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iWant: Default Settings for New Playlists in iTunes

ITunes iconIf you create playlists in iTunes, you may find it annoying that every playlist you create starts with the same display settings. Unless you’re satisfied with those settings, you need to spend time, for each playlist, changing the settings to the way you want to see your content.

One thing I’d like to see in iTunes is default settings for new playlists. There are two types of settings that would be useful.

The first would let you select which columns display. By default, new playlists show columns, and use the ones that you have displayed in your Music library. This is partially good, but you may not always want all those columns displayed for playlists, or you may want them displayed in a different order in playlists.

The second would allow you to choose which view is used. By default, new playlists show a list of tracks. This makes sense, because many people will add music to a playlist, then change the track order, so the playlist needs to be in this view to be able to re-order songs. But not everyone uses playlists like that. It would be great if there were a setting that allowed you to choose from the many views: Song List, Albums, Artists, etc.

There’s a related problem with iTunes Match. If you’ve changed a playlist one one computer, when it syncs to another computer, the playlist reverts to Song List mode, rather than staying as you had set it up. iTunes needs a way to store these playlist settings, and not change them just because a computer has synced songs to the cloud.

Playlists are one of the ways many people organize their music. iTunes needs to improve the way they display to make it easier, and more efficient, to use them.

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Apple’s Earnings with Math: Or, What Is 74.5 Million iPhones Equal To?

Plenty of other websites will dissect Apple’s earnings for the latest quarter, but here are a few interesting examinations of the number of iPhones sold. Apple sold 74.5 million iPhones. This is equal to:

  • Over 50,000 cubic meters of packaged iPhones. (Assuming my math is correct. I measured an iPhone 5s box, which comes to 661 cc.)
  • Using standard TEU (twenty foot) containers, that’s 1,515 containers.

According to Wolfram Alpha, this volume is equal to:

  • ≈ 0.2 × volume of oil that can be carried by a Very Large Crude Carrier supertanker (≈ 2 MMbbl )
  • ≈ 0.3 × volume of the Hindenburg Zeppelin (≈ 200000 m^3 )
  • ≈ 0.88 × volume of steel used in the construction of the Three Gorges Dam (≈ 58900 m^3 )

How about length?

Measured end-to-end, 74.5 million iPhone 6 come to 10,288 kilometers. The earth’s circumference is 40,075 km. This year, Apple will sell enough iPhones to wrap around the earth.

Wolfram Alpha tell us that this equals:

  • ≈ 0.81 × Earth equatorial diameter (≈ 12756 km )
  • ≈ 0.94 × moon equatorial circumference ( 1.09211×10^7 m )

And weight?

  • Using the iPhone 6 as an example, 74.5 million iPhones are equal to 9,610,000 kg. Add the packaging (around 250g per box), and that’s another 28,235,500 kg. (If you use the heavier iPhone 6 Plus, the numbers will be substantially higher.)

Again, from Wolfram Alpha:

  • ≈ 0.8 × daily mass of trash produced in New York City (≈ 1.2×10^7 kg )

Warning: my math may be wrong. Feel free to post corrections in the comments.

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Has Apple Patented Peer-to-Peer Distribution of Files with DRM?

Digital Music News has published some information about a patent that Apple has been granted for “Decoupling Rights in a Digital Content Unit from Download.” This patent, filed in 2011, and granted two weeks ago, coverts the following:

“Systems and methods for enabling a user to obtain rights in a legitimate copy of a digital content unit without downloading the copy from a digital content store are provided. The systems and methods provide an encrypted copy of a digital content unit to a first user and transcript the encrypted copy to generate the legitimate copy to a second users. The encrypted copy is encrypted with a first encrypt key that may be associated with the first users and the legitimate copy is encrypted with a second encrypt key that may be associated with the second user.”

It sums up, saying that it is “A method for enabling access to a digital content unit that is encrypted suing an encrypt key of a first user and is store on a machine of a second user…”

The document discusses something that looks like peer-to-peer file sharing, while retaining DRM. It “provide[s] systems and methods for granting users a right in a copy of a digital content unit without having to download another copy of the same digital content.”

In other words, it discusses ways in which a user who has encrypted content can obtain this content from another user, while obtaining the digital rights from a digital content store. If you’ve bought a movie from the iTunes Store, you can pass it on to a friend, who, using this system, obtains – on purchase – the necessary keys to access the file from the iTunes Store, without having to re-download the file. This is especially useful for movies, which, in HD, can be 4 to 5 GB or more.

This would be extremely interesting, and allow for a more centralized, peer-to-peer distribution of files. The DRM would prevent anyone from accessing them until they purchased the necessary rights from the iTunes Store.

You can see the full patent document here. If you’re curious, it’s an interesting read, though a bit dense.

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New iOS Update Requires Less Space to Update

Apple has just released iOS 8.1.3, the latest update to the operating system for the iPhone and iPad. In addition to the usual bug fixes, Apple says that this update:

“Reduces the amount of storage required to perform a software update.”

2015 01 27 17 59 21     2015 01 27 17 59 23

Apple says that this update is 246 MB, on my iPhone, but that doesn’t say how much free space it needs.

If you get a message saying you don’t have enough space, please post a comment saying how much free space you have.

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What Happens When You Get to 25,000 Tracks on iTunes Match

Apple’s iTunes Match is a $25 a year service that lets you match tracks from your iTunes library with music in the iTunes Store, store your music in the cloud, and stream or download it to different devices. It can be practical for people who want access to their music on the go, as long as they don’t have too much music. My iTunes library is currently around 70,000 tracks, so I’m nebula non grata; I have a second iTunes library that is almost as large. So iTunes Match doesn’t work for me.

That 25,000 track limit is a brick wall. When you get there, strange things happen to iTunes Match. I was reminded of this when Dave Hamilton tweeted something today.

Screen Shot 2015 01 27 at 3 16 16 PM

First, Dave didn’t actually go above 25,000 tracks. While the iTunes window tells him there are 25,003, he told me he has about 500 purchased tracks. iTunes doesn’t count them against your limit.

So in another 500 tracks or so, he will hit that wall. When that moment arrives, iTunes Match can act very strangely. Here are some of the things that users have reported.

  • iTunes Match may no longer upload new tracks, even after a user has deleted tracks from the cloud to get under the 25,000 track limit.
  • iTunes can seem to update iTunes Match without any progress.
  • Downloads may not always work.
  • Syncs of songs and playlists stop working correctly among devices.

It’s a good idea to keep an eye on how many tracks you have in the cloud, so you don’t exceed the 25,000 track limit. To do this, check the iTunes Match screen, which you can see above, but take into account how many purchased tracks you have. To find this number, you can make a smart playlist with the following conditions:

Screen Shot 2015 01 27 at 3 26 40 PM

In my iTunes library, it shows that I have a whopping 4,176 purchased tracks. (I bought a few big “digital box sets,” such as the Dylan and U2 sets, which, together, make up about 1,200 tracks.)

Subtract this number from the total to see how much wiggle-room you have.

Next, you may want to delete some music from the cloud; music you don’t listen to often. Keep local copies of it, then delete it from your iTunes library. Select the tracks, then press Command-Shift-Delete (Control-Shift-Delete on Windows). When you see a dialog asking if you want to delete the tracks, check Also delete these items from iCloud.

Screen Shot 2015 01 27 at 3 29 59 PM

So, iTunes Match can be useful, but if you have a lot of music, and continue to acquire more, keep an eye on that 25,000 track limit.

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Writings about Macs, music and more by Kirk McElhearn

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