Computer Fixes

iTunes keeps triggering 'allow incoming connections' dialog from OS X firewall

Ran into an interesting bug with Mac OS X’s Firewall. Every time I launched iTunes, I would be prompted by the firewall whether I wanted to allow incoming connections. Every single time I launched iTunes.

Luckily, there is an easy fix according to this Apple support forum post:

Doing so has worked perfectly well for me. However, there may be a specific sequence of actions that will work. Mine was:

1) Wait for the dialogue to appear, then deny access. Quit the application in question.

2) Open System Preferences>Security>Firewall, and remove the application in question from the list entirely.

3) Wait for the dialogue to appear again, then grant access. This should be the last time you see the dialogue.

Problem so far has been resolved!


DRM Smart Playlist in iTunes

With the announcement yesterday that all music on the iTunes Store will become DRM-free, I decided I wanted to track the progress to see which music files in my library haven’t been updated to 256kbps DRM-free AAC files yet (compared to the old 128kbps DRM’d AAC files). So I created a Smart Playlist to accomplish this!

  1. Make sure you have the latest version of iTunes (version 8.0.2 as of this writing).
  2. Go to File –> New Smart Playlist
  3. Under Match the Following Rule, do the following and then click OK.
    Screenshot of DRM Smart Playlist window
  4. So what is this Smart Playlist doing? When you buy a DRM song from the iTunes Store, the Kind tag is set to “Protected AAC audio file.” So all this playlist does is look for any file who’s Kind tag contains “protected” and is part of the Music playlist (meaning, the music section of your iTunes library).
  5. Once done, click on that newly created playlist and you will automatically see all music in your iTunes library that is still has DRM. As Apple rolls out the music that is available to be upgraded to DRM-free, you can upgrade your music and this playlist should shrink as a result. The goal of course is to have 0 songs on this playlist real soon (assuming you purchase the upgrades). Supposedly that will happen by the end of March 2009 when all songs become DRM-free on the iTunes Store.

On a sidenote, you can go through the same process to create a playlist that contains all of your iTunes Store music that is DRM-free. Just change (or create a new playlist) that searches for music with the Kind tag containing Purchased. That is all you have to change! The smart playlist will now contain all of your 256kbps AAC files purchased from the iTunes Store.

I did notice that if you changed any of the tags on your iTunes purchases, the iTunes Plus upgrades may not overwrite the old entry in iTunes. You may have to manually delete any duplicates.


Never doubt Apple's ability to counter-punch

CNET said it perfectly:

When it comes to public relations battles, Apple is a devastating counter-puncher.

NBC just learned the hard way. Late last night, NBC leaked that it would not renew its TV show contract with iTunes. Supposedly, NBC was not satisfied by the financial terms Apple was offering. Nevermind the fact that it was iTunes single-handedly rescued the TV series The Office from being canceled, turning the show into one of the few hits NBC has had recently.

Apple recently has championed consumer rights when it comes to digital media and decided dust off the boxing gloves once more by removing the upcoming fall season of NBC TV Shows from the iTunes Store.

The move follows NBC’s decision to not renew its agreement with iTunes after Apple declined to pay more than double the wholesale price for each NBC TV episode, which would have resulted in the retail price to consumers increasing to $4.99 per episode from the current $1.99. ABC, CBS, FOX and The CW, along with more than 50 cable networks, are signed up to sell TV shows from their upcoming season on iTunes at $1.99 per episode.

In one paragraph, Apple laid perhaps the best argument it has ever had for its iTunes pricing structure. After all, if 50 cable networks think $1.99 per episode is acceptable, then why does NBC need to double the price? With rumors that NBC wanted even more DRM on its TV Shows, this price increase clearly would not help consumers in any way. Apple seized on the moment and with one press release, practically knocked NBC out.

So now, NBC has lost its iTunes marketshare (30%), the vast majority of its digital sales, no access to the iPod/iPhone, and has pissed off consumers royally.

Brilliant move NBC. Can’t wait to see what you come up with next. I am sure this will make the stockholders really happy.