iPod Bash

Well, I caved and bought an iPod on eBay. I'm not a big fan of Apple and the weird consumer-cult vibe that surrounds it, but I couldn't find anything with a larger capacity (a mammoth 60GB, compared to similar hard drive-based players from other manufacturers), plus the fact that more and more car stereo manufacturers are developing units that allow for iPod integration.

Having bought the iPod, I now have to live with iTunes on my computer. This is where my major beef with Apple lies -- iTunes has almost zero flexibility. I'm an organizational freak. I despise myself when my apartment or computer desk gets even a little messy. I like for things to be stacked and sorted by whatever method that is best suited for those things.

The same goes for music on my computer. I just recently downloaded the beta version of Windows Media Player 11 - and it's great. The library feature allows me to sort my music in several ways, and I always get to see album artwork as well as detailed track information (not just album artist, but track contributing artists and composers), that get updated from the Internet.

This is were iTunes fails; and that failure gets loaded onto my iPod. In WMP, I'm able to organize my soundtracks and compilation albums by simply entering that the album artist is "Soundtrack" or "Various Artists" -- pretty simple. WMP knows what tracks belong to what soundtrack or compilation, and it also knows who the performer of each track is.

Not so with iTunes. iTunes doesn't believe in "Soundtrack" or "Various Artists". iTunes believes in listing every single track by every single artist. Now, on my iPod, when I search by Artist, I have to go through a list that includes Sinead O'Conner, Paul Carrack and the Redfunk Orchestra all because they appear on The Wall Live in Berlin. How hard is it to list all tracks from that album under Roger Waters? Incredibly hard, since iTunes/iPod won't let me.

Why do I have to go through Mick Jagger as an artist because he introduces Jethro Tull on the Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus? It's pretty stupid if you ask me.

To compound this lack of foresight into simple music organization, the iPod will not recognize every track on an album if there are multiple artists. For instance, if I search for Artist and select Johnny Cash, I can look at all his albums, but when I select on of this albums (the Essential Johnny Cash), all I can see are tracks for which he was the only artist -- meaning, his duet with June Carter Cash on Jackson does not show up if I search this way. I have to look up Johnny Cash/June Carter to see that part of the album. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

So if I want to listen to a full album, I have to search through a list of ALL my albums, listed alphabetically (since that's the only way to list things in iTunes/iPod). I don't know about you, dear reader, but I have not yet taken it upon myself to memorize every album name I have (over 250) and index them in my brain alphabetically.

Alternatively, I can make a playlist for every album and call it what I want, such as "Artist - Album" and play them like that. Sure, that won't take long since I have to do it for every F-ing album.

For a company that prides itself on simplicity, why is it so difficult to listen to my music, unhampered? Microsoft has Apple beat on this one.

So, to give a consumer's summary of the iPod and iTunes: +1 point for capacity, -100 points for incredibly stupid organization and inflexibility.

iPod/iTunes: -99 points.


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