iTunes Match kinda sucks

So remember how I was using iTunes Match and a smart shuffle app to manage my music?

Well, that hasn’t ended up working all that well.

The smart shuffle app, in particular, is incredibly unreliable and slow, and also my iTunes Match-backed library has… Issues.

Like, a lot of songs won’t sync over because of an “unspecified error” (I assume label interference, because they’re all songs from a particular label as far as I can tell), and a lot of other songs won’t sync over because they appear as “duplicates” since like… sometimes I have more than one instance of a song across multiple albums. Best-of compilations and singles releases and so on. Sometimes it does legitimately find a duplicate I want to get rid of but most of the time it’s just… not. And even when it does, it’s a crapshoot as to which one it decides is the duplicate and which is the “real” one.

Like. My whole thing is listening to albums, not individual songs, and if a song appears in multiple albums, I want it to be played within all of those albums.

At least they seem to have figured out that there are sometimes multiple versions of a song by the same artist and on different albums (like, it never seems to show the various Past Masters versions of Beatles songs as duplicates of the album versions). (Oh I guess I talked about that last time too. Obviously this is important to me.)

I’ve also noticed that playing songs on the iPhone doesn’t update the play stats in my cloud library, and even with the enormity of my library I’m still hearing albums more frequently than I’d like.

I feel like there has got to be a better way than any of this.

Oh wait, there was one, and Apple stopped bothering to support it.

iPhone sync bug report

Remember the iPhone sync issue I was having? Which had me switching back to my 6S and planning to sell the XR? Well, it started happening on the 6S too, a couple weeks ago, so I’m glad I never managed to sell the XR. (That and it would have been a nightmare).

Anyway both of my phones are now stuck in this no-sync state, so here’s the Apple Feedback (née Radar) I submitted last night. Maybe someone else will enjoy reading it, or maybe it’ll just get a bunch of search hits from other people with the problem. (I have a few acquaintences at Apple who are already looking at it, at least.)

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I’m not buying a Mac Pro

Whenever Apple talks about a new piece of high-end hardware at WWDC, the Internet resonates: That’s so overpriced! Why would anyone pay that much money for a piece of hardware? A Hackintosh would cost way less! Apple is such a ripoff!

The thing is, the reason these hardware announcements are made at the WorldWide Developer Conference is because the conference is for developers. People who are building the software for people to use. And a lot of that software is for highly-specialized, resource-intense purposes.

Yeah, the average consumer doesn’t need to handle thousands of audio tracks and software instruments at once. The average consumer doesn’t need to handle multiple simultaneous streams of uncompressed 8K video. The average consumer doesn’t care about the latest API features in the next version of macOS or iOS. But the average consumer isn’t who’s being talked to in these presentations. There’s a reason the consumer devices get their own “town hall” events with an entirely different tone.

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the joys of streaming

Okay, so, I kinda-sorta had my streaming setup working pretty okay, with the big problem that I wasn’t able to get audio to come through digitally, and instead had to mix everything through the analog outs, going to the noisy input on the external USB audio interface. Not ideal. Also, the AVermedia drivers are unreliable and the app is crashy, and I didn’t have a good way of running the app at 1080p anyway (my laptop’s internal screen is only 768p and the HDMI dummy display I had was being unreliable about setting 1080p and there was no way to maximize the window without being able to click on it anyway, and on and on and on).

So, I went to Amazon and found a couple of devices (affiliate links) which simply convert HDMI to a standard webcam input – exactly what I wanted, because this could let OBS capture the audio and video as if it were a webcam. Which works really really well.

Unfortunately, neither device worked quite right; the one with the built-in splitter acts as a TV (for obvious reasons) and the HDMI passthrough thus uses a television colorspace, which doesn’t look right on the connected RGB-only DVI monitor. But audio works well.

The one without the splitter (using the external splitter) had all sorts of weird inconsistent colorspace behavior depending on which order things were plugged in, and I could never get audio to work at all.

Oh, and another thing I tried that almost worked was to plug my piano monitor into the second monitor output on the laptop, and run REcentral full-screen on that monitor. The resulting lag was a little annoying, but much worse was REcentral completely crapping out and going garbagey while I was trying to use it. Plus, I’m not a fan of any setup where I need the Windows machine to be on and fully-working just to use the external monitor. So that worked even worse than I’d expected.

So, for now I’m using the one with the built-in splitter and just dealing with weird colors on the monitor, and in the meantime I’ve ordered a cheap 24" HDTV that I can put up in place of the monitor. because of course I’m going to throw more money at this problem, because it’s irritating that I can’t get things to work quite right.

Oh, and meanwhile, I was also running into issues with macOS always detecting the capture device as preferring 720p, but fortunately it turns out that SwitchResX handles this. I was prepared to pay the $15 for it when I realized, wait, I already bought it back in 2005! And my license is still good for the current version! Yay! (Unfortunately this means my deadname is on the registration screen. I suppose I could ask them if I could get the name changed on the serial but I doubt it. If it really bothers me it’d probably be easier to just pay another $15. The software’s improved so much since then that it’d be worth it anyway.)

Anyway, the upshot of all this is that I can theoretically get my game streaming setup working again (I gave up on it because I could never get the AVerMedia to work reliably and it would usually crap out about 10 minutes into my stream), since the non-splitter one plus the external splitter is perfect for this.

And then I can sell the AVerMedia on eBay or something, I guess? Wow, their going price is extremely random, everywhere from $50 to $100. And I suppose I’d then have an extra monitor I should sell too.

Anyway, then I decided to try actually doing a music stream while a bit weedy and it wasn’t a fun time. But I was already frustrated from this tangle of tech. Why I keep on throwing myself into this never-ending morass I’ll never understand.

iPhone grrrr

Okay, so, here’s the error which caused me to downgrade to my iPhone 6s:

The iPhone "Ruby" cannot be synced. There are too many open files currently.

This was only happening on the XR, though (not on my iPod Touch, iPod Classic, or either iPad), and my iPhone 6S was working just fine.

Today I was actually pretty pleased with using the iPhone 6S and generally liking it better than the XR for the reasons I thought I would – it’s smaller, lighter, less obtrusive, and frankly less annoying to deal with overall. So I decided I’d buy a new battery for it and try my hand at that, since it doesn’t seem all that hard after all (and all of the battery cases I could find had critical problems like being too big or heavy or having connector failure or catching on fire).

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iPhone Regress

So, a few months ago I upgraded to an iPhone XR, which I thought was pretty okay, but there’s been an accumulation of issues with it that have me back on my old iPhone 6S for a bit. I dunno if I’ll stick with this or what, but so far I’m liking the 6S tradeoffs better.

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Memories

Much has been written about how Electron apps take a lot of memory; after all, each one is running its own instance of a web browser, and pulling in all of the overwhelming amounts of support code that implies. Slack can easily end up taking over 1GB of RAM, and Discord usually takes a few hundred as well. As someone who used to use IRC back in the 90s, when a single task taking even 1 MB of RAM was considered a lot, this feels rather horrifying:

Activity Monitor showing memory usage for Slack and DiscordActivity Monitor showing memory usage for Slack and Discord

On my iMac, with 24GB of RAM, that means that chat apps – doing the equivalent of an IRC client (granted, with a bit more visual stuff, but not that much) – are taking about 6% of my RAM!

But come to think of it, back in the mid 90s, when a typical computer had 8MB, an IRC client probably took around 400KB of RAM, which is also 6%. So have things really grown proportionally in that way?

Well, I’ve figured out a way of getting these chat apps to take half as much of my total RAM overall, but first, let’s talk about my personal history of memory usage.

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