As most of you know, I purchased an iPod about four months ago. It comes with iTunes, which is free, and iTunes is the application you use to transfer songs to (but not from) your iPod. Under Apple’s EULA (and as physically restricted by iTunes), you can only use each iPod on one computer.
So that’s two strikes against Apple’s way of doing things.
For the past year, I’ve been spending most of my nights in scenic Coudersport, Pennsylvania because of work. My Dell is at home in Chipmonk. I have my work laptop with me in Coudersport. My iPod is associated with my Dell per Apple’s restrictions. I insist on using my iPod with whatever computer is nearby. To facilitate this, I downloaded a program called EphPod. I was happy with it. It allowed me to move songs from my work laptop to my iPod. But it wasn’t great. I felt that the user interface was confusing, and didn’t allow me to see what was going on or really take much control over the process. I was aware of another iPod utility that I had read about in the same place I read about EphPod — sites like iPodLounge.
So I downloaded the trial version of Anapod Explorer. It uses the Explorer interface, which assuages my gripes with EphPod. The full version, which costs $25, allows you to transfer songs from the iPod to your computer. And Red Chair Software encourages you to use your paid license on more than one computer. This solves my whole main-computer-there-work-computer-here issue.
So the only feature missing from Anapod Explorer is a ripper. Its support pages recommend Audiograbber, which is freeware. At this point, that’s a requirement. When you install it “out of the box,” it will only encode up to 56 Kbps. This is unacceptable. But Audiograbber’s download page contains links to some MP3 encoder .dlls which allow you to encode MP3s up to 320 Kbps.
I haven’t used Audiograbber to rip any CDs as I write this, but it looks robust enough, and if it’s got Red Chair Software’s endorsement, I’ll commit some time to it.
Interestingly, I went home this last weekend and had some trouble with iTunes. I connected the iPod to my Dell. I have the “start iTunes when iPod is connected” option turned off, but I opened iTunes to rip a CD. As soon as iTunes was up, it started to autosync the iPod. I stopped this as quickly as possible.
So I did the whole “safely remove hardware” to the i Pod and unplugged it, and sure enough songs that I copied to it with third party software were missing. I assumed that the files still existed on the iPod’s hard drive, and that iTunes had simply deleted their entries from the iPod’s database. So I used Anapod Explorer to “rebuild the database.” In other words, I told it to scan the iPod’s hard drive for songs that were not in the database, and then re-add them. It told me it found like 35 songs and I thought everything was great … but it found songs I don’t even recall changing.
This little episode inspired me to drop iTunes altogether, uncluding as a ripper. It’s why I got Audiograbber.
In conclusion, while iTunes is convenient because it includes a ripper, burning software, a utility to download music (for 99 cents a song), and software to update the iPod, it isn’t quite feature-rich enough, it’s too restrictive, and it breaks cahnges you make with other software. So iTunes can F off.