Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Casting the Demons out of my iPad

I've never understood or appreciated the direction that Apple went with their user interface for their operating system or their programs. That was, in general, not a big problem, I didn't use Apple PCs, so it didn't affect me so much.

When I got The Croods for review via iTunes, however, I suddenly had to actually find my way around the program. The iTunes interface is, in my opinion, one of the most unintuitive wandering garden mazes I've ever had the displeasure of being lost in. It. Makes. No. Sense.

If I were merely going to rant about the UI, however, I would probably not write anything. That's old news. However, the UI was the annoying icing on a nearly lethal cake.

The first problem I had was with the download. I had used a remote access client to log into my machine remotely, then redeemed the code on my computer and started the download. I received a message (almost instantly... that should have been a clue) that it completed successfully. So, I ended the session and expected to start watching The Croods as soon as I got home.

However, when I got home, the movie wouldn't play. I found that it had errored out when attempting to download and still had over ninety percent yet to download. I clicked the button to restart the download. Several times. It seemed to get about one thirtieth of a megabyte each time I clicked the restart button, the failed. I did this several times, getting a popup every couple of times or so, but could never really tell if it was actually downloading anything or was simply advancing the counter a tenth of a megabyte every third time I pushed the button. Fun.

I rebooted iTunes and tried again and it actually downloaded. Yay. Then, I tried to watch the movie on my PC. The app started acting like the movie was playing, with the play position bar advancing at the bottom, but there was no sound and the screen remained black. After closing and reopening iTunes a couple of times, I was able to watch the movie. (No idea what fixed it, mind you.)

I still had yet to put it on my iPad, however. So, I plugged in my iPad and synced, something I hadn't done in quite some time. Then, when that was done, I told it to put the movie on my iPad. I got a warning saying there wasn't enough room on the iPad, so I started deleting things. Lots of things. Old apps, documents, lots of stuff. Eventually, the meter at the bottom indicated that I would have some free space after removing everything I wanted to remove and putting the movie onto the iPad... but it still said there wasn't enough space. I turned the problem over to JR Nip for a bit. He resolved it, but had to reboot the iPad before it would work. Great.

So, after watching the entire movie, some on my computer and some on my iPad, and after watching all the special features and writing most of my review, I go back to get some information from the movie (language options, subtitles, that sort of thing) and the picture is black again. I'm not sure what the problem is that causes this, but I eventually determined that I can fix it by changing my monitor's resolution to 1920x1080. That restores the picture and audio and, once I've done that, I can then go back to my monitors native resolution of 1680x1050 and it works, but if I try to view it on my second (smaller) monitor (1280x1024), it complains and says it will have to load the SD version and then, generally stops showing video until I put it on my primary monitor and switch the resolution again.

If you use iTunes and you're happy with it - great... good luck with that. Personally, I loathe having to open up the iTunes application and can only imagine that there wasn't nearly enough testing effort on Windows machines with multiple monitors.