A letter to Apple

Dear Apple,

I am writing to let you know that I am not happy with an aspect of your service and I’m going to tell you why.

The idea was simple. Best Friend would come over to my house with some tunes on her laptop. We would transfer the tunes to my laptop (as hers is a little netbook that doesn’t have a CD burner on it) and make some CDs with them to commemorate an event. This would then be distributed among the other charming young ladies at this event. It would be the modern day equivalent of making them all a mixed tape. And who doesn’t love a mixed tape? But sadly we reckoned without iTunes and the satanic arse-up it can make of your afternoon.

Step one – we transfer the tunes over to my machine using a memory stick and pop them into iTunes which as usual opens with a message that a new version is available and it would like me to download it. I’m sure it would but given that a new version of iTunes is released roughly every 20 minutes and each one comes up with a new and novel way of doing something bad to your library, I decided not to bother. After all, I’d had enough fun during the last one when I had to reload all my CDs because each and every song not bought from iTunes (and 4 that were) appeared with a little exclamation mark next to them because it ‘couldn’t locate them’. Anyway, when we dispensed with the request for uploading and got the tunes into the library we discovered that it wouldn’t play them because it ‘couldn’t locate the source’. So we put all the songs on the memory stick back into a file and told it to look there. Which it did and now we had our lovely playlist of 97 songs.

All we had to do now was burn them onto a CD. We had 97 songs which came to a total of 380mb of information. Our CDs were 700mb so we figured this would fit. Wrong. Apparently even splitting them into 2 playlists wasn’t going to work because half our list wouldn’t fit on one CD either. We had a look in the help menu to find out what the problem was. The problem was that the help menu wasn’t helpful, given that it gave us fuck all information on what to do in the likely event of something going wrong while you’re trying to burn a CD. We decided to test the burn facility out by burning just 5 songs onto a CD to see if that worked. It did, well at least it did for the 10 seconds it ran before an error message appeared, ‘CD burning error – it may help if you calibrate the CD’. May help? Well will it or won’t it? And while we’re about it, what the chuffing hell is ‘calibrating’ in reference to a CD? I’ve heard of formatting but calibrating? It’s a CD, it doesn’t have variables that need aligning, which is what I understand calibrating to mean. If you’re going to have it leave messages, at least make them sensible. So we tried again and this time it worked. Lovely. So we figure that maybe we’ve just tried to put too many songs on one CD and cut it down to 15.

Off we go with burning our 15 songs onto CDs. It’s all going well until…”Unknown error 4405 – burning cancelled”. Fucking special. Brilliant. Unknown error, that’s really helpful, if iTunes and my laptop don’t know what the problem is, what hope do we have? By this time Best Friend and I have lost the will to live, let alone burn bloody CDs for people and every time we blink we’re seeing images of dismembered Apple programmers scattered across a carpark. I go to test the CD in the car and all the tracks bar the last one have burned fine. So I make an executive decision, bugger it I’m going to do them all and they’ll just have to live without the last track. So I continue with the 14 other CDs, some of which did get the extra track, some of which didn’t, in a completely random fashion designed exclusively to piss me off. Tonight I face the fun task of testing every track on every CD to see if they’ve actually worked. Do you have any idea how many times you have to hear the opening bars of ‘Gold’ before you go batshit crazy? This evening I shall find out. Perhaps I will email you the answer, assuming that I’m allowed to use the computer in whatever secure unit I end up in and am not just sat in a corner wondering when they’ll let me have my shoelaces back.

Anyway, to cut a long story short, my requests are these:

1) Enough with the constant updates of bloody iTunes. Stop it. Twice a year is more than enough, Ford don’t feel the need to recall my car every time they have an interesting idea then return it to me with something else broken, follow their example and leave it the hell alone.

2) I realise that you people have a massive bee in your bonnet about digital rights management. I get it. But let me let you into a little secret that makes perfect sense to those of us who don’t spend life in a hermetically sealed box trying to find ways of making iTunes more complicated; the more difficult you make it for people to do things like make a CD of their music, the more they’re going to use the illegal ways that you can find on the internet. We in Britain are not afraid of your threats of prosecution. Our police force don’t even bother to come round if your house gets done over and your pet gets microwaved, do you really think they’re going to spend 4 days filling in forms because Clare from Dagenham downloaded a copy of Adele’s latest album from someone in cyberspace? They aren’t, believe me. We just want a simple way of doing things, a way of making a mixed CD that doesn’t make us want to tear out our own eyes with frustration.  You should not have to have a PhD in advanced computer programming to put some cheesy 80s and 90s pop onto a CD. It’s ridiculous.

3) If you’re going to have an option for ‘burn playlist to CD’ in the menu, at least have a system behind it that will allow you to burn the bloody playlist to disc because currently if you were showing any sort of honesty, once you clicked the ‘burn playlist to CD’ button it should display the message ‘error 5937 – you’re a fucking idiot for thinking this would work’.

If you could address these matters immediately I would be most grateful. Obviously it will be too late for me, I will still be sitting in my locked cell humming the opening bars to ‘Gold’ over and over and over but it may save other unfortunates from the same fate.

Kind Regards

Vicola.

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4 Responses

  1. Great letter … and is there room for 2 in your padded cell? Last time I added a perfectly legitimate CD wot I had bought to iTunes, it voluntarily unticked everything in the library and deleted everything off my chuffing iPod. This would not have been quite so effing irritating had mah lovely boys not given me a whole big hard drive full of their tunes, many of which I loathe (hip hop and R&B really not my thing) – so I spent the next gawd knows how long going through a squillion (approx) tracks deciding what to put back on my iPod.

    (Java are also pushing their luck – no I don’t want to download an update so stop bloody asking me every time I boot up the laptop.)

  2. I love you for this. Mrs J might fancy you a bit too.

  3. Excellent composition Vicola.

    It is precisely because of my lack of a PhD in computer programming that I gave up downloading music a long time ago.

    And it’s not just iTunes….every other stupid program seems to want to update itself at least once a week.

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