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Month: January 2010

Defective by Design

After reading yesterday’s announcement from Apple regarding the iPad, then browsing their site while drooling over the specs, I decided I would try and get one when they become available.  I have become so accustomed to my iPhone 3Gs that I can’t imagine having a bigger extension of that for use around the house or while travelling.

But then, I started reading about all the Digital Restrictions Management that gets bundled with the product(s), and really started questioning my ideals. Being a proponent of the free and open source software movement, I am all about not being restricted to do what I want with devices and software I purchase. The sad fact of the matter is that everything Apple does works against that.

The people over at DefectiveByDesign.org lays it all out pretty well, which further convinced me that I have been duped by vendor lock-in, with restrictions on everything I can do with my devices. This sucks, and it is something I hope all of you think about and question. While the gadget lust is still there, I am feeling conflict from my true geek side, which tells me not to waste my money on something that is, in effect, defective by design.

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MP3/ACC ID Tag issues (iTunes / PS3) – Part 2

If you missed my first rambling, see it here – Part-1

Now in Part 2, I’ve brought back more food for thought and some updated info between PS3’s ability to read MP3 tagging and AAC tagging as well.

So after some further testing, I’ve realized the broken part seems to be in iTunes MP3 tagging forArtwork only.

Setup used:

Windows 7 (and a few pre-encoded files from Vista for comparison)
iTunes 9.0.2.xx (latest as of Jan.5.2010) – Default ID Tag v.2.2 (but tested with 2.3 conversions)
dBpoweramp  13.3 using Lame 3.98.2 and ID Tags v2.3
PS3 – Fat and Slim models (tested on Firmware 3.00 and 3.15) which can read ID Tag v.2.1, 2.2, and 2.3

Here are the results I’ve found (based on MP3 encoding):

  1. A song encoded with iTunes that auto grabs the Artwork and using ID Tag v.2.2 (or even altering the same song to v.2.3) doesn’t show up properly under the PS3 or Windows Explorer.
  2. However, using that very same song encoded in step one, if I copy and paste a graphic from the internet etc. and drop it into the Album Artwork window in iTunes, it will then show up on my PS3 and through Windows Explorer!
  3. I decided to move back to dBpoweramp and run some test encodes/tagging for comparisons. While using dBpoweramp, all ID Tagging worked out of the box, all art work pulled from the net and inserted correctly, which was readable by all applications (iTunes, Black Berry, PS3, Windows Explorer, iPod, Sandisk Mp3 player) etc.

Thoughts:

There’s obviously something different with how artwork is stored when iTunes grabs it from the web (automatically) versus when you copy/paste artwork into the album art window.

I know (and have known) iTunes kept a separate “Album Artwork” folder, but it never dawned on me that they wouldn’t also keep that info in the headers as well.  So it seems when you copy and paste Artwork (vs. Auto-grabbing) in iTunes, it then writes it / tags it in the headers properly.

I guess they were trying to achieve a better way of Artwork storage? I guess we’ll see when I send off my letter to Apple, if they write back.

AAC:

As for the AAC part of this….it’s Sony’s fault, mostly……

While iTunes does the exact same thing with Artwork as the MP3’s, the Artwork doesn’t show up properly no matter what you encode with (dbPoweramp, EAC, etc) as the PS3 is expecting the container to be a 3GP/AAC file! Arrrgggghhhhh my PS3 isn’t a damn cell phone.

So until Sony updates the PS3 (like the later PSP updates) to read the entire m4a container (and tags) properly, it seems we’re out of luck for AAC encoded files (unless you go through a huge mess)

Note: However, there are ways around all of this crap, you could just use a streaming media server, but then we wouldn’t have learned this little bit of info.  😉

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MP3/ACC ID Tag issues (iTunes / PS3) – Part 1

This isn’t a guide or how-to article, it’s really just an informational blabber (in two parts), but maybe it will stir some thinking/experimenting with an old friend or two.

While messing around with my PS3 as an AAC/MP3 encoder, I quickly realized it doesn’t pull Art info etc. However, even if it did, I wouldn’t advise using the PS3 as your main ripper/encoder, as it’s always easier to replace standard PC DVD drives vs. a PS3 Blue Ray drive. 😉

Over the years I’ve moved from app to app and codec to codec (Audio Grabber, Lam3 via CLI, batch processing, EAC, dbpoweramp, linux tools with Lam3, OGG and so on) always looking for a great rip/encode combo. It’s funny, I swore off iTunes for encoding funtions until they starting using better versions of an MP3 encoder etc, I also stayed away from AAC, not because it’s not good (as it’s VERY good) but there was so  few players (car/mobile) that could play them (except iPods) etc. Well…..years passed and lots of things started supporting AAC, so I moved to AAC a year or so ago.

Now days, I truly do love iTunes ability to encode AAC/MP3’s (plus managing my iPod Touch) and supposedly Apple supports and uses the standard tagging functions for MP3 ID Tags, well…..at least that’s what it looks like and feels like except for one little minor flaw I found recently.

However,  keep in mind, unlike MP3’s, the AAC group has never set an industry standard as far as tagging goes, but Apple implemented a pretty good format on their own.

ENTER PS3 and Windows Explorer issues:

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