Monday, July 12, 2010

No Sync For You!

I am a Mac person. I know that sounds weird given my lack of unabashed and limitless love for the iPad. It also seems weird given the fact that I do not even own and Intel based Mac, and those came out over three years ago. And not that it matters, but I was a Mac person before the iPod came out and everyone started jumping on the Mac bandwagon. I had a Powerbook 520c back in the day that cost my parents $2300+, and when it became obsolete I made a digital picture frame out of it (though my carpentry skills stink, so it looked cheap). The point I am trying to get to is that I have a mirrored drive door G4 Powermac. I got it about eight years ago and have been using it ever since for all my computing needs. This is important because as a PowerPC, the MDD G4 cannot run Intel only OS X, such as Snow Leopard, 10.6. The last OS X to support the PowerPC was Leopard, 10.5. I am still running Tiger, 10.4.

You would think that my biggest problem should be that I cannot run applications written for Intel processors. For the most part, I simply continue to run the last versions of applications written for or supporting PowerPC processors. This really has not caused me any grief, since my current applications already do everything I need to do for me. I do get the occasional snag when I come across a file that was created in a newer application, such as a .docx file or a hi-def video file. But obviously for the last three years I have been able to get my work done as usual.

Now, however, I have a problem. That problem is the iPhone4. I love the iPhone. It has become a fixture in my life. So when the iPhone4 came out I ordered one. Now I should have read and learned more about the phone before ordering it, but the bottom line was that I was going to get the phone for all its fancy new features. What I found out was that the phone requires at least OS 10.5.8, the last version of Leopard, in order to sync. So I was left with a problem. How was I to sync my new iPhone4?

You may not think this is big problem because the vast majority of iPhone users have a current computer that they simply continue to use for the new iPhone. But my problem is that I cannot use my current computer with my new iPhone. And more specifically, I cannot use any computer with my new iPhone. By that I mean that I cannot sync my current data to my new phone because it is confined to my G4. This is because iTunes offers near one way syncing due to fears that people will use the device to copy music and video. (The problem being not that people are illegally copying media, but that people are using the iPhone to copy the media.) So when I plug my iPhone into a computer other than my G4, it asks if I want to sync and replace the contents of my iPhone with the contents from the computer’s iTunes library. And because it is not my G4, the computer’s iTunes library will have nothing, so my iPhone will be erased and replaced with nothing.

As I said, this is usually not a problem for the majority of iPhone users. It is a problem for people who lose their old computer. It could be a hard drive crash or just an upgrade to a new computer. Apple does not have an easy workaround for people like this. Tech savvy people would simply say, “copy your iTunes library folder over,” as though it were a simple task. It is not and does not take into account the size of one’s iTunes library. If you have thousands of songs and movies, you are not simply copying the library onto an USB drive. You would need to copy it over a shared network connection or to an external drive. For many people that is still easier said than done. Again, the problem is that iTunes will not let you move songs from the device to a computer that did not already have the song in the library. This is regardless of whether the song was imported from a CD you own or purchased through another source than the iTunes store. Just another subtle way Apple is trying to control the way we use media.

So back to my original problem. I need to be able to sync my iPhone4 to my old G4, but I need to upgrade the system to Leopard, which I am not particularly keen on doing without knowing how it would affect everything I did on the computer. So I thought I would try to sync the iPhone4 on a Windows 7 computer. The problem I ran into was that in trying to sync my iPhone3 to the Win7 computer, I could only back up contacts and appointments and the like. None of the media or apps were transferred. Now I could have iTunes download the media and apps I purchased from Apple to the Win7 computer. And while that does accomplish the end goal of having that information on the Win7 computer, it does not accomplish it in the way I need it to—by syncing.

So now my only two options are to copy my iTunes library over to the Win7 computer, which is not that easy since I declined to let iTunes handle my media files because I disliked how iTunes handles the naming and filing of media, or to upgrade the ol’ G4 to Leopard. I have currently opted to upgrade to Leopard. I am making a clone of my Tiger boot drive in the event Leopard causes too many problems. In the future I will have to move all my media to a network drive and hope that iTunes will be able to sync media from the drive to my iPhone. If so, this would allow me to use the Win7 computer in the future to sync as well once the G4 finally becomes completely obsolete and not just partially obsolete.