Tag Archives: Windows

Trouble: Moving Your iTunes Library from Mac to Windows

Fifth generation iPodI finally got around to transferring our music library from an old Macintosh (so old it’s a PowerPC) to our new Windows 8.1 system. It worked, but it wasn’t quite as smooth — or as automatic — as I’d hoped it would be.

In theory it’s easy: Copy the iTunes folder from the old system to the new one, whether over the network or using an external drive. Make sure you include the iTunes Library.itl file to keep your playlists, ratings, etc. And if your library is scattered around the drive, be sure to consolidate it first.

Problem 1: Different folder structure. This probably has more to do with which version of iTunes you started with than which platform, but the old system had all its songs in iTunes/Music and the new system had its small collection in iTunes/iTunes Media/Music. So it couldn’t

Problem 2: Illegal characters. The Mac version of iTunes will (or at least used to) use characters in filenames and directories that aren’t allowed on Windows, like question marks and quotation marks. Even after pointing it to the right folder, it was still missing about 70 songs, which I had to manually locate.

Fortunately, iTunes marked the songs that were missing with an exclamation mark in a circle next to the track number. Unfortunately, it wouldn’t sort or filter on it. That meant I needed to page through the entire library looking for those symbols.

Another complication was with albums and artists that didn’t end up lining up correctly in the filesystem: Spamalot, for instance, had each singer listed per song, and one version of iTunes had split it across about 10 folders.

Problem 3: iPod drivers/resync. You have to wipe and re-sync your old iPod. I was expecting this. The problem I had was that Windows set up the drivers…and then that was it. Neither iTunes nor Windows gave any indication that they knew the iPod was there, even though the iPod was showing its “Do not disconnect” message. Well, no indication until iTunes suddenly stopped responding entirely….

Finally I just unplugged the iPod (which rather upset the three-year-old, because it was telling us not to but we did it anyway!), at which point iTunes closed. But the system started responding again, and iTunes came right back up when I opened it. When I plugged it back in (after rebooting the iPod, just to be on the safe side), iTunes recognized it right away and offered to reformat it. It synced without any further complaints!

Find the missing Windows 8.1 update on a Dell

We’re finally replacing the ancient Windows XP machine at home, and for various reasons went with a Dell Inspiron running Windows 8. In part I wanted to familiarize myself with the new operating system. It’s…a significant change, though Katie’s found it easier to adjust by thinking of it like a phone/tablet interface (which makes sense, because really, that’s what it’s designed for).

I wanted to upgrade it to Windows 8.1 before we really started transferring files* or installing applications in earnest, and was dismayed to find that…

  • You can only upgrade through the Windows Store. (There’s no stand-alone installer you can download.)
  • There was no sign of it in the store, or indication of where in the store I should look, or whether it was being hidden due to some incompatibility.

After running Windows Update again (no help), looking around for other settings and updates such as drivers, trying the compatibility tester, and digging around online for a while, I finally found a solution that worked for me:

  1. Open Control Panel, then go to Programs/View Installed Updates and uninstall update KB 2871389, the update that makes the Windows 8.1 update appear in the store. Reboot.
  2. Download KB 2871389 from Microsoft’s website instead and run the installer. Reboot.
  3. Open the Windows Store, go to Settings/App updates, and check for new updates. It won’t show up here, but…
  4. After you close the app updates screen, the far left of the store should have a giant, full-height/width entry for the Windows 8.1 update.

If it’s available, you can’t miss it. If it’s not, you can’t find it. It’s incredibly frustrating.

*And it turns out I should have done this in the other order, because the 8.1 version of Windows Easy Transfer drops support for XP and Vista, as well as transferring over the network. Just in time for the final get-off-of-XP push. REALLY, Microsoft? Here’s hoping it doesn’t have some stupid thing that blocks plain old file transfers…

Drop in Windows Web Browsing

From yesterday’s Google Analytics Benchmarking Newsletter, here’s a report on changes in global web traffic patterns:

Browsers and Operation Systems (OS) are identified by the “referrer” string sent by users’ browsers.

% Visits from OS 11/1/09 – 2/1/10 11/1/10 – 2/1/11 Difference
Windows 89.9% 84.8% -5.1%
Macintosh 4.5% 5.2% +0.7%
Linux 0.6% 0.7% +0.1%
Other 5% 9.3% +4.3%

That’s a huge drop in Windows, almost entirely matched by the rise in “Other.” Want to bet that “Other” has an awful lot of Android and iOS in it?

Links: Cloud Caps, Kahlua Cupcakes, Bizarre Comic Team-Ups, and the Anti-Vista

A couple of days ago I clicked on the StumbleUpon toolbar and landed on this incredible photo of lenticular clouds over Mt. Rainer at APOD. It was a bit unnerving, because that picture has been my desktop wallpaper for the past year or so! Good call, though.

Windows 7 is doing what Vista couldn’t: convincing people to replace Windows XP. The best quote in this ZDNet article: “Windows 7 is the Anti-Vista.”

The Straight Dope experiments with Kahlua cupcakes to determine two questions: How much alcohol is left in each cupcake? (Not much) Can you get drunk? (Not unless you eat so many cupcakes that you’ll be sick anyway.)

Some comics fan art. First, a realistic Darkwing Duck by Mike P. Mitchell. I suspect that if someone other than Disney owned the character, we’d be seeing a “live-action” movie that looked like this. Second, Comics Alliance collects a fantastic series of cover art for Great Comics That Never Happened – team-ups like the Justice League and the Wu-Tang Clan, or the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen featuring 1980s icons like Mr. T, Doc Brown and MacGyver, or Hannah Zatanna, torn between the worlds of superheroes and magic, or a race between Superman, the Flash…and the Dukes of Hazzard.

Thoughts on Screenshots for Tech Support

I used to get annoyed when someone would send a complete screen shot along with their tech support request. I thought it was a waste of bandwidth when a simple text message would do just as well, and be faster to send, receive and display.

But the thing is, screenshots have their advantages. For one thing, they’re exact. There’s no risk of an error code being mistyped.

More importantly, a screenshot can tell you other information that the user hasn’t thought to mention. This is critical, because the reason people call tech support is because they don’t know how to solve a particular problem…and that often means they don’t know which information is relevant.

Like, say, the fact that they’re running another program which happens to conflict with the one that they’re calling about.

Still, I wish Windows would create a file instead of copying the screen to the clipboard. Users need to paste it into something, so they paste it into what they’re most familiar with: Microsoft Word — something even less suited for sending images by email than a .BMP file created by Paint.