Archive for iTunes tag

Freeing up disk space on Mac OS X

Space was a little tight (5GB) after my upgrade to Leopard and so I went on the hunt to free up space and ended up freeing almost 20GB of my 100GB disk – enough to let me set-up a new 20GB BootCamp partition that will host Vista and take over from my XP Pro Parallels image with any luck.

Large forgotten files

Disk Inventory X helps identify large files on your system which may no longer be required. In my case 8GB of imported iMovie clips, a 4GB Parallels backup HD image and a 140MB download of Boot Camp 1.4. A few blank DVD-R’s later and I’m almost 13GB lighter.

Unnecessary languages & platforms

I had previously removed the unused foreign languages and binary support using a mix of tools that was time consuming but obviously the Leopard upgrade has replaced all that.

Monolingual can remove both languages and binaries in a single sweep although it does take a good few minutes to run. Despite electing to keep English, English (UK), French and German for now as well as keeping the Intel and Intel 64-bit binaries I managed to claw back another 1.9GB of disk space. As an example Address Book shrunk from 45MB to 9MB.

As a warning, be aware you will need to reinstall Mac OS X if you want these languages back…

Music library clean-up

Head into iTunes and create a couple of new Smart Playlists:

  • Untitled and set the criteria of Play Count is 0
  • Abandoned Songs and set the criteria of Last Played is not in the last 3 months

Go through these and decide if they are worth keeping or not, in my case this was another 2.5GB.

You may also want to try dragging your ~/Music/iTunes/iTunes Music folder to the Library in iTunes to make sure iTunes is aware of all the files. I had about 30 songs that were no longer in iTunes but still in the file-system, no doubt from previously removing them in iTunes and hitting the wrong option.

Cleaning up the logs

Okay, we’re hitting that law of diminishing returns here but head into Utilities > Console and Move to Trash many of those logs.

Empty that trash can and rejoice!

If only we had compressible file-system support like Microsoft introduced with MS-DOS 6.2… Well, thankfully it’s on the cards as it is a feature of ZFS which is only read-only in Leopard but should be read-write before 10.6. That should claw back another 5-10GB of space for developers with all those highly compressible source files on their disks.

[)amien

Inside Apple Software Update for Windows

I was wondering whether Apple Software Update might search for and upgrade the various Boot Camp supplied tools and possibly drivers.

I did a little digging and couldn’t find the answer but did spot that the Software Update sends a few interesting machine details to Apple’s web server….

<key>ClientConfig</key>
<dict>
	<key>HW_Platform</key>
	<string>Windows</string>
	<key>HW_Make</key>
	<string>Apple Computer, Inc.</string>
	<key>HW_Model_String</key>
	<string>MacBookPro1,1</string>
	<key>HW_CPU</key>
	<string>Genuine Intel(R) CPU           T2500  @ 2.00GHz</string>
	<key>HW_Video</key>
	<string>ATI Mobility Radeon X1600</string>
	<key>HW_Ram</key>
	<string>2081088</string>
	<key>HW_Battery</key>
	<string>1</string>
	<key>SYS_Lang</key>
	<string>1033</string>
	<key>SYS_VERSION</key>
	<string>5.1.2600</string>
	<key>SYS_VERSION_STR</key>
	<string>Microsoft Win32s</string>
	<key>SYS_WMI_DISABLED</key>
	<string>0</string>
	<key>SW_QT_VERSION</key>
	<string>7.1.3.100</string>
	<key>SW_iTunes_VERSION</key>
	<string>7.0.0.70</string>
	<key>SWU_VERSION</key>
	<string>1.0.0.7</string>
	<key>SWU_CHECK_FREQ</key>
	<string>2</string>
</dict>

The software versions are fair enough but why it needs to report the Apple model, amount of RAM, video card, CPU details and whether you are running on battery is another matter.

It also adds a task to Scheduled Tasks to be able to check for updates at regular intervals – much preferred over a permanent background process.

[)amien

Apple’s Showtime and the disappointing iTV

Today’s Apple Showtime event showed some great products, and some disappointing ones.

iPods

The tiny new iPod Shuffle G2, the fantastic looking iPod Nano G2 with the return of the iPod Mini aluminium casing and 24 hour battery life and 8GB flash option weren’t to be sniffed at.

The iPod got… downloadable $4.99 games and an 80GB model. No sign of the long sought-after wide-screen touch-screen model with the virtual wheel.

iTunes

The expected downloadable movie announcement was made with movies at 640×480 – that’s 4x their existing TV-show/music video size and now on-par with the resolution of PC’s circa the late 80′s.

Job advises us this is “near DVD” which is kinda true DVD being 720×480/576. DVD given good quality source material, careful encoding and decent equipment can look pretty fine even blown up to 120″ on your wall.

What I couldn’t find out thought was how they intend on fitting widescreen movies into their distinctly non-wide-screen resolution.

DVD’s resolution is a little wider but more importantly it has an anamorphic mode where rather than waste pixels on the black bars the picture is stretched vertically before being encoded on the disk and then stretched horizontally on the way out of your DVD player – much the same way as widescreen movies were shot on non-widescreen film albeit with anamorphic lenses.

Jobs didn’t elaborate on whether they’ll have such a mode or something better…

Thanks to the complex licensing agreements between studios worldwide movies are a US exclusive so the rest of the world will have to sit and wait anyway.

iTunes 7 & Software Update

Add’s support for movie & iPod G4 game downloads and the user interface may well be a taste of things to come in Leopard. Flat blue gradients where aqua bubbles previously existed (equalizer, scroll bars).

Also introduced is a couple of new ways to view your local library using high quality rendered album cover art (like FrontRow) and a sort of mixed up mode (like Windows Media Player 11).

It’ll also now helpfully grab album art for albums you ripped from your own CD’s and show the breakdown of the disk usage of your pod by content type (movie/art/music).

What is interesting is iTunes 7 introduces “Apple Software Update” which looks curiously like it’s Mac OS X counterpart…

iTV

Towards the end of the announcement came the one last thing…. code-named iTV (I can’t imagine they’ll get the rights to this name in the UK where ITV is one of the big TV stations).

The announcement itself was a little unusual – it’s for a new hardware product they haven’t finished and won’t be available for months. I can only conclude they are airing the product to help shift downloadable movies with users knowing they can play it back on the big-screen.

I’m sure neither Apple or the studios want another Sony UMD disaster.

When I heard the words “Mac Mini” and “TV” I thought this could be the answer to my home entertainment hub… alas no. Rather than extend to the mini with support for DVB-S/T/C or UHF tuners and PVR functionality they abandon the hard disk entirely… and the DVD-ROM drive to boot.

Which leaves iTV with no TV support in the traditional sense. If you want content it’ll have to come from iTunes and unless Jobs and his pals add illegal DVD ripping that means buying everything again from the iTunes Store, sticking with your DVD player or buying a more capable media centre.

Would the iPod have been such a success if you couldn’t link in to your existing content but had to pay for all your music again?

Very doubtful.

The final icing on the cake is that the box will set you back $299. That’s exactly the same price as the Xbox 360 which will also stream media from a host computer over a network. The difference being that the 360 will play DVD’s and let you play state of the art games for that price.

iTV? More like Apple Cube 2.

[)amien

Apple accouncements and a little fumbling

iPod G5

Apple have announced the fifth generation of iPod. Improvements include better battery life, a thinner enclose, better screen and now in both black and white.

But not everything is peachy. Gone is the FireWire support, the remote socket and there is still no sign of Bluetooth. Quite how you are supposed to switch tracks without pulling your iPod out your pocket I’m not sure.

iPod video

The big hoopla is video on your iPod and I’m not impressed. When exactly could you watch video on your iPod? Not while jogging, driving or walking which seem to be the popular regular usage if the accessories are anything to go by.

Capture from Zorro 2 at 320x240Ignoring that, you can now watch a music video, Pixar short or (if you live in the US) a TV show on a 2.5″ non-wide-screen display at 320×240 resolution. They expect $1.99 for the privilege of viewing this tiny short content previously free elsewhere.

UK residents get an even worse deal with videos costing £1.89 – a massive 75% increase over the US with current exchange rates. And you thought the $0.99 to £0.79 increase of 45% was bad! American TV shows run around 24 episodes per season – paying £30 for a DVD edition hurts but £41.58 for DRM’ed low-res stereo videos with no resale value. Sign me up Apple! </sarcasm>

It’s like wide-screen and high definition never happened. If you have a TV or computer to hand you can play your DRM’ed media on a big screen but frankly 320×240 scaled up will look dire at 17″ and probably induce nausea above 32″. Unscaled it would be as big as this capture from Zorro 2.

Best of all the quoted time for battery life when watching video’s is up to whopping three hours. (I lied about stopping the sarcasm).

Better mobile video

Want to watch video on the move? Get yourself a portable DVD player, a small laptop or if it really must be hand-held a PSP.

The PSP has a bigger 4.3″ wide-screen display, UMD movie discs and 4-5 hour battery life. As a bonus you can play games, surf the web wirelessly, play music and check out a memory stick full of photos. For less than the price of an iPod Video.

Sony have also just announced Location Free TV client for the PSP that lets you watch whatever your own base-station at home is connected to.

The base station is a little pricey at $350 but does feature an RF tuner and two s-video inputs. It is also capable of sending IR codes so connect this baby up to your satellite or cable TV and a 200 disk DVD changer…

Universal dock & remote control

Apple do have a new remote control available real soon but it only works with your iPod while it is connected to the universal dock.

The universal dock is a good idea – one dock for all the iPods – especially useful for a family or individual with more than one iPod. What I’d like to know is if Apple will enable Macs connected to a universal dock to be controlled in the same way as the new iMac.

Front Row

A direct heads up to media centre style interfaces of Windows Media Centre Edition, Sony’s PSP and the forthcoming Xbox 360 comes Apple’s FrontRow.

Big colourful icons, massive text – just what you’d want on your TV… but curiously only available on the iMac, now available with both 17″ and 20″ widescreen displays again as last seen on the iLamp model.

iTunes 6

iTunes 5 has been out a whole month and Apple think the addition of buying videos justifies a whole new version number. Apart from this the only other changes seem to be a couple of minor cosmetics.

I guess they are desperately trying to catch up version numbers with RealPlayer and Windows Media Player. I wonder what other features they can add/borrow from other apps now that video has been nabbed from QuickTime and syncing from iSync. How much longer before it is renamed iKitchenSink?

Other stuff

  • Goodbye eMac
  • No sign of faster PowerBooks
  • Hello iMac with faster CPU

For more commentary check out these BoingBoing or DaringFireball commentaries.

[)amien