This bit about Apple’s new version of OS X. Emphasis mine.
Apps have been renamed for cross-OS consistency. iChat is now Messages; iCal is now Calendar; Address Book is now Contacts. Missing apps have been added: Reminders and Notes look like Mac versions of their iOS counterparts. Now that these apps exist for the Mac, to-dos have been removed from Calendar and notes have been removed from Mail, leaving Calendar to simply handle calendaring and Mail to handle email.
Sometimes iTunes crashes. Sometimes something else crashes and forces you to restart your Mac with iTunes running. Usually it’s no big deal. It happens.
But sometimes when that happens and you restart iTunes after your Mac boots you get this window:
The scariest window ever.
Because here’s what it means. Something REALLY FUCKING BAD just happened to your iTunes library file. This file keeps track of the location of all your music, how many times it’s been played, what you’ve rated it, and a bunch of other information.
And if that file gets corrupted you have to start over again. You can try to rebuild, but it doesn’t always work. Or it doesn’t work well at all.
This has happened to me once. I was lucky to have a copy of the library backed up by Time Machine, but I had to re-add everything I added in the past day. However, if you don’t have a backup – or a recent backup – you are at risk of losing either a small amount of iTunes activity or everything.
If there’s one thing that needs to get fixed in iTunes 10 (or iTunes X, as I think it could be called), this is it. Yeah – iTunes needs to be a little faster and leaner. But more importantly it needs to be reliable and keep this information safe.
If you’ve read the iTunes Zero article you’ll know that I’m very meticulous about everything in my iTunes library – and chances are you probably do the same things.
One of the other problems you may be facing is that there’s SO MUCH STUFF in your iTunes library. How do you handle it all?
Here’s what works for me – the “Last Chance” Playlist.
Here’s the method I use when I add new music to iTunes and homogenize it into the library:
Everything new goes into a static Process playlist. It’s a holding cell for me to verify the metadata before I’m comfortable unleashing it into the wild. Consider it the GTD inbox for iTunes.
Music that hasn’t been listened to shows up in the Playcount = 0 smart playlist.
3 months after that first listen, music shows up again in the Only 1 Listen playlist. This is my opportunity to make sure that the assigned rating is what I want it be, because after that it’s banished into the iTunes abyss, until the special day when it arrives in the…
Last Chance playlist.
You’re Up For Review, Tune
Why do this?
The purpose of the Last Chance playlist is to listen to tracks in shuffle mode, out of context, in order to rate each track on its own. Let’s take a look at its properties.
The Last Chance smart playlist is the last hurrah of a misfit song. If after two years I still don’t like the song enough to give it a 4-star or higher rating, in it goes to the huge library, likely to be skipped over and ignored for the rest of eternity.
But, there’s the chance that after 2 years I’ll suddenly realize the genius in a song, and grant it a 4-star or higher rating and save it from the 82 gig (as of this writing) Rancor pit.
And with a 4-star or higher rating, the track enters regular rotation in smart playlists that rely on ratings.
This works for me for the following reasons:
Anything I’ve already rated on the extremes (2 stars or less, or 4 stars or more) doesn’t really change for me – but I’ve still got my eye on those 4-star rated tracks.
3 listens should be enough for me to know if I like a song or not.
2 years (or 1 year) is far enough out for a song to be removed from the popular culture of the time to realize I like a song because it’s a good song, and not because it’s in a car insurance commercial or something.
This is what works for me. Storage is cheap these days, so if you set up a system with this and other smart playlists you can keep only the good stuff on your iPod and regular playlist (or Party Shuffle sources) and not have to delete anything based on the idea that you might like it years from now.