I just feel a little lost in iTunes. Amarok made it easy to sort my music into collections. I ripped my albums onto an external drive and I could either find my music using the stored collection or I could just direct the player to the files myself. Everything was sorted, physically on my disk, by genre, artist and album and I liked it like that. iTunes just seems to have its own idea on how to sort stuff and I’m yet to really figure out how to do it efficiently.

I also have a technical issue with iTunes. For some reason, and I’ve never really been able to figure this out, iTunes does not support the Open Source media format Ogg Vorbis. I’d decided, years ago, that I wanted to rip all my music into this format, so almost my entire collection is in Ogg format. Thankfully there’s a way to get Quicktime, and by extension iTunes, to recognise and play Ogg files – a Quicktime component provided by Xiph.org.

It took me a few attempts to install this correctly, but I managed it eventually. I successfully imported my collection into iTunes and have been able to play them quite happily. iTunes even managed to import a whole bunch of album art so that the rather funky visual display looks rather nice when flipping through my collection.

There was another technical issue though. For some reason iTunes refused to accept a whole bunch of the included metadata from these tracks, including the track numbers. This made playing albums quite frustrating because it insisted on playing the music in alphabetical order. Not so good for a live album! Luckily I found the answer to that question back at Xiph.org where someone had very kindly created a script to fix this very issue. It’s taken quite a while to search through my tracks but it does seem to have correctly re-ordered all my Ogg files.

Top work that man!

In the meantime I’m going to have a go at creating a few playlists in iTunes. I think this may be a good way to order my music into more manageable chunks. I’m going to have to read a few instructions to get the most out of this, but as a new Mac user I think I’m going to have to be doing an awful lot of that anyway. I need to find the shortcuts and hotkeys that make the whole experience faster and more pleasurable.

I hate to admit it though – as much as iTunes frustrates me in its apparent ineptitude I am starting to like it. Just a little bit.

One Reply to “iTunes – not as shit as I thought”

  1. I recently upgraded to an 80gb iPod from my ye olde 4 gig Zen micro – and, shudder, had to get my head round the whole itunes thing.

    bit of a pain in the backside to be honest, but I’ve got the hang of it now. I had a bunch of lossless files I couldn’t play, so I’ll check out that plugin thingy you mentioned and see what happens. Hope it works for Windows…!

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