Enjoying the hell out of iTunes Radio

iTunes Radio is a revelation to me. Not that I didn’t know what it was going to be like, I mean, intellectually. I’ve used Pandora, after all. But Pandora was annoying, browser-based, finicky, and I never used it very long. When I first tried iTunes Radio yesterday, while trying to write, I picked some of their pre-programmed “stations” and was all, meh. Their “iTunes Top 100: Alternative” has too much Killers in it. Which is to say, any Killers is too much. My taste is definitely Alt, but I like my alt more eclectic than that. And that Fallout Boy song (Alone Together) sounds like Rihanna in drag.

But today I made my own “station” based on a song in heavy rotation in our house, Little Brass Bear by Rachel Goodrich.

And it turns out, basically, that iTunes Radio is like Genius, but with the entire iTunes catalog as your library. Which is freaking awesome.

Of course, it also turns out that iTunes Radio is just like Pandora, Rdio, etc., but without the hassle of using something added on to my ecosystem. I am, as stated elsewhere, fully entrenched in the Apple ecosystem, and in here I am as happy as a bug that is snug in a rug.

My playlist so far:

Jaymay (one of my favorite songs, Gray or Blue!)
Woody Guthrie
Matthew and the Atlas
Kimya Dawson
Langhorne Slim
Thao
Laura Veirs
Lindsey Ray
The Colorful Quiet
Malvina Reynolds
Lucy Wainwricht Roche (dang there are a lot of Wainwrights, no?)
Cast Spells
Rachel Goodrich

I’ve heard of… six of those artists. I own one of the songs I have heard so far. New music! Which is what makes this so awesome.

Edit: How I “watched” the Apple announcement

Edit: So, I ended up watching via Engadget most of the time, and when they had hiccups, I went over to Ars Technica. Good job guys.


Hey folks, I am planning on “watching” the Apple announcement (iPhone 5S, 5C, iOS 7, maybe some iPads, ever so maybe a TV-related announcement that might just be new software) today at 10 am Pacific (noon, where I am). Here’s how.

Last time I had the greatest success with Engadget’s live feed. It has lots of features, appears to be homegrown (or at least unique) and worked well during this past WWDC Keynote. If you’re only going to do one feed, do this one:

Engadget’s Live Feed

If you are like me, and you want to swap between several feeds of almost the same coverage with slightly different snark, you might also try the following links:

The Verge
Ars Technica
TechCrunch
AppleInsider

What else is out there? Well, if you like pretentious hair and live video (of people talking about the reveal, not of the reveal itself) you can’t do better (or worse) than C|Net’s ad-driven pre-show page. Oy. Then, there are the luddites. AllThingsD seems to be doing a straight up refresh-and-read approach, and Jim Dalrymple’s The Loop is proudly proclaiming their refresh for new system to be “old school.” I’m on the fence about Slashgear’s approach (they are new to me in live blogging) and MacWorld’s cookie-cutter vendor-product-live-blogging-platform.

No dilemma, Apple is a hardware company

John Gruber of Daring Fireball points to this article at the WSJ: Apple Has an Identity Crisis: Is It a Hardware Company or a Software Firm? Gruber notes that this dichotomy has been true every one of Apple’s 37 years.

But I beg to differ. There is no dilemma. This has never been true. Back when I used to write about Apple, twenty years ago, and today, it is quite clear: Everything Apple does is about selling hardware. You can set your watch, your rumor mill, and your stock options by this.

If they don’t think it will further hardware sales, they won’t do it.

iTunes Match Airport Wall Wart

Delightful name, no?

I would like Apple to build a wall wart1 that connects to my iTunes Match account (nee, my iCloud account) to stream music.

It should be very much like an Airport Express, being wall-wartish, and having an audio out option, but it should be purpose built to connect to my music in my Apple ecosystem. I would set it up via my Apple i(OS)X device, connect to my WiFi, log in to iCloud, save my credentials, and it would be ready to go.

This magic wart would then let me listen to my music, via iTunes Match, without a computer or a copy of iTunes running. I wouldn’t have to plug my iPhone in anywhere, or use minutes/battery to stream music. I wouldn’t have to “Start iTunes, Honey, so we can listen to music.” I could still use Remote (or iTunes on OSX?) to skip, pick a playlist, etc.

How sweet would that be?

Really sweet.

Bonus, it would be ready for iRadio, or whatever Apple calls their eventual streaming music service.

Yes, I know this is very specific to the Apple ecosystem. And it would be fab if Apple would let you connect it to Pandora/Rdio/Spotify/whatnot, but Apple would never do that. On the other side, Apple would never allow a third party wall wart to connect to iTunes Match, so. I am, in my circumstances, stuck with Apple. I can live with that.

But I can’t live without this thing. Build it, Apple!


  1. wall wart (n): electronic nubbin with plug prongs on the back that you plug into the wall where it sits like a parasitic lump, doing “something.” 

In Defense of Apple’s Maps

We got iPhones 5 a few weeks ago now, and I have been very pleased with it. The extra screen space is nice (the keyboard doesn’t cover everything up now!) and the speed is especially welcome.

But my favorite feature, by far, is the new Maps app.

We’ve been living in Kansas City (KS) for a little less than a year at this point. I don’t know my way around terribly well. I had been using Navigon for GPS routing and it was… well, awful. Hard to start (slow, obnoxious address entry), hard to manage (volume was always set to “whisper”, seeing the entire route was painfully slow, and ending navigation was not easy to do), and the spoken directions were too frequent and annoying. I never used it because by the time I knew I wanted it, I was often already driving, and stopping for ten minutes by the side of the road to find the address and enter it was not going to be helpful. Although I did that once or twice.

In contrast, Apple’s new Maps app, in combination with Siri, does exactly what I hoped it would. Easy to find destinations, often just by voice request. Immediate startup of turn-by-turn directions. Clear maps, just enough voice direction, easy overview, resume, and end functions. Whatever problems Siri or Maps have, I don’t feel them here in KCK. I have used turn-by-turn directions more in the last few weeks than I did in the previous two years. Heck, sometimes I do it just for fun.

So, count me a fan.

How I [watched] WWDC 2012

Inside baseball here for people not interested in Apple, but if you are: WWDC starts in half an hour, and here is how I am going to start out “watching” the coverage. Reminder, Apple hasn’t offered a live video stream of this event for years, and will not do so this year, either.

(The liveblogging is over, and this list is less relevant now, but it included Engadget, C|Net, gdgt, The Verge, Phillip Elmer-DeWitt at Fortune, and Mac Rumors.)

And now it is over. You can catch the video(s) over at Apple’s website. Here’s a direct link to the keynote.

In the end, I was switching between three coverage sites, gdgt, C|Net, and The Verge, with an honorable mention for Mac Rumors. Engadget kept cramping up and forcing me to reload the page. Kudos to gdgt, for consistently providing the best feed, and to C|Net for surprising me with their solid, and dare I say, Mac-friendly coverage.