Apple Bug Friday Stampede!

Sunday, 2005-12-04; 00:44:00

Apple Bug Fridays XIII through XIX: Desktop grid spacing, 3 iTunes bugs, strange QuickTime/Mighty Mouse bug, 2 Front Row bugs

So since the theme for the month of November was "getting nothing done, fast" (in more ways than you might care to know), I figure I'd catch up on my Apple Bug Fridays. I'm not one of those people who go with something just because it's the latest cool thing (or at least I try not to be), so if you were wondering whether I had decided to stop doing Apple Bug Fridays, the answer is no.

Anyway, here we go:

XIII: The Finder uses excessively large grid spacing on the Desktop when the font size is set to 10 points, using the standard "View Options" panel. This is a new bug with Mac OS X 10.4.3, and only seems to happen on the Desktop, not in any other windows. Take a look -- 10 point font shot is on the left, click for full size pics:

Portion of Desktop with 10 point fontPortion of Desktop with 11 point font

I like having as much space as possible on my Desktop, and since making the font size smaller should also lessen the grid spacing, that would give me more space. But noooo... silly Finder. (Note how I can squeeze 4 columns into a smaller space with the larger font -- and in case you were wondering, only two rows are lost with the larger font.) Filed: 4364497.

XIV: Let's take a break from the silly Finder and turn to iTunes. You know how iTunes (as of version 4.8 or something) can now play videos? Well, there's one problem. First of all, you can't change some properties of a bunch of different videos at once. Specifically, get info on a single song. Now go to the "Options" tab and you'll see some options there that you don't see when you get info on multiple items. You can't change the video kind (the popup with only two choices, "Movie" or "Music Video", which is highly dumb) on multiple items at once, for example. Nor can you change whether the song is bookmarkable (if it remembers the playback position) or if it gets skipped during shuffle. These would all be very, very useful to have in the batch get info window in iTunes, but alas, Apple does not provide that. (You can't batch set the start or end time either, but I can easily overlook that -- it's highly unlikely you'll ever want to have the same start time on a bunch of different songs.)

Inexplicably, though, some of the per-song prefs in the Options tab can be changed en masse. The volume adjustment, the equalizer preset, and the star rating are all exposed in the batch Get Info window. WTF?!

I'm including in this bug the fact that the video kind popup does not include an item for "TV Show", even though Apple offers TV shows for download from the iTMS, and many people may have manually recorded TV shows on their own. However, I haven't downloaded a TV show from the iTMS, and TV shows are somehow separate from other video kinds: after all, in the Video source item in iTunes' sidebar, the new "search bar" has separate categories for "Movies", "Music Videos", "Podcasts", and "TV Shows". The only one that can't be set explicitly by the user is TV shows. Filed: 4364498.

XV: Continuing with iTunes: now let's turn to how it works with AppleScript, and specifically, the video kind property of movie files in iTunes. You can't set it via AppleScript! WTF! At the very least, it's not exposed in iTunes' scripting dictionary, and I can't find any mention of such an AppleScript command on the intarweb after a cursory Google search. THAT is really annoying. (Every other property in the Options tab can be controlled via AppleScript.) This is annoying enough to merit it's own bug. Filed: 4364501.

XVI: One more on iTunes: it SUCKS ASS playing videos. First off, performance is just dismal. When starting to play many MPEG-4 videos, iTunes locks up for a few seconds. Also, when you try to simply change the position of the playback to a different portion of the video, iTunes again locks up for a few seconds. If you don't watch videos straight through from start to finish, iTunes will probably make your life exceedingly difficult.

There's a second half to this bug: if you have videos set to play in a separate window, and you close the window, iTunes continues to play it in the album art portion of the main iTunes window. Note to iTunes: I said I wanted playback in a separate window, and I want it to stay there. This really is an annoying interface abomination, because you have to explicitly pause playback before closing the window, instead of expecting the pausing to be understood when you simply close the separate video window.

These problems are especially evident if you subscribe to Rocketboom and attempt to watch the video podcasts every day. Filed: 4364505.

XVII: On to QuickTime Player. This one is quite strange. It requires you to have a Mighty Mouse (or at least a mouse that has some sort of horizontal scrolling -- the tilt-scrolling should do just fine, probably).

Open a movie in QuickTime Player -- make sure it has some sound that there's some sort of music or other sound that is constantly playing. An audio file will do quite well. Now, scroll horizontally to the right using your scroll wheel/ball. Note that QuickTime Player lowers the volume instead of raising it as would be expected. Now, scroll horizontally to the left. Note that QuickTime Player raises the volume (as would be expected -- but not correct -- after witnessing the previous behavior). What's strange is that if you continue to scroll horizontally to the left even when the volume is all the way up, QuickTime Player continues to raise the volume to the point where the sound becomes distorted. This effect seems limited by the system volume because I can still wear my headphones while doing this. (And yes, you can undo this effect by horizontally scrolling "back" to the right. :P )

Here's a movie that demonstrates the phenomenon. Transcript: from 0-5 seconds, volume is at "max volume". This maximum volume is defined by the highest volume that you can set by normal click-and-dragging of the volume slider. 5-10 seconds: I'm horizontally scrolling to the RIGHT with my Mighty Mouse. 10-30 seconds: I'm horizontally scrolling to the LEFT, slowly, with my Mighty Mouse. Note that past 15 seconds, even though the slider appears to be at maximum, the volume continues to increase, and the music distorts. 30-35 seconds: I'm scrolling really fast to the left with (continually "increasing" the volume). 35-40 seconds: horizontally scrolling really fast to the right, thereby lowering the volume. 40-60 seconds: slowly horizontally scrolling to the right, eventually lowering the volume back down to zero. Filed: 4364506.

Since I'm on a roll, and I'm getting into more hardware-specific bugs, I thought I'd file two on Front Row:

XVIII: This is a simple bug: Front Row doesn't work with some DVDs. When you use Front Row, and you start a DVD, Front Row superimposes its own menu on top of the regular DVD menu. You have to explicitly choose the "DVD Menu" option to get to the DVD's own menu. Then, you can navigate around the DVD using the iMac's IR remote. I have encountered at least one standard DVD, though, that doesn't work like this -- the extras DVD for Monsters, Inc. Instead of moving around the DVD menu as expected, it tries to skip forward in the menu: it acts like the menu is a video which is 15 or so seconds long (which might be accurate if it's a motion menu that simply appears static) and tries to skip through this "video" when you really just want to move to the next DVD button on the right. It does work with other DVDs though, and this problem still persists with Front Row 1.0.1. Filed: 4364508.

XIX: This is more of an enhancement request rather than a bug. When you navigate through the menus in Front Row, the font size of these menus is rather large. Of course, this is needed if you're controlling your iMac from your couch or bed. However, what's NOT cool is that this tends to cut off long filenames, and if you have many videos with similar long filenames, you can't distinguish between them. I don't advocate changing the font size -- I just wish that additional info would be shown underneath the video thumbnail when you have a video selected, including the full name of the video file and at least the modification date (this is useful for videos in a series that are similarly named). Filed: 4364509.

So now I'm two weeks ahead in Apple Bug Fridays. Take that, universe! :)

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