Sunday, February 12, 2012

Tossing Darts at Facebook and Apple

I noticed this weekend that my Facebook seems to be limited-- as if there's a restriction on my bandwidth. My feed this morning was only three or four screens deep. Sometimes in the recent past, it's 20 screens deep and has an "more stories" link at the bottom. This weekend it's pitifully short. [Ed: It was, I must admit, before 7:00 am on Sunday morning, but usually they just show me what happened last night.] Maybe that's why people have hundreds of friends, so their Facebook feed never ends. I hope it's not being restricted.

I have also noticed how Apple iTunes, running on my PC, will often, and so far as I can see, with no discernible pattern, delete music from my library. It does it one whole album at a time mostly, often leaving the covers. Usually they're albums I converted to MP3 from within iTunes. I've used many types of software to rip my CD's into the computer, not all of which were reliable. I still have the CDs, and will doubtless rip them again, though it's a challenge to find them, because I packed them away long ago, and since I don't know exactly which ones are missing from the computer, I'll have to check for each one.

I would be very resentful, and it would very much suck, to lose something I recorded myself-- voice clips of my children, or my band, or poetry, or videos or something. iTunes and Amazon both have offline backup of the music you purchase from them, but I have copied my whole library of purchased CD's at least twice, often three times, as music formats were standardized and my home computer equipment could do a better job converting and storing the data.

I believe the loss of music files is related to the fact I migrated much of my library, rather than created it in iTunes on this computer. My folder structure in iTunes is not "standard" (there are essentially two "roots"), and I'm using the Music "Library" feature new to Windows 7 where the "music library" folder can point to more than one disk location. This feature is not well supported by other programs, iTunes included. I may have told iTunes to look in Libraries. All I know is I lose somewhere near a dozen albums, roughly every month.

I've read a lot of posts about this problem on the internet, and they seem to point to iTunes having a bad interaction with the Windows file system. Both Microsoft and Apple have many published posts on the issue in their forums, and both companies deny having any issues they can reproduce. I believe big business would like it if we never had an actual "copy" of music or a movie except by accessing it directly from them or their proxies (iTunes store). If a user (such as myself) has a different idea of how to structure their music library, the big companies aren't going to help support that, or even admit they don't support it. I wish they would just fess up to it, because then it would be easier to fix the problem, or at least to design a workable backup strategy.

So be careful about saving your band music, or conversions from tape or vinyl LP's. iTunes on Windows 7 will occasionally eat your tracks. If you plan for that, you'll likely save yourself some sorrow. And don't expect Microsoft or St. Steve (Jobs) to help you out.

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