I could just slap Steve Jobs. He really had a good thing going with me, until today.
All the people I hang out with are pretty avidly anti-Microsoft, on technical, business, and moral grounds. I work at a University where I and everyone else use Macs. My wife was a Mac pioneer from way back, has a business that may soon be buying educational computers by the truckload, and is a perfect candidate for the “Switch’ ads. I like Pixar movies, and I’m tickled that ol’ Steve’s iTunes was able to show those RIAA guys what morons they’ve been.
Well, it that’s all changed.
I needed one tune, today, to use in little slide show. No copies will be made, no one will collect any money. A dollar isn’t too much to ask for the convenience and, ahem, safety, so I legally bought Carly Simon’s “The Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of.” But iDVD has crummy dissolves in its slideshow, so I had to use Muvee. But Muveee can only handle .mp3 background music. It turns out that the files that iTunes now hands out are an encyrypted thing called .m4p, and can’t play in anything but Apple’s software. They didn’t tell me that before I wasted my time setting up the account, finding the tune, and paying my $0.99. So I followed the directions for converting the file. It doesn’t work. No explanation. No legal crap. Nothing. I’m trying to check the documentation and the help and the Web. No damn support phone that I can find. Well, some folks suggest that you need to set the preferences to import as MP3. So I try that and buy the damn tune again. Nope. Just silently sucks up my money and my time. I try following the directions to burn an audio CD of the music I now own twice over. No soap. Is it a bug? No, it just doesn’t work. Another CD coaster. More investigation. Aha, Steve’s 4.7 version of iTunes jimmies your computer so that you can’t use it. You can’t just uninstall iTunes and go back to an early version. You have to first “deauthorize” your computer (as if you were passing computer to someone and didn’t want them buying music on your dime). Follow the instructions. No good. Deactivating requires contact with Apple, and they seem to have just turned that off recently. No explanation, just “an error occurred (-3150).” Is it the wrong password? Get a new one, reset, wait for mail with new authorization. Reboot. Try again. Nope. It’s my own damn computer!
Remember I said that I needed this today, and that I was paying the $0.99 for convenience and safety? Wife is panicking. Kids are screaming. I’m screaming. The dog is barking. I’ve got better things to do this Saturday, like taxes. Curse Jobs and search for the damn tune as an .mp3. Find it at Walmart for $0.88! Fuck Jobs. OK. Fine. No, it makes me use Internet Explorer. No it makes me update Windows Media Player. No it makes me get updates. OK. Where was that damn Walmart file? Finally. Set up an account. Get the tune. IT’S A GODDAMN WMA FILE, NOT MP3!
OK, I don’t care anymore, I just want to convert the damn file and I couldn’t care less about licenses. Think different my ass. I go to a site called, I kid you not, “gates-of-hell.com” looking for converters. There’s a thing called hymm, but it doesn’t work with iTunes 4.7. For .wma, there’s a thing called dbPowerAmp, which is just a file converter to go between one legal format and another. Like an AC power adapter. No, it looks like someone sued him and he had to put the program and the codecs (the configuration files that define the formats) in a different place. Get .wma. No, it turns out that there’s old .wma and new improved encrypted .wma…
I was willing to pay a fair price for stuff before. I didn’t want all that file-sharing crapware on my computer anyway. Now it seems that the stuff from Apple is crapware, too. I’ve been lied to, and I’ve lost control. If you want to make it easy for me, great. I’ll pay. But when you don’t deliver what you say and deliberately break your own software and waste my time and take over my computer… enough. Now I will go out of my way to tell people that Steve is no better than Bill. And Sam Walton’s kids, too. Now I will go out of my way to copy and to distribute those copies with a clear conscience. If I have an opportunity to produce a competing file sharing technology that isn’t controlled by these clowns, I’ll take it.