Apple’s Online Music Service annoyances

iTunes 4 is neat – Rendezvous playback of content is great if like me you have a library of audio on your notebook but want to listen to it through your desktop machine which is hooked up to a pair of studio reference monitors.

<b>But</b> the online service for purchasing music clearly has some problems right now. The service requires that your .Mac account has a phone number alongside your credit card billing info (presumably an extra security validation mechanism). However it just will not accept my phone number. In fact for my account it won’t accept any phone number at all. It also seems (and I think this is the real problem) to be confused about home and work phone numbers since the message sometimes refers to a home number and sometimes refers to a work number. The .Mac billing pages don’t make any distinction and also (for my account) won’t let a phone number ‘stick’.

So right now I can’t buy anything through the service. AAhh… well… I guess the bug’s will fall out in time.

[UPDATE]

By using iPhoto (which had a more complete billing setup form) I could see that the .Mac account had two phone numbers associated with it – neither of which had a particularly correct number (no area code, area code in the wrong field). I’m not quite sure how it got screwed up – but having fixed it with iPhoto it now seems to work !

Posted under Personal

This post was written by awk on April 28, 2003

Airline Security (again)

Michele spent a few days at the beginning of this week in Southern California visiting a friend with Sylvie.

For whatever reason her ‘card’ was marked for extra security checks – these are never much fun when traveling with a child and even less fun when you’re the sole adult (I didn’t go on the trip). However in this case the TSA sunk lower than I’ve ever head of before.

On this occasion they decided that not only did Michele need to have a full hand search with the Metal Detector wand and an extra examination of her shoes and the stroller, they decided that Sylvie should be accorded the same treatment. Which meant that Michele needed to hold Sylvie (which she was not happy about) whilst they used the hand held metal detector. They even decided to X-Ray Sylvies shoes. It’s probably worth emphasizing at this point that Sylvie is a little more than 18 months old and was wearing flat open toed sandals. Even with the best will in the world I doubt that you could cram as much as a fire crackers worth of explosives into the shoes she was wearing.

The only small consolation is that Sylvie was not impressed with the entire process and let everyone in the Airport (nay Long Beach) know how she felt by screaming at the top of her lungs which is usually enough to make even trained doctors, nurses and childcare workers flinch. Even more remarkably she was entirely calm for the actual flight home – though I think the business traveller in the next seat wasn’t too impressed that Sylvie kept taking her socks off and throwing them at him 8-)

Posted under Personal

This post was written by awk on April 17, 2003

List Mom

Michael Alderete used to use the title of ‘List Mom’ when he was running the Be mailing lists. Today I’ve certainly felt like that in dealing with the BIAS mailing lists.

BIAS has run two mailing lists for a number of years bias-users (mainly Peak users and the busier list) and deck-users. Over the last year on a number of occasions people have requested that we use a web based forum instead of a mailing list (primarily because people prefer the threading and searching of a forum and don’t like the number of emails they get). Since BIAS’ now has it’s own co-located X-Serve running Apache, PHP, MySQL etc hosting a forum is at least something we can consider, so I set the software up and created a test forum with a poll for people to vote for what they preferred and announced to the list last monday that it was available and that we would close the poll this monday and depending on the results switch to the forum or stay with the mailing list.

On Monday the result was a 2/3 majority in favour of the forum instead of the list so yesterday I announced to the list we would be making the change – and then the complaining started.

Turnout for voting was low by regular list user counts and very low in terms of registered list members, however even accounting for the 3 people who mailed me and said they preferred the list and didn’t want the trouble of voting it was still a majority in favour of the forum. Still people complain that they didn’t see the announcement, that of course the results are skewed etc etc. In the meantime none of the whiners seem to have even bothered to look at how it works they just don’t like the change.

You’d think we we’re taking money away from them, or evicting them from their homes ! The level of vitriol has steadily risen – and in the meantime I’m getting no work done on new software and updates etc since I’m dealing with all the flack !

Bah ! Any of the list subscribers can easily take on the task of running their own list – hell I’ve made it clear anyone can post about a new home for a mailing list and I’ll even post it to the web forum if they don’t want to.

There’s just no pleasing some people !

Posted under Work

This post was written by awk on April 16, 2003

More Bluetooth Widgets

I picked up a Jabra BT200 Bluetooth headset yesterday. I was getting fed up with having to fish around in my pocket to pull my phone out to put it in the center console of my car (I’d forget sometimes which would inevitably mean someone would call me which in turn did nothing for driving safety). Also the cable for existing handsfree earpiece/mike combo kept getting ‘taffled’.

At $99 the Jabra headset isn’t cheap but it works well and sounds clear. It’s a little fiddly to place on my ear but I think it’ll only take a few days to get the hang of it. It also seems to be ‘moulding’ itself to my ear shape fairly quickly (or I’m just getting used to it). It felt a little weird wearing it for the first time yesterday but on this morning’s drive to work I couldn’t feel it at all.

I’m not yet a Borg so it stays in my car and I don’t (yet) wear it around the office.

Posted under Personal

This post was written by awk on April 15, 2003

Peak 4 Announced

We announced Peak 4 today.

Posted under Work

This post was written by awk on April 7, 2003

DSL at BIAS

Finally we’ve been able to get DSL installed at the BIAS’ offices in Petaluma. For the longest time we’ve endured an IDSL connection which offers little more bandwidth than a piece of wet string. Now we can move forwards with good ‘ole’ DSL and megabit speeds !

The irony in this is that a stones throw (well the other side of the 101 freeway) are the offices of Cisco (formerly Cerant), Alcatel, Gluon Networks, Mahi Networks and Calix. All of whom, given their roles in telecom systems, probably have more bandwidth than we’d know what to do with !

Our service is done with Sonic (who also host our co-located server) – it’s cheap at approx $50/month with 4 static IP addresses. Installation was painless ONCE we had worked out which phone line in our building was suitable and dealt with Pac Bell. The problem was that we have a centrex phone system and many of the lines we have are part of the centrex bundle even our office fax line (which was our first choice). We had elected to use the fax line and then had to wait a week for Pac Bell to tell us that ‘yes the one week installation period had ended without service’ since they had cancelled the order earlier because the line was incompatible and hadn’t told anyone !

We then found a second number that we were paying for and was assured to be compatible – however no-one knew where it was ! A little bit of head scratching in the phone closest and tugging at cables and we traced it to a spot right in the middle of office network hub – perfect ! The service went live on Friday and a brief hour of plugging and configuring on Saturday morning and things are working fine !

Posted under Work

This post was written by awk on April 7, 2003