Mailplane for Gmail

Since I got this iBook G3 I’ve been primarily using it for communication (email, instant messaging) and multimedia (audio podcasts and my music collection). Unfortunately, the iBook doesn’t have a great deal of power since it is running Tiger which is a bit more resource intensive than OS 9 which is what the iBook shipped from the factory with. Checking my Gmail account was extremely painful because with all of the browsers it took an incredibly long time to load the interface and every email that I would click on would load painfully slow.

Fast forward a couple of months after getting the iBook I found an application called Mailplane. When I first saw the application I was extremely skeptical of it. I questioned why there was a need for such an application when I could simply load Gmail in a web browser and do everything I needed to do in the browser. I figured it was one of those applications that just made it easy for lazy people to gain access to their Gmail account. I didn’t sign up for the beta then but fast forward a couple of months and I got to wondering about it again.

I signed up for the beta and downloaded the application. Immediately it hit me as to why this application was needed. Accessing my Gmail account was extremely fast using Mailplane. Accessing Gmail using Mailplane was much faster than accessing the account with a browser even if I was using my best computer. I am not an application developer but my guess would be that there is some sort of caching happening behind the scenes. There has to be because it is so fast! When I get an email I am notified in the menu bar of Tiger and if I want to go view the message I can simply click on the Mailplane icon and have immediate access to my email.

Mailplane has other features but I will be honest with you, I don’t use them. The icon toolbar at the top of the application allows you to navigate your Gmail account, add stars, archive, access the online version of Google Talk, access your photos for sending via email. All of that is great but again, I don’t use them because I still primarily use the interface that is provided inside of Gmail. The only feature that is available that I will probably use in the future is the multiple accounts feature which I’ll be using once I get my domains set up with Google Apps (which is also supported by Mailplane).

I don’t have a complaint about the application however I would definitely like to see the application upgraded so it can take advantage of the new features availalbe in the updated version of Gmail. I especially like the ability to easily filter my messages and would like to be able to do that using Mailplane instead of going to another computer to access my Gmail account to create filters. I realize that you can do filtering via the settings and I have been doing that ever since I got my Gmail account in 2004 but the updated version of Gmail allows you to “Filter messages like this” very easily via the drop-down menu in your message pane.

The application is still in beta but I was able to purchase the application at a special discount since I was a beta user. I am not sure what the pricing will be once it is out of beta. I don’t regret purchasing this application due to the convenience it has added to using my Gmail account and I do recommend it especially if you are like me and have an older machine or hate having to wait on your Gmail account to load.

I think the developer of Mailplane has done a tremendous job and I look forward to more updates. I’d also love to see the developer create an application like Mailplane but for Google Reader. That would be really useful, too!

Mailplane for Mac OS X

Article update: Sunday, December 2, 2007: The latest unstable beta of Mailplane that I just installed does take advantage of the latest version of Gmail 2.0. Thanks!

Article update: Wednesday, October 1, 2008: I have updated this article with a screen shot from the latest version.

Since writing this article in November of 2007 the developer has made many improvements to Mailplane. When Gmail 2.0 was first supported it was very slow. That has been improved and the application is much more responsive with the latest version of Gmail.

When DRM Sucks

A couple of weeks ago my younger brother asked me to buy some songs for him from the iTunes store. So I thought this would be no big deal. Normally I buy, download and burn the songs to a CD and also put them onto his iPod shuffle for him. Well, that wasn’t the case this time. I had some issues and thought I would share them.

The music was bought and I transferred it over to my PC because the iBook doesn’t have a CD buner. No big deal. I get the tracks into iTunes on the PC and put them into a playlist and click on burn, no luck. There is an error that it can’t find a burner. The drive was being recognized by Windows as well as Nero. I got to thinking about it and I decided to disconnect the hard drive that was also on the same cable as the CD/DVD burner. Ok, first of all. I know it’s probably not wise to do that but I needed to connect the drive to the computer and it worked, so shush! Anyways. After taking my computer case apart, unplugging the hard drive and getting it all put back together again I turn the PC on and I still get the same error in iTunes. The drive is still being recognized by Windows and Nero but not iTunes.

I then realize that Nero is not displaying the drive as a CD or DVD Burner. I don’t know what the deal with that was. I’m still having issues copying CDs or DVDs. I’m thinking that I’m either needing to re-flash the optical drive, re-install Windows or buy a new DVD burner. But anyways. That’s not why I am writing.

Once I finally got the music over onto the PC and found out that I was not going to be able to burn the music using iTunes, I needed to try and burn it using Nero or something else. Of course you can’t do that without removing the DRM from the music! So I found myFairTunes, a Windows only application. DRM Dumpster does the same thing for Mac users but you’ll need a CD-RW drive and disc. Also, the software is not free. I removed the DRM, converted the tracks to MP3 format in iTunes and tried to burn the music using Nero. Of course I thought the music had burned succesfully because it went through the entire process and said it was successful. However, looking at the CD after it came out of the drive you can tell that there was nothing on the disc. When you put it into a CD player it makes the blank disc noise and when you put it back into a computer it says it is blank.

My point to this entire entry is that DRM is only making it harder for people who actually purchase music. We all know that. However the music industry still does not understand that fact. Thankfully, iTunes is now offering DRM free music. Also, fortunately, there are amazing companies like Magnatune who are against DRM. Magnatune allows you share the music you purchase with 3 people and they also let you license the music for videos, podcasts and other productions under a Creative Commons license.

The issue I had isn’t the only reason DRM needs to be sent to the dumpster. People want to buy music players and put their music on it. When a player is tied to one music store and one DRM format, you can’t do it. Maybe one of these days this will be a thing of the past and our descendants will look at us like we were crazy for using DRM (along with many, many other things).

20" ViewSonic Optiquest Q20WB LCD Monitor

If you recall from the Taco HTML article I wrote back in June, I mentioned that my 3 year old Envision LCD (Envision EN7100) decided to kick the bucket. Ever since then, up until the 5th of October (earlier this month, for me) I had been using my backup CRT monitor. I got paid for a web design project in September and I decided that I had put up with the CRT long enough and purchased the 20″ ViewSonic Optiquest Q20WB from NewEgg.

There are a couple of reasons I purchased this monitor, specifically. The first reason is that the monitor has DVI and VGA inputs. One of these days I am eventually going to be able to afford a new computer, hopefully a Mac. The good thing is I won’t have to get a converter for the Mac and if I still have my PC I will be able to switch between the two computers by using the on screen controls. Then just switch between the mouse and keyboard with a KVM switch.

The other reason I purchased this monitor over an Acer or another cheaper brand was because I really wanted something with a good brand name. I realize that Optiquest is a low-end model on the ViewSonic line, at least that is what I read on one of the review sites. I still figured that since all ViewSonic makes is display products that it would be better to go with something from them. I was very much considering an Acer display that was only 19″, it was the same price as the display I bought. I just got to thinking about it and thought that since they made computers and other equipment they might not have the best product.

I was fairly confident that this monitor would work with my system. I was wondering because my PC is a few years old now (I built it in 2003). Luckily I was able to pull it out of the box, plug it in and it worked without any problems. I increased the resolution to the highest resolution (1680 x 1050) and it didn’t puke. I did install the drivers for it, don’t know that it was a necessity because the screen looked great even without the drivers.

I’ve been using the new monitor for over a week now and I am absolutely in love with it. However it has a problem. It shrinks! I’m joking. Just when I pulled it out of the box when I got it and had it on my desk it looked humongous. I kept thinking to myself “How in the world did this thing fit in the box!?” Now don’t let that negate the fact that it is still a large display. It’s really nice to open Lightroom and be able to leave all the panels open and still be able to work on my photos with a large sized editing window. The same goes for coding. I can open Aptana and have all the panels open and still see most of my code. I can also have some code on one side and an IM window on the other side and a document above that. It’s very nice.

There are a lot of controls in the on-screen display. Many more than my Envision had. This Optiquest has controls for adjusting colors, contrast/brightness, the location of the on-screen display, on-screen display language, resolution notices (when you enter a low resolution it displays a message to increase the resolution for optimal performance). You also control the input selection through the on-screen display.

At 20″ the display is larger than my 19″ television. I still have to use the television for playing videos streamed online because for some reason they just appear brighter on my television. I am not sure if it is how the video files are encoded (very low resolution videos) or if it’s just a drawback of LCD technology. Again, don’t let this negate the fact that this is a great display.

The only real problem that I have noticed about this monitor and it’s really not even an issue for me, but, it is wobbly if you bump into the desk or even lightly touch it. It’s not going to tip over but the display sort of wobbles on it’s stand. Again, it’s not an issue. It may even be designed to do that so that the display simply wobbles instead of the stand being pushed back and maybe accidentally turned over.

The only other thing that may be a concern to some people is that widescreen content still does not fill up the entire screen, even though the display is a widescreen display. I don’t have any higher resolution video to try out but I assume with higher resolution video it would fill up the display with no problem at all. When you play a widescreen DVD at the highest resolution there is still letterboxing.

Again, the display is simply gorgeous. It’s very bright. When I look at my iBook now I realize just how dark it is and then wonder how much darker the CRT was because I considered the iBook to be brighter than it! I’d always use the iBook to make sure my photos looked ok after I uploaded them to Flickr! Working on my photos and videos with the CRT monitor just was not cutting it. Whenever I look at photos on the new monitor I am much more impressed with them. I enjoy them a lot more. Whenever I am on Flickr viewing photos from my friends I enjoy them much more because they are brighter and much more spectacular.

At roughly $180 this monitor puts the Apple 20″ Cinema Display to shame. The Optiquest has a 5ms response time whereas the Apple display has a 16ms response time. The Apple display has a 300 cd/m2 brightness rating, so does this Optiquest. I am glad I bought this monitor so I can better save for a new Mac desktop or laptop. Who cares about color coordinating anyway? Heck, sometimes a domino color scheme can be quite interesting!

Aperture Review

Last night I was chatting with my friend Steve and he mentioned that I should install the Aperture trial. I thought it was a great idea so I did and here are my “first look” thoughts.

When you first start up the application you have several options to get started. You can import your photos or one of the best things about the first launch that I like is the fact that they have provided quick start tours. What I hate about these quick start tours is that you have to access them online.

As you would expect from an Apple product, importing your photos is easy. However, the image import process seemed a lot slower than it does when I import photos through iPhoto or manually off of the memory card. My guess would be that when the photos are imported, EXIF data and a lot of other information is determined about the photo instead of waiting until you actually open the file. That is my guess.

As I patiently waited for my images to import I looked around the application and liked what I saw. The application appears to have a lot of features but they didn’t clutter the application up with a ton of icons and make it hard to understand. Once my photos had imported I was playing around with my photos in no time.

The first image that I opened and started playing with I wanted to sharpen the image up a bit. It took me a little while to find the tool to do it. I had to add a panel to the adjustments panel. Once I did, I was impressed. Not only did I use the sharpen feature to sharpen up the image but there was also a way to adjust the radius of the sharpen effect. I was extremely impressed. The image I was working with was a little out of focus but that feature really improved the image. I used this technique on several other photos and it really brought out parts of the image that would otherwise go unnoticed.

The technique above works really well and really makes a lot of my images look so much better. The only problem with this is that every time you open a new photo to edit you have to add the sharpen panel to the screen again. Annoying. I also don’t see anywhere to make this a standard option.

The next thing that I am completely in love with is the fact that when you are in full screen mode, looking at your images, you can move the toolbars around. You cannot do this in iPhoto or Picasa, which is what I primarily use on my PC at home. Although this feature may seem like a small one, it’s definitely a great feature for me when you are looking at portrait type images where the main focal point of the scene is at the bottom. Also, you can add the panels for adjusting your photos while you are in full screen mode.

As you are working with the images you can un-check the check box beside each adjustments panel to hide those effects. It’s really nice to not have to undo each effect just to see what it looked like previously.

When I got to the point where I wanted to crop an image I was a little bit confused as how to crop the image. I knew to go to the toolbar item at the top and to select the area of the image that I wanted to keep. The problem is, I didn’t understand how to apply that effect. Finally, I clicked on the pointer icon in the toolbar and that applied the crop. Although it’s simple once you figure it out, it takes a little while to figure out.

When I first launched the application I really did not feel as though this application was necessary, for me. To me, it simply looked like an expensive application to organize and do some more advanced changes to a photo than you can in iPhoto. However, I have been playing with Aperture the past few hours and I have noticed that there are a lot of changes I can make to an image, a lot of subtle changes especially, that make the photo a whole lot better.

A feature of Aperture that is a truly must have for any photo organization/manipulation tool is to not overwrite the original images. Using Picasa I have had this feature for a while now and would not want to have it any other way. It’s really nice to be able to make changes to an image and then a year later come back and still have access to the original files.

Where Aperture really shines is the RAW support. Taking RAW photos gives you the ability to adjust virtually every detail of a photo. The camera takes a picture of what it sees without adding any effects or adjustments to the saved image. Once you pull the images from the camera you add the sharpness, color saturation, exposure, etc.

iPhoto has RAW support but it’s very limited in what you can adjust. Aperture on the other hand gives you tons of options for adjusting your photos. You can take an image that was a little too bright when it was captured and make it a little darker, more saturated and sharp to enhance the beauty of the image. Aperture will truly show you the reasons an image captured in RAW format is so much better because you can truly make it an impressive photograph.

If you are like me when you take photos you’ll wind up pulling 10 or more (ok, usually a lot more than 10) images off of your camera of the same thing. For me this ensures that I get a great image. Most photographers do this as well. Usually if I take more than one photo of the same thing I reduce the risk of someone’s eyes being closed or sometimes they’ll be slighty turned in one photo and you didn’t really think about them being turned that way but it turned out really well and you’re glad you took more than one. Aperture really helps out in this. You can add stars to your images. You can add 5 stars to perfect images and 1 star to a poor image.

Another way Aperture helps out in the multiple photos department is stacking. Aperture looks at your photo collection and groups similar photos together. This allows you to easily see the different groups of photos so you can easily find the image you are looking for. I was really impressed with how well Aperture was able to separate the images where I had simply moved the camera to a different angle but not separate images that the camera was still in the same location but moved slightly due to the simple fact that I was holding the camera freestyle.

If you’ve ever used Picasa or a similar photo editing application, you’ve probably tried to increase the saturation of the colors in your images but if you went too far you’d get a lot of little blue splotches. Instead of increasing the saturation of colors overall which is how most other photo editors increase color, with Aperture you can increase a specific color. Aperture doesn’t pull out every single color of your image but it does have a palette that allows you to choose a basic color then you can increase or decrease that color. This is something that you would typically only be able to do with Photoshop or a similar application.

Aperture has so many features, I’ve barely scratched the surface. It’s a great application and I have had a lot of fun with it. The images that I have edited using the software look absolutely fantastic (even if I say so myself). They look a whole lot better than anything I could have done using what I currently use, which is Google’s Picasa. The final question boils down to this, “Is it really worth the $299 price tag?” To answer that question I would have to say yes. I’d say yes especially if you cannot afford Adobe Photoshop. Aperture gives you so many tools to make your images look great and makes it really easy to do. Even though this application has tons of tools for editing RAW images, the other photo editing tools are great for even a point and shoot camera. The non-destructive editing feature of this application alone is a major plus. I haven’t really mentioned the great photo and project organization capabilities. There are a lot of features! I’ve had a lot of fun with it and hopefully, someday, I can afford a copy of it!

Apple Aperture

Article update: Wednesday, October 8, 2008: Since the original writing of this post Apple has released Aperture 2. I have updated this post with screenshots from that version.

I’m happy to report that Aperture 2 is a whole lot better. What Apple got wrong in the first version has been corrected in this version. I think that Aperture 2 is definitely a lot better than Adobe Photoshop Lightroom. If you’re on a Mac I would definitely recommend Aperture over Lightroom.

Apple re-arranged the application. The problem with the sharpening panel and the cropping I mentioned above has been fixed. Both are more accessible than in the previous version.

VMware Fusion

NOTE: Please see the end of this entry for updated information about this product and what has changed in this article since the original posting.

I finally have the opportunity to try out VMware Fusion. I am staying at a house this week for a family member who just purchased a new iMac. While they’re gone on vacation I’m going to try out a lot of Mac software that I’ve been looking forward to playing with. First up is Fusion from VMware.

When you first launch the application you are presented with the options of either creating a new virtual machine or downloading one. This reminds me a lot of “Q” (a free, open source virtualization project) which presents you with similar options. With VMware Fusion you will find a lot more options because of their growing Virtual Appliance Marketplace which is growing every single day with new virtual machines. VMware’s Virtual Appliance Marketplace gives users the ability to try out software before they install it or have to commit hardware to an application.

For the review of VMware Fusion I am simply going to install a copy of Fedora Core 6 and I may also try Windows Vista Release Candidate 1; which I received several months ago before Vista was released in January of this year (2007). It’s outdated, but it will give me an idea of how VMware Fusion and this iMac performs.

When you get to the point in the wizard where you tell VMware which operating system you are going to be installing; there is still no option for Fedora, which, really annoys me. It’s not listed in VMware Server for the PC either. You simply have to select “Linux” and then “Other Linux”. I can understand that they cannot list every single distribution but it seems as though Fedora has a large enough user base to be added to the list. Though, I’m sure users of every distribution would say that.

There isn’t a whole lot of difference in the wizard on the PC and the Mac versions of VMware products. Easy. Simple. Wording is the same. When you have finished setting up the virtual machine you are presented with the settings for that virtual machine, just like you are with their PC virtualization products. The windows of course look different since VMware Fusion is for the Mac. All of the default settings are the same as well, such as memory is at it’s standard 256 MB.

There is an option to accelerate graphics. Unfortunately, it says that it is only available to Windows XP Service Pack 2 guest virtual machines.

Another interesting option which at the moment I do not recall being on the PC version is the ability to pass battery status to the virtual machine. This would be useful if you were in full screen mode a lot and were using a laptop.

When you start up a virtual machine it tells you that the software is running in debugging mode. I read a few days ago that you can disable this to increase the performance of the virtual machine. For now, I am going to leave it enabled and see if I notice any side effects.

Unfortunately when I got to the point in the Fedora Core installation I had to shutdown and remove the hard drive and re-add one, this time making sure the option was IDE. I have this same problem with Fedora on VMware Server for the PC.

NOTE: Please see article update at the bottom of this post regarding the new screen shots for this post.

Once I got Fedora Core 6 installed, the performance wasn’t all that great. I decided since the iMac I am running this on has 1GB of RAM, I would increase the virtual machine’s memory to 512 MB and disable the debugging code. The performance did increase somewhat however it would have been a lot better if I were on a faster Internet connection so I could install the required software from the YUM repositories to install VMware Tools.

One thing that I did not like is that in the PC versions of VMware’s products there is an “Inventory View” which shows you all of your virtual machines. Using the Inventory View allows you to easily delete un-wanted virtual machines. In VMware Fusion however, there is not an easy way to delete the virtual machine in the application, that I know of. You can’t drag it off into the trash, right click on it and delete, none of the menu options allow you to delete any of them. I simply deleted the virtual disk from the hard drive to free up the disk space. By doing this, the virtual machine is no longer listed in the Virtual Machine Library list that appears when you start the application.

Once I shut down the Fedora Core installation I decided to throw caution to the wind and install Windows Vista, the Release Candidate I received several months ago. I say throw caution to the wind but the beauty of virtual machines is that the actual computer is protected from being corrupted.

An interesting feature that is available to Windows virtual machines is the ability to use the “Windows Easy Install.” I decided to try this option just to see how well it would work and exactly what it would do. Using this option you give a username, password and your product key before the virtual machine is even started and the operating system installation is underway. It also gives you the option to have your OS X home folder accessible to the virtual machine by default so you can pass files easily between virtual and host machines.

Windows Vista installed without any problems. I didn’t have to answer any questions during the installation. Fortunately, for those who are installing Vista on real hardware they can get this same feature by using vLite. The performance of Vista was decent, much better than it was in a virtual machine on my PC and it was even better than it was when it was installed directly onto my PC.

Two features that VMware Fusion is missing is the ability to take a screen shot or video of the virtual machine that is currently running. These are great features for writing tutorials or showing someone how to do something. I assume that these features will make it into future editions, once they start charging for the product. Video recordings of a virtual machine are only options you can get with VMware Workstation, which is not free. However, capturing screen shots is available in the free VMware Server.

Overall I am very impressed with VMware Fusion. I think VMware has done a great job of creating a virtualization product for the Mac. I’m very happy to see that VMware is going after the virtualization marketplace on the Mac because they have always been my favorite vendor in the PC virtualization marketplace. In a way I am upset to see that VMware Fusion is only available for the newer Intel based Macs, but, with that said, the performance of the new Intel based Macs combined with VMware Fusion comes together for a great virtual computing experience.

VMware Fusion

Article update: Wednesday, October 11, 2008: I have updated this article with screen shots from the latest version of this product. Please note that in the article I talk about installing Fedora Core 6 but you are now seeing screen shots of a virtual machine running with Ubuntu 7.04. I’ve been updating the screen shots on TechButter so that they look great with the new, wide theme.

A few things to tell you about the updated product. First of all, the default memory. In the article above I mention that the default memory is 256 MB for virtual machines. They have bumped this to 512 MB as the default.

A neat feature of VMware Fusion that is either new or a feature that I missed when I wrote the original article is OS detection. If you have an operating system disc in the drive when you are creating a virtual machine and VMware Fusion recognizes it, you can use it’s custom settings for that operating system. I used Ubuntu 7.04 which is an outdated version of Ubuntu and was surprised to see that it recognized it.

The fact that there are pre-defined settings for various distributions of Linux and the various operating systems is a really great feature. It allows the developers to make the virtual machine work a lot better. Sound files played without having to install any additional software, which usually, you have to do when you’re working with Linux virtual machines.

The performance of running virtual machines in VMware Fusion has been increased. I don’t think it’s just the fact they changed the default memory from 256 MB of RAM to 512 MB. I think the actual coding of Fusion has been improved to allow a better performance.

I mention above that deleting virtual machines was difficult to find. Deleting virtual machines in the most current version isn’t obvious, but maybe that’s a good thing. It is in the menus, though.

I really hate that I cannot remember whether or not the version I originally reviewed had the “Unity” feature or not. However, the latest version does. Here is the description of “Unity” from VMware’s website:

Run Windows applications like Mac applications, quickly switching between Mac and Windows applications, minimizing Windows applications to your Dock, and even store Windows applications in your Dock to launch at a moment’s notice.

Unity works pretty much the same way Parallel’s “Coherence” mode works. I think all the Mac virtualization product vendors are making sure to implement that as a standard feature.

Unfortunately, there is still not an easy way to quickly capture screen shots or video from VMware Fusion. You would think that VMware would implement this feature since Fusion is their virtualization product for the Mac.

There are a ton of other features. I didn’t even begin to scratch the surface due to time constraints. Learn more about VMware Fusion’s features.

As of writing this article update I have to say that I would recommend Parallels Desktop over VMware Fusion and VirtualBox. I think it works better and has a better feature set.

Witch

When I first got my Mac there was a productivity plunge. I knew it would just take me a while to build up speed with OS X but this application helped me out a lot. On Windows whenever you Alt + Tab you get a list of the open windows. Whenever you Command + Tab on a Mac you get a list of the running applications. I prefer the Windows way because I like to quickly get to the window I am needing access to.

Whenever you are simply switching between running applications you have to take a couple of steps, you have to switch to the application and then you have to select with your mouse which window in that application you are wanting to focus in on. The less I have to take my hands off of my keyboard the more productive I am.

I have my old Windows keyboard connected to my Mac through my KVM switch. This allows me to be even more productive, at least on my setup. I can use the Alt + Tab command on my Windows keyboard and it will bring up the Witch task manager. I can quickly go to the window I need access to. This is really great for instant messaging because I can quickly get to the IM window and then back to the application I was previously working in.

Installation is fairly simple. Double click and it installs into System Preferences. You have to go to “Universal Access” and check a box beside “Enable access for assistive devices.” Once you do that, Witch will work.

Witch has a lot of customization options. You can choose the key commands, animation options, applications to ignore, etc. If you’re coming from Windows to Mac OS X you’ll probably greatly benefit from this application the most.

Witch Homepage

iTunes isn’t so bad

The title of this article may be shocking to some of you. You’re probably worried that I’ve became an Apple fanboy now that I have my very own iBook G3. The other day I was thinking about the iTunes Store and then today I saw this article written by Apple’s very own Steve Jobs.

Fair Play earns it’s name

A long time ago I absolutely refused to purchase any music from the iTunes Store. Why? I would always fuss and complain that the music on there is full of DRM (digital rights management) and that you couldn’t do what you wanted with the music.

Well, that is partly true. The music does have DRM on it but, really, it’s truly one of the most lenient DRM models out there. Why? First of all, you can play your music on up to 5 computers. If you get to the 5 computer limit you can now login to the iTunes store and de-authorize all of the computers and start over (you don’t have to ask anymore). I don’t have five computers to play music on but this is most certainly a welcome change.

I also did not know until I read in the press release (the one Steve Jobs wrote) that your music can be played on any iPod. I guess that means you could put the music that you purchased onto anyone’s iPod. I don’t have an iPod, so I really don’t know about this but I assume it is correct since Mad Dog himself said it!

Also, if you absolutely refuse to have the DRM on your music, you can burn the music to a CD and rip it back to your computer without the DRM. You can import the music in AAC or MP3 format. Out of being annoyed by the fact that the music I bought had DRM on it, I’d always do this. Lately, however, I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s a waste of my time. I would usually wind up burning a couple of tracks to a CD-R and then re-import the CD using something like Windows Media Player. I’d then have to tell Windows what the song was and if for some reason it couldn’t find the information in the online database I would have to manually enter the ID3 tags. This, truly, was a waste of my time. Don’t get me wrong, I think burning your music to a CD is a great feature. Especially if you’re wanting to play your music in a car stereo. I don’t have a car and don’t go places often so for me it was becoming a waste of time and a waste of a blank CD!

PayPal Integration

If it wasn’t for the fact that iTunes purchases can be made using PayPal, I would not be making purchases on iTunes. I don’t have a credit card and I refuse to have one. I transfer money to my PayPal account and then I go into iTunes and go on a shopping spree (depending on how much I transferred!).

My friend Steve Harris mentioned earlier when I was discussing this with him that it is a great idea for parents. They could give their kids an iTunes allowance via PayPal. They could also go to the store and buy an iTunes Store gift card and let their kids buy whatever they wanted on the iTunes Store.

What I’d like to see

The iTunes’ podcast aggregator: I like it and it does work really well, but, there is one problem that I have with it. If I have to re-install my operating system, go to another account or use another computer, I lose my podcast subscriptions. I know you can export your subscriptions, but, I always forget. For a long time I’ve been using a service called PodNova to subscribe to all my podcasts. My list of subscriptions stays on their website and if any of the above happens, I can still access my list of podcast subscriptions without a lot of hassle. I haven’t done this, but, I could use their service and subscribe to the giant feed that they provide to you so you can plug it into any podcatcher and it will supposedly download all the latest enclosures, but, you don’t really get the same type of organization that I and many other people expect. I’ve just been using the PodNova client (based on Juice). I install the application, sign in and there are all of my subscriptions waiting for me.

Think about this: if you have iTunes on your computer you more than likely have an account with Apple. I think Apple could do the same thing that PodNova is doing but make it even better. One way to make it better is if I go to another computer and open up iTunes, I could login and only the latest episodes that I have not listened to or watched would download instead of the last entry for every single subscription downloading.

Another reason I am loving iTunes!

After I finished writing this entry, I decided to go and have a look around on the iTunes store because I’ve been wanting to get some new music. I saw one of the coolest things. STAR TREK EPISODES! They don’t have Voyager (although I already have all the Voyager episodes), The Next Generation or Deep Space 9, YET! I hope they will soon! But, I’m very excited! They have The Original Series (TOS) and Enterprise.