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Zugg
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Joined: 25 Sep 2000
Posts: 23377
Location: Colorado, USA

PostPosted: Thu Apr 30, 2009 11:03 pm   

Goodbye iTunes, Hello MediaMonkey
 
Today I finally got fed-up with iTunes. I've mentioned my problems with Podcasts in iTunes before, but here is the summary:

1) iTunes stops downloading new podcasts when it "detects" that you haven't listened to a podcast in a while. Apparently, "a while" is less than a week. So everytime I went to sync my iPod, I would discover that I didn't have any of the latest podcasts.

2) Even if iTunes downloads new podcasts, if your iPod is currently plugged into your computer, it doesn't sync with the new podcasts. You always have to manually resync the iPod.

The result of this is that when I go to the gym (sadly, only a few times a week these days), I would spend about 10-15 minutes trying to get my iPod synched with all of the podcasts that I want to listen to during my workout.

This morning I had finally had enough. Apple doesn't care about any of this. The only time they update iTunes is to add support for some new service they want to offer and not to actually add important features or fix existing bugs. And I'm sick and tired of their Apple Updater popping up and asking me to update "Bonjour" or to try and put Safari on my computer.

So today I made a serious attempt to find a solution to this podcast problem. I started by reviewing various "Podcatcher" software. The idea was to have a Podcatcher handle the actual podcast downloads and updates and then just tell iTunes that new podcasts were available. I started looking at a popular program called "Juice", but learned that it hasn't been updated in several years, and it no longer works with the latest iTunes (v8).

After several more hours of searching, downloading, installing, uninstalling I found that *none* of the PodCatcher software that I could find for Windows had been updated in years, and none of it worked with the latest version of iTunes. I don't know if Apple just broke their API to prevent this kind of external podcast updating, but I really really annoyed and dismayed at the horrible quality of podcatcher software that is available.

*Finally* I found a solution: MediaMonkey. I had looked at MediaMonkey many years ago and wasn't very impressed. But they have kept at it and have continued to improve it and add features. It is very actively still supported and being improved. Best of all, it directly syncs with iPods just like iTunes, contains "Smart" playlists like iTunes, and contains a much better PodCatcher component.

Only one problem...their PodCatcher component only supports Audio podcasts...no Video. This is pretty annoying since we have had video iPods for many years now. I can understand why it might be hard to *play* video podcasts within MediaMonkey, but you'd think they could at least download the files and sync them with the iPod.

But no...if I enter a URL to a video podcast (Diggnation), nothing gets downloaded. Only audio podcasts get downloaded.

For now I'm going to live with this restriction since I mostly never watch the video when I'm at the gym anyway. Tomorrow I'll be able to test and see if the latest daily news podcast gets automatically synched to my iPod while it is plugged into my computer. Hopefully that will work.

The base version of MediaMoney is free and very functional. There is a Gold version that enhances the Smart/Dynamic playlist abilities that I'll probably buy after living with this for a while.

I also found a Vista sidebar gadget that works with MM, so I was able to remove the gadget that I had for showing the current song being played in iTunes. The media keys on my G15 keyboard work fine, and even the song is displayed in the LCD (although just the artist and not the song name).

I still haven't explored a lot of the MediaMonkey functionality. There is a way to share the library across the network, so in theory I could finally have a single media library on my networked drive that I could access from MediaMonkey on any computer in the house (something else that iTunes failed to handle properly).

So far I am almost as happy with MediaMonkey as I was annoyed with iTunes. Finally I am freed from Apple and iTunes and all of their proprietary crap. I can buy MP3 music from the Amazon music store without any DRM and still use my iPod hardware when I'm at the gym.

By by iTunes...you will *not* be missed.
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charneus
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Joined: 19 Jun 2005
Posts: 1876
Location: California

PostPosted: Thu Apr 30, 2009 11:28 pm   
 
MediaMonkey has always been one of my favorite, aside from Songbird and aTunes. I with you on that AppleUpdater mess, and I wish that I could just disable it aside from not using my ipod anymore.

Songbird doesn't have the features you want, but aTunes might be a better selection apart from MediaMonkey. Take a look at the features here and if you like it, download it from here.

The only thing I've ever used iTunes for is the store and because my wife, for some unknown reason, loves it.

Charneus
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Zugg
MASTER


Joined: 25 Sep 2000
Posts: 23377
Location: Colorado, USA

PostPosted: Fri May 01, 2009 5:10 pm   
 
I don't see any specific support for iPods in aTunes. It looks like it just treats the iPod device like any other USB drive. There is a post in their forums about iPod support and it doesn't sound like a big priority with them. So this would prevent me from even looking at aTunes. My guess is that it's not going to support the video podcasts that I want from MediaMonkey either. It's podcast support looks pretty limited. Looks better than most stuff that I tried yesterday, but doesn't seem to beat MediaMonkey at this point.

Quote:
The only thing I've ever used iTunes for is the store and because my wife, for some unknown reason, loves it.

Ack! Stop her! Really, just go to Amazon and look at their music store. It is just as easy to use as the iTunes store, and it has a downloader that will even automatically install your purchased music into iTunes for you. Or, in the case of MediaMonkey, the Amazon downloader can put the purchased music in a directory that MediaMonkey is monitoring for updates to your music library. Anyway, it's very easy to use. And then you don't end up with any DRM in your music. It's the Apple DRM that is going to tie you to iTunes forever since Apple keeps updating iTunes to prevent any software that removes the DRM from working anymore.

When I found that Amazon Music had all of the music that I was looking for, I stopped buying from the iTunes store and will never go back. I gave up about a dozen songs that I bought on iTunes and just paid for them again via Amazon. That was enough of a lesson for me. When I buy music, I don't want to be tied to a specific vendor, like Apple or Microsoft or anyone else. I want to *own* the music that I buy.
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Taz
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Joined: 28 Sep 2000
Posts: 1395
Location: United Kingdom

PostPosted: Sat May 02, 2009 4:11 pm   
 
Just go to Add/Remove Programs or whatever they renamed it in Vista and uninstall the AppleUpdater then you are free to update their crap at your own leisure not at theirs.

I refuse to install iTunes on my computer, it is on my ex wife's computer and it has completely knackered it, it needs a rebuild but I won't be doing that anymore.

EDIT: Oh yes I forgot to add that my major beef with iTunes was when they started insisting that you had to download and install it to watch some of their trailers through QuickTime. Now that sort of stuff I don't put up with. I still use them as a trailer site though mostly because I find it too useful not to.

EDIT by Fang: Language! :O
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charneus
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Joined: 19 Jun 2005
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Location: California

PostPosted: Sat May 02, 2009 6:29 pm   
 
Zugg wrote:
Ack! Stop her! Really, just go to Amazon and look at their music store. It is just as easy to use as the iTunes store, and it has a downloader that will even automatically install your purchased music into iTunes for you. Or, in the case of MediaMonkey, the Amazon downloader can put the purchased music in a directory that MediaMonkey is monitoring for updates to your music library. Anyway, it's very easy to use. And then you don't end up with any DRM in your music. It's the Apple DRM that is going to tie you to iTunes forever since Apple keeps updating iTunes to prevent any software that removes the DRM from working anymore.

When I found that Amazon Music had all of the music that I was looking for, I stopped buying from the iTunes store and will never go back. I gave up about a dozen songs that I bought on iTunes and just paid for them again via Amazon. That was enough of a lesson for me. When I buy music, I don't want to be tied to a specific vendor, like Apple or Microsoft or anyone else. I want to *own* the music that I buy.


Actually, Apple/iTunes no longer has DRM on its media. It's been quite some time since Apple removed DRM, and in fact, it was near the beginning of this year. Check this out for more information.

That's not to say that I support iTunes at all. It still is frustrating. I'm going to have to look into Amazon, though. Perhaps I can persuade my wife to start buying her music there.

Charneus
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Zugg
MASTER


Joined: 25 Sep 2000
Posts: 23377
Location: Colorado, USA

PostPosted: Mon May 04, 2009 6:46 pm   
 
Yes, I know they removed DRM recently (beginning of the year is still "recently" in my books, and not "quite some time" ago). But now they are charging more money to replace the music that I already purchased with a DRM-free version. I know that's probably the decision of the studios and not Apple, but it's still very annoying.
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Rainchild
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Joined: 10 Oct 2000
Posts: 1551
Location: Australia

PostPosted: Tue May 05, 2009 12:54 pm   
 
iTunes, being an apple product, is the root of all evil ;)

What I was particularly unimpressed about was when I re-ripped my CD's to FLAC format, my missus could no longer load them on her iPod (which being an apple product is also the root of all evil), it also complained that the links were broken and threatened to delete the files when she next synced.

So I went hunting and found an app called Floola which seems to work fairly nicely as an iPod manager, although it did manage to delete all her album art. It essentially manages her library based on the files on the actual iPod instead of what iTunes thinks should be there. When you try to add incompatible formats (eg FLAC) it transcodes them to a more appropriate format (eg MP3). Another nice thing about it is it can run directly off the iPod (no need to install anything on your PC) and you can copy selected files back to your PC should you accidentally delete them.

Not sure about the more advanced stuff - album art, podcasts, etc... but for a no-nonsense "I just want to copy some frakkin' files onto my iPod" ... pretty decent.
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ralgith
Sorcerer


Joined: 13 Jan 2006
Posts: 715

PostPosted: Wed May 06, 2009 1:41 am   
 
Zugg... I can give you a trick to remove DRM if you want to ;)

Perfectly legal too...

Just burn them to a CD (I use a virtual drive to burn to an image instead of wasting physical discs) and then re-rip them using WMP or whatever you want. Into whatever format you want. And no DRM. I've been using this method for quite awhile. I'm not 100% sure it works with all burning softwares, but I know it does with Nero 5, 6, 7... and with Alch 120% (I can't remember version offhand for that

Save you from buying them again anyways.

Oh, and you have to burn it as an "Audio" CD instead of as an MP3 CD
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Fang Xianfu
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Joined: 26 Jan 2004
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Location: United Kingdom

PostPosted: Wed May 06, 2009 4:53 pm   
 
"Perfectly legal" is, I think, something that could be debated. I find it hard to believe that lawyers haven't forseen that and attempted to prevent it, but I also find it hard to believe that a law exists that would allow them to prevent you from doing that in the first place. So I dunno, it's a grey area.

This is one of my major beefs with staunch Apple supporters, by the way. They're all "OMG M$FT IS EVIL LOL", but they're completely blind to the fact that Apple is just as evil. The choice between the two (where such a choice is valid) has nothing to do with relative evilness.

Does Floola work on iPod classics, or just on iPod touches? I bought a classic purely because my music collection is 50GB+ and a classic is the best size-per-pound at that level. It's something I'd look at, anyway.
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wrym
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Joined: 06 Jul 2007
Posts: 349
Location: The big palace, My own lil world

PostPosted: Wed May 06, 2009 5:13 pm   
 
IMHO Apple is more evil, simply because Apple has done what Microsoft has always wanted to do, be not thought of as evil.... EVERYONE knows Microsoft is evil, but nobody considers Apple evil.

As for legality, and preventing burning to CD and re-ripping, they can't even keep people from P2p sharing, further copy protection would just bite them in the rear I think

Ran across lala.com, 1 free listen to a song, 10 cents lets you pay from web unlimited times, 89 cents downloadable mp3, also will search your computer library and give you credit for songs you already have.
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Rainchild
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Joined: 10 Oct 2000
Posts: 1551
Location: Australia

PostPosted: Thu May 07, 2009 2:17 am   
 
Ralgith: You will lose significant sound quality using that method of extraction (re-compressing an already compressed file).

Fang: Yes - hers is an 80gb classic. Not sure if it's firmware dependent, hers is about a year old now.

Anyone know of a store which sells lossless (preferably FLAC format) tracks? It bugs me that when you buy music online, they don't give it to you at "CD" quality.
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ralgith
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Joined: 13 Jan 2006
Posts: 715

PostPosted: Fri May 08, 2009 12:30 am   
 
RC, I've never lost any sound quality... but I've also never done it with anything from iTunes since I don't have anything to do with Apple's crap. But yeah, I get what you're saying.

Fang: As for the legality, oh sure, its a gray area I suppose... BUT you bought the Music, and anywhere I've bought music from its legal to burn it to CD. So meh, its also legal to "backup" your own music too. Or so they say. But then, laws change every day, so I suppose it was a spurious claim on my part, and not well thought out beforehand.
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dudude
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Joined: 11 May 2009
Posts: 1

PostPosted: Mon May 11, 2009 2:18 am   
 
As the music in iTunes is encrypted with DRM, you cannot directly put it on any non-Apple MP3 player. The easiest way is:

1. Insert a CD-R or CD-RW disc into your CD-ROM drive.
2. Burn your playlist to make an audio CD.
3. After the audio CD is successfully burned, insert the disc into your CD-ROM drive again. Then you can use iTunes to import the music tracks on the burned disc as MP3 files.

Or you can get some software to help you. I use TuneClone M4P Converter ( http://www.tuneclone.com/m4p-converter/ ) to do this. Though not free, it is very well worth a try. It generates a virtual CD drive to help to remove DRM from iTunes.
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MayCai368
Newbie


Joined: 12 May 2009
Posts: 1

PostPosted: Tue May 12, 2009 6:04 am   
 
dudude wrote:
As the music in iTunes is encrypted with DRM, you cannot directly put it on any non-Apple MP3 player. The easiest way is:
1. Insert a CD-R or CD-RW disc into your CD-ROM drive.
2. Burn your playlist to make an audio CD.
3. After the audio CD is successfully burned, insert the disc into your CD-ROM drive again. Then you can use iTunes to import the music tracks on the burned disc as MP3 files.


There are kind of converter too,which can remove DRM Protection from iTunes, Napster, Pandora, Spiral Frog and other online store,you can put removing drm video on digital media player: iPod,iPhone, Creative ZEN, Zune, PSP and other MP3/MP4 players.

In fact, I get these info from one article,it detail how to remove drm from video
share:
http://www.removing-drm.com/drm-tips/remove-drm-from-videos.html#146
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seamer
Magician


Joined: 26 Feb 2001
Posts: 358
Location: Australia

PostPosted: Tue May 12, 2009 6:57 am   
 
The more legally-inclined users should be aware that stripping DRM from music/video might be an offense to your local law enforcement offices, so make sure of the legal side before you do it.
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Fang Xianfu
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Joined: 26 Jan 2004
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Location: United Kingdom

PostPosted: Tue May 12, 2009 11:52 am   
 
Well, no, it's completely illegal under the anti-circumvention section of the WIPO copyright treaty, which has been ratified by practically everyone. It's one of the more bizarre parts of copyright law, because some courts have ruled that circumvention (which is defined by the treaty as removing measures designed to restrict access to a work) is still a crime even if no copyright infringement takes place.

Because if you think about it, removing the DRM on your own music isn't copyright infringement - it can't be, because it was your music, and it's still your music, and nobody's lost out. It's anti-circumvention that's made that practice illegal (just like it's illegal to, say, make a videotape of a dvd for your own use, even if that might be a good idea and you have no intention of infringing). If you happen to be unlucky enough to live in one of the places that's ruled that anti-circumvention is a crime even without infringement (or one of the countries that hasn't had to make a ruling yet, or that has rulings swinging both ways) then you're buggered.

But what're the chances of them catching you? Are the police really going to bust into your home and confiscate your computer because you played some iTunes music with Winamp, or because you videotaped a dvd so that your kids didn't destroy the disc? I think it unlikely. I don't know what the precedent is in Britain, but I like to think that our judges are savvy enough to laugh any anti-circumvention case without infringement right out of the court.

Cory Doctorow's book Content is a collection of talks and columns and whatever that he's written over the years about copyright and DRM, and it's a fairly thorough treatment of these issues. It's available free under a CC license - my preferred version is this one. (Btw, don't read his YA book Little Brother that's on there as well unless you have enough time to read the whole damn thing. I started reading it and next thing I know it's 4am and I need to be up for work in a few hours. I've since bought two copies, one to get signed for myself, and one as a gift ;)
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Rainchild
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Joined: 10 Oct 2000
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Location: Australia

PostPosted: Tue Sep 01, 2009 10:56 pm   
 
So Zugg, how's life with MM going? Did you get the gold version in the end?

Have you tried setting up MM to work with a laptop hard drive - eg sync some/all of your music to the laptop, then update the ratings/playlists/etc on the server when you get back home?
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Zugg
MASTER


Joined: 25 Sep 2000
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Location: Colorado, USA

PostPosted: Tue Sep 15, 2009 5:07 pm   
 
Yep, I'm still using MM and still pretty happy with it. I did get the Gold version (lifetime updates). It does a great job keeping my podcasts synched with my iPod. I can finally just plug in my iPod, let it sync for a couple of minutes, then grab it and go to the gym with no fuss.

Once of their recent versions broke the compatibility with the Vista gadget I was using to display the currently playing music. But that's pretty minor, and maybe they'll fix it eventually.

And hopefully they will eventually support *video* podcasts, although I'll admit that I haven't looked at their new version that was released a few weeks ago.

I haven't specifically used it with my laptop yet, but with my main computer I *do* have it just synching a subset of my music library to my iPod. Haven't checked on whether it handles rating updates or anything since I don't really use that feature on my iPod right now.
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Rainchild
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Location: Australia

PostPosted: Tue Sep 15, 2009 10:47 pm   
 
I went ahead and purchased the gold version (because the free didn't have sync) a week-ish ago, so far it's been treating me pretty well - I can make changes to the album art on my laptop and it will sync back to my PC at home which is a good start :) I haven't tried ratings yet, but I don't see why they wouldn't copy back given the album art did.

I also have a second hard drive for the car (bought an adapter which lets you plug USB drives into the stereo) - I've set up a sync profile so it converts my flac's to wav's (because the adapter only supports mp3/wma/wav/ogg) and mp3's stay the same... seems to work pretty well.

I haven't tried syncing my mrs' ipod yet, she's still using floola. I'm a little wary that our song ratings may clash a little... not sure what to do about that, I don't want my car playlists polluted with bad music ;)
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Zugg
MASTER


Joined: 25 Sep 2000
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Location: Colorado, USA

PostPosted: Wed Sep 16, 2009 9:47 pm   
 
Quote:
I'm a little wary that our song ratings may clash a little... not sure what to do about that, I don't want my car playlists polluted with bad music ;)

ROFL!

But you point out a great opportunity "niche" for some company. I can see that it will be more and more likely in the future to have a central music/media server in a home. Then everyone has their own iPods (or whatever). Parents, kids, etc. Of course, each person will want a subset of the total music and when the music overlaps, they will have their own different ratings. I don't know of any system that currently handles multiple ratings per song file. And you certainly don't want to store duplicate song files just to handle multiple ratings. Maybe someone will solve this problem someday.
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