🎧 Success! Turning an Android Phone into an iPod Backup

If you’ve been following my blog for any length of time, you know I enjoy listening to music. Perhaps “enjoy” is too weak a word. I love listening to music. I have since I was a kid, and I would lug a briefcase of hand-recorded cassettes to camp. I jury-rigged my own cassette player to car interface in my first cars. I’ve used various Walkmen, Discmen, and finally iPod Classics … all in a quest to have all my music with me at all times. Further, I don’t want any of this streaming crap, where you are only leasing the music from the music companies at any time. I want my albums, with my album covers, when and where I want them without a dependence on an Internet connection. Albums in the cloud? Feh!

In this quest, I’ve modified my iPod Classics to remove the spinning hard disk, using the iFlash card to replace the hard disk with solid state memory. I used the iFlash Dual card to put in 2 256GB SD cards, making each iPod Classic have 512GB, or about 477-483 GiB. But there is a limitation on the iPod Classic software — it gets wonky and likes to reboot over about 42K tracks. So my iPods only have part of my collection. I have two iPod Classics, each with the same collection of music synced to iTunes regularly. If you need a good person to do iPod hardware mods in Southern California, let me know and I’ll get you in touch with my guy (who is out in Pasadena).

How many songs do I have? Right now, just over 56K.

So I’ve been searching for a solution to have all the songs on my phone. I will not use an iPhone. I don’t want to pollute and confuse the iTunes ecosystem. I’ve been using Android phones that can accept SD card storage. There are many mid-brand models that do — I’m currently using a Samsung A51 with a 512GB card.

Previously, I had been using the combination of iSyncr and Rocket Player from JRT Studio. But they sold their company about 2 years ago, and the new owners screwed the pooch and broke the software. I NO LONGER RECOMMEND iSyncr and Rocket Player. Under the new owners, Muma Studios, the software no longer works and is overpriced. The key advantage of their software and this combination was: (a) the player could play from storage; (b) the player had an equivalent of smart playlists; (c) it synchronized the music between my PC and Android, and (d) the synchronization tool could move metadata (ratings, last played, etc.) to and from iTunes.

I’m pleased to say that I’ve found a new solution. It isn’t turnkey — you’ll need to do a bit of fiddling and a sync takes about 1/2 hour. But it works. Here’s what you need:

  1. An Android phone with SD card storage. The Samsung A series works will (the high end line seems to not take SD cards). There were also some Motorolas and Pixels, as I recall from my last search. Here’s a search for appropriate phones.
  2. Syncthing. Syncthing is a continuous file synchronization program. It synchronizes files between two or more computers in real time, safely protected from prying eyes. There are versions of the software available for almost any platform, and it is free.
  3. Gone Mad Music Player. (Google Play). This is a customizable music player, with loads of skins, that supports the equivalent of smart playlists and can play music from SD card. There are a few limitations: the smart playlists aren’t as smart as in iTunes (that is: not all of fields you can test on in iTunes are available in GMMP); the ability to bookmark in a track works different (i.e., in GMMP you bookmark as you are playing to come back; in iTunes it is a “Remember Position” flag on a per-track basis (useful for podcasts and audiobooks; GMMP does have a setting that allows me to Auto-Bookmark all podcasts, which should work for me); there is no per-track “skip when shuffling” flag — instead, it is a global setting of Audio>Other>Stop After Each Track (yes, I know, not quite the same — I use skip when shuffling to create smart playlists of podcasts, and if every track is “skip when shuffling”, it stops after each track). But it’s about the best I can find. This has a small one-time fee to move from the trial version. That is well worth it.
  4. Perl. Either Strawberry Perl or ActiveState Perl; both are free for personal use. Perl is the tool I use for the script I wrote. Right now, I’m also using a Visual Basic script adapted from one written by Steve MacGuire (TuringTest2 on the Apple Support Forums (iTunes for Windows; iPod). I hope, one day, to move that functionality into perl as VBScript is being deprecated by Microsoft. That will also require me to understand better the iTunes COM interface.

Here’s how the process works for me right now.


  1. Synchronize your phone with Android. I’ve got syncthing set up to “mirror” my iTunes Media Library to the SD card on my phone (send only on the PC, receive only on the phone). This took a bit of figuring out to get the SD pathname correct.
  2. Get GMMP, and get it set up to look only in where you have stored your music on your phone. Do a scan to have it find all your music. Set up equivalent smart playlists in GMMP to your iPod playlists
  3. Add another directory to syncthing — this time, you want bi-directional syncing between the GMMP directory on your phone (in my case, /storage/emulated/0/gmmp) and a directory you create on your PC (in my case, it was d:\dpf\music\GMMP).
  4. Create a directory, GMMPStatFix, to hold the scripts and such (in my case, d:\dpf\music\GMMPStatFix\).


  1. Synchronize iTunes and your phone. I don’t normally leave syncthing running, so I start it up on both ends and wait for everything to be synchronized.
  2. Start up GMMP on your phone and do a scan to find all the new tracks (Settings > Scan)
  3. Backup your Stats in GMMP (Settings > Backup > Backup Stats). This creates a stats.xml file, which syncthing then copies to the GMMP directory on your PC.
  4. Once stats.xml is copied to your PC, go into iTunes and Export your iTunes library into the GMMPStatFix directory (File > Export > Library). Save it as iTunes.xml
  5. Run the updatestats.bat file. This file runs both the perl script GMMPStatFix.pl and the VBScript ExportImport.vbs, which is a slightly modified version of Steve’s script (primarily, to work with ASCII files instead of Unicode). This is what the perl script does:
    1. Copies the stats.xml file from the GMMP directory to GMMPStatFix.
    2. Runs the perl script, which does the following: It slurps in the old stats.xml file, if it exists. It slurps in the new stats.xml file. It then chews that stuff with the iTunes XML file. This allows it to figure out the new information for the stats.xml file in terms of ratings, last played, and playcount (I don’t care about skip counts). It will also figure out when the ratings, playcount, and last played needs to be updated in iTunes. It will warn if there are computed Album Ratings, which I hate. It then generates a new stats.xml file, and a file of changes to be made to iTunes.
    3. The perl script also extracts all the playlists, and creates them in a subdirectory of GMMPStatFix called playlists. This includes the current (static) versions of smart playlists. These are all prefixed with (iT). To move the playlists to your phone, simply create a playlists directory in your Media library on your PC, and copy those playlists you want on your phone to that media library. When syncthing syncs, it will copy them over, and your next GMMP scan will add them to your GMMP library.
    4. The perl script lastly invokes ExportImport.vbs to make the changes to iTunes if there are changes to be made. I’m working on fixing the dialog boxes so it doesn’t confirm everything, but does output to STDERR what it is doing.
    5. Lastly, it copies the stats.xml file back into the GMMP directory.
  6. Syncthing then copies the stats.xml file back to the phone.
  7. Once stats.xml has been updated on the phone, go into GMMP and Settings > Restore Stats.
  8. Close syncthing on both sides if you want.

That’s it. Both sides updated.

If you want a current copy of the perl script and the modified VBScript script, just drop me a note at faigin -at cahighways -dot org, and I’ll get them to you (or comment here).



🎶 Fly Me to the Moon on a Rocket Player, Modulo a Few Bumps

I’ve written recently about the problems with my iPod Classics, and how I had selected a backup solution on my Android Device using iSyncr and Rocket Player. As I’ve been using the apps — especially Rocket Player — more, I’ve encountered a few hiccups. Some are clear bugs (which I am reporting), some I’m still exploring to determine if they are bugs, and some fall into the category of enhancement requests. The purpose of this post is to keep track of what I’ve reported; I plan to ✔ when something has been fixed or an enhancement made. 🆕 indicates items added in subsequent updates.

I’m still hoping to figure out the reason why the iPods have been acting up and fix it. But I know that one of these days, the 10 year old hardware will die, or I will exceed the internal database size. So I need a good backup solution (which, until I recover things, is right now my primary solution). Rocket Player is about 90-95% there. I want to help them get the rest of the way to being perfect.

Confirmed Bug List

  1. When a Live List playlist gets empty, it refills as the entire media library, modulo excluded genres. Tested with a playlist of “(plays = 0) & (a number of excluded genres)”
  2. When a Live List playlist is sorted by album, for multi-CD sets, it sorts the album by track increasing, and then disk decreasing, giving (disk,track): 2,1; 1,1; 2,2; 2,1; …
  3. When a Live List playlist has a predicate that results in songs being removed from the list after being played (such as the playlist I have for songs where “(plays > 0) & (last played > 730 days)”, when you set a song for repeat-1 and the list is on shuffle, it plays the song a second time displaying the art for the next song in the live live shuffle, and then instead of the third playing, it plays the song that would have been next in the shuffle while displaying the album art for the song after that. In other words, suppose the shuffle order is A, B, C, D, E. Here’s what’s happens: A, B (press repeat-1), B (displaying art for C), C (displaying art for D, even though repeat-1 is still on), … . Further, when you stop it a few seconds into C, it has already marked C as played.

Tentative Bug List

Note: On these, I think I’ve seen a problem, but I haven’t been able to consistently repeat it. So these might not be a problem after all until I play with it a bit more.

  1. There may be a bug where the first song in a Live List that updates based on last played date does not get updated.
  2. There may be a bug where the Rocket Player lock screen does not prompt for PIN or fingerprint to unlock after sliding the slider.

Enhancement List

  1. Support for “Skip When Shuffling”
  2. Splitting the global “Stop after Each Song” flag into two flags: one for music, and one for podcasts.
  3. Add the ability for Live Lists to test on track length, and to sort by track length.
  4. Improved predicate language for Live Lists in order to support constructs like: “A & B & (C | D | E) & F”
  5. Having Live Lists show a count of how many songs on the list have been played.
  6. Having an option to display the time left in a song, vs. the total track length, when a song is playing
  7. Having the ability to go back and replay the last song played, even in live lists that remove the song from the list after playing.
  8. Having the ability to delete a single rule in a Live Live, vs having to clear the list and start over.
  9. Having new string tests in Live Lists, such as “Starts with”. A full regular expression tester would be even better, but ….
  10. Adding a test for “is not” for numeric comparisons (right now, there’s only =, <, and >).
  11. Improved speed in scanning for new songs, when coming into Live Lists, when displaying artists, etc. In general: the program needs to be much faster when dealing with extremely large libraries (e.g., over 40,000 songs).


🎶 App Review: iSyncr + Rocket Player

If you recall, I recently wrote about some problems I was having with my iPod Classics, both of which had been modified with the Tarkan iFlash adaptor to 512GB. Luckily, the fellow who installed the adapter for me was able to get them out of the Reboot loop, and I have restored them. That got me thinking again about non-iPod solutions. There were a variety of options available:

  • Dedicated music players such as the Fiio or Astell & Kern provide great sound quality, but are expensive, require additional SD cards for storage, do not support smart playlists, and cannot integrate with my large existing iTunes library. There are precious little details online about their interfaces, and especially about their interfaces on the PC side for managing the music libraries.
  • An iPod Touch does not work, because their storage is not expandable and currently maxes out at 128GB. An older iPhone has more storage, but is also much more expensive, and has been designed by Apple to have diminishing battery life — plus planned obsolescence.
  • Using my existing Android phone, which can support Micro-SD cards up to 2TB.

When I started exploring the Android ecosystem, the first option was a cloud subscription model. For a multitude of reasons, I do not like streaming music — you need larger data packages for your phone, and you may not always have service where you want it. But programs like Apple Music and Google Play Music (GPM) do allow you to, within limits (50,000 songs for GPM; 100,000 songs for AM), upload your music library to their cloud (where they may substitute existing tracks they have), and then download it into the SD card from your mobile device. Initially, I thought about that option, in particular with Apple Music, which would support Smart Playlists. Both work with iTunes, either natively or with a media manager. They also have other arbitrary limits, such as GPM limiting playlists to 1,000 songs. Both also require monthly payments to Apple or Google, companies that don’t need your money, avoid taxes, and are not longer out to do good, IMHO.

But then I stumbled upon the apps from a small family company, JRT Studio (FB). They have two apps: iSyncr and Rocket Player, that were of interest. The apps had free and pay version, and the pay version was a one time payment. They appeared to do what I wanted to do: iSyncr would read the iTunes database and move the music to an SD card; it would also sync back to iTunes play times, counts, and ratings. Rocket Player was a music player designed to play music from an Android’s internal storage, and provided a widget to add ratings. I use ratings to flag tracks I like, and tracks that need repair.

So, after stumbling on a sale on 512GB MicroSD cards (for $99 at Amazon, half-price!), I decided to go the iSyncr route. I ordered the card, installed it, and attempted to sync. The good news is that, after some stumbles, I was able to get the process working and copied all the music and playlists to my SD card. The Rocket Player works well, and even additionally supports its own form of smart playlists so that I could create ones that do live updates (existing smart playlists in iTunes transfer as a static copy that do not update). In general, the process was easy once I figured it out. Over time, I’m playing with tuning the process to make it more efficient.

I cannot, however, give the products a ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ rating at this time. I have to dial it back to ⭐⭐⭐⭐½ because of some problems.

For iSyncr:

  • The interface is, at times, user unfriendly, or at least, non-intuitive. It took me a while to realize using the USB transfer that it was calculating the space as a preparation to sync, and that you had to initiate the sync separately. If you want to keep adding playlists slowly, it has to rescan iTunes for each playlist. Establishing the permissions for it to communicate is also a bit complicated, although that is in some ways due to Android and Windows. The Windows component also installs straight to the system tray, and the user interface is not explained well.
  • The product needs to be a bit more security aware: it may require too many firewall permissions (it is unclear if those can be dialed back, in particular, the public access option if you only want to sync on home networks), and I’m not 100% sure on the Android permissions. They also need to sign their Windows executable. I understand why they don’t sign it (privacy issues), but I believe those should be surmountable.
  • It would be nice if the product communicated over Bluetooth as well as Wi-Fi and USB.
  • There seemed to be a bizarre interaction after resetting the Android Media Library that resulted in a large playlist (Music) being limited to 100 songs. It appears that everything in the playlist transfers, but that the project of the playlist itself is what is short. We thought it was a license issue, but it turned out to be a permissions problem. It was resolved by deleting that playlist in Rocket Player (which required re-granting permissions to the directory on the SD card), and then re-syncing that playlist via iSyncr on WiFi.

For Rocket Player:

  • Their live list capability is a bit more limited that iTunes. Here are a few things that I noted:
    • iTunes smart playlists provide full equation capability — that is: a & b & (c | d) & (f | g). Live lists give each predicate an option of mandatory or optional, where “optional” means connected to the other predicates with an “or” (and that only really comes into play if there is one required component — if all are optional, you get the entire library)
    • There are conditionals available on iTunes, such as “starts with”, that are not available for live lists. Of course, Apple needs full regex matching, but that’s probably a reach.
    • There are fields you can test for in iTunes, such as the length of the track, that are not available for Live Lists. This was particularly annoying for me, as I have Smart Lists that partition my podcasts based on length, and I couldn’t reconstruct them in Rocket Player
  • One of these apps (I suspect Rocket Player) may be a battery drain. I noticed since adding the apps that the battery drains faster, but I haven’t fully figured out the culprit. It appears it may be Rocket Player, when it is in the foreground or rescanning the SD card. It appears to be managable. What is unknown if other players would be equally draining if they were the ones in the foreground and doing the scanning.

However, the biggest problem for both apps was, well, dealing with bigness. The programs do not work efficiently with very large libraries such as mine: 45,600 songs, playlists that are 20,000 songs, and at least 256GB in music and podcasts. iSyncr originally took an hour or two to process the playlists to sync. By tinkering with which playlists I transfer (and recreating the smart playlists and live lists and not transferring them), I’ve gotten the time down to 15-30 minutes.  Rocket Player takes a long time to start up and recognize the music, and an even longer time to scan for new music. Some of this may be due to the Android media library, but I don’t think that’s the entire picture. I think they tested in on smaller libraries and it worked just fine; my library is an anomaly and very large.

Given that the products are (currently) a backup, and that I only plan to sync once a day when it is near my computer, the faults are not insurmountable. Still, they are annoying (and thus the 4½⭐ rating). I hope that they can improve the efficiency and user interface of these products in the future.


🎶 iPod Woes / Android Music Apps and SD Cards — Recommendations Needed

Yesterday, my iPods went south. I don’t mean that they went to Orange County (although one of them did); rather, I mean that they both are not working. Last night, after syncing them to iTunes 12, they both got into endless reboot loops. Given that this happened to both of them, I suspect a Windows Update corrupted the Apple Device Driver. I will attempt to reset them, and may need to reinstall iTunes, but there is the possibility that they are useless until Microsoft fixes the problem.

Le sigh.

So, the question is: What to do to get me back and running. Here are the critical parameters of the problem:

  • In my iTunes library, I have over 45,000 songs, and about 100 podcasts, MP3 and AAC format.
  • Size-wise, this iTunes library is between 256GB and 512GB.
  • I do not want to stream music; I prefer to play it from downloaded copies
  • My iPod Classics are my only Apple ecosystem devices. I have a Windows 10 PC, and an LG G6 Android phone.
  • I would prefer to be able to use my smart playlists and retain my ratings and play counts.
  • My LG G6 does have a MicroSD slot, and I’m open to getting a 512GB MicroSD for my phone.

I see two options at this point, and I’m open to suggestions about which to do. For the sake of this discussions, let’s assume that I get the SD card, install the card, format it, and mounted it.

Option 1: Google Play Music.

👍: Google Play Music has a music manager that runs on Windows 10, and can see and read your iTunes library. It permits you to upload up to 50,000 songs to its cloud library, although if the track is already in its library, it doesn’t upload your copy but uses its local copy. It appears to then permit you to download those songs to the SD card and play them from storage. It contains a podcast feature, but it looks like Google Podcasts may also integrate with the same storage.

👎: Supposedly, Google Play Music will be going away in favor of YouTube Music, but when that will happen is unknown. Supposedly, Google will make the transition seamless. It is also unknown the extent to which Google Play Music supports smart playlists. Playlists may be limited to 1,000 songs.

💲: $9.99/month. $14.99 family. It looks like you can do a free option as well, but the limitations of the free product are unclear.

Option 2: Apple Music,

👍: Apple Music integrates with iTunes on the PC because iTunes is Apple Music on the PC: You just set iTunes to upload to your iCloud account. It permits you to upload 100,000 songs to your cloud library, although if the track is already in its library, it doesn’t upload your copy but uses its local copy. It does not upload tracks it considers to be “poor quality”. It appears to permit you to download those songs to the SD card and play from storage. There is a separate Apple Podcasts app that supposedly integrates. Smart playlists supposedly move over.

👎: First, it is a continuation of the Apple ecosystem. Supposedly, iTunes will be going away and transitioning to the Apple Music model. The impact of this is unknown.

💲: $9.99/month. $14.99 family. There appears to be a 3 month free trial, although the limitations are unclear.

ETA: Option 3: iSyncr + Rocket Player

While researching Apple Music, I ran across a product called iSyncr. This appears to — for a one-time $10 fee — run in the background and sync iTunes information to the SD card on an Android phone. It syncs stats (bidirectionally if you use their player) and ratings, and handles smart playlists by syncing a snapshot of the playlist. As long as it syncs play counts back, that’s fine. They have a music player called Rocket Player that works with their app.  I’d much rather give a mom and pop operation my money on a one-time basis than give the highly-profitable, tax-avoiding Google and Amazon a monthly fee. Right now, I’m leaning towards this option.

Based on my research, it appears that if Windows Update fucked this up and the iPod Classics are dead, I’m going to need to move to a subscription service, about $120/year. That’s the bad part. It does look like I can still keep the music in iTunes and after the time-sink of uploading and downloading, have the music locally on my phone. But which service? Right now, I’m thinking Apple simply because it has a larger song limit and assuredly supports Smart Playlists. Google is appealing to get out of the Apple ecosystem, but (a) it is Google, and (b) it may be going away with the transition unknown.

I’d like to hear your thoughts and experiences.



📰 Pod People Read the News

One of the categories in which I collect news chum is titled “Music and iPod”. The articles I’ve collected here fall into two broad categories. The first looks at the changing music marketplace. The second collects information on potential iPod replacements. So unlock your device, take your scroll-wheel for a spin, and let’s start.

The music industry is changing. What’s old is new again, and maintaining what you have becomes more work. The world is divided between those that want to own their music (some say “hoard, my precioussss”), and others are just fine with leasing it and paying subscription fees. Generational divides are at play here. Here are two articles exploring that divide:

  • Spotify is fine. But let’s mourn the passing of CDs. Once loved, the humble CD is now derided. It’s forefather, the vinyl LP, is having a resurgence. There are those giving the cassette some loving for the mixtape. But the CD? It’s sound was “too perfect”. Is it time for the requiem?
  • Wired headphones are having their quartz moment. When Apple decided to get rid of the 3.5mm port for headphones, wired headphones began to be pushed out the door. People were willing to live with the spotty connections and limited battery life of unwired headphones. But just like mechanical watches and vinyl, wired headphones are finding their space.

One of my worries is the eventual death of the iPod and the iPod ecosystem. I’m not sure whether it will be due to the death of hardware, or Apple deciding to remove iPod Classic support from iTunes, leaving iPod users high and dry. So I’m always looking for alternatives. Here are some articles related to that:



Updates from the Pod People World

The following are some news items that have caught my eye over the past few weeks regarding the iPod, the larger iPod ecosystem, and the world of digital music:

  • Are Dedicated Music Players Useless? In today’s world of multifunction devices, such as your smartphone, is the dedicated MP3 player useless? The answer is a resounding “No!”, as this article shows. In addition to the 10 ways in the article, there are some even more important reasons. Dedicated MP3 players don’t use streaming bandwidth, and can be used in places where you have no Internet. They are also not visually based, so you can often operate them without looking. Being more narrow function, they are also usable in situations where phones are not (for example, MP3 players are not treated the same as phones with respect to moving vehicles). Lastly, if you upgrade storage, you can often have a much larger music library with you than you can even with services like the Amazon cloud or iTunes match, especially if you come in with a lot of preexisting music.
  • Upgrading an iPod. Stories about how one can upgrade a later generation (5G or later) iPod classic to use solid state memory come around periodically. The most recent iteration was The Verge and the Circuit Breaker Podcast having an article how to do so. However, they made one major error: they indicated you get the boards and supplies through eBay. Nonsense! I’ve had three iPods updated, and a 4th will eventually be upgraded as well, and in all cases I went straight to the source: the iFlash Adaptor site. I’ve used their iFlash Dual card for all three of my iPod Classics. They also have a useful blog with advice on batteries and memory cards. If you’re local to LA, I’ve found a good person to install the card, if you’re not a hardware person (and I’m not). Drop me an email or a comment and I’ll get you in touch with the person I used.
  • Digital vs. Physical Music . In the days before there was an iTunes store, how was digital audio and video shared? The answer is: via Usenet, and it was this new style of digital sharing — across a forum originally intended for textual messages — that led Usenet to its slow death, while spurring on the growth of the web and online music and video stores. Meanwhile, we’re seeing the death of the physical form for digitized media — CDs, DVDs, Blu-Rays — in favor of streaming. This is a very bad trend, and we must all work to support physical media. There are a number of reasons. First, the physical media made available many rare shows and albums that were saved from obscurity. It also preserved additional information, such as directors cuts, audio tracks, bonus tracks, commentary. Those aren’t present for streaming media, and there is no assurance that rare material will be available for streaming. It is also much easier, with only streamed media, for the media content owner to make the content unavailable. You also can’t easily share streamed media with friends. It is a bad move for the consumer.
  • End of the Headphone Jack. The simple 3.5mm audio jack. It has been around for over 50 years, coming in with the transistor radio, replacing the large headphone jack. It is now starting to disappear, and we should mourn (if not protest) its demise. There are many advantages to this format. Being analog, it is not subject to restricted digital format or digital rights management. It works across all vendors, and you don’t need different products for different devices. Its analog signal is also adaptable, being used for not only sound but any electrical signal such as a card reader, health monitors, and such. By moving to proprietary digital connectors (as they did with streaming), vendors are tying you to using their product, and their enforcement of accessibility to your music. They are creating waste and making obsolete numerous devices, which often go to landfills.
  • Music Management Software. Those who use an iPod or Apple device have a love/hate relationship with iTunes. Often you must use it, but it could be so much better. Here’s a review of 7 iTunes alternatives. The problem is that none of them are iTunes replacements: it is unclear if they handle accumulated metadata, such as the number of plays; it is unclear if they can communicate with older Apple devices (such as the iPod Classic); and it is unclear if they support Smart Playlists. Often, these replacements aren’t too intelligent: they don’t understand synchronization, and they presume album-oriented play. That’s great for a college student with perhaps 50 albums; its bad when you have over 2000 albums and over 42000 songs.
  • Wither iTunes? Of course, the issue with iTunes may be forced. Apple has the ability to make your device obsolete. Just ask the people with first-generation Apple TVs, who are being disconnected from iTunes. Just ask those who use iTunes on Windows XP or Vista. Just ask those hoping to purchase iTunes LPs with additional album content. All have had, or will have, support discontinued by Apple. This is a big worry for me: Why does Apple have any reason to continue to support the ability to synchronize with discontinued iPods, such as the iPod Classic. It is one reason I will not buy an iPhone (requires the latest iTunes), and one reason why I haven’t upgraded from iTunes 11. I still worry that, one day, iTunes 11 will not work on Windows 10, or will no longer support podcasts. At that point, will I be forced to Rockbox, if it still exists? Their iPod Classic ports aren’t stable. Will I need to find a new media player, such as the Fiio Players? What will that mean for my metadata and smart playlists.

We’re going to a world where we may not have physical LPs or CDs for our music. As we age, what will guarantee we’ll be able to bring our music with us? Are we destined to copy our music from server to server (I hope you remembered that backup), or paying companies indefinitely to store it in the cloud? And when that cloud or drive goes “poof”, how will historians discover our music? Analog is essentially forever (or as long as the media lasts), but digital is remarkably ephemeral. Enjoy your music while you have it, for tomorrow it will be gone.


Fears and Frailty

We all have fears. Some find strength in them. Some let them shape their lives.

Fear, thy name is Apple.

This post, of course, is brought to you by the letters “i”, “t”, “u”, “n”, “e”, and “s”. Put them together, and they spell “iTunes” — the reason for this musing, especially after reading an article titled “How iTunes built, and then broke, my meticulous music-listening system“. I’m one of those folks: curing my iTunes library, making sure the meta-data is right, the album art reflects the version of the album I have — for all of my 40,000+ songs (yes, I’ve crossed the 40K song mark). Although the article discusses the problem of iTunes with newer devices, I’m dependent on the software to sync with my modded iPod Classic (512GB storage). I’ve even stayed on iTunes 11, because I know that will work with the device. I will never get an iPhone, because that would mean upgrading iTunes — and we all know that will spell doom.

So what are my fears?

Well, my iPods could die. I’d still have the music of course: tracks lovingly downloaded, ripped from CDs, recorded by hand from LPs, extracted from videos. Most of the music not available elsewhere digitally. But that’s why I have a backup iPod Classic. Primero and Segundo. Prime.

But what if iTunes 11 no longer works when I move eventually to Windows 10. How will I sync my music? How will I move everything to another library system. I really do not want my music in the cloud. There are so many places where streaming just does not work. Not to mention, of course, that it is MY music. I paid for it, I should be the only one to control it.

That, by the way, is why I tend to buy digital music from Amazon, but not use Amazon Music.

This brings us to the problem with MP3 download collections. Unlike CDs or LPs, there’s nothing tangible. Nothing to pass on. It is in a fixed format that might not be supported in the future. Then what? Pay for your music again, if you can find it. I can still listen to LPs from almost 80 years ago (alas, I can’t deal with 78s). We can still listen to CDs from 30 years ago. 30 years ago, the MP3 format didn’t exist.

30 years from now, how will we listen to our expensive MP3 downloads? We will probably still be able to find CD players (although forget those CD-ROMs you recorded — they’re likely toast now). We’ll find the cassette players, and LP players. But will our computers still be able to play MP3s? Ask yourself this: Could you open a Wordstar file?

So a big fear of my: My music won’t age well with me. Of course, in 30 years I’ll be 87. I probably will have forgotten how to use a computer. Hopefully, my iPod Classics will still be working 🙂


Everything Old is New Again (or Refurbished)

Let’s start clearing out some of the non-Trumponia news. In this collection of links, we look at things from the past that may be getting new leases on life:

  • The Triforium. Those outside of Los Angeles probably have no idea what I mean when I say “the Triforium”; hell, most younger Angelinos have no idea either. The Triforium is a art installation that goes back to when I was in high school, a “space-age-looking pointy edifice that stands six stories tall and is covered with 1,494 colorful lights that once blinked in time to music blasted from its four gigantic speakers”. It never quite worked as intended, and for most of its life has been a barely or non-operative artwork in a below-ground mall only frequented by those nearby on jury duty when they go to lunch. But that may be changing. The Triforium Project, co-founded by musician Claire Evans, Tom Carroll, host of the popular local web show “Tom Explores Los Angeles,” urban planner Tanner Blackman and Jona Bechtolt, Evans’ bandmate in the pop-dance group YACHT,  has a plan to “replace the computer system entirely with something that is network simple, easy to update, open-sourced and remotely accessible so that we can turn the instrument into something genuinely interactive for residents of the 21st century”. The improvements are now in the approval process.
  • Downtown Las Vegas Lights. Derek Stevens in Las Vegas is a man with a mission. He’s purchased one of the original blocks in downtown LV, and is tearing down and revamping the buildings, including Fremont Street’s Las Vegas Club casino and several neighboring properties, including Mermaids and Topless Girls of Glitter Gulch. All told, it adds up one entire city block that the Stevens brothers intend to demolish and build up anew. The problem? This block is home to a number of vintage neon signs that feel pretty essential to the character of the street, including Vegas Vickie, the kicky neon cowgirl that debuted with Bob Stupak’s Glitter Gulch casino in 1980; the sign for Herb Pastor’s Golden Goose casino, circa 1974; and the giant “Las Vegas Club” letters themselves, which have been part of the streetscape for more than 60 years. However, unlike many casino owners, Stevens cares about LV history — and is preserving the signs and planning to operate them — in some way — going forward.  According to Stevens, “The signs are going to be part of the design. Whether they’ll be internal or external, I’m not quite sure yet. … I’m a pretty big fan of Vegas history. I don’t see anything getting the wrecking ball.”
  • Nokia Candy Bars. For the youngsters out there, I’m not referring to the candy bars that are more expensive than the street drugs, at least according to our President. Rather, the candy bar phone — the Nokia 3310 — which the new owners of the cell phone name plan to bring back, at least in Europe. This was an extremely reliable, long-battery-life pre-iPhone cell phone, where you only had a numeric keypad (but you had a great version of the game “snake”). The phone, originally released in 2000 and in many ways beginning the modern age of mobiles, will be sold as a way of getting lots of battery life in a nearly indestructible body. The new incarnation of the old 3310 will be sold for just €59, and so likely be pitched as a reliable second phone to people who fondly remember it the first time around. It will be revealed at Mobile World Congress later this month. For those who want to know where this fits historically, here’s a chart of all the Nokia dumpphones released from the first one in the early 1980s until 2006.
  • LP Records. We all know by now that LP records have made a comeback (it seems everything old is new again, especially analog stuff). So what type of record collector are you? This article attempts to find out, defining 7 types of record collectors. As for me, depending on the genre and artist, I’m either a lifer, a completest, or a casual.
  • iPod Classics. For some, the iPod Classic is seeing a resurgence; for some, it has never left. For those of us using them, something that periodically resurfaces is the article on how to replace the hard drive with SSD devices. It just resurfaced again. The only problem with the article is that Tarkan moved his site with the boards to http://www.iflash.xyz. These are for iPod Classics 5G and later, and he has boards that can accomodate a wide variety of SSD, including SD cards and micro-SD cards. I’ve been using the iFlash Dual in two of my Classics for over a year now (each is at 512GB) with no problems. We plan to upgrade at least one more iPod Classic (a 7.5G). We also have a 80GB 6G, but we can only take that to 128GB. PS: If you are in the Southern California area and need someone to do the mods, I may have a contact for you.