iTunes 11 – Bring Back the Old iTunes Look

iTunes 11 sports an all new interface and thats great, but if you are like me, you just want to use the features that you’ve become used to. I’ve figured out how to get most of the old features turned back on in iTunes 11.

  • Get the sidebar back by clicking the button in the upper left corner, and then click “Show Menu Bar” on Windows. Then select View > Show Sidebar.
  • Get the status bar back by clicking View > Show Status Bar.
  • Click Songs in the top bar, and sort by Artist for the traditional list view.

Now, iTunes 11 should look close to iTunes 10. I have found that I need to use the album view to show artwork. The Song view no longer shows album art.

How a bad hard drive changed everything for me

I made the switch to from a PC to Mac back in early 2009, when I got my mac mini. Later that year I sold it and got a Mac Book Pro. It’s been my primary computer and work horse for the last 3 years. With it I’ve developed 10 iPhone apps, several web applications and spent countless hours surfing the web. I’ve never had an Issue with it…. until a few months ago.

While using the computer, I would randomly get “the spinning beach ball of death“, and it would last a few seconds to a few minutes. I started to notice that it would happen most frequently when I opened an app, a document, or if I tried to save a file. That made me instantly think it was a hard drive issue.

Opening the macs console app and looking at the system logs, it was clear there was a coloration between the times I saw an issue, and log entries for I/O Errors on the hard drive. Knowing that the drive was going bad, I booked an appointment at the local Apple store. I also created a time machine back up of the computer.

This was the first time I ever needed any service on my computer, so I didn’t know what to expect. This is how it went down:

Apple Genius: Hi, what’s the problem with your computer?
Me: The hard drive is failing. Lots of read / write errors.
Apple Genius: What makes you think the drive is failing?
Me: (*Opens computer lid, points to the console logs*) These error logs entries reporting I/O errors and bad sectors.
Apple Genius: Oh! OK, so yeah, you know know your stuff. That’s a bad drive. Let me check something… yup your computer is covered by Apple care.
Me: Sweet!
Apple Genius: Ah, this has a 320 GB drive. Sorry, we are out of stock on those. But I can replace it with a 500 GB drive, if that’s OK.
Me: OK, whats the price difference to upgrade from the 320 GB to the 500 GB?
Apple Genius: (*confused look on his face*), ummmm you have Apple Care, there is no cost. It’s free.
Me: Even the for upgrading the drive, it’s free?
Apple Genius: (*still confused*), yeeeeahhhh, you have Apple Care. It’s free.
Me: Sweet! How long will it take to get my computer back? (I’m thinking at least a week)
Apple Genius: Do you have a backup at home?
Me: Yeah, a took a time machine snapshot before I came in.
Apple Genius: OK good, It’s still going to be a while, we’re really back logged right now. It’s going to take at least 15 – 20 minutes. You might want to get a coffee and come back.
Me: Wow! So less than 30 minutes, and the parts and labor are free? You are just going to swap out the drive right here?
Apple Genius: yeah…. you have Apple Care, it’s free.

20 minutes later

Apple Genius: Here you go, all done. The new 500 GB hard drive is installed. I’ve also extended your Apple Care for another 3 months since you had an issue with the drive.

I took it home, plugged in the time machine drive and started the restore process. 3 hours later, I was back up and running. No data loss, no issues. No money spent!

Sure Apple computers are expensive, but the level of service you get when you need help is the best that I’ve ever seen. The tech didn’t try to fight me and tell me that it was a problem I caused or that it was out of warranty, or I had to pay a deductible to use the warranty. He didn’t try to up-sell me on other services, hell he didn’t even try to sell me anything, I was ready to pay money for the upgraded drive! The turn around time was unreal. Less than 20 minutes, and he apologized for taking longer than normal. He even extended my warranty because I had to go to the trouble of bringing it to the store, and because I had an issue. All of this FOR FREE. I guess free can be argued, because it’s built into the computers price tag.

Overall the experience was amazing. So good that I’m making a post about it here. In a world where anything can be bought over the internet and price comparisons happen on a global scale, the only thing left to compete over is service. Apple realized this, and delivers such a good experience, they turn customers with problems into evangelists for the company. This is exactly what Gary Vaynerchuk outlines in his book, “The Thank You Economy“.

As a business owner, this experience has opened my eyes as to why customer service really matters. I guess I was just so used to bad service (I’m looking at you Best Buy!), that I was delivering that same bad experience to my customers. I saw customers interactions as problems instead of opportunities to create an evangelist for my brand. Since this experience and revelation occurred to me, I’ve launched two apps (SEO Meta Manager and Order Lookup App). Both have been very successful. Sure they are great products, but my attitude about customer service has changed and I think it has made a huge difference in how I conduct business. Yes, there are products that are technically similar to mine, but they don’t offer the white glove customer service I do. That’s my true advantage.

To wrap this up, thank you Apple and thank you Gary Vaynerchuck. Your words and application of a Thank You Economy have changed the way I do business and treat customers.

Instagram iPhone App Cache Size

Recently, I tired to use my iPhone to take a picture of my new born son. Instead of capturing a priceless memory, I received an error saying “Your iPhone out of storage space” or something to that effect.

I check my data storage, I went to “settings” -> “general” ->”usage”, and found that Instagram was taking up 1.4 GB of storage space. 1.4 GB! That’s insane!

I believe that Instagram saves or “caches” every image that you view on your iPhone, so you only have to download the image once. This is great, but what’s the limit to this?

I can’t find any options on the phone, or in the app to clear the cached files or set a limit on the cache size.

The best workaround I found was to delete the app from the phone, then to re-install it. This is less then ideal, but it works.

You may need to restart your iPhone before the iPhone starts reporting the newly cleared space.

I believe that Apple should allow a way for iPhone users to manage application cache sizes, or require app developers to report cache sizes along with clean up tools for the end user.

I love Instagram, but what would happen if I continued to use the app (and cache images) for the next year? My 32 GB iPhone would have 10+ GB of Instagram images on it.

Follow me on instagram – “JoshHighland”

Dennis Ritchie: Forgotten Tech Legend

This year we lost two great tech founders, Steve Jobs and Dennis Ritchie.

Steve Jobs death was plastered all over the news and media, and it should be. Steve Jobs was a great visionary who changed the world. I’m typing this on my MacBook Pro with my iPhone sitting right next to me. I love Apple.

Dennie Ritchie was also a great man of technology. He was less public than Jobs, but in my opinion more influential than Steve Jobs. Dennis Ritchie created the programming language C, which is foundational to almost all modern programming languages, including Objective-C, the language that all iPhone apps are written in. Ritchie is also the father of Unix, the operating system that powers most of the internet, and all Mac computers. Macs are known for their stability. That stability comes from it’s operating system, a modified version of Unix. Without Ritchie, Apple wouldn’t exist. Despite how influential Dennie┬áRitchie was, I didn’t see a single news story on his death.

I respect both of these men and honor the things they created. Without them my life would be much different. In a perfect world the people behind the scenes, like Dennis Ritchie, would get true attention and notoriety they truly deserve.