Tools that make simple tasks too complicated
Posted by shannonclark on July 7, 2007
I am planning on buying an iPhone later today from a friend who has an extra one she purchased for someone like me, who waited a bit too long.
However, to make the iPhone useful, I need to have my sync issues solved. Specifically I need my contacts, calendar, and current media & podcasts to be available to me on the same system (doesn’t appear that you could say sync just contacts & calendar data from one system, music & video from another).
So to accomplish this in my case means finally breaking down and moving the entirety of my media collection to the iTunes instance on my Windows Vista system (my new ThinkPad Tablet). I have been avoiding this as Vista is the worst OS I have ever used and I didn’t want to tie more of my real data to a system running a crap OS.
And this process only reinforces that sentiment.
After investigating for a while, I learned that it is possible to move iTunes library data – but that the process is FAR more complicated than it should be.
First you have to export the iTunes library which generates an XML file. So far, so good. This makes sense, is a nice format (sorta) for interchange and okay, I can probably live with this.
But this is where the combination of Apple and MSFT start to make what should be a common and easy process an utter nightmare.
First, let’s bash Apple a bit here. Apple seems to have a fundamental dislike of letting the user have access to or control over where iTunes points to for its files. So there is NO way to automatically import the exported library file and at the time of import, tell iTunes where to find all the files (i.e. how to remap the file pointers from the old computer to say a new computer).
Instead you have to edit the XML file by hand and do some form of global search and replace.
Now this is where MSFT steps in to make what should be in 2007 a trivial task into a complete nightmare. I opened up the XML file – first place MSFT crashed and burned. The process of opening up a 22MB XML file takes 10-20 minutes on my brand new, dual core ThinkPad.
I am not exaggerating here over 10 minutes to open up an XML file.
Seriously, isn’t opening up a file something we solved back in the 1990’s?
Then Word insists on opening it into a mode that is specific for XML files. And if you make the slightest change, it insists on autosaving (which takes another 10 minutes or so).
Plus it breaks the usual conventions of how a word processor UI works – it shows a hand cursor which does not appear able to actually get you to a text insert/edit point, but if you use the keyboard you can – very non-obvious.
Then my global search and replace took 20-30 minutes to complete. Along with an error message along the way that Word had encountered an error and could not undo, did I want to continue.
After more pain and waiting, it finally did complete.
So I tried to close Word.
When MSFT insisted on applying their namespace to the file because they had not detected a namespace on it.
I tried to just save it as a text file.
Crashed Word completely and utterly.
Still haven’t been able to reopen the file to see what state it is in – after another 20+ minutes of a spinning cursor while trying to open the XML file.
Unfrigging believable. In 2007. On a DUAL CORE system. This is a system with more processing power than probably all my previous laptops COMBINED. (and via my companies I have owned a fairly large number of laptops). But in daily use you would never guess that I have so much CPU power on this laptop – it is by far the slowest and most irritating laptop I have used in well over a decade.
Waking up from sleep takes 4-5 minutes. Not much of an exaggeration. Vista insists on waking up, locking my system (takes 30-45 seconds) then when I finally am able to unlock it, Vista boots into my main screen, then blacks the screen entirely, resizes everything (drops down to a much much lower screen resolution), then spins the cursor and eventually wakes up and resizes the system BACK to my full screen resolution – but as a result has usually resized all my windows as well as my desktop image to be the wrong sizes.
And all that takes 4-5 minutes most of the time.
And that’s from SLEEP – not hibernate. Sleep being the mode that is supposed to be nearly instant to wake up from.
And don’t get me started on how quite frequently when it does wake up from sleep mode, Vista manages to break something with the wifi and I’m unable to get ANY wifi connections without a reboot.
And MSFT wonders why people aren’t running out rapidly to buy and upgrade to Vista.
Now nearly three hours after starting to work on prepping my laptop for the iPhone, I’m still not ready – the laptop is spinning and not working (well) and my desktop systems are too slowly moving all my media to an external HD (which is taking far too long itself), just so I can later move them from that disk to my laptop (yup, another long delay in the process).
Annoying. Very very annoying.
(and though I did burn an Ubuntu CD this morning as well, that doesn’t solve my issues as currently there is not a way to sync Ubuntu with an iPhone, though I suspect Ubuntu, unlike Vista, would scream on my ThinkPad)