Is the iPhone/iPod Touch the New Laptop?

Over the past few weeks I have enjoyed an interesting series of posts from both Dennis Kennedy and Ernie the Attorney. Dennis has posted a three part series in which he explains the process that he went through in deciding to purchase an iPod Touch as his new laptop computer.

At the same time, Ernie the Attorney was posting a series of entries about his trip to Panama during which he left his laptop at home and took only his iPhone. After his experience, he concluded:

As you recall, last week when I went to Panama I didn’t bring a computer. I mentioned that I relied heavily on my iPhone, and that I was able to do a lot of work with just that device. But, I pointed out, that the trip was for pleasure so I didn’t really need a computer. If I had been away longer, or if I had been required to do more work on the trip, I would most certainly have brought my laptop. But, for a short trip that doesn’t involve a lot of work, I can say that an iPhone works just fine. In fact, I would venture to say that the iPod Touch would work fine. My daughter had one and was able to check email and do most of the things that I did on my iPhone.

Although his phone service did not work in Panama, he was still able to make calls using his iPhone.

I thought my iPhone would be able to work on the local phone network here in Panama. It did last time I was here, but not this time. AT&T assured me it would when I checked right before I left on my trip. “”Yes sir, you’re signed up for the Intenational option at $3.99 a month,” the representative told me.

That turned out not to be true. But doesn’t matter because I have the TruPhone app for my iPhone which lets me make low cost calls using the free Wi-Fi at my brother’s beach paradise.

I found both of these series of posts quite intriguing. It certainly sounds attractive to be able to travel without a laptop and still be able to get some work done. However, I doubt that I will be traveling down either Dennis or Ernie’s path in the near future. First, as I have mentioned before, I hate iTunes, and I would be tied to it to use either product effectively. Second, with respect to the iPhone, I hate AT&T’s service (which is your only real option with an iPhone). My wife and I both have Treos. She has AT&T service, I have Verizon. Often I will have better reception than her. Also, when traveling to the less populated areas of the country (where we have family), she often has no reception, while my phone works just fine.

Nevertheless, if you are considering trying to lighten your load while traveling, check out these posts from Ernie and Dennis and consider leaving the laptop at home.

Fixing iTunes Library Problem

We are getting ready to go on a short road trip. This means that I wanted to add some music to my wife’s iPod (it’s what we use for music on the trip). While selecting songs to add to the iPod (checking the little boxes in iTunes), I accidentally selected all of the songs in the iTunes library.

Given that we have over 5,000 songs in our library, this can be a bit of a problem. No one wanted to go back through the the library and select the songs that we actually wanted to synch to the iPod. Fortunately, we had recently synchronized the iPod and it had our currently selected songs on it. After some Googling, my wife found a solution that allowed us to reselect our desired songs without spending hours going through the library again.

Her solution is as follows.

  1. On the iPod, create an On the Go Playlist.
  2. Go to Genres.
  3. Hold the select button down for each genre until it flashes blue three times. This should add the songs in that genre to the playlist.
  4. Go back to playlists and open the On the Go Playlist.
  5. Scroll to bottom.
  6. The last option is save. Select that.
  7. Uncheck all music in iTunes.
  8. Synch iPod
  9. The synch will wipe all the music off the iPod. However, the playlist will show up in iTunes.
  10. Open the new playlist in iTunes. Select all of the songs. Right click, and choose check selected.
  11. Check any other other playlists you might have to make sure that all songs were selected.
  12. Synch again.
  13. Problem solved.

iTunes: The Reason I Do Not Own a Mac

Yesterday I wrote about something that Dennis Kennedy called presumptuous computing. One of the things that Dennis commented on in his post was iTunes.

The scariest message that I get on my computer these days is that there is a new version of iTunes and would I like to install it? The “improvements” always disrupt my ways of organizing and handling my files, although they seem to make it much easier if you only use the iTunes store. This is one of the only programs I’ve decided not to stay current on updates.

After reading Dennis’s post, I realized that iTunes, is one of the principal reasons that I have never seriously considered purchasing a Mac. I don’t hate Macs. They are nice machines. Just about everyone that I know that has one, absolutely loves it. In fact, I have always thought that Macs do not have users, they have evangelists.

Grant Griffiths, one of the most enthusiastic Mac supports around says:

There really is no reason for a law firm to not make the move to the Mac. Both the hardware and operating system are so much better than anything you can get from a windoze box.

After using iTunes, however, I am not convinced that Macs are “so much better” than Windows machines. In fact, using the program, reinforces the idea that Macs have the same drawbacks as Windows.

First, everyone in the world complains about how Microsoft bundles internet explorer into its operating system. Why is no one complaining about the fact that Apple bundles QuickTime with iTunes? What is it about me wanting to watch a QuickTime video that makes Apple think that I want to use iTunes? I should be able to install either one of these programs, not have to install both.
Second, why is iTunes so slow? Mac enthusiasts talk about how slick and simple their hardware and software is. If that is the case, why is it that it takes forever (in computer time) for my iTunes to work. Changing between items in my library and the iTunes store should be virtually instantaneous, not take seconds.

Third, why is the iTunes store so difficult to navigate? I own several episodes of various television shows. Why is there no way to go from the listing of those shows in my library to that show’s iTunes store? Instead, I have to go the iTunes store and search for what I am looking for.

Fourth, why are the incremental “updates” for iTunes 50MB? Hello? Is there anyone home at Apple? 50MB is not an incremental update, it’s a program. Then, to make things worse, after I download the 50MB incremental update today, I know that in a couple of weeks, Apple is going to have another stupid 50MB update.

I know that some people will claim that an incrimental iTunes update is no big deal. Therefore I have decided to chronicle my installation.

  1. I am currently running iTunes version When I start iTunes, I am told that an update is available. I chose to install the update.
  2. iTunes opens my web browser and takes me to the iTunes web site.
  3. I select my operating system.
  4. I uncheck the box giving Apple permission to send me an annoying email every Tuesday.
  5. I uncheck the box giving Apple permission to “Keep me up to date with Apple news, software updates, and the latest information on products and services.”
  6. I enter my email address.
  7. I select the download button.
  8. I spend the next 3 minutes on a T1 line downloading the stupid “update,” which is 47.6MB.
  9. I double click on the executable file.
  10. I get a message telling me that I will need to restart Outlook after I install iTunes. I am not quite sure why this is the case. I very rarely listen to music through my email program.
  11. I had to wait while iTunes “validated” my installation.This must be difficult. It took several minutes to do.
  12. After the installation, I had to cancel that instance of QuickTime that was running.
  13. I had to disable the startup file that starts QuickTime when my computer reboots. Apparently the fact that I have disabled this every other time that I have installed the program is not a sufficient basis for Apple to conclude that I do not want QuickTime to start every time I turn on my computer.
  14. I complete the installation, 21 minutes later.

OK, it’s now 21 minutes after I have started, I downloaded a 47.6MB file, all so that I could upgrade from version to WTF?

This isn’t elegance or simplicity. It’s asinine.

I will admit, that I don’t know that all Mac programs work like this. The reality however, is that iTunes is the best method for Apple to reach Windows users. Apple, however, will never gain Windows converts when their programs are just as bloated and slow as Windows programs. If other Mac programs are not like this, then Apple should be devoting some serious research to improving the Windows version of iTunes.