Special, Limited Time Offer From Drobo

If you subscribe to the MacVoices Dispatch, then you already know about this special, MacVoices-only, ***limited time*** offer to you. If not, there is still time to take advantage.

Drobo has graciously offered a special discount on two of their models:

The Drobo 5D (Thunderbolt connected, 5 bay) - take $150 off using the code:  chuck150

The Drobo 5N (Network-attached, 5 bay) - take $125 off using the code:  chuck125

The catch is that these discounts are only available until Thursday, March 31, 2016, so you'll have to act quickly.

You know how much I love and rely on my Drobos because of their simple expandibility, reliability, customer service and data protection through redundancy. They come with my highest recommendation.

This is a great opportunity to either add to your system, or sample Drobo for the first time.

So if you're so inclined, go for it, but make sure to get your order in by March 31,2016 at drobostore.com.

Thanks to Drobo for this terrific offer!

Good-bye Blip.TV and What It Means to MacVoices

(From the MacVoices Dispatch Newsletter - 2015/07/25:

I received an email last week saying that Blip.TV is shutting down in mid-August (In fact, it appears that parts are already not functioning.). While it has since been vastly overshadowed by services like YouTube and Vimeo, Blip.TV was the first video platform I used for MacVoices (then MacVoicesTV), where the show had almost four hundred thousand views. In fact, even before they started the shut-down, the shows were still getting between four and seven thousand views per month there, so someone was using it.

I'm mentioning it here because it does present a few issues for back editions of the video versions of MacVoices. For quite some time, the Blip player was how I embedded the shows on the web site at MacVoices.TV and when they were cross-posted to MacVoices. Eventually I switched over to YouTube, but when the shut-down comes, there will be some episodes that may not be available online on their show pages.

That doesn't mean that they are lost: I have backup files of pretty much every edition of MacVoices, and will start working on a way to get them all back online on at least the MacVoices site, where everything has migrated to. I just need to decide how to host them and then make them available.

If you are looking for a back video episode of MacVoices that has gone offline, please drop me an email and I'll arrange to either get it to you or to make sure that episode goes to the top of the re-tooling list. Or just look for it on the MacVoices YouTube Channel - that has episodes that go back to 2012. Farther back than that will involve re-uploading the files, which will happen eventually.

Sorry for any problems this causes, but it is beyond my control. If you were a Blip.TV viewer, please consider checking out and subscribing to MacVoices either as a video podcast, on YouTube or Vimeo.

A Playlist Experiment in Apple Music and Spotify

Probably like you, I'm experimenting with Apple Music to see if it will become my music service of choice, or if I will stick with Spotify, a service I've been using for over a year now.

Some of my key decision points will be:

Breadth and depth of music
My taste in music leans in one direction, thought there are some more eclectic things I like too. I'm looking for the service that best fits my tastes, both from a broad and deep perspective.

Ease of location and management
When I'm looking for a track or artist, I want to be able to find them easily, and to add them to playlists or just play the track or album as simply as possible.

Sonos compatibility
Not just because I have invested in the Sonos system, but also because it suits the way I like to "use" music in my home, the service must be Sonos compatible. Spotify already is; Apple Music reportedly will be this Fall.

Ease of Offline Use
I want to be able to select music to use offline easily. This provides portability and avoids bandwidth costs, something I'm concerned with, especially on my iPhone when I'm not on a WiFi network. It is one of the reasons I tend to buy the higher or highest capacity devices - so I can have music and video available without having to stream it.

You will notice that music discovery, radio stations and the like are not on the list. Those can be fun, but there are too many artists I already know about and want to listen to, or listen to more, for me to invest time in letting someone else pick music to me. More on that as we go, but it isn't in the top three...or five.

As part of my evaluation, I'm building duplicate playlists on both Spotify and Apple Music from scratch, using only what is available on the service. Eventually I would upload some of my owned tracks to Apple Music if that's the way I decide to go, but for now, I want to see (in keeping with my first criteria) the breadth and depth of the catalog each offers.

Want to come along for the ride? I'll be posting updates here on the MacVoices Blog on how things are going, but I also invite you to follow the playlists one one or both services:

Apple Music: The Real Rock Playlist

Spotify: The Real Rock Playlist

A couple notes if you decide to listen in: First, as you can tell, this is a rock playlist. Classic rock, hard rock, punk rock, metal, space rock, glam, shred, thrash, southern rock...the label doesn't matter, as long as it rocks. Deep tracks, title tracks, studio tracks and live tracks from legendary artists, little known artists and artists you've probably never heard of. These are tracks that I enjoy for the music, not for the social or political positions of the artists or their dance moves. I hope you hear something you like and maybe even find a new favorite or two.

As I get started, I'm trying to shy away (but not totally) from some of the obvious choices. I'm also trying to pick only one track per artist for the first two hundred tracks or so. That will force me to dig deep to find out if what is on each service.

Watch from the sidelines if you wish, or listen in if you dare, and by all means, turn it up!

The Story So Far: Playlist Creation
On Spotify, playlist creation is fairly easy. You can either drag a track or an artist to a playlist from the main window to the sidebar where the playlist title is, or use the small "more options" icon (a small circle with three dots) to reveal a menu that gives you an option to add the track to a playlist, then choose the playlist:

Spotify Playlist Creation

The process is consistent and the More Options menus works consistently wherever you see an album or artist.

iTunes is a little bit different. You use the same basic technique, but it requires two clicks to get down to the level of actually picking the playlist. That makes it easier if you're prone to moving the mouse where you don't intend, and having it get away from you, but feels like just a little extra work. There is no option to drag to a playlist that I've been able to find.

iTunes Playlist Creation

I'm calling this one a tie. Once you practice a little with both, they are pretty much equal in ease unless you want to pick several non-contiguous songs from an artist page and drag them to a playlist. Then, the nod goes to Spotify because of the ability to drag.

More coming soon...



A Common Sense Approach to Apple Music

Apple Music is around 48 hours old as this post goes up. Lots of first impressions, excitement and breathless angst over what works, whether it will replace other services and how it might be messing with your carefully curated iTunes library.

Here are a few simple, common-sense tips to approaching Apple Music:

 - Calm down! Few things the size and scope of Apple Music ever launch seamlessly, even if the company doing the launching is Apple.

 - Back up your music collection. If you are one of those who has spent hours or days or more carefully curating playlists, adding artwork or otherwise fine-tuning your library, make a backup of your music files and put it somewhere for safekeeping, just to be sure. That applies even more if you plan to play with iCloud Music Library or iTunes Match. In fact, make a couple copies. Storage space is cheap, and all those hours you’ve put into your collection deserve the extra protection. This Apple Support Document talks about moving your iTunes library to another computer, but is equally valuable in helping you backup and preserve your music files, playlists, etc.

 - Don't cancel your other music service subscriptions. You have three months free to try Apple Music and all it has to offer. That’s twelve weeks, people. Assuming the going rate for most subscription music services, that’s $30 you might have saved assuming you cancelled on Day One of your Apple Music trial. Is the hassle of losing your playlists, uploaded music (in the case of some services) and the possible lack of availability of some of your favorites really worth $30? Three albums or so worth of purchased music? I don't think so.

 - Experiment with and explore Apple Music! That's why you have a three month free trial - to check out the many aspects of the service. Try Beats 1. Try the pre-configured genre stations. Pick your favorite artists. Tell Apple Music what you like and don’t like and see how it performs in making recommendations. It isn’t psychic. To expect it to learn your preferences (especially if they are as wide-ranging and quirky as mine) in a day or two is unrealistic. All parts of the service might not be for you, but give them all a test drive.

 - Educate yourself. There are lots of articles out there on pretty much every Apple-oriented site about how things work and how to modify things that might not suit you. Go looking for them, or find some of the pieces that I think are most valuable in MacVoices Magazine on the web or on Flipboard on your iOS device.

 - Enjoy! This isn’t surgery. This is supposed to be fun! See if the Apple Music way of doing things works for you. After giving it a fair shot, you can decide if what it offers stands up against the services you have been using.