Why Apple iTune’s program for PC is the worst.

I like to buy my mp3s from Amazon. Not only are they usually 30 cents cheaper, but Amazon has a very user friendly interface and design. Sometimes there is a song I want, usually from an indie artist, that you can only buy on iTunes.

Yesterday, the amazing Peter Hollens releases Song of the Lonely Mountain on his youtube channel. it’s an amazing a capella song. when I heard it, I had to buy it. Usually, Peter releases his singles on loudr as well as iTunes, but not this time. So I clicked on the link that took me to the iTunes website.

This is where the first problem comes in. Every other site that lets you buy mp3s (Amazon, Loudr, Bandcamp) allows you to buy the song off their website, but iTunes forces you to load there buggy software and buy through that. Why? No idea. I’m not on a phone, I’m not on a tablet, I’m on a PC. I don’t need specialized apps to do what any website can do on a PC.

So I clicked on the “View in iTunes” and the iTunes program opened. Only the store didn’t appear, just a blank screen. I haven’t used iTunes in probably six months to a year (the last time I bought a song from iTunes). So I figured I had to update it. But there was nothing in the menu to check for updates. In the option menu there was a check boxed marked “automatically check for updates”. It was selected, but no matter how many times I opened and closed the program, it wouldn’t check for the update.

My next step was to try and download a new copy of iTunes. I clicked on the big, blue button labeled “download iTunes” and it would pop up a download prompt. I save file. No download would start. Firefox wasn’t blocking any pop-ups. It just didn’t want to download. I tried several times. I closed Firefox and tried again.

I’m getting really frustrated at this point. I went back into iTunes and looked through preferences. I found one labeled “show menu bar.” With that clicked, I was able to browse the menus and found a update now button.

The update took forever to install. I don’t know what it was doing that required 121 mb to take over ten minutes to install (I’ve installed massive games faster). It messed up the resolution on my second monitor. Once it was finally installed, it wanted to restart my computer.

I don’t get this part. The only software that ever asks me to restart my computer after installation or updating is my antivirus program and Windows itself. Games, music programs, word processors, graphic design software, ebook software. None of these requires a restart to work. But iTunes does. So I restarted my computer and when I booted up, my resolution on my second monitor was still messed up. I had to mess with that for another few minutes to fix that (why iTunes found it necessary to mess up with my monitor resolutions or why the software wasn’t programmed well enough to not mess up my setting is another question).

I thought I had smooth sailings. I clicked on the link. The iTunes software loaded. I had to agree to the terms and conditions. Then the store loaded correctly and I hit buy. A prompt appeared: “Do you want to buy this song.” I clicked yes. A second prompt appeared, asking if I wanted to buy this song. I clicked yes again. Then the software asked me to verify some credit card info. So I re-entered the expiration date and security code of the card and clicked buy. The software crashed.

I reloaded the software. I had to click both “Do you want to buy this song” prompts, re-enter my credit card info. I clicked buy, my fingers crossed hoping it wouldn’t crash, and got another terms and conditions pages. I agreed to the second terms and conditions which then pulled up another “Do you want to buy this song” prompt. The third prompt. One is fine. Two is excessive. Three tells me Apple thinks there customers are complete morons.

I clicked yes and, to my utter surprise, the song downloaded.

This is unnecessary. Being forced to use their buggy software, which I have zero plans on using to listen or manage my songs, instead of their website required a half-hour of annoyance on my part. Peter Hollens is lucky this song is amazing otherwise I wouldn’t have bothered to give him my money.

World Building: The Little Details

When you’re writing speculative fiction, you have to create a world. For some that means building on what already exists in our world, but for others (particularity in the Fantasy genre) that means creating your own, unique universe from your imagination.  It can be a daunting task and you can be tempted to take short cuts.

imagesMy beta reader for my WIP, the amazing Valerie Hemlin, gave me a wonderful bit of advice: readers want to “feel, smell, breathe, and taste the world he’s in.”

So what does that mean?  When your characters are having a meal, describe it, put little world-building nuggets into their meal. When they’re riding down a road, describe some wildlife, the landscape,. What colors are the flowers and the trees? What sort of wildlife populates your world? It is mundane or fantastical? Are there unusual sights or smells? Bring to life the world your characters are walking through.

MB_worldbuildingIf you can make it feel as vibrant as our world, your readers will fall in love with it. Half the fun of reading Fantasy, at least to me, is the world building. Worlds that could never exist in our universe can be brought to life by a skilled author.  People read fiction for entertainment, to escape whatever problems they face in their world. So take them to fantastic places, wow them with your creativity. Get them excited and talking about what they read.

Caliborn_worldbuildingSo don’t skip the little stuff. Don’t get too caught up in the grand plot that you’re unfolding. If people don’t care about the world you’re putting at stake, then why are they going to keep on reading? Make it real, make it believable. Let your readers “feel, smell, breathe, and taste” your imaginative universe.

Thanks to Valerie for sparking this blog post. Follow her on twitter @VHemlin, she’s very supportive of authors.