APPLE FAIL: iTunes Edition

All I wanted to do was take some XviD rips of some TV show DVDs and put them on my iPod Nano.

I knew the files would need to be re-encoded, so I downloaded the latest version of Handbrake, since I hadn’t reinstalled it since I reformatted my computer. I installed it, queued up the files with the “iPod” preset, and let it do its thing. Within 20 minutes, the conversion was done. Hooray!

I went to iTunes and clicked File > Add File to Library and added the shiny new mp4 files to my library. Hooray!

I then clicked on “Movies”, highlighted the new files, right-clicked and chose “Get Info”. I clicked the “Options” tab and changed the “Media Kind:” to “TV Show”. iTunes moved the files from”Movies” to “TV Shows” Hooray!

Since the files had no metadata (and were just sitting there in the main “TV Shows” window), I clicked on each one and added the name of the show, episode title and season\episode numbers to each one. Hooray!

Just for kicks, I went out and found a copy of the show’s title card, and, with a minute or two’s cropping and resizing, I had a nice graphic to add to iTunes. So instead of the “generic” icon under “TV shows”, I had nice graphic one, like the rest of the icons there. Hooray!

So then I synched up my iPod. The brand spankin’ new files were copied over, and when the sync was complete, I checked the iPod. I went to Videos > TV Shows. There was a nice icon for the series in question, and when I drilled down through the menu, I saw each episode title. Hooray!

But then I saw something annoying. Under each episode, in light grey text, I saw the words “Unknown Release Date”. I went back to iTunes on my computer and clicked “Get Info” on one of the episodes. I looked all over hell and half of Alabama, but I just couldn’t find any place to enter a “release date”. That’s because Apple doesn’t allow end-users to edit that field. There’s no way whatsoever that the “Release Date” in iTunes. Boooo!

After searching a dozen or so websites, I found that I was not crazy, and that you have to use a third-party app to edit the metadata. I found a program called MetaX that could handle that. Only it’s Mac only. Boooo!

But hey, no worries. Only a dozen pages later I find that’s there’s a port of it for Windows. Hooray!

I download and install the version linked above from Cnet. Only when I first start the program it tells me that there’s an “important update” that I should download. It even gives me a handy link, but when I click on it, nothing happens. So I click again. And again. Still nothing. So I manually type the address into Firefox. Way to have a seamless update system! Boooo!

So I download the updated version and install and run it. I find the place to enter the “Release Date”, which is only listed as “Date” in the UI. Not confusing at all, right? I entered the date in standard US format, like 11/01/2010. The software rudely told me that I MUST enter it in the YYYY-MM-DD format. Now, I’m not a programmer, but I know enough about programming to know that it’s not all that difficult to “clean” data from a text box and format it any way you want. A web form might ask for your phone number, for instance, and “cleaning” the data from “(123) 456-7890” or “123.456.7890” or “1234567890” into “123-456-7890” isn’t all that difficult. But hey, whatever. I enter the date like “20101101” and click the big green arrow button. Annnnnnddd nothing. No “release date” is visible in iTunes. I opened the file, because sometimes iTunes needs to reload the file to get the correct metadata. Nope, nada. I close and reopened iTunes. Nope, nothing. I tried again, this time entering the date as “2010-11-01”, and it worked! I’ve only used the YYYMMDD format sparingly, and never once have I included the dashes. But again, whatever. Only it’s amusing, because when I entered the date as “11/01/2010” I got a rude modal error message, but when I entered it as “20101101” I got nothing, even though that was also “incorrect” from the application’s perspective. Nice. Boooo!

So…. at this point I have my files, with all the correct metadata. I synched my iPod again, and… the stupid, piece of crap software copied the entire video files back to my iPod. That’s right: instead of simply updating the metadata on the iPod files, iTunes decided to copy the whole damn things over again.


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