Just focus on the iPhone, dammit

I hate the new AT&T ads aimed at fighting back against Verizon’s newest attack. The AT&T response ads absolutely suck. The Verizon ones do a much better job at attacking a real (or perceived, depending on your opinion) defect of their competitor. Of course, neither seems to be having much of an effect: iPhones are still selling like hotcakes, just as they always have.

And that’s the lesson to learn. The iPhone, in this circumstance, is far more important than the network. From now on, you’ll be following the phone to the carrier – not arriving at a carrier and then choosing one of the offered phones. iPhone created such a new dynamic that the entire market seems destined to change.

And that’s why both the AT&T and Verizon ads suck. Here’s all that AT&T needs to do for their ad: show an Apple iPhone ad. Or, just a single water paper of printer paper that reads “Get the amazing iPhone, available only at AT&T.” People change carriers to get an iPhone, so sell the damn iPhone. And for Verizon, trying to beat down the iPhone is not a winning strategy. Instead, focus on the rest of your smartphone line, all those network people you get when you sign the contract, and so forth. Direct shots against the iPhone are just dumb and they don’t pull customers to your own network.

Having trouble joining cd tracks in iTunes? Try this.

For the last few months, I’ve had trouble joining cd tracks before importing a cd into iTunes. I do very little book-reading these days, so instead I listen to audiobooks. I’ve enjoyed being an audible customer, but in an effort to cut down on expenses, I have since re-discovered the public library. The Phoenix Public Library in particular does a great job of getting in new audiobooks or books on cd. However, books on cd are annoying split into dozens of tracks per disc – well, annoying only if you’re going to listen to them on an ipod as opposed to a cd player. The key is to select all of those cd tracks, head up to the Advanced menu in iTunes and select “Join CD Tracks.” Voila, all of the tracks are ready to be imported as one. That simplifies playback significantly, as now you only need to manage a few tracks (equal to the number of cds the book required), which is a helluva lot easier than managing hundreds of individual tracks (some of which are seriously short – like less than :10 short).

This has worked quite well for me for, well, years. At least until last month, when the “Join CD Tracks” command was dimmed. I tried everything I could think of: different discs, restarting iTunes, reinstalling iTunes, searching the Apple help and support files, even calling AppleCare. No luck – I couldn’t figure out what was wrong.

I was following the instructions and the only caveat seemed to be that you had to select contiguous tracks. I wondered if there was some sort of new anti-piracy inclusions that were preventing me from copying the files – nope, iTunes would still let me copy the tracks, it just wouldn’t let me join them first.

And then I managed to stumble on the answer. The key is that the files must sorted properly for the “Join CD Tracks” menu item to be available. This seems weird, and certainly didn’t seem like a problem – the track numbers were in order from 1 to 99. But since this was a book on cd, it was not in the track name database. iTunes was simply giving the tracks a temporary number in what appeared to be the proper order, while in reality it was sorting by a different column. This is really difficult to spot unless you put in a music disc that’s in the name database and you notice the track order is different.

The solution here is to sort by filename until the “Join CD Tracks” command is active again. That usually involves two or three clicks on the first column. You should find that this solves the problem.

My new MacBook Pro

Ever since making the switch back to Apple with a shiny new iMac last October, I’ve been waiting to complete the transformation and pick up a MacBook. Well, with the new job and the prospect of giving up the old Dell laptop I was using at the Sierra Club, I finally indulged.

As soon as I decided that I wanted to work for the Foundation, I thought about getting a MacBook Air. So sleek, so minimal, so elegant. However, after a good month and a half of brain-racking consideration, a ridiculous number of store visits, and future projections, I finally decided to get the MacBook Pro, which was the furthest from my mind when I started the process. However, in the end, it came down to the screen. The MBP has a 15″ with a matte finish; the MacBook and MBA both have a 13″ glossy.

Another major factor was that I am still planning on upgrading again in the next year, passing the MBP off to Kim to use as her main computer. I’m hoping that the next incarnation of the MBP will be a bit lighter and thinner…something that the technological innovations of the Air might just make possible. Of course, if no major changes are afoot in the next 12 months, I may just stick it out with my current baby.