Steve Jobs Ruined My Thanksgiving

    November 25, 2005

I recently got an iPod Nano, mainly because I’m annoyed at the limitations of my iPod Shuffle on long trips (like flying half way around the world).

Two nights ago, I fired up iTunes and finally accepted it’s offer to upgrade from version 4.9 to version 6.0. That was a big fucking mistake–a mistake that I’ve spent the last two days attempting to recover from.

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Somehow iTunes 6.0 “upgraded” my music library and managed to lose about 1,200 tracks along the way. I’m at a complete loss to explain how this could happen. But a non-trivial amount of my music simply isn’t there as fas as it knows.

Now it turns out that the tracks really are there and the metadata is still around, but iTunes simply thinks the tracks are elsewhere. When I click one to play it, it asks me if I’d like to try finding. Of course, it doesn’t mean that iTunes will do its best to locate it in my music collection. No, it means *I* must manually browse my library to point it at the file (as if there are no ID3 tags on the files that it could simply match against its own catalog).

What The Fuck, Apple?!

Are you kidding me? This software has been out for how long and has a bug this serious?

I had two options:

1. Write a Perl script to walk thru “iTunes Music Library.xml” and fix things, assuming it could figure out the breakage. (Don’t ask how long I spent with that XML file in Emacs, cross-checking it with reality.
2. Re-import my collection of 500+ CDs, one by one.

Well, I spent most of yesterday trying to find the patterns in the ways that iTunes blew chunks so that I could code fixes. But I’m at a loss to explain it. In some cases it seems to have simply renamed files. In others, it moved them. In others it combined folders and seems to have forgotten about that. In still others, it thinks that a few MP3 files should have AAC extensions, or vice-versa.

It’s insane and terribly frustrating, not to mention disappointing.

I threw my hands up in disgust last night, realizing that there’s no simple pattern to this. And iTunes appears to have no “repair my library” feature.

A few times I pulled my entire collection from my pre-upgrade backups and re-upgraded to iTunes 6 only to watch this entire horror flick over again.

At this point, the iPod Nano has cost me far, far in excess of the $250 they charge for it. And I’m going to think twice, maybe three or four time before I ever upgrade a single piece of Apple software again.

The reality is that iTunes 4.9 was working flawlessly. But I was getting sick of the nag to upgrade and stupidly assumed that having the latest version would be a Good Thing for my brand spanking new iPod Nano.

Oh, and have I mentioned that iTunes 6 seems to silently fail on CDDB lookups when I’m re-importing?

Yeah, silent failures. The worst thing you can possibly do is to fail silently. The arrogance of which ever Apple person decided that it should fail silently is difficult to comprehend. There’s absolutely no feedback in the UI at all when this happens.

Let’s just leave the customer to wonder what, if anything, might be broken when this doesn’t work.

Is it my computer? A network problem? A scratched CD? Did it even TRY to do the lookup?

Fuck if I know. It just “doesn’t work” sometimes and I feel powerless to fix it.

In summary, do not upgrade from iTunes 4.9 to iTunes 6.0 if you value your time, music, and sanity.

Steve Jobs, you owe me an apology.

For a company that’s built a reputation on stuff that “just works”, this is unbelievable. You’re lucky I can’t use anyone else’s software to put music on my iPod. I don’t look forward to spending the next 3-4 weeks re-importing 500 CDs into your buggy software.

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Jeremy Zawodny is the author of the popular Jeremy Zawodny’s blog. Jeremy is part of the Yahoo search team and frequently posts in the Yahoo! Search blog as well.

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