More Random Tips and Things: iTunes and DVD Player

Monday, 2005-10-17; 22:42:00

Just a few more random things:

1. I just had a rather weird problem with iTunes 6. In mini-mode, the fast-forward and rewind buttons didn't work as expected. If I clicked and released them quickly, they went to the next or previous song as expected (well, the previous song or the start of the current song). But if I held them down, they'd skip 5 seconds and then automatically unclick the button for me, meaning that I couldn't use those buttons to scrub through my music. This wasn't too much of a problem since mini-mode also now has the progress bar, but it was still annoying. Luckily, the problem was fixed by a deletion of the "", "", and "" preference files. I suspect I really only needed to delete the last one, but I deleted the other two to make sure.

[UPDATE: Err, that was a bit hasty. The problem has returned in a matter of an hour or so. Grr.]

2. Also related to fast-forwarding and rewinding, here is a tip for Apple's DVD Player application. Ever think that the standard 4x rewind and fast-forward were quite slow? I usually do. (The most "natural" way to fast-forward/rewind is to click and hold on the forward and back buttons in DVD Player, which scrubs at 4x the speed of the DVD.) However, you can get up to 32x fast-forward/rewinding. All you have to do is use the key-combo instead of using the mouse. Press Command-Option-Right Arrow once, and you'll start fast-forwarding at 4x. Press it again (while still fast-forwarding at 4x) and you'll start fast-forwarding at 8x. Again, and you'll fast-forward at 16x. Another press, 32x. Finally, if you press the key combo again, fast-forwarding will revert to 4x. The same goes for rewinding.

3. Lastly, I have a big gripe about iTunes. Well, two related gripes. First, I like to connect my iPod to both my home computer and my office computer so that it will charge. However, when it's connected to my office computer (which doesn't have all my music on it), I have to change to manual synching before I can listen to songs on the iPod through iTunes on the connected computer. If you don't switch to manual synching, all songs will be grayed out when you browse your iPod through iTunes.

This has the effect of making me forget that I switched to manual synching, so when I connect my iPod to my home computer (the library to which the iPod is actually connected), it doesn't sync any new songs, and I don't think to check the sync setting. So when I leave the following day, any new songs still aren't copied to my iPod.

Apple, how hard is it to un-gray songs while auto-synching is enabled? That would solve everything.

Secondly, iTunes also doesn't automatically sync your iPod when you add new songs to your library. It only auto-syncs when you first connect your iPod, or when you manually initiate a sync. This does the same thing as the aforementioned problem -- I don't disconnect and reconnect my iPod, so the next day I forget that I added new songs to my library, and I disconnect my iPod without the new songs being synced. Automatic synching should be automatic! If an auto-synching iPod is connected to my Mac and I add new songs to my iTunes library, those songs should immediately go over to my iPod. Is that too much to ask?

I tentatively fixed this problem using cron. I downloaded CronniX, and added a new entry to my cron file that runs every hour. The command itself is:

osascript -e "try" -e "tell application \"iTunes\"" -e "update \"simmy's iPod\"" -e "end tell" -e "end try"

So every hour, my cron file tells iTunes to automatically update my iPod. Note that this still doesn't solve the former problem, because it generates an error (which the try block suppresses) if the iPod is in manual synching mode. I could fix it using GUI scripting, but that's a bit more annoying and will actually disrupt my work every hour, whereas this script runs in the background.

(Cron, if you didn't know, is a UNIX utility included with Mac OS X that allows you to run scripts at regular intervals of the day, week, month, or year. CronniX is a GUI for the command-line utility cron.)

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