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"Murphy was an optimist!"

The Crux of the Apple iTunes Problem with Multiple Devices in One Household December 25, 2012 11:06 am

Posted by Doug McCaughan in : Daily Life, Gadgets, Technology
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This sums it up nicely:

Prior to iOS 5, sharing an Apple ID wasn’t really a problem because its main purpose was for purchasing content on iTunes, using it for support purposes and purchasing items on the online Apple Store – all tasks that worked fine when sharing an ID.

[Source, macstories, iOS 5 & iCloud Tips: Sharing an Apple ID With Your Family]

That sums up our approach pretty much to date. But here is the problem:

Now that Apple ID is tied to a bunch of services, a lot of which involve personal and private data that you don’t necessarily want to share with others – even family members.

[Source, macstories, iOS 5 & iCloud Tips: Sharing an Apple ID With Your Family]

And because paranoid society is paranoid, children under 13 cannot have an Apple ID.


The other issue is that iCloud involves a lot of data synchronization and this doesn’t work well with multiple people as it results in data conflicts and devices syncing data (such as calendar events) that are meant for another person in the family.

*emphasis added [Source, macstories, iOS 5 & iCloud Tips: Sharing an Apple ID With Your Family]

Naturally, each owner of an iDevice wants to be able to use services specific to that user. As parents, we want to control when the children purchase, how much they spend, and we want to simplify the syncing of their devices without having to put a Mac in each room of the house. There are six services that use an Apple ID:

  1. iCloud
  2. FaceTime
  3. iMessage
  4. iTunes Home Sharing
  5. iTunes (includes App Store and iBookstore)
  6. Game Center

Read section 3 from this great article

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Why does Apple make this so confusing? December 25, 2012 10:04 am

Posted by Doug McCaughan in : Amy, Christmas, Daily Life, Evan, Family, Gadgets, Holiday, Of Being Dad, Technology
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We have one Macbook Air in the house. My wife syncs her iPhone with iTunes on this Macbook Air. For Christmas, the 7 year old and 10 year old received iPods. Yes, I understand DRM. Rovio Entertainment would much prefer I buy Angry Birds 3 times instead of one. I have no problem with that although I do feel like the model for DRM for music fails when compared to the physical world of records and CDs.

Possible solutions

As best I can tell, there are four ways to manage multiple devices with iTunes.

  1. Individual User Accounts
  2. Multiple iTunes Libraries
  3. Management Screen
  4. Playlists

Each of these has their respective pros and cons.

Individual User Accounts

Since each user account is its own space, that means each user has their own iTunes library and sync settings for their iOS device. Easy to understand, (relatively) easy to set up, and easy to maintain–it’s a good approach!

[Source, About.com, 4 Ways to Use Multiple iPods on One Computer]

The problem with this approach is Apple doesn’t allow children under 13 to have an AppleID. So you are faced with lying and apparently Apple permanently associates the age first entered with the email address. Sharing of apps and music is difficult or impossible (DRM…and I’m okay with that).

Multiple iTunes Libraries

With this method, each person who uses the computer has their own iTunes library and sync settings. This way, you won’t get music, apps, or movies mixed across iTunes libraries (unless you want to) and won’t end up with someone else’s content on your iPod by mistake.

The downsides of this approach are that parental controls on content apply to all iTunes libraries (with user accounts, they’re different for each account) and that each user’s space is not as cleanly separate. Still, this is a good option that’s easy to set up.

[Source, About.com, 4 Ways to Use Multiple iPods on One Computer]

Although promising, this approach seems burdensome and ripe for making errors since iTunes launches the last used library by default.

Management Screen

With this approach, you choose what content from each of the tabs in the management screen you want on your device. Other people using the computer do the same thing.

The downsides of this technique include that it only allows one setting for parental control of content and it can be imprecise (for instance, you might only want some music from an artist, but if someone else adds more of that artist’s music, it could end up on your iPod).

So, even though it’s messy, this is a very easy way to manage multiple iPods.

[Source, About.com, 4 Ways to Use Multiple iPods on One Computer]

I believe this is how my wife has been managing multiple devices in the past. It does allow for sharing of certain apps and music but if a child starts syncing with a different iTunes library, your personal device will start prompting you for their password in addition to yours in certain circumstances. I am also not sure that this approach will allow the children to use Facetime, iCloud, and iMessage the way we want. Instead the 5GB of space on iCloud may end up being shared between all the devices while the iMessages intended only for my wife (nudge nudge) could inadvertently be seen by the children.


Downsides of this approach include that everything each person adds to the iTunes library is mixed together, the same content restrictions for all users, and the possibility that your playlist could be accidentally deleted and you’d have to re-create it.

[Source, About.com, 4 Ways to Use Multiple iPods on One Computer]

I am afraid this will also have the problem noted above with Facetime, iCloud, and iMessage.


Apple has made this unnecessarily confusing. It’s as if Apple is adult techie centric and in no way thinking about the way a family might use their devices. For instance, the iPad does not support multiple logins or even a level of control that would allow your child to safely use the device. Cathy is constantly having to rename folders and put applications back in the correct spot because she cannot hand the iPod to the child in a locked down mode. A simple second password with attached restrictions such as "cannot view certain applications" or "cannot rename folders." With such an approach Apple could allow unlimited screen lock passwords that would allow settings for the adult, the teen, the child, or even the toddler (and yes, toddlers use iPads).

So, how do you manage multiple iDevices in your house? And with children under 13?


Of Grasshoppers December 17, 2012 11:13 am

Posted by Doug McCaughan in : Of Grasshoppers, Philosophy
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Student: Stress results in being dysfunctional.
Master: Being dysfunctional results in stress.

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Dat Hair! December 17, 2012 6:40 am

Posted by Doug McCaughan in : Daily Life
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When you can do a decent impersonation of Heat Miser, it may be time for a haircut. Of course, the wife said to get one before Thanksgiving and it is now a week before Christmas.


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On Being Married December 16, 2012 3:11 pm

Posted by Doug McCaughan in : Daily Life, Family, Of Being Dad
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It’s one of those man versus women things.

When he hurts her feelings, he has to grovel.

When she hurts his feelings, he has to grovel.

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Saturday night / Sunday morning December 16, 2012 7:48 am

Posted by Doug McCaughan in : Cathy, Christmas, Daily Life, Family, Holiday
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For Medical Malady Saturday, I tried slicing off the tip of my finger at William Sonoma (last night). Did not have a drop of alcohol, medication, pain pill, or other intoxicant. Woke up this morning feeling hung over.

As for William Sonoma, Cathy and I were looking for a shrimp fork and I stumbled onto their shaved ice machine. The store had fake ice in the bin. Someone had dropped a single plastic ice cube into the chute on the top where you would feed the ice. I thought I would fish the plastic ice cube out never thinking my fingers would make contact with the blade. I received a severe gash that took 20 minutes to stop the bleeding and seriously considered going to an after hours clinic to see a doctor.

The scary thing is that, unlike other machines I have seen which only activate when the lid is closed over the blades, this machine has a toggle on/off switch meaning I (or a child) could have stupidly reached the blades while the machine was in operation.

I bet the quality of shaved ice produced by this machine is excellent. Despite the plastic, it is a nice looking appliance.

So, the second I felt my finger contact the blade I yanked my hand out of the machine and shoved it into the palm of my other hand applying a lot of pressure. I knew it was bad. I told Cathy, "I did something stupid." She wanted to see but I was afraid I’d spray blood across the store so I walked to an employee and quietly and calmly said, "I cut myself on one of your appliances. I need to use your bathroom." She replied, "We cannot let you in our bathroom but there are bathrooms in the food court." I explained that I was bleeding badly and asked if she could kindly bring me a paper towel. She returned a moment later to invite me into their special kitchen in the employee only space (by the way, it’s like Santa’s workshop back there) but they would not allow my wife to come with me. I ran my hand under cold water. The staff were very kind and attentive yet seemed flustered. medical malady saturdayI suspect this store could use a little more emergency preparedness training. They couldn’t find paper towels. They brought a spray antiseptic asking if I wanted that. They didn’t seem to know where their first aid kit was. They offered a variety of "maybe" suggestions. Maybe this will help. Maybe that will help. I was calm and jovial the entire time. Several times I explained it was my own stupidity and "no big deal." Finally I said, "It’s okay. I’m trained in first aid." The person with me visibly breathed a sigh of relief. I asked for a dry paper towel noting a bandaid would not stick on a wet hand. We put the bandaid on tightly and added a second for good measure. They handed me a bandaid for the road. I filled out some paperwork. Thanked them. And promptly left the store. I’d taken the happiness out of our shopping for the evening.

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Why must they fight? December 15, 2012 12:59 pm

Posted by Doug McCaughan in : Christmas, Daily Life, Family, Holiday, Of Being Dad
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Nothing makes me feel like a failure of a father more than listening to my children fight. I could understand an occasional fight but my seven and ten year old seem to make a sport out of squabbling and it pushes me over the edge. After the 99th attempt at calmly trying to discuss their conflict with them, I lost it and with a voice that I’m sure Santa could hear at the North Pole, I threw the "I’m cancelling Christmas" card and stormed off to the kitchen where I both chastised myself and snickered at myself. Really? Canceling Christmas? Dad fail.

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Of Grasshoppers December 13, 2012 6:38 am

Posted by Doug McCaughan in : Of Grasshoppers, Philosophy
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Student: I failed another test.
Master: You had another lesson.

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Happy Holidays December 12, 2012 11:23 am

Posted by Doug McCaughan in : Christmas, Daily Life, Family, Holiday
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I love this time of year.

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Happy Holidays December 12, 2012 11:22 am

Posted by Doug McCaughan in : Christmas, Daily Life, Family, Holiday
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I hate this time of year.

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Breaking point December 11, 2012 8:26 am

Posted by Doug McCaughan in : Daily Life, Health, Mental
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Remember that physics class in college with the really cool machine that would stretch the metal rods until the deformed and snapped. Yup. I’m the rod.

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Oxford Comma December 10, 2012 8:00 pm

Posted by Doug McCaughan in : Music, Of Interest
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Every time this comes on, I love it that much more.

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Rainy Days And Mondays December 10, 2012 7:19 am

Posted by Doug McCaughan in : Daily Life
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Rainy days mean wife with migraine. One child home sick. I suspect the plague is about to run through our house. The rain is cold but peaceful. I’m happy (struggling to keep the seasonal stress from pulling me down), albeit tired, and looking forward to this day but I had to include this song.

Rainy Days and Mondays by Carpenters on Grooveshark

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NOOOOOoooooooo! December 9, 2012 12:46 pm

Posted by Doug McCaughan in : HTML, Humor, Of Interest, Programming, Technology
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Lessons from last night December 9, 2012 11:04 am

Posted by Doug McCaughan in : Daily Life, Health
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Having now experienced someone having cardiac arrest in a restaurant, here’s what they don’t tell you in the training:

Get trained in CPR (see also) and review your training regularly. Remember, it is the victim’s emergency and not yours. Stay calm and take action.

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