Thursday, June 14, 2012

iTunes Match, giving in to Apple, and fighting upgrading

Some time ago, I lost my dumb-phone and went to the Verizon store to buy a new one.  Given that the cost of an iPhone was comparable to buying a non-smart phone, I decided to give in and return to the smart-phone world.

One of the advantages of having an iPhone, however, is the ability to use iTunes Match.  Now let me explain...

If, like me, the majority of your iTunes library (more than 80%) is built from these inventions called "compact discs" that you ripped into your library, this service is for you.  For $24.99 a year, iTunes will scan your library, give you iCloud access to songs that they already sell in iTunes, and UPLOAD those that aren't in the store into the cloud.  With push-streaming, that means that you can have your entire library - in my case, over 6000 songs and over 40 gigs - available anytime that you have a wifi or 3G connection.  It's been awesome to have and it's like having my big clunky iPod with my curated playlists with me all the time, except this thing makes calls too.

The thing is, this all works if you have a current version of iTunes and at least the 10.5.x OS for Mac.  Before I go on you have to understand that despite my love for Apple products, which dates back to 2004 and the "eMac" that I bought, I radically disagree with their "upgrade" policy.  Apple fights to make their own products redundant.  They always *want* you to upgrade, and at some points may create dead ends in their operating systems or raise barriers to prevent you from getting a cool new product or service like iTunes Match.

That brings us back to my Powerbook G4.  I bought this in 2006, knowing it was the last of a venerable line of proven PowerPC processing notebooks.  I loved the style and wasn't sure how the first iterations of the new "Macbook Pro" would work out.  I was using "Tiger," which was Mac's (awesome) OS, which is in the 10.4.x scheme.  So here's where the problem starts:

iTunes Match is only available on iTunes version 10 and above.  Those versions of iTunes use an integration with Quicktime that is integrated with AT LEAST 10.5.x ("Leopard").  Apple had already moved on to "Snow Leopard" (10.6.x) and "Lion" (10.7.x).  However, my Powerbook G4, I found after some research, was backstopped at Leopard.  The newer OSes were built for more powerful processors, and "Leopard" was the highest my computer could go.  Which was fine, because I needed Leopard to get iTunes 10 to get iTunes Match.

So I found myself at an Apple Store asking where I could buy Leopard.  "We don't sell it anymore.  You can still pick up a copy of Snow Leopard if you call directly, but Leopard is gone."  I realized I would have to go to the "black market" of eBay.  $100 later I had a copy of Leopard, which is only available by private sale now and you should expect to pay around that for your own copy.

I installed it, installed all the security updates, got the updated copy of Quicktime which allowed me to get the updated copy of iTunes, which allowed me to buy iTunes Match.

Five days later, running day and night (it takes a LONG time) all the songs had been matched and pushed into the cloud.  I went to settings on my iPhone, turned on iTunes Match there, and within minutes had push-enabled music streaming into my phone.

I collected the research for the how-to behind this in different articles and conversations.  I hoped to collect it all together here for someone who - like me - was fighting Apple's version of redundancy.  You too believe that it is only "redundant" when it doesn't do what you want it to do.  My 6-year old Powerbook G4 is still fine, thank you.  I don't need a Macbook Pro.  So holdouts, you too can get iTunes Match.  But it's also for those who already have the new Macs - get this service - it's awesome and it's $2 a month!  And you won't have to do nearly the amount of work I did. :-)

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