Tag Archive for iTunes

Transferring iTunes videos to another computer

At least once a week I get asked about transferring iTunes music from one computer to another, but recently someone said to me:

“My sister bought a bunch of episodes of Gossip Girl and some other shows on iTunes. I’d like to watch them on my computer, too, but I don’t want to buy them again. How can I get them onto my computer and iPod?”

I told them they’ll be able to watch them on a computer, but they won’t be able to watch them on an iPod.

“Why not?”

“Because the iPod is linked to a specific user or account. And the music and video files are linked to a specific user or account. So once iTunes sees the account attached to the video file doesn’t match the account attached for the iPod, it will refuse to transfer the file.”

“How does it know?”

Gossip Girl

Gossip Girl

“There’s no easy way to explain that, but, trust me, it won’t work.”

“Well, how do I copy them to my computer?”

Find the files on your sister’s computer. Typically the videos will be in the “My Music” folder on the hard drive. In that folder there is an “iTunes” folder, then a “iTunes Media” folder, and lastly a “TV Shows” folder. Inside that folder you’ll find folders for all the shows your sister bought. You can just copy these folder onto a CD, DVD, or external drive, and then copy them onto another computer. You can copy them to the same location on your own computer. Or you can have iTunes import them.

When you try to play them, iTunes will tell you that you’re not authorized to play them on your computer. At which point you will need to enter your sister’s iTunes account information.

“And, no, you still won’t be able to play them on your iPod.”

iTunes and the LG Chocolate

Here’s a question I received recently:

“I have an LG Chocolate from Verizon, and I want to copy my iTunes music to the phone. How can I do this?”

Assuming you’re interested in transferring music purchased in the iTunes store, then it’s not going to be easy because the LG Chocolate won’t play iTunes music files purchased in the iTunes store. Music files downloaded on iTunes are in an “MPEG4 Protected” (m4p) format. Some are in a m4a format. Neither will play on the LG Chocolate because it only supports MP3 and WMA file formats.

BUT,

If you copy your own CDs into iTunes using the MP3 format, then you’ll be able to transfer them to your LG Chocolate.

BUT,

By default, iTunes imports CDs using the AAC format, so you will have to tell iTunes to use the MP3 format instead. Here’s how to do that:

1. In iTunes, click “Edit” >> “Preferences”
2. Click the “General” tab
3. Click the “Import Settings” button
4. Change “Import Using” to “MP3 Encoder”
5. Optional: Change “Setting” to “Good Quality” for smaller file sizes
6. Click OK >> OK

Here’s a neat trick:

Once you’ve told iTunes to import your CDs using the MP3 format, then you could use iTunes to burn your store-bought files to a CD, and then import that CD into iTunes using the MP3 format. So if you’ve got the patience to burn a CD and then import that CD, go for it. (Be aware you’ll have two copies of the song now, one in the iTunes format, and one in the MP3 format.)

Transferring MP3s or WMA files to the LG Chocolate

autoplayThere are several ways to get the MP3 files onto your LG Chocolate, here are three different ways that come to mind:

  1. If you are using a Windows computer and an USB cable to connect the phone to your computer, then you could use Windows Media Player to find the MP3 files on your computer, and synchronize them to your phone.
  2. The same could be done if you remove the micro SD card from the phone and insert it into a micro SD card reader on your computer. Again, Windows Media Player could synchronize files on the card.
  3. Instead of synchronizing using Windows Media Player, you could connect the phone with a USB cable OR insert the micro SD card into a card reader, and then drag and drop your MP3s from the music folder on your computer into the SD card. This method will also work on a Mac. (By the way, this is my preferred method.)

It is my understanding the LG Chocolate has a music folder on it labeled “my_music”. If so, then this is where you should put your MP3s. If you’re using Windows then once you attach the phone or the SD card, you should be presented with an “AutoPlay” window (shown above right from a Windows Vista computer). The AutoPlay window provides you with an option to “Open folder to view files” (circled in red here). Click that option and a window will open showing the contents of the card or phone.

BitPim

BitPim screenshot

BitPim screenshot

I’ve also read about a program available for Mac, Windows, and Linux called BitPim which is downloadable at www.bitpim.org. This program allows you to view and manipulate files of all kinds on your phone when connecting it to your computer via a USB cable. This is available for free download, and the software is designed by volunteers, but I seen many other sites making reference to this program. As volunteers they’ve also provided a list of phones that they’ve used with the software.




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Video: To Stream or Not To Stream

That is today’s question.

Apple iTunes

I’m referring to the video streaming services that are available for the home consumer market today: Netflix, CinemaNow, Amazon’s Video on Demand, and Blockbuster. Streaming video, for those unfamiliar, allows you to watch a video while it downloads. This was available to computers originally, and has since moved on to include televisions via game consoles and set-top boxes, and mobile phones most recently through YouTube and MySpace among others.

Netflix, Inc.

I’ve read a lot of articles with a lot of opinions on which is better or best, but it seems clear to me there is no one service that works best for everyone and every viewing platform:

  • Not everyone wants to watch video or TV on their computer or mobile phone
  • Not everyone wants to pay $300 for a phone or a box
  • Not everyone watches videos on a regular monthly basis

As Tim Berry at business planning site Bplans.com says, “Not everyone is your customer.”

What Services are there?

Computer Services

For streaming video to your computer you have many choices: Netflix, Blockbuster, Amazon’s Video on Demand, iTunes, and CinemaNow among others. Some of these, such as iTunes, aren’t true streaming services since the video must be partially or completely downloaded first in order to be watched, but broadband Internet access is sharply reducing the amount of time one must wait for the video to download.

All you need is some video playing software on your computer in order to watch the videos. Some services use popular pre-existing programs such as Apple’s Quicktime (which is included with iTunes) and Microsoft’s Windows Media Player. Some services, such as Amazon’s Video on Demand use their own software. (Amazon has their Unbox Video player software.) Others, such as Google’s YouTube and Hulu from NBC Universal and News Corp. can be watched in your browser.

Some of these services charges have a monthly subscription fee you can use, or you can pay on demand. If you watch videos frequently, they are bound to have a monthly subscription plan that you will find suitable. Otherwise you can expect to pay at least $1.99 or $3.99 per video for on demand service. New releases tend to be harding to get as not all film distributors are willing to make their videos available in this fashion.

Television

Netflix Devices

Netflix Devices

The number of television services are increasing rapidly, but, in my opinion, still has a way to go. Quality is still not dependable from the true streaming services.

For example, Netflix, a perennial favorite, allows you to stream to your computer, and a variety of network media boxes are available which allow you to connect your computer to your television though your home computer network. You also have the option of streaming to a TiVo digital video recorder, a Xbox 360 game console, or a LG BD300 or Samsung’s BD-P2500 or BD-P2550 Blu-ray disc players. The video will download at the highest possible speed with the highest possible picture quality, but if there is a increase in demand the picture quality reduces to maintain the download speed necessary to keep the picture moving. A recent increase in usage by Xbox 360 owners caused such an increase in demand that some experienced picture qualities they considered “unwatchable”.

Vudu
Take control! Get movies on-demand. Watch instantly on your TV at anytime. Learn more.

As with the computer services mentioned earlier, there is either an on-demand fee or a monthly subscription plus the boxes themselves cost upwards of $150 and $250. TIVO has a monthly subscription of about $8 to $12, and Xbox 360 requires a $8 monthly subscription to their Xbox Live Gold service, or a $49 annual fee.

There are other set-top boxes to look at, too, such as Vudu and Roku.

Special Recommendation

Take a look at the LG BD300 Network Blu-ray Disc Player for accessing Netflix video on demand service. This player sells at Best Buy for $349, but you can get it at Amazon for $290 now.

Mobile Phones

Blackberry

Blackberry

Principal among the mobile phones are the Blackberry and iPhone. These new phones, along with Google G1 phone from T-Mobile, allow you to watch videos from any of the web based services. You laso have the option of storing video files on some of the phones with large storage capability. For example, the iPhone allows you to download videos from the iTunes service. Verizon offers it VCast television service which allows you to watch television programs on your cellphone.

Google G1

Google G1

The phones cost over $179, and then your phone service is about $39 a month (but you already knew that) plus there is a data service fee of $30 per month as well. The data service is needed for either Vcast or Internet access on your Blackberry, G1, or iPhone.

My Issues, Maybe Yours

Many of us watch too much TV, and in many cases too much video. Which is worse?  That all depends on what you watch and who you talk to.  Monthly subscriptions make me feel forced to watch video or feel as though I’m throwing my money away. I was an early adopter of Netflix, among other things, and paid the monthly subscription for a whole year and only watched one video, so that was a $96 rental. Big waste. I’m more of an on-demand video watcher, not an on schedule video watcher. I prefer to be informed over entertained, and when I’m informed I like to be informed honestly and objectively whenever possible.

I also like to have maximum picture quality. I had a laserdisc player, still do, and I have several DVD players. I think some of my laserdiscs look better than some of my DVDs. The engineering quality isn’t always equal. Some manufacturers put a little extra care into the transfer, but streaming video currently has a variable picture quality to account for levels of demand. Some days are better than others. I’m just thinking about digital TV right now. The occasional picture scrambling drives me nuts. We get to look forward to that 24 hours a day when analog TV broadcasts go offline in February 2009.

I hope you’ve found this post informative today. Let me know what you think of streaming video, the different services, and anything related. Or send me a question for a future post.




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Great Advice for New Computer Owners

Rob Pegoraro of The Washington Post has an excellent article, “Pre-Flight Instructions For Your New Computer”, for new computer owners. Whether you have a new PC or a new Mac he offers excellent advice for getting started with your new computer.  Here are a few of the recommendations he’s made for users of Windows Vista and Mac OS X Leopard:

  • Activate the pre-installed antivirus on a PC. (Skylarking note: Or download Avast at www.avast.com, and download the Home edition. It’s free if you only have it iusntalled on one PC in your household. Mac users can consider getting an antivirus program at the Apple Store online to spare your PC using friends from viruses you might accidentally pass on.)
  • Turn on the firewall on your Mac: Click System Preferences >> Security>> Firewall >> “Set access for specific services and applications”. (Note: The firewall on Windows Vista PC is active out of the box.)
  • Download system updates. Vista: Start >> Control Panel >> Check for updates. Mac: Apple-icon >> Software Update.
  • Remove “trialware” and buy the $150 Home and Student Edition of Microsoft Office 2007, or download the free OpenOffice 3 at http://openoffice.org or use the free Google Docs Web-based software at http://docs.google.com. Uninstall software via Start >> Control Panel >> Uninstall a program.
  • Declutter the desktop: Drag and drop unwanted icons into the Recycle Bin, or use right-click and delete on the icons.
  • Declutter the Mac’s Dock: Drag unwanted icons off the Dock, and they’ll vanish.
  • Backup: Use Windows Vista’s Backup and Restore Center with an external drive, or, if you have a broadband connection, use a free online backup via Mozy at http://mozy.com.
  • Backup on a Mac: Get an external hard driveand use Apple’s Time Machine software.
  • Surfing the Web? Get Mozilla Firefox, http://mozilla.com, for free. Many people prefer it over the Microsoft’s Internet Explorer and Mac’s Safari.
  • Rest: Don’t rush to install your old programs, and “don’t go crazy trying out new ones.”
  • For an old printer or scanner: Go to the manufacturer’s web site and download the updated drivers instad of using the ones on the original CDs. (Skylarking note: You might also find that the Windows drivers are sufficient for operationg these items.)

He makes additional suggestions regarding email applications (Thunderbird, Windows Mail, Windows Live Mail), music and video playing software (iTunes), and photo editing tools such as Picasa.

Check out Rob Pegoraro’s article in full and enjoy your new computer. Happy holidays!




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Apple Releases iPhone Updates

Courtesy of Apple

Courtesy of Apple

Due to widespread instability issues with the 3 week old iPhone 2.0 operating system, Apple has released an updated version of the famed phone’s firmware.  The updated operating system is for use on the iPhone, the new iPhone 3G, and the iPod Touch (an iPhone without the phone feature).


Apple Online Store

The 250 MB update, v2.0.1, “increases backup times, improves keyboard responsiveness, and reduces lag in some applications” (InformationWeek). There were also problems reported with applications for the iPhone freezing and necessitating a reboot of the phone. MacWorld has posted an article for dealing with problematic apps for the iPhone.

How To Get The Update

The easiest way to get the update is to connect your iPhone to a computer and start iTunes.  Once started you can easily click your iPhone entry in the sidebar, and then click the “Update” button that appears.