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Why does Apple make this so confusing?

Goals

  • Get beyond setup so the children can play on their iPods.
  • Sync their iPods through a shared Macbook Air without compromising my wife’s iPhone and iPad settings.
  • Allow the children to Facetime and iMessage their friends without compromising my wife’s contacts and without using her account.

Situation

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.

Playlists

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.

Conclusion

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?

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How to Fix iOS5 Restore Error 3200

UPDATE: Mashable and other sites are reporting that Apple’s servers are being overwhelmed and only about half the requests are getting through. The error is related to authentication and there is nothing we the users can do to fix it. Simply keep trying to get your update. As demand settles, the error will go away.

To anyone getting “An internal error occurred.” (3200) while installing iOS 5.0, Apple’s servers are swamped, and failing half the requests.

[Source, TheNextWeb, iOS 5 Error 3200 or “internal error” update issues? Apple’s servers are getting slammed.]

Word in the Ether is that you must update iTunes before updating your iPhone, iPod, or iPad to iOS5! If you are experiencing this error, I personally would try updating iTunes and try syncing again before doing any of these steps. I personally have not tried anything in this post.

xiphone.org has been hammered and is over its resource limit so I’m reprinting their instructions here.

  1. Install newest version of iTunes while do not connect your iPhone, iPod or iPad yet.
  2. Once installed, run new iTunes for a while then close it.
  3. Windows users simply go to folder
    C:\Documents and Settings\Application Data\Apple Computer\iTunes\iPhone Software Updates (replacing C: with the appropriate drive letter)
    Mac users need to locate it. I don’t really sure where it is.
  4. Cut and paste files there to somewhere else.
    Do not delete them in case the steps does not work for you, you can still copy them back to the folder. You can find out your username by pressing Ctrl+Alt+Del.
  5. Put your iPhone into DFU Mode (alternate link)
  6. Finally, proceed with iOS 5 restore procedure

[Source, xiphone.org, HOW TO Fix iOS 5 beta Restore Error 3200]

To enter DFU mode:

DFU stands for Device Firmware Update. Unlike Recovery Mode, DFU Mode doesn’t load the firmware/OS currently installed before restore attempt. DFU mode will be considered as a last resort to restore if a restore using Recovery Mode doesn’t work and you are getting error while restoring you device.

  1. Open iTunes and connect the iPhone via USB.
  2. Press and hold the Home button and the Sleep/Wake button at the same time.
  3. Continue holding the both buttons for exact 10 seconds. Then release the Sleep/Wake. Keep holding the Home button until iTunes pops up that it has found an iPhone in Recovery Mode.

It may take a few attempts to get your iPhone into DFU mode. Generally, I hold down both buttons then release the Wake/Sleep button just before I think the Apple logo would appear. If you are still holding both buttons down and you see the Apple logo you are holding them down for too long!

[Source, iphoneheat.com, How to Put iPhone in DFU Mode]

See also How to put an unresponsive iPhone into DFU mode

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Dear Apple.. an obvious feature request

Dear Apple, when can I have the ability to prevent my children from moving or deleting items in my iOS device (iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad)? I’d also like to give them the ability to use the device without accessing particular applications. I’m not asking for user profiles but at least give me the ability to demand a system password for moving and deleting apps and give me the ability to use the same system password to lock selected applications (or screens) so that my financial and business applications aren’t accessible while they use their games and educational applications. Thank you! Doug, father to 5 children in a household of 4 iOS devices (and growing) that often change hands.

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Kindle – Killing paper books forever

I’ve declared for some time now that we are in the midst of a revolution and no one realizes it. That revolution is the death of books. Much like CDs replaced LP records in the early 80s, we will look back at this time and say that in the 2010s electronic books replaced paper books. Paper books will become the thing of collectors. It will take 20 years to realize this as the Kindle and the Apple iPad work their way into schools. Once we get one generation of children through the school system primarily reading text books on e-readers instead of paper, traditional books will die.

I was going to buy a Kindle at the beginning of the week but Amazon was conveniently "temporarily out of stock." I did not realize this meant that Amazon was releasing a new Kindle at only $139! They also improved the contrast on their $189 model (the one interesting me but I was reluctant because I wanted the contrast of the $379 model). Amazon is taking pre-orders to ship on August 27th. I can’t wait!

Update: Did you know you can buy the Barnes & Noble NOOK ebook reader (WiFi + 3G) on Amazon? And the Sony Digital Reader? Note that each are a pound while the 6 inch Kindle is 8 ounces. And of course the Apple iPad Tablet (64GB, Wifi) which weighs in at a pound and a half.

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flickr iPhone app 99% upload then fails

My iPhone refuses to upload a picture using the flickr app. It gets through 99%, reports complete, then says "Upload failed. Try later. Try again." Not much on The Googles about this. However, I believe the answer is in Flickr’s monthly upload limit for free accounts. After upgrading to Pro, my upload worked flawlessly. To the flickr iPhone app developers, your error message needs to be altered to encourage the purchase of a pro account.

View pictures mainly from my iPhone at http://www.flickr.com/photos/mccaughan and see excellent photography from Cathy with a real camera at http://www.flickr.com/photos/domesticpsychology.

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The Power of Computing

Computing tied to a single computer or location is undeniably an artifact of the past. The Cloud with its risks and uncertainty is where data should live as the risks far outweight the risk of maintaining that data on a single, fixed location piece of hardware. For a family that keeps all its digital records (photos, documents, etc) only on the home computer, a housefire or even something as mundane as a failed harddrive can wipeout a lifetime of family history.

The Cloud gives us data accessibilty and security with machine independence but from time to time we do require a specific machine which may not be at our current location. The ever presence of connectivity through devices such as the iPhone, Droid, and iPad eliminates the distance between where we stand and the physical computer. For example, I just used Team Viewer from my iPhone to log into and control my home workstation for downloading "Native Flutes for Relaxation" from Amazon while they were offering it for free. That’s coo! Oh, then I made this post from my iPhone. Mobile computing is now! Tomorrow computing and access will be so ubiquitous and transparent that most people won’t even recognize their activities as "computing" or "Internet" as we do today, similarly to how people breathe without thinking about oxygen.

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Everybody stop! Hey, what’s that sound?

I’ve spent 40 years thinking I was hard of hearing or just dim witted because I could never fully make out the lyrics in many songs particularly of the rock, punk, or heavy metal genres. No one told me my headphones just sucked. I finally splurged and bought myself some Skullcandy Full Metal Jacket (FMJs) earbuds for the iPhone and am hearing sounds in my music I never knew were there before! (I’m also going to quit complaining to my children that they listen to their music too loudly…even if they do.)

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Suggestions? iPhone password/data keeper

When my beloved Motorola v3xx bit the dust, I bought an iPhone with the promise to myself that I would use it as a business tool to facilitate building iPhone apps for my clients. I have not talked about my iPhone experience much but that’s coming. In the meantime, know this: 1) Steve Jobs is a user interface genius! and 2) I love my iPhone!

Over the past few years, I endeaved to eliminate paper from my life using cloud tools such as Google Docs. The iPhone seems to be the missing link and has helped me take the last steps toward cutting the umbilical cord to paper. Meeting notes go straight to my iPhone. Todo lists, via Jott, straight into the iPhone. The iPhone has helped make my already digital world even more digital.

Now I need a secure password/data keeper for the iPhone. I’m considering SplashID, 1Password, and iAccounts. What are your recommendations?

Related: Best password manager programs for your MacBook and iPhone 3G
Review: Secret keeper apps for the iPhone

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A round tuit and a “new” laptop

A good friend passed me their old laptop with an operating system that was broken. Doing that thing I do, I installed a new operating system and am pleased that the laptop easily meets my needs as far as processor and memory are concerned. I debated dual booting the machine so that I could work in either Linux or Windows XP but decided to try my hand with a virtual machine (VirtualBox). In this case, Ubuntu Linux is going to be installed in a VM within Windows XP which should allow me to take my development environment with me anywhere I go.

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I have phone again – sorta

My replacement phone for my antique Motorola v3xx RAZR arrived today. Now I have an LG CF360 which looks and acts a whole lot like a Samsung A777. I lost everything! Every contact. Every picture. Every voice recording. Every shortcut in my life. Gone! My contacts in my phone had notes related to the contact, birthdays, private numbers, people I only talk to once in a blue moon and do so because I see (saw) them in my contact list and more.

So be it! Call this a new beginning. Let the burdens that accumulated in that phone be gone! We start anew today. If you call and get my voicemail, be sure to leave your phone number. Thanks.

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Incommunicado

My phone has died. If you are trying to SMS me or call me, I am not receiving your messages. Please contact me through Twitter, Skype (djuggler), or Cathy. You can try my Google Voice number 865-686-8693.

If you have the next killer iPhone app idea that could make you millions, I’ll happily build the app for you in exchange for a MacBook Pro and an iPhone (say, $5000).

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Play Podcasts Chronologically on an iPod

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The best iPhone app ever

I’ve been debating getting an iPhone because I’d like to develop some applications for it. Plus I think it looks cool. I hesitate because of cost and I do a lot of texting on my phone by feel of the buttons without even looking at the phone. This new app has me thinking I need to forget the buttons and just get an iPhone!