Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Moving on from iTunes

Ok. iTunes has pissed me off for the last time. It's lost my authorization again and claims I'm up to five. (I reset them all earlier this year.) It's buggy. It slow. It doesn't know how to deal with network storage. And it can't do anything in the background such as import tracks. And I can't get video playback to work over wireless worth a damn.


Apple is making noises about moving away from DRM. But I'm now determined to get there first.


I've outgrown iTunes. So I'm looking at alternatives and a migration path.


MediaMonkey is my prime candidate. Mac support is not important for me right now.


But how to get there?


MediaMonkey doesn't fully support AAC at this point. I've got about 1700 unprotected AAC tracks. I can re-rip these to MP3. Or I can just convert them to MP3 in iTunes. There are supposedly scripts that will help extracting AAC tags, and the next version of MediaMonkey is supposed to provide more complete support for AAC. I will probably use a combination of the techniques depending on the material.


Next question is what to do with the protected AAC tracks that I've bought from iTunes? I actually converted most of my protected AAC tracks to unprotected AAC using Hymn back when that worked. I don't buy much music from iTunes any more. So most of remaining tracks are files that have punctuation characters in their names (Hymn had problems with punctuation). Fortunately, many of those tracks seem to be alternate versions and bonus tracks e.g. "Hit Song (acoustic bonus track).m4p". I figure I can burn to CD and re-rip these tracks without too much work and be done with iTunes music DRM for good.


Then there's what to do for iPod support. MediaMonkey claims to work with the iPod. I've not tried it. I know there are plenty of other utilities. So I'm not much worried about music support for the iPod. Although using multiple utilities for iPod management has been problematic in the past.


But I think I'm stuck with using iTunes for video. We occasionally buy missing TV episodes or series. And there's no other way to play these and no other way to get them on the iPod which is my preferred way to view them. It doesn't look like Apple will be dropping the DRM from video any time soon.


Lastly, there's Audible audiobooks. I may be stuck using iTunes for that too. Last time I checked Audible's own Audible Manager software was awful.