In Praise of the Non-Monolithic…

My Dad has just got an iPod.  And he did try to get it set up on his own, but I got called in in my normal technical support role.

I have to admit that I thought that the issue was going to be simple, so I loaded Lizzie in to the car and headed over one Saturday morning.

The PC runs Vista, and iTunes was installed. The problem only arose when we dropped a disc in the CD drive and tried to rip it and add it to the iTunes library.  Invariably the process would start, and progress smoothly until the progress bar at the top of the iTunes screen showed 20 seconds processed. At this point iTunes would freeze, and if you tried to do anything to rescue the system then you would (eventually) get the good ol’ ‘Blue Screen of Death’ (yeah, I haven’t seen one of those for a long time either!).  The system would then reboot itself.

Checking the Events Log for Windows there wasn’t much in the way of errors mentioned, but there was talk of problems with VSS.   A short Google later showed that this is something to do with hauling large chunks of data from one place to another.  It looked like iTunes was using this for its large volume data handling and that it wasn’t behaving.

And of course, iTunes being the monolithic beast that it is, you are sort of stuck with this behaviour.

I was left with a couple of options.  I have been thinking about upgrading the machine to Windows 7, but that needed planning that I hadn’t made. The easier option was to delegate the part of the process that iTunes kept on breaking on to another program.

Another quick Google lead to the top 5 ‘CD ripping programs’ for Windows, and a couple of minutes later I was ripping a CD to mp3. A quick tweak to put the files in a more sensible location (under Music rather than on the Desktop) and we were good to go. The files can all be added to the library easily enough on the basis of importing as a folder.  And syncing to the iPod is then done in the normal way.

I still have a bit of a problem with the way that iPods insist on being managed using iTunes from either Windows or a Mac (of course, I use Linux wherever possible) but I understand that they are easy to use and most people won’t be bothered by such things. But me, I will continue to stick by my old iPod with Rockbox installed (a subject for another post). And when it comes to syncing the iPod, I’ll stick to using rsync!


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