Thursday, 2 October 2008

Eat Your Heart Out Apple, I'm a Windows Media Fan!

Now this is a bit of a saga. So in true Watch with Mother style, "Are you sitting comfortably? Then I'll begin."

The time had finally arrived for me to buy an MP3 thingy to listen to music and other stuff. I had got sick of carting about a compact CD player and multiple CDs, especially on holiday. Last time I used it on holiday it was a pain to have to get up of the sun lounger to take out the CD, put it away and faff about looking for Disk 5 of Michel Thomas’ Larn Yersel’ Spanish.

Now I'd heard all the hype about Apple's great design skills and how they beat the pants off Microsoft stuff. I did a bit of research on various “thingies” and I listened to my daughter and some friends waxing lyrical about the merits of iPods. So off I went to the shops just before the family holiday in May, intent on getting one to reduce the amount of luggage I had to carry. This would be “numero uno” in the MP3 thingy justification stakes to improve my Spanish while I relaxed by a quiet pool in Rhodes.

Had a look at a few and have to say the iPod did look the business, neat and a nice choice of colours. So after about 5 people in the shop had asked me if I needed any help, I finally said yes to one. The chappie recommended the iPod, it had excellent sound reproduction, was very popular, (which I knew already) and very “intuitive”. Well the warning bells should have gone off straight away then. Intuitive my ****. If anyone ever says that again I might just deck them.

Foolish person that I am listened and finally decided on a mid price iPod in a nice shade of blue (I don’t do Barbie pink, yuk!). After all I still had to justify the purchase to my husband Eric, so I didn’t go berserk!

Took the little thingy home and opened it up. What a tiny thing to get for such a big price! The only cost comparison I can make is with my diamond engagement ring and that was forty years ago! Never mind I was going to have a great time listening to all those CDs that had been languishing upstairs for years. Wasn't I? Justification, numero dos!

Next surprise, no instructions. In fact no nothing, just the little "thingy", a usb cable and a little pair of ear plug things. Now I have to admit I’m an instruction manual person. Not for me diving in to assemble an Ikea chest of drawers, producing a wonky bookcase, being left with 5 spare parts, then going back to read the instructions and starting again. I always read the instructions. It’s a woman thing I’m sure.

Must just plug it in to the lap top and it’ll play I thought. Well that’s what you do with a lot of stuff like digital cameras and flash keys. Microsoft stuff! So did that & what came up? A folder full of empty Real Player files. Now here’s where I should have heard those flipping warning bells again. This is where I made a BIG mistake, I should have gone to the Apple site and tried to find out a bit more. However as Real Player had popped up I wrongly assumed that’s what I had to use. Must be something to do with the way the lap top is set up.

Here’s where it started to get really painful. I realised that all my CDs were installed on Windows Media Player. Now I know lots of people don’t like Windows stuff, well that’s up to them. I for one absolutely love Windows Media Player and won’t have a word said against it, it’s so colourful and easy to use.

I realised the files wouldn’t be compatible with the iPod but couldn’t be bothered to go down the file conversion route. Had enough of that with my phone. Now in retrospect, that’s why Real Player probably came up on the lap top. Funny how it all comes back to you when it’s too late!

So off I went loading my CDs again for a few hours. Well I didn't have anything better to do did I? Only packing to go away in 2 days! They all showed up great in iTunes on the lap top and I transferred them over to the iPod without a hitch. Brilliant I thought, let’s get cracking. Only one problem, no music showing up on the iPod. Time to give up and sleep on it I thought, come back to it in the morning. Big problem. How do I switch the rotten little thing off? There are no instructions and it isn't obvious. No off switch. Have to ring my son in law to find out.

Morning came, took all the files off and put them back again. Still no luck and the iPod showed over a gigabyte of space used up, so the files were there, somewhere. Now it was time to go to the Apple site and do what I should have done immediately. Find some online instructions!

Have to say there was a really good video on how to set up your iPod so I watched that. After that, I knew that iTunes apparently should have “popped up” as soon as I connected the iPod to my computer. It didn't though and there was no information on what to do if it doesn’t! Still at least I knew I should be using iTunes and not Real Player. So I had to register with iTunes and guess what? Give my credit card details before I could download it, what a bloomin' pain!

Next I had to reset the iPod back to its original state. The instructions were good on how to do that, thank goodness.

Reloaded all the files again (hours of this) but again I couldn’t face file conversions. Great! So now I have all the files showing up on the lap top and I have to transfer them (which was a doddle on Real Player). Not so with this, nothing happened when I tried it.

So now it’s time to go through the diagnostics tests. Get through all of these apart from the last one which says there is a problem, the iPod isn’t “syncing” with the lap top or vice versa. Gives you a great file to save and print out to give to “someone who might be helping you with this”. I ask you! We don't all have an ICT technician lurking in the cupboard. I thought that diagnostic tests would also help you sort out the problem. Well pardon me but Windows does this, so why can’t Apple?

So I go back to the installation video again. I watch it noticing that you have to manually “sync” with iTunes. Problem sorted!

Now I always believe in feeding back to the company, after all they're not psychic and don't know I hate their stuff with a vengeance do they? Well they do now.

Just a few suggestions about this experience for Mr/Mrs Apple (whoever they are) which I sent them.

1. Get your act together and put a note on the tiny bit of paper in the iPod box to say what should happen when you plug in.

2. Give a url to go to in case it doesn’t start up correctly. Not everyone has bought an iPod before and it certainly isn’t intuitive to me.

3. Do something about the diagnostics tests and help people to sort out their problems.

4. Do something about iTunes! It's RUBBISH! Looks out of the ark. Take a look at Windows Media Player.

5. Do something about the registration process. Why should I have to go through this horrendous registration when all I want is to set up an iPod? Maybe I’m unusual but I don’t want to buy music at the moment. Take my card details when I do.

6. Art work! The process isn’t automatic the way Media Player is. Also why can’t it pick up the correct artwork? I’ve selected the correct version of the CD so why can't it find the correct art work. Hate to say it again but Media Player does this no problem.


Not surprisingly, I wasn't very happy with the iPod. Hopefully that would change

I decided to continue to use Windows Media Player on my lap top, it’s a much simpler process and a better experience. Problem is now I would have to buy a separate hard drive to store the duplicate music!

Well that was in May this year.

Now how do I feel? No better!

The whole experience put me off using the iPod. On holiday I hardly used it but my husband really liked it. Well he hadn't had the trauma had he!

I haven't uploaded any more music until today when I found some CDs I really like.

Give it a go, you've had time to get over the grief I thought. Well I got some more today.

Today the iTunes background screen turned purple for some unknown reason and I could hardly read the text to upload the music.

I hate iTunes with a real passion!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! If I ever buy another MP3 thingy it won't be an iPod.

Rant over.


  1. I don't have one but my husband does and he loves it. Don't give up yet. I think you just need some instructions or someone to help you. My husband listens to books on it. Maybe I will ask him how he does it and get back with you. It stores so much, I think it is probably worth the money.

  2. Hi Brenda

    Thanks for this.

    I keep thinking so many people can't be wrong but I find it so difficult to use. I've never had problems with using Windows Media Player. It's so easy just asks you what you want to do and you choose. It's also great looking too, lovely blue background, great big text and it automatically finds all the covers for the CDs without any hassle.

    I've watched the iTunes video tutorials online and they look great. My problem is it's not the same as what happens with my computer!

    I've downloaded the manual but it's 60 pages long so I don't want to print it. I really need a quick fix to get rid of the horrible purple background to iTunes. I hoped it would go away today but it's still there. Meant to ask my son in law who uses it all the time. He's loaded all their CDs onto it and put them into storage the loft.

    Maybe my PC has a life of it's own and doesn't like Apple stuff.

    I'm no quitter so I'll keep going for a bit longer.

  3. I have Windows Media Player as well, and never tried iPod. How frustrating for you. I hope someone will be able to help you with it.

    Take care!


  4. Hi Renie
    I'm going to admit my ignorance with this and ask my son in law Anthony. He's a great fan of his iPod. He uses it as a record player. Oops, nobody says that now do they? You see I'm showing my age again.

    They even take the speakers with it when they go on holiday with us to Greece.

  5. Winifred, first of all thanks for being a 'follower', I hope I live up to the pressure!

    Now let me join you on the iPod thing. In fact I have a blog written and scheduled to post on this very same issue next week. I have had one since about 2000 and wrangled with iTunes on various PC's. I heartily agree that iTunes is utter rubbish, it slows down your PC hugely and is so touchy, I also think it's caused crashes in the past.

    This summer the hubster and my mum invested in the Sandisk Sansa Clip. It's a tiny little mp3 player that costs about GBP30 and will store up to a 1000 tunes. So like my mum you can actually afford a couple and keep music types seperate.

    But best of all it's a simple drag and drop procedure to load music from Windows media player. There's no huge music download program and it's a whole lot easier to operate.

    So having just had all my itunes wiped in my PC disaster, I plan on using my iPod as is and then buying one of these for future musical desires!


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