Tag Archives: iTunes

iTunes Matching followup #1

iTunes Music Match is a service offered by Apple to extend their reach into the music business even further than before. If you’re old enough, you may remember that there is another company called Apple, Apple Corps, in the music business. If you need a hint, think of the illustration in the center of your Beatles albums – one side was a green apple, the other was of the same apple sliced in half.

Would you rather install your program from a floppy disk or a cassette tape?

Would you rather install your program from a floppy disk or a cassette tape?

Back in 1978, Apple Corps sued Apple Computers over the name and finally settled in 1981 with a payment to Apple Corps and an agreement that Apple Computers would not enter the music market. At the time, apple was selling the Apple II Plus with coming with a whopping 48k of memory installed.

By way of understanding what 48k can hold, one minute of CD quality music runs about 1MB – compressed. The ability to play something as awesome as the Mario Brothers theme music was still a good four years away.

So, safe bet, Apple.

Music did, however, enter the picture eventually. In 2001, Apple launched a music management service you may have heard of. They called it iTunes, and 14 years later, almost everyone is still using it.

But I’m getting distracted. A couple of weeks ago, I decided that iTunes music match might be the best way for my family to manage our bloated and fragmented music collections. I was dubious.

I’ve had time to play with it a bit now and I thought it was a good time to check in. One thing Apple is known for is simplicity, unfortunately, iTunes is becoming so large, and managing so many types of media that this does get in the way of clarity. The other

click this image for The Atlantic's article on what made Clippy such a hated icon

Click this image for The Atlantic’s article on what made Clippy such a hated icon

con is that Apple Music is a separate service that provides instant access to a wealth of music following a model something more like Pandora or Spotify. I didn’t want that service, but I do find that Apple keeps asking me, “Is this what you’re looking for! Sign up for a three month trial today!” Frankly, that’s almost as annoying as Microsoft’s Clippy.

The cons break down to clarity. But a little bit of intuition and practice worked that out for me.

The pros are that every machine in our household now has access to our combined music collection. Further, each computer doesn’t have to duplicate this file space in its own storage because as long as you have an internet connection, you can stream anything in your library. If you expect that you won’t have internet, or you want to go on the road and not be hit with data limitations, you can download anything from the library to any of your devices and have it there when you need it later.

One thing I still have not figured out is an easy way to combine your music libraries in a way that eliminates duplicate files and makes it easier to get all of your music ‘Matched.’ There are third party organizers that will do this for you – some of them quite well (Wondershare TunesGo is one example), but having paid once to get your music organized, it’s not an attractive option to pay twice.Recall that my primary reason for subscribing to iTunes Match is to organize and combine our family’s music in one place that we can all access.

It’s entirely possible that Apple has solved this last problem already and I just don’t know it – however, that’s another problem in itself.

If Apple could help with the organization (perhaps have a ‘load library’ function where you can simply point to the various libraries you wish to add?) and make the iTunes Match a bit more distinct a function from Apple Music, I would become a hardcore fan. Presently, I would say, proceed with caution and know what you’re getting into. On a scale of 1-10, I call iTunes Match a 7.5, with a possibility of jumping up to 10 with a few tweaks.

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Posted by on September 28, 2015 in Uncategorized


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The Curse of Sisyphus -Coming Soon to iTunes

ImageThe Curse of Sisyphus, from DownHouse Software is coming soon to iTunes.

Sisyphus’ is a tale of cleverness and cunning in which the malevolent King Sisyphus offends  and then repeatedly infuriates Zeus  until the King of the Gods is forced to personally curse Sisyphus to a punishment befitting his crimes: To slave beneath a stone, pushing it each day to the peak of a great mountain in the underworld and then have it come crashing down upon him, leaving him to repeat the task again … and again … and again, throughout eternity.

But Zeus has tried to hold Sisyphus captive before only to find that the clever human is not so easily trapped.

In this volume, Sisyphus taps into the vengeance of scorned brother, the wisdom of an oracle and the might of a demigod as he masters the rules governing gravitation and motion to escape his punishment.

Look for it in the iTunes book store this May.


Also, take a look at In Parts: A Tale of Fractional Zombies, free in the iTunes Bookstore now until Saturday!

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Posted by on April 23, 2013 in Uncategorized


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Apple Customer Service is second to none


Last night I had to resubmit my eBook to Apple as I described in a previous post. Because I was a little unsure of things today I checked up on haw it looked in the iTunes Connect site and found that I had a pair of error messages. The first was completely innocuous, just indicating that my Book was ‘Not On’ the iTunes Store because it was presently in review for QC. That’s no big deal and just meant, ‘Sit on your hands for a minute.’

However, the second message was less clear. It read, ‘Unknown Issue. Due to an unknown issue, your content is not on the store. Please Contact us for more information.’ I tried to do that, but found myself in a loop where I could never get through to an actual email tool to enter my concern. Then I noticed a toll free number I could call on the same page. That’s normally poison and not that different from a prison sentence while getting jerked around for an hour or more navigating menus.

Today: Not the Case.

Three rings, then an actual, live human being answered the phone! For a minute I thought I must have a wrong number. But not only did this human answer the phone, but he was even able to help me identify the issue and clear everything up in less than 5 minutes total time.


Posted by on October 5, 2012 in Uncategorized


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It’s been a while since I’ve actually made a post that was ‘on topic’ for this blog. Mostly, that is due to the fact that I’d been getting pretty… lazy….? No, perhaps discouraged is the better word about trying to pursue the apps I’d developed. In fact, I still have two or three apps that are 90%+ finished, that I need to get into the app store.

Regardless, last night I finally put the finishing touches on the Chemistry iBook. I got it all prepped, the artwork installed, layout worked out, internal and external links set up and ready to go out the door. This was my first time submitting an iBook, but I have to say that it’s probably easier than submitting an app. The only real hurdle was that all books (digital or otherwise) require ISBN numbers. I knew that, but I didn’t know you had to buy them. I thought it was just something that the library of congress assigned or something.

But the answer is, NO. You do buy them, and they’re not cheap.  If you are getting ready to submit a book, go over to Bowker identifier service to buy your ISBNs. The nice thing was that you buy them online and immediately have them assigned to you with no waiting

Enough about that. What else do you need? Apple provides an application called the iTunes Producer that automates the submission process. This was a relief. All you need to do is upload all the content and fill out a couple pages of metadata and you’re done. The pages look like this: Image

There are a lot of tabs (along the bottom), with information to fill in at each step, but none of it is difficult. Just make sure that the metadata matches the other files you submit. Otherwise you’ll get error tickets like these. One is for a mismatch between my metadata and my cover title, the other is for illegally using the term ‘iBook’ in my preface. apparently, you aren’t allowed to even say that work. ‘book’ is acceptable, so is ‘eBook’ but that’s it. iBook is a registered trademark of Apple.



One thing I didn’t know was that in addition to the book itself, you also have to submit a preview book with limited content. It was easy enough to make one – I just clipped out everything but the first chapter of my text and repackaged it.Image

So, like I said… Making the book was fairly easy. I spent a little on my illustrator, but otherwise it was just my own time writing and no need for any professional help in organizing the book or anything. I submitted Wednesday night, but had it rejected until I fixed the errors outlined in the tickets (5 minutes) and then resubmitted again tonight (Thursday). The only pain was that I had to recreate the whole submission package from scratch. I couldn’t find any way to simply re-submit the books directly on iTunes Connect.

One last thing: Today is the 4th. I think it said that I could expect it to be in the iTunes store on the 10th if all goes well. Cross your fingers for me.


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Posted by on October 4, 2012 in Uncategorized


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Mythic Chemistry

I’m very excited that I have just finished writing my short book on the gas laws (something you learn when studying the states of matter in chemistry). This book is set in the world of Greek Mythology and teaches some simple concepts of introductory chemistry. This is the first in a series of books I am working on that will all use mythology as a backdrop for introducing a number of scientific principles. I have three more in progress (one dealing with the physics of gravity, one dealing with population genetics and another dealing with inheritance / breeding) that I am hoping to finish up at a rate of about one a week.

My work on this actually gets me back to my original purpose in setting up this blog, that is to walk through the steps of producing material for sale through Apple’s app store / iTunes.

Just like app production, making and selling iBooks requires an iTunes Connect account ( and several other hidden steps. One thing I was disappointed to find was that you can’t just use the iTunes connect account you may have set up to distribute apps. In fact, you can’t even use the same apple ID, email or address to set up this account (I believe that I mentioned this in a previous post).

You also need to download the ‘Book Proofer’ and ‘iTunes Producer’ programs to your computer. I confess, I have not used either of these programs yet, but I am anticipating problems – just because everything has baggage.

The last hidden issue I have found is that you need ISBN numbers for every book you produce. I expected this to be a free process through the library of congress, but instead, it’s a pay service through Bowker identifier service ( One ISBN costs $125, I bought ten for $250. If you are really producing a lot of books, you can get 1000 numbers for $1000 – certainly a great discount per number, but I’m definitely not going to be writing 1000 books no matter how easy it is!

by the way, I should give some recognition to my artist, Allyson Kelley, who has been a joy to work with. you can find samples of her art on her sketch blog



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Posted by on August 16, 2012 in Uncategorized


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Ideal Gas Law Followup 2

I took my son to a gymnastics / indoor playground today (to beat the heat but get some exercise). It was great because they had bleachers where I could sit and watch once in a while and also WiFi, so I could work as well. That gave me enough time to finish my first draft and then first edit of the Ideal Gas Law project.

One thing I should mention is that it isn’t actually about the Ideal Gas Law. To be strict, that would add information that I simply didn’t put into my project. So, to be true, it’s really a ‘Combined Gas Law’ project.

I’m still looking through artists’ profiles and trying to decide what I really want to spend on this, but even without the final art, it still looks pretty nice on the iPad as an iBook.

I also started looking into how to get iBook projects into iTunes. As I’ve come to expect, it’s a pain. Like selling apps, you have to set up an iTunes Connect account – however, it’s not allowed to use the same iTunes Connect account as you use for the apps. Additionally, you can’t use the same Apple ID as was used for that account either. Nor cab you have the same email or physical address as that other Apple ID. Since I only have one physical address, I had to work-around by adding some superfluous language to my address. That seemed to work (although the account has not yet been approved, so we’ll see).


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Posted by on August 4, 2012 in Uncategorized


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This weekend I spent some time online looking for some good suggestions on practicing to write code. I’m still all ears if there are any good practice exercises out there that you might recommend, but I came across someone’s practice problem of making a version of the game master mind.

I used to love this game as a kid because it felt like being a code breaker – I guess it WAS being a code breaker, but I mean that it felt like it mattered to break the code. Anyway, at first glance, I thought this would make for a good project. Something to slow me down from gobbling up codecademy – because I’m getting to the point where the lessons are not so easy and straight forward and I may need time to digest some more.

This brings me to my design. I don’t know if I have a design yet. But what’s the design going to be? I feel like it’s a super easy game and should be super easy to code, but the more I think about it, the harder it gets. I worry that I may be making it harder than it needs to be too… but that will come out when I get to the coding.

So, here’s the basic outline… what happens in a game of mastermind?

(I’m designing it so that the computer makes the code and the player tries to crack it)

1. Computer asks for two pieces of input.

a. how many places / digits will the code be?

b. how many colors (I’m actually going to use numbers) should be available?

2. Computer makes up a secret code based on that input

3. computer asks you to guess a code

4. computer checks your code for right number/right space or right number/wrong space and gives feedback calculates how many tries you take to get a correct answer and (perhaps) keeps a leader board.

Now there also has to be some verifications put in place to make sure you choose a valid guess and that you’re not repeating yourself.

The fist hurdle I see if how does it not duplicate itself. (i.e. if position1 of a four digit secret code is ‘1’ and your guess is 1123, how to make sure that it calls position #1 as right number/right position and not give a second credit of right number/wrong position to digit2 of the guess?

I’m sure that there is some proper ordering of the if/then/else look to do that, but I’m a serious noobie and that’s exactly the kind of thing I need to learn.

When I do solve this project, I would like to take the next step and translate my Javascript mastermind into something in Xcode and use a graphic interface.It would even be nice to put this game up for DHS if I could – because I’m going to start making business rules for success here.

#1 is going to be take your job seriously.

#2 make the most of every exercise

I really do take this seriously. I know it’s a small thing, but I am trying my best to make this company work and if that means putting serious effort into making computer exercises, then so be it.

To make the most of every exercise, I am going to hold my feet to the fire and really make this game and get it through the Apple store. I could do this exercise and kind of throw away the result, but if I’m going to make the most of it, that means doing a good job, making a complete product that looks good and going through the steps with Apple, because, frankly, that’s not easy either and it’s another place that practice can pay off.

OK. program, expand the program and compile and start following some rules to keep me on track.Image

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Posted by on June 25, 2012 in Codecademy, Coding


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