Welcoming iTunes Back

I have been using CopyTrans for over ten years to manage the music on my iPhone. I found in the distant past that iTunes mostly hated me and it would crash/hang/takeforever to do anything and was a complete pain to use when synchronising with my phone. So I move to a free piece of software that did exactly what I wanted CopyTrans. I could upload songs to my phone and edit their details. This worked well because some music I have been buying from Bandcamp rather than through iTunes because the artists get more money. I was still using iTunes to collate all my music on the NAS drive and for the Sonos system. It made sense as it organises the music nicely into directories and allows the creation of playlists. The thing I couldn’t do was synchronise my phone.

All of that changed when I got a better computer. But it has still taken around two years to actually take the plunge and delete the music from my phone and allow iTunes to do its job. There were a couple of things that made me do this. There were two albums which CopyTrans consistently – or maybe my phone – had the wrong artwork even though it was correct in the iTunes library. I really couldn’t figure out how to correct this. I also wanted to synchronise a playlist onto the Sonos system, one I had created on my phone. I took the plunge yesterday and for the first time in over ten years I plugged my phone into the computer and opened iTunes at the same time. I clicked synchronise and left it to do its job.

Three hours later, after transferring around seven thousand songs, it was done and I opened the music app to see what had happened. It had worked! After deleting some albums a second time around I synchronised again and it took a couple of minutes. Well, that is a timeframe I can live with. This makes it a lot easier to buy music and keep all the content nicely aligned over time. I’m quite happy and it feels like a decent achievement. Sad really, but I do feel smug sometimes over music.

Glideslope, PFD

My current flight sim plans are wandering around the Earth from airport to airport and just enjoying the views. I’m currently heading down the west coast of Africa and have recently started recording my journey on Twitter. I don’t use Twitter a huge amount at the moment because ultimately no-one cares what I think and I have friends whom I can moan to about things.

Having just clicked on the hashtag I can see that there are many people using the same hashtag but in reality. They are travelling around the world. Well, given the current pandemic, I am not. Also, I don’t have the money and I have other responsibilities at the moment so I don’t think I can. My next trip is to Scotland in February.

X-Plane Control Panel - iOS
X-Plane Control Panel – iOS

This is a screen capture of the X-Plane Control Panel on my iPhone. It looks at the information in X-Plane on the PC and gives me information about my flight. The bottom display is my glideslope approach to an airport, the middle display is a kind of map with weather display and the top is my PFD. I’m quite impressed with the extra information I get and I’ve been using the glideslope when my approach is through clouds. None of those landings have been successful though and I generally fly those routes again or it seems like I’m cheating. One thing that does happen though is once the iPhone is connected it changes the weather from real-world to whatever the settings are on the phone and that’s a frustration, I will look into this to see if I can correct it.

Forts Position

On Saturday I went to visit the Redsand Forts. There are a couple of things I’d like to note for you.

Firstly I use the opportunity to calibrate the altitude on my Garmin Instinct watch. I usually give it a go each month, just to make sure it’s working properly. While out near the forts I used the calibrate with GPS option and I got an altitude of -2m. Initially this confused me but then I realised that I was close to the sea but during low tide, therefore I was likely negative AMSL, so -2m seemed about right.

Garmin GPS
Garmin GPS

The above picture is my position as saved by the Garmin Instinct. I didn’t even know that was an option but I noticed it while I was calibrating the altitude. I saved the position and then was able to display it on my phone. There’s a Garmin app called Explore and I like the functionality.

While out on the sea I also used Google Maps to see where I was.

iPhone GPS
iPhone GPS

I took this screen shot a bit before the Garmin one and so you can see I am slightly further east than the previous picture. I don’t think either of these was taken at the Redsands Forts complex as I was too busy watching.

Setting Up

I have spent part of the last few days setting up my new mobile phone so that all the music is on it and that it works how I want it to work. Given that this is an Apple phone and most of my stuff is backed up to the cloud moving stuff to a new phone is remarkably simple.

In the old days you learnt how the new phone worked by entering all the contact details manually and playing around in the settings menu. Now all you do is enter your cloud details and wait. All the settings transfer over along with contacts and ringtones. While this is an improvement and people now have way too much data the requires transfer it is also a shame as it means most people don’t mess around in the settings menu.

When people ask me how to make a phone or device do a particular thing I often ask “Have you messed around in the settings menu?”. The reply is often “no”. People expect everything to work correctly out of the box and don’t understand how to tweak things or even that perhaps they should tweak things.

The main contents I needed to transfer to the new phone was music. Now, I suspect that within five years this won’t be necessary at all as I will stream all the music that I want. But that time is not yet so I keep “hard” versions of a lot of my music. I could use iTunes to transfer music. However, iTunes hates me. Or it hates my PC. Or it’s just shit. I’m not sure which it is but iTunes often freezes on the PC, fucks up the iPhone or just deletes the entire music content on the phone. I haven’t used iTunes to back up my phone for a few years now and I don’t use it to transfer music. I do use iTunes to import music onto the NAS and also create playlists and keep the folder contents organised to some degree. I have been frustrated with the way that iTunes hasn’t been consistent with the folder structure it uses and so I often delete the xml library file, move the folders around and then get iTunes to scan for new music.

A list of music that is contained within the iTunes folder is on this page: My Music. It isn’t a list of all music on the NAS because there’s also kids stuff, audiobooks, and stuff I rarely play.

I have used CopyTrans to move the music onto the new phone. It’s way more useful than iTunes and far more predictable.

I have used CopyTrans in the past to keep text messages and back those up but I rarely do that now, it’s not needed.

CopyTrans doesn’t hurt the PC in the same was iTunes does. It is a positive experience and well worth looking into if you find that iTunes is unpredictable and hard work on your PC. I have transferred around 7000 songs onto the new iPhone in a few hours. Job done. I’m a happy chap.

Top Ten Played

If you saunter over to this page you can see my iPhone music library. I haven’t been able to find a dynamic music counter that updates this site with a played list. I will admit to not looking too much or far for one though. You may be interested to see this list which [in poor contrast] shows how often I have played certain songs on my phone since I last had to fix the library.

A couple of things to notice. The old car would start music off from the first song in the library so the top two AP songs are possibly a little high in play-count but they are good songs nonetheless.

There’s only some metal in there. :-(. I don’t recall playing Disturbed that much but I am probably wrong.

While driving on my own in the car I tend to listen to podcasts rather than music. It keeps my attention more than music and informs and teaches me at the same time.

For God’s Sake Man It’s Only A Weather App

I recently saw that the Met Office had a new weather app. I think it popped up on the front page of the app store. I was interested as I’m quite fussy about my weather apps. Once you get used to one and the information it gives you it’s quite hard to change. Much like buying a new wallet, which I have to do soon and it fills me with dread. By the way, I don’t like the term “app”, I’m not particularly fond of the term “application”, to me these are programs and always will be.

Here’s the front page of the new app:

The new app had embedded video forecasts from the Met Office – these are not needed, I’m too old to care for video forecasts. Also, video on a phone is antisocial and useless, I can get the same information without the noise and movement. I think this may be a generational thing. I don’t need sound and people to inform me something that I can see in a diagram or map. It could possibly be why I also don’t like the news that is broadcast into our homes all the time [hint: change channel, which I do].

 

Here’s another view of the new app:

I’m not sure I like the days across the top. I think that’s mostly because I the older app [which is still available] had the days going down the screen. The worst part of the new app is the weather alert screen. This screen used to be a map with colours over it.

This is a good weather warning map. It tells me what I need to know. The new app just has text to read. I can’t be bothered to read it. The text is broken down into regions. I can be even less bothered to find my region and then decode the words. Oddly, I do like listening to radio weather broadcasts so maybe I’m just weird here.

One last thing. The new app has done away with proper weather charts. These actually mean something to me and I like them. They give an overall impression of what is really going on in the weather. Here are some examples of good stuff:

Day by day and then lovely extra information if you need it. There’s a page that will give hour by hour predictions too.

Look at these maps. Aren’t they pretty and lovely. They let you know what’s going on. The new app doesn’t have this. Which is a shame. I do get the feeling that sometimes things are “improved” to include lots of new functions but the reality is that they just fuck them up.

A Playlist [and a good one at that!]

So, it has been written within these communications that I have seen Combichrist a few times. , here, here and here. In fact it would be easier just to search Fooyah.net here.

So, out of those four gigs I reckon that the best set was the Old School Set they performed at Electrowerkz. I have now created a playlist on my iPhone and Sonos system that reflects what I think this concert was. I don’t have an exact list but this is close enough and a bloody good list of songs it is too!

OldSchool

iPhone Lock Screen

If you read my communications regularly then you will be aware that I spend some of my time in the Midlands. Mostly the West Midlands but I’m not sure where the divide is.

Way back in May I went with Sally to the Stockton Locks on the Grand Union Canal. Here’s a Wikipedia page about it all. The locks are quite impressive and the pub near them, The Blue Lias, was very nice too.

I also have been to Hatton Locks, which are part of the Grand Union Canal. These are even more impressive. There was a pub nearby but we didn’t go in as we were heading home from Packwood House and it was raining and cold.

I have been very impressed with the industrial history of the Midlands and as much as I knew that existed it is nice to see it in person and appreciate it more.

Anyway, I decided to change the lock screen on my iPhone to a picture of locks. I initially had this picture of Stockton Locks.

DSC_4397
Stockton Locks

However I now have this picture of Hatton Locks as my lock screen.

Hatton Locks
Hatton Locks

I will tell you that every time I look at this screen I chuckle. My lock screen is a series of locks.

Camera Flaws

I love my new Nikon camera. It takes great photos, is easy to use, has brilliant settings and feels great in my hands. It’s a great bit of kit.

I like my iPhone camera. It’s small, pretty much always on my person and, surprisingly, takes pretty good low light photos.

The problem is that my iPhone camera is getting on a bit and has flaws in every picture it takes. Normally these can’t be seen because there’s plenty of detail in those areas. However, when there is a steady area the flaws show up a lot. Just see this photo of Whitby and spot the problem areas.

Taken with my iPhone, hence the finger marks
Whitby

I’m not sure if these can be cleaned away or if they are internal. I also can’t be bothered to find out.

Lightning Port

I had to get my iPhone fixed recently. The charging connector would only fit correctly into the socket at very particular angles. This was a touch annoying and it also meant that I couldn’t play music in the car as I use the cable to send information to the stereo. I could connect via the headphone cable but that’s a pain and I can’t use the car stereo to control the iPhone.

Searching online it looked as though I was going to have to post the phone it off to some company and then wait for it to be returned. I was almost looking forward to spending some time without my phone. It would certainly be a bit weird. I know I rely on it a lot for weather, news, email, twitter, remote control, in fact nearly everything tech-wise. I rarely turn on my PC now because I don’t do a great deal on it. I use the PC when I have to type because I don’t like non-tactile typing on phones [such as writing this website].

For some reason I hadn’t thought of looking for shops in town that would fix my phone. I also had found some instructions online showing how to do this by myself but given the equipment I would have to buy and the time and stress of doing this alone in my dining room it just wasn’t worth it. I would have liked to have tried doing it myself but the phone is a precious thing!

I searched Google and the little map bit in the right came up with some possible places in town where I could get the phone fixed. I gave one a call and they seemed confident they could fix my port and also change the battery at the same time. I enquired about warranties and times to fix etc. I was reasonably happy to let them have my phone.

One morning I took my phone in to town and left it with Mobile Street to be fixed. Customer service was good. They seemed like bright people and confident they could fix my phone. It would take about an hour.

Later, I went to collect the phone, pay my bill which was comparable to the online services, and feel connected again. The technicians had managed to fix my phone charging port, replace the battery and also clean some chocolate that had ended up being dropped in the speaker grill.

The charging port works brilliantly. The battery seems better than previously but I haven’t really been able to test it properly as the phone has had a lot of use. The battery dies pretty quick at work because I work in a building that is almost a Faraday cage and my phone is constantly seeking a signal. At weekends the phone has been used to play games a lot and so it is being used intensively. Maybe one day I’ll try not to do much on the phone and see how long the battery lasts.

I, once again, feel connected to the world.