Thursday, July 27, 2006

iiiiiiPod?... iiiiiiTunes?... iiiiiiinteresting...

Ah, my friend... maybe it's too much exposure to Windows programs and iTunes makes perfect sense in a context that I am not very familiar with, but could anyone explain the following quirks to me?

  1. Adding some files fails on iTunes. Silently. It doesn't tell you why the stuff you just dropped in does not appear anywhere. You wonder if somehow the files are not recognized... until you wonder if there is a magic filename limit --- after counting the characters in the filename, you guess that the limit is 64, you rename the files, and indeed you're correct. Ok, so why wasn't there any dialog? Why couldn't iTunes keep the long filenames and just shorten them on the iPod, if the iPod's filesystem was the issue? I don't get it.
  2. A very large fraction of my music is in ogg format, which is not recognized by iTunes. Fair enough, you add the plugin from Xiph and iTunes now sees the ogg files. But they are not recognized by the iPod! But iTunes comes to the rescue, because it lets you convert whatever files to aac. Good! So you carefully add many many playlists of ogg files, and then select all the ogg files in the library and hit convert to aac. Then you update the iPod... and mysteriously, not all the playlists got copied. But if you check in the blanket file list, the converted aac files are there. What is going on? Well, the converted aac files got thrown into the main library folder, because iTunes ignores the fact that the ogg file and its corresponding aac file are the same thing. Therefore, your playlists full of ogg files didn't get copied because as far as the iPod is concerned, they're empty. Yet, the aac files in the unclassified folder got copied anyway. Solution? Convert playlist by playlist, replace the ogg files with the aac files, go to the main library and remove the ogg files from it so you don't see the pesky dialog every time you update the iPod. I don't get it.
  3. I organize my music with folders, so I do not need to tag files. They're implicitly tagged by the folder in which they reside. Did I miss something, or iTunes really does not support making folders in the iPod? Is it really impossible to treat each folder as its own playlist? Do I really have to make a playlist per folder and do the conversion dance described above for each of them? I don't get it.
  4. If you have ogg files on your hard drive, why do you have to keep the converted aac counterparts on your hard drive as well? Is it that hard to just put the converted aac files on the iPod and leave the ogg files on the hard drive, remembering they're the same thing? I don't get it.
  5. Dual core processors are common already. Why doesn't iTunes take advantage of this when converting ogg to aac? I don't get it.
  6. When converting files, why does iTunes become so unresponsive? It misses clicks, file drops, and at times it can be quite irritating. Can't the conversion thread run at lower priority than the UI? I don't get it.
If anybody has found the same issues and has a better solution, could you please let me know? Thanks in advance.

PS: Also, if you want to use AKG headphones with your iPod, the 240 monitors are a bit too much power hungry. Use the 240 studios instead (55 ohm vs 600 ohm impedance difference).

1 comment:

Reinout Heeck said...

To all of your questions: yes that is the way it is :-(

The iPod stores the metadata in a flat-file database that has per-song records with the metadata expanded as strings. So directory structure is simply lost. (see ipodlinux iTunes db format for the gory details.)

I find iTunes to be a horrible jukebox/library tool, the UI has so many quirks that it irritates me to no end, and like you say playback breaks up when editing metadata or synching.

I should really switch to another iPod maintenance tool, but have been too lazy to date...