The iTunes Music Store finally opened in the Netherlands aswell this week (or was it last week?). Of course I had to try it. One snag: I'm in Denmark and apparently iTMS checks your IP address to determine your location. Denmark doesn't seem to have a music store yet so I was locked out.
I managed to get in after registering with iTMS and "switching country", after which it tries to log in again and it again complains about your location. Then you have to log in again, accept the fine print, set up your account etc. Although I did have any real problem I can imagine someone less adept with this stuff might. Then again, the chances of someone like that trying to download music from the dutch store when they are in some other country might be slim. I'm quite sure that this part would be fine if I was in my own country.
Once I did get in the rest was totally hassle free. Search music, click buy and watch the songs download at a tremendous rate. OK the latter of course is largely due to the (probably totally insane) network bandwidth at my current location, but of course iTMS will need to send stuff out at a pretty healthy clip too.
What can I say? Apart from the sign-up issue the thing works as advertised and I really couldn't imagine stuff being any easier. Now only if only they would greatly expand their stocks of unknown, independent, electronica...
Update: OK, this sucks. Just checking the Electronica department on iTMS the albums displayed (in big banners all over the page etc.) are pathetic. Not because they are bad, but mainly because they are OLD. Sounds from the Thievery HiFi for instance is mentioned THREE times on the page, one being a large banner at the top. The album (though very good) was released in 1998. Most other albums are less aged but still far from recent. Sorry Apple, this really needs to improve and I don't care if Steve-o is more of guitar man.
Me and Erwin (plug, plug) took our respective girlfriends to see Under Byen live in Paradiso, Amsterdam. It was great to see these guys/girls live, just too bad that Paradiso's sound-system (small hall) sucked and that the artists were chased off the stage mid-concert (!!!) to make way for another band. I really hope their other dutch gigs were better for them.
Bought the CD and managed to get signatures of all band-members (never done something like that to be honest), which was fun. They seemed as shy about it as people wanting to get the signatures were.
Needless to say I shot a truckload of photos during the concert. First time shooting in the dark like that...
Please click on the photo above for a better version...TypePad's thumbnail generator is really crappy (doesn't take color-profiles into account and uses way to much compression!).
Let me conclude by saying that anyone that hasn't listened to their music (see previous post) should do so now!
Just got Karine a psa256max mp3 player. One of these "designed by Nike, built by Philips" things. Looks nice, sleek and light. Not only that all the accesories are in a similar design, from the headphones to battery charger. You even get two different straps with it, so it can be on your arm while jogging or on your waist.
Excellent sound too. Its even fast while switching from track to track.
So why is the title of this post "frustration"? Well, in a word: MusicMatch Jukebox.
If you use this device with the Mac it integrates with iTunes. On windows it uses MusicMatch Jukebox instead.
And it is possibly the worst player/ripper on the market today.
To start with the installer quits after 10 seconds. While you are making install choices it all of a sudden disappears without a trace. Poof!
After copying the installer from the CD first and then running it, it all of a sudden does work. So you start the program and insert a CD to rip. Then the next surprise: it cannot find the track information! Out of the 4 CDs I finally managed to rip I only got track info for one of them. Instead of giving proper error info, or a way to change which CDDA service it only gives an annoying popup-bubble suggesting I might not be connected to the internet! Right, and I'm the easter bunny!
This would be bad enough by itself, but next you find that the way you have to enter the track info sucks too. For instance the tracklist thingy doesn't work like a normal form-field. Most of the time it doesn't allow you paste (for some reason), tab works, but shift-tab doesn't, and in the album and artist fields tab, enter, etc. don't work at all. All this make entering lots of song-information HARD.
Finally you get all the music ripped (it artificially does this at a snails pace so you buy the "full" version) and then you're up for the next surprise: it completely ignores any artist and album info you enter before ripping. You have to add those AGAIN after you are done. Oh yeah, you then also have to rename all the mp3 files as well, as they will all be called "artist - xxxxx.mp3" with xxxx being the songname. "Artist" it exactly what it reads. Not the name of the artist but the word "artist". Strangely enough the program even has built in options to rename the mp3s for me. Why on earth doesn't it do this correctly the first time around?!
To make matters worse JukeBox seems to forget the track ordering! It will keep albums together, but inside the album it uses some weird sorting that results in all your tracks being out of order. If you then make the mistake of transferring them to the device (using another utterly confusing window with all sort of useless options) the order will be wrong on the device too! After hunting through the menus, the sidebar (another useless invention) and various other panels, knobs and twiddles you find a "manage" option which CAN sort the tracks correctly. You then have to put them into a playlist if you want the app to remember them.
There were countless other annoyances and flat out poor design-choices throughout. The incredibly unprofessional looking UI (looks like a below average submission to Skinz.com) doesn't improve matters either and don't get me started on stuttering playback. I don't get it: Why on earth does this have to so hard? Sure I can work it out in the end, but what about my girlfriend, who hasn't been working with computers for the last 21 years? She has to be able to do this herself, if she's to fully enjoy my gift. For her this will be utterly confusing from start to finish, meaning she will only learn what to click in what sequence. Any problems, errors, etc. along the way will mean she'll probably be lost as to what to do.
So, while I give thumbs up to Nike for the design and to Philips for building a solid product, both the people behind MusicMatch Jukebox and whomever decided to include it in this, otherwise excellent, bundle should be first against the wall when the revolution comes.