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iTunes Crashes On “Determining Song Volume” [Fixed]

Sunday September 6, 2009 2 comments

Introduction

Today I downloaded a couple podcasts into iTunes (QuackCast and Psychology Podcast). After completing the download, I ran into a problem. iTunes crashed when the “Determining Song Volume” process started.

iTunes determines the song volume when “Sound Check” is enabled. This ensures that all your songs play at the same volume.

So, not only did iTunes crash when I completed downloading the podcasts, but it would immediately crash as soon as I tried to start it up again. It would attempt to determine the song volume of the new podcasts and immediately crash.

I tried restarting the computer, and still nothing. Instant crash as soon as I opened up iTunes.

It turns out that iTunes isn’t entirely stable on multi-core processors. A quick search online revealed exactly what the problem was. iTunes needs to run on 1 processor core, at least when running the “Sound Check” process.

The Solution

It turns out that it’s possible to set individual programs to only use a certain number of processor cores. And that’s what I did with iTunes.

Here’s how you do it.

  1. When iTunes attempts to start up, try to hit the little ‘x’ next to “Determining Song Volume” to cancel that process. It may take a few tries to click it before iTunes crashes.
  2. Next, in iTunes, go into Edit/Preferences/Playback tab. Disable “Sound Check.”
  3. Open up the Task Manager (CTRL + Shift + Esc). Open up the “Processes” tab and right-click on iTunes. Select “Set Affinity…” And be sure only 1 core is selected (CPU0, 1, 2, 3, etc – depending on how many cores your computer has.).
  4. You can now go back into iTunes and enable “Sound Check.”

That’s it. iTunes should determine the song volume of your newly imported music and you’ll be all set.

You can also find these instructions here.

An Open Letter To Apple [Please Fix Error 4450!]

Sunday June 7, 2009 17 comments

Shortly following my posting of this entry, through the insight of those who left comments on my original entry, as well as from those sending me email comments, I’ve come to realize that I may have been hasty to place the entire blame of this “Error 4450” solely on Apple.

Here is what I originally wrote…

To Whom It May Concern At Apple, Inc.,

On my blog, I write mainly about philosophy, religion, skepticism, science and the like. But, by far, the most popular post on my entire blog is the post in which I discuss an error that occurs in iTunes – the dreaded “Error 4450.” In fact, my post is the first post to come up on Google when searching for “Error 4450.”

This error pops up when burning CD’s in iTunes. At different (seemingly random) times during the burning process, the disc will eject and a message will pop up saying that the burn process has failed, relating that the cause is “Error 4450.”

The “Comments” section of my post is filled with frustrated users searching for answers. People have tried everything from registry scanners, to different brands of CD-R’s, to disc drive lens cleaners. Nothing works.

On the Apple Support website, there is no official response to this problem. Then we go to the Support Forum portion of the site and we find countless users experiencing this same problem, with not a single bit of help offered from you, Apple!

In fact, Apple, you’ve been completely silent on this “Error 4450” issue. The name implies that it bears some type of significance. Your programmers must know something about this. And yet, as I’ve said, you remain silent on the entire issue. Do you intend on ignoring this issue indefinitely? Until we get frustrated enough to go out and find another media player that works better than iTunes?

Overall, I am happy with iTunes. But, to the degree that people have complained about this issue and, to their dismay, there having been nothing done about it whatsoever, I’m beginning to wonder if you (Apple, Inc.) aren’t taking your customers for granted. Have you become comfortable in your position?

It seems to me that it wouldn’t take much to solve this issue. Just a little attention and some debugging skills.

With that being said, I’m speaking for everyone who’s had this problem. Please, Apple, fix Error 4450, or at least let us know what’s going on with this problem and offer some type of help for those who are experiencing this problem.

Thank You.

P.S.

Please, don’t give us something ignorant like “uninstall and reinstall” because we all know this is a cop-out and does not fix the problem. We’ve all done this countless times before.

For those of you who are experiencing this error, I would recommend filing a bug report, even if you’ve already done so. You can do this in iTunes by going to this link. From this site you can provide Apple with useful information about your situation and the circumstances surrounding the occurrence of “Error 4450.” Under “Feedback Type” select “Bug Report.”

As I’ve said before on this blog, my main purpose for writing is to contribute to the wealth of information on the internet, to help make the internet a place where useful information can be found. I also think that, as one who values truth and intellectual honesty, it would only be right for me to acknowledge that I was wrong about my original post.

So, to conclude, thanks to everyone who brought my attention to where my arguments were flawed.

iTunes Doesn’t Sort By Track Number [Fixed]

Friday April 17, 2009 59 comments

Have you ever had this problem before? You’re browsing your iTunes library, and for some strange reason, some tracks aren’t listed by track number? In other words, some albums are jumbled up in terms of track number. See the image below for an example…

itunes-track-numbers

For some reason, track 8 is sent to the bottom of the list. In some instances, this can happen with multiple tracks in a given album, and the only way to fix it was to click the “Track #” column to sort by track number. But, when switching to view multiple albums, you only see track #1 on all your albums. You get the point. It’s inconvenient.

Well, I’ve found a fix for this, and it’s pretty simple. But, let me set the stage first.

Let’s say, to start out with, you open up iTunes and you have the browser up. You’ve got “All” selected in the Genre, Artist and Album field. You also click the “Album” column so that your library is sorted by album, either ascending or descending. It doesn’t matter. Now you can see your entire library in the track view sorted by album.

From here, select “All” in the “Genre” field. Select the artist you’re having this problem with in the “Artist” field. Select the album that is giving you problems in the “Album” field.

If you’re having this problem, the tracks won’t be listed by track number.

In order to fix this, all you have to do is select all of the songs in the album (highlight one of the songs, then press CTRL + A). All of the songs should be highlighted in blue. Be absolutely sure you only have the songs from the album in question selected. You run the chance of ruining any artist or album titles in your library if not.

Now that you have your songs selected, right-click and select “Get Info.” A window will pop up displaying the information about the tracks you’ve selected. Your next step is to delete the contents of the “Album Artist” (not the “Artist” field) field and make sure there is a check mark in the box next to “Album Artist.” Hit “OK” and you’re all set. You’ll notice that immediately your songs will be sorted by track number!

I’m not sure exactly why iTunes does this in rare circumstances, but that’s it. Problem solved. Hope this helped.

Read a book. It’s good for you.

iTunes Library Naming Standards

Wednesday April 15, 2009 10 comments

Introduction

If you’re at all familiar with my blog, you’ll know that I’m pretty obsessive about my iTunes music library. I’m also a stickler for proper grammar and punctuation. It is also apparent that, across the net, there are people who are as obsessive as I am.

Because it is possible to export your iTunes library into an XML file, it also makes it possible to use your iTunes library information in a database. For example, there are sites like iTunes Registry, which allow you to upload your Library.xml file and see various pieces of information about your music, listening habits, favorite artists, etc.

It is for this reason that I propose a set of Standards for naming and organizing songs in iTunes. I am more than open to suggestions. So, if you’re interested in contributing, leave a comment with your feedback, opinions, or criticisms.

Now, I’m not really sure how to go about drafting a set of Standards, so I’ll just start with the basics and see how it goes from there.

Spelling & Punctuation

Concerning spelling, obviously correct spelling is an issue. It is also important to preserve the spelling that the artist intended to convey. Apart from the original artist’s website, I’ve found that the most accurate information can be found at Gracenote.com. So, if for some strange reason the artist doesn’t have a website, Gracenote is a good place to start.

From here I’ll get into specifics…

Capitalization – As far as capitalization, I prefer to capitalize every word in the title of a song.

Parenthesis () – Parenthesis should be used to indicate actual parts of the title of a song or album in which the content is actually parenthetical, part of the title. For example…

  • Dude (Looks Like A Lady)
  • Try (Just A Little Bit Harder)
  • Have You Ever Been (To Electric Ladyland?)

Wikipedia has this to say about Parenthesis:

Parentheses (singular, parenthesis)—sometimes called round brackets, curved brackets, oval brackets, or just brackets, or, colloquially, parens — contain material that could be omitted without destroying or altering the meaning of a sentence.

Parentheses may be used in formal writing to add supplementary information, such as “Sen. Edward Kennedy (D., Massachusetts) spoke at length.” They can also indicate shorthand for “either singular or plural” for nouns—e.g., “the claim(s)”.

This segues nicely into the next topic…

Brackets [] – Brackets should be used to denote additional information about a song or album. Remix information, disc number, etc. Here are some examples…

  • Album Title – “A-Sides [Best Of],” “Diplomatic Immunity [Disc 1],” Oh Yeah! [Ultimate Aerosmith Hits – Disc 2]”
  • Remix Information – “Prep Gwarlek 3B [Dennis Desantis Remix]”
  • Intro, Outro, Etc. – “The Big Picture [Intro],” “NY Freestyle [Instrumental]”

Essentially, the Brackets are intended to contain additional information about the song or album title.

Acronyms – No periods between letters in acronyms. “LAMC” instead of “L.A.M.C.”

Contractions – Songs with titles like “Do You Remember Rock ‘N Roll Radio?” The first letter in the contraction should be capitalized. There could be some debate as to whether it should be ‘N’, as opposed to ‘N. I suppose the proper form would be ‘N’, as the apostrophe is taking the place of the missing letters.

This should be distinguished from normal contractions in song titles like “What’d Ya Do?,” where “‘d” is part of the word “What,” and you need not capitalize the “d.”

As far as words like “Y’all,” should it be “Y’all” or “Y’All?” I prefer “Y’All.” I suppose it should be no different than “What’d.” But then again, “All” is a word all on it’s own. Input would be appreciated.

Question Marks (?) – Any song titles that take the form of a question should always end in the Question Mark (?). Take the previous example: “Do You Remember Rock ‘N Roll Radio?”

Hyphenated Words – Songs like “International Cover-Up.” Capitalize both (all) words in the hyphenated series.

Featured Artists

Personally, I dislike putting featured or guest artists in song titles. As my library exists right now, I don’t have featured artists listed anywhere. I’ve been debating this issue for a while. Should I use the “Album Artist” field for the artist who released the album, and the “Artist” field to include any featured artists?

Mostly, this is a dilemma concerning time and effort. Do I really want to go through my entire music library (107 GB) and find every song (19,806 of them) with a featured or guest artist and modify the “Artist” field to reflect these changes??? I don’t know.

To take a solid position on this, I feel that featured artists do not belong in the song title.

Track Numbers

iTunes gives you the option of having just the track number (Track #1), or having the track number out of the total number on the album (Track #1 of 15). Personally, I prefer not to use the 1 of 15 convention and simply stick with Track #1. I suppose this could be up for debate, but it looks cleaner with just the track number without the “of 15” part.

Miscellaneous

In some cases, tracks have more than one song on them.

For example, “Love Minus Zero / No Limit.” I think this format is fitting. Using the Slash “/” to designate more than one song in the track. There should also be a space between songs and the Slash. Some songs have a Slash in the punctuation already: “Erase/Replace,” or “AC/DC.”

Classical Music

This is a difficult topic. There is a lot of information in the title of a classical song. Opus number, movements, title, key that the song is in, etc. I’m not exactly sure how this should work. I would greatly appreciate suggestions on this matter.

Conclusion

This document will reflect the current state of the iTunes Naming Standards. Any debate or suggestions will take place in the “Comments” section, and changes will be made in this document to reflect any conclusions reached.

This document was last modified on 5/20/2009 ~ 7:00pm EST.

Categories: All, Internet, iTunes, Music, Technology

I Fixed My iTunes “Choppy Audio” Problem

Monday March 23, 2009 17 comments

Intro

First of all, I want to say that I’m not exactly sure how I fixed this problem. What I do know is that I did fix it. With that being said, let us continue.

Previously, I was unable to use iTunes while browsing the Internet (or using other programs) without the audio output being extremely choppy. As soon as I would click on a link, the audio would immediately begin to get choppy. I was incensed by the fact that there is no reason for this to be happening. I have an AMD  Phenom 64 Quad-Core processor and 3 GB of RAM running Windows Vista Home Premium. iTunes should have no problems.

At this point I should probably clarify that I cannot say that I don’t have any idea, whatsoever, of how I fixed the problem. What I’ll do now is give a list of the things that I did in an attempt to solve it.

Something in this list fixed the problem, though I’m not sure exactly what.

The List

First, I went into Control Panel/Administrative Tools/Services and disabled the following services…

I also made the following modifications to the BIOS. Here’s the list…

Under the “Advanced Chipset Features” menu:

  • Set “PCIe Spread Spectrum” to Disabled.
  • Set “SATA Spread Spectrum” to Disabled.
  • Set “HT Spread Spectrum” to Disabled.

Here’s a link explaining what exactly “Spread Spectrum” means.

I also set the “OS Select For DRAM > 64MB” to “OS/2,” as opposed to “Non-OS/2.”

Conclusion

So if anyone out there reading this has any more technical information as to what, specifically, in this list fixed the problem I was having, I (as well as a great many other people) would greatly appreciate some elaboration. I’d also found that people all over the net have been having this same problem – with no resolution to speak of.

Anyway, that’s all I’ve got.

Read a book. It’s good for you.

Update As Of 3/28/2009

I spoke too soon. This worked for a few days, but my iTunes is back to being choppy. This is insanely frustrating. And there’s no help from Apple on this.

Update As Of 4/2/2009

Ok, so I fiddled with some more BIOS settings and the choppy audio is gone again. I set “HD Audio” to “Disabled,” along with a few other things. Turned all the Spread Spectrum settings back on. So apparently they didn’t have anything to do with this problem.

So far, so good. No choppy audio.

I don’t know what’s going on, but this is driving me up a wall. If the audio gets choppy again, I think I’m going to lose it. Maybe the only way to fix this problem is to continually fiddle with BIOS settings?

Another thing that helps is to restart the computer when the audio starts getting choppy. I don’t know if that says anything about what’s wrong?

Update As Of 6/6/2009

Simply restarting the computer when the audio becomes choppy seems to work. Maybe scratch all that other stuff??

How To Uninstall The MyTunes Facebook App

Sunday January 25, 2009 2 comments

Intro

I came across a seemingly interesting app the other day on Facebook called MyTunes. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work.

On the other hand, what it does do is occupy nearly 900mb of RAM when it’s running! 90% of a GB! Literally, an electronic paperweight that automatically loads every time you start your computer. (I’m assuming these figures will be largely dependent upon the size of your iTunes music library.)

What it, also, does not do is uninstall easily. Neither does the author’s site offer instructions on how to uninstall it. Most times, the site doesn’t even work.

Overall, this app is shit. So, here’s how to rid yourself of it.

Instructions

The first step is to remove MyTunes from your Facebook apps.

The second step is to end the process on your computer. You might see the icon on your taskbar, a yellow smiley face. (That smiley face is not so innocuous, as that little face is occupying, depending on your computer, 90% of your computer’s resources.)

In order to end this process, go to your task manager (CTRL+SHIFT+ESC). Go to the “Processes” tab and look for “MyTunes.exe.” You’ll also see how much memory this program is using on this screen.

Click on “MyTunes.exe,” then click on “End Process.”

Now the fun part. Manually uninstalling a shitty application. Awesome.

Now, I’m using Windows Vista. This program installed itself into…

  • C:\Users\<User>\MyTunes

If you’re using XP, or another operating system, you’re on your own. Do a search for “MyTunes.exe” on your computer and you’ll end up finding it.

Delete the MyTunes folder.

Next is the tough part. Removing the registry entries. So, click “Start,” then “Run.” In the box, type in “regedit” and hit Enter. This opens the Registry Editor.

In the Registry Editor, click Edit/Find. In the “Find what:” box, type “MyTunes,” and hit Enter. This will bring up entries that involve this app.

When an entry comes up that has MyTunes in it, delete it. There will be quite a few of them, but don’t give up. It will be worth it, in the end.

I was going to give a list of each entry, but it would have been too laborious. Simply keep searching for “MyTunes” and deleting the entries that come up.

After you delete an entry, hit F3, and this will search for the next registry entry with MyTunes in it. Delete it.

Conclusion

It sure would have been nice if the creator of this app made an Uninstall option, or even had it appear in the “Add/Remove Programs” menu in Windows. Maybe even wrote a help file to assist in this process?

Anyway, I hope this helps. And if you haven’t installed this app yet, DON’T!

Read a book. It’s good for you.

Missing iTunes Library Information [Part II – Back It Up!]

Sunday January 18, 2009 Leave a comment

If you’ve read my previous entry concerning my iTunes Library losing a lot of information, and you’ve experienced the same problem, you know the frustration I’ve gone through. The purpose of this entry is to help others in preventing this problem in the future.

Since the cause of this error is unknown at this time, there isn’t really an effective way to prevent it. So, the most effective solution in preventing a loss of iTunes Library information is to actually back up your library files.

Now, iTunes doesn’t make this very easy to do. Or, at least, they don’t make it obvious how to do this. There is a list of files that needs to be backed up in order to preserve your information (ratings, play counts, etc.).

The first thing you’ll need is a backup program. I use Genie Backup Manager Pro 8.0. If you don’t have a program for backing up data, here is a site with free backup solutions you can download.

All you need to do is configure your backup software to back up the following files:

  • C:\Users\<user>\Music\iTunes\iTunes Library.itl
  • C:\Users\<user>\Music\iTunes\iTunes Library Extras.itdb
  • C:\Users\<user>\Music\iTunes\iTunes Library Genius.itdb
  • C:\Users\<user>\Music\iTunes\iTunes Music Library.xml
  • C:\Users\<user>\AppData\Roaming\Apple Computer\iTunes\iTunesPrefs.xml

These directory names are for Windows Vista users. And <user> is the name of the person whose account the iTunes Library is under.

Depending on your operating system, your “iTunes” library directory could be in a different location.

If you’re using Windows XP, the iTunes Library directory is found in:

  • C:\Documents and Settings\<user>\My Documents\My Music\iTunes

As a side note, there are also a couple other directories you might want to back up.

iTunes keeps an automatic backup of “Previous iTunes Libraries.”

  • C:\Users\<user>\Music\iTunes\Previous iTunes Libraries

It might be a good idea to back up all the libraries in that directory… just in case.

Also, in case you have an iPhone, iPod or iPod Touch, and you have applications downloaded and stored in iTunes. Here’s the directory for those applications.

  • C:\Users\<user>\Music\iTunes\Mobile Applications

Again, these directories are for Windows Vista. XP will be slightly different.

Make sure to frequently back these files up. Particularly when you add new music, change song ratings, or whatever other changes you make to your iTunes Library. And keep your backups in a separate location. Maybe a Flash Drive, CD, remote Internet backup service, etc. Never on the same drive that your iTunes Library is actually on.

One suggestion is to not set your backup software to make scheduled backups. This is because, like in the case that something like what happened to me happens to you, your software could accidentally back up an iTunes Library with missing information without you knowing it until the next time you load iTunes.

Always manually back up your library. Close out iTunes (wait for a second to see if you see a message saying “Saving iTunes Library…”), then open your backup software and back up your library.

And that’s it. I hope this helps.

Read a book. It’s good for you.