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Entry 02/15/2011 01:12:48 PM – Mentat 600

02/15/2011

As a general rule when it comes to television/radio/streams/podcasts that come in episode format, I usually give the show between 3 to 5 episodes before I make the decision as to whether I’m going to continue to watch/listen to it or walk away to finding something else to do with my time. That said, currently on the chopping block is Engadget’s Technology Podcast with Josh Topolsky, Nilay Patel, Paul Miller… I had been following Engadget’s news feed since I had added it (and Boing Boing) to my Outlook RSS feeds a couple of years ago. While Boing Boing often incites fun and festivity when it comes to outlandish creations from steam punk to Cthulhu to the trendy sort of items and artifacts hipsters and mad scientist would like; they also have news that means something to the average and intelligent, Engadget is often the sort of technology news that I’d like to pick up and read about various trends in mobile and mobile computing. Sure, the RSS feed can be more than a little heavily weighed down when it comes to information on mobile phones, on the whole though it’s informative enough not to bore me to tears and want to delete the RSS feed to finding a new source for such information.

If only I could say the same thing about the Engadget Podcast.

Listening to these three men do an informal talking head sort of format for 60 – 90 minutes reminds me too keenly of the “informal roundtable talks” FOX-news has on their station… This format incites a bad combination of frustration and boredom within me as I listen to these three men — Topolsky, Patel and Miller — talk over each other, ego-wank their fanboy favorites (Droid and Apple/Mac predominantly), and in the latest episode with a guest spot completely ignore the guest except for getting him to occasionally do some sort of talking point to prove that he was still there. It got to a point in this week’s episode that I was finding myself nearly ignoring them and shutting them out to the point of being background noise while I happily went searching for support for an ongoing issue I’ve been seeing with the latest release of iTunes for Windows (I’ll get to it later).

Don’t get me wrong, Podcasts are a novel and often positive approach to getting caught up with various World, Technology and even Entertainment news in an hour (or so) format that one can bring with them on the go to fill the times between, say home and work, at one’s convenience. And the purely entertaining — like Galen Behr’s Monthly Podcast — allows listeners (me, for example) to hear the latest hot and upcoming trance and electronica tracks from DJs and artists — that are being played at dance clubs and underground parties worldwide. There’s this fine line between a dry and information only podcast, and one that gives the impression of being information and inclusive. As though the news and opinions shared on the podcast are being held in someone’s living room instead of a studio allowing the audience be almost voyeuristic by giving them the illusion of being able to interrupt either personally or through proxy (one of the others on the podcast for example).

When that line has been crossed. When one doesn’t feel as though they have the illusion of being a part of that podcast. When the podcast seems to be long-winded, self-serving, and most importantly — when it feels as though the listener/audience has become a captive audience to frivolous speak, aggrandizing ego-masturbating — then the podcast pretty much has lost its vision of what it’s attempting to convey and has become nothing more than noise.

And the Engadget podcast clearly in my opinion has become this. Noise.

Needless to say that during this review of it, I’ve removed it from my queue because while it has some tidbits worth catching, the vast majority of the hour to hour and a half I had listened to the three episodes has been distraction upon noise upon walking all over each other and the one guest I was actually able to catch on the show (really, in episode 232 did that one brain dead bint of a regular have to say the word ecosystem 15 times in less than a minute?).

Yet… As I’m sitting here removing Engadget’s Podcast to replace it with Tech News Today (from Twit-TV), I can’t help but feel an endemic issue has been brewing for some years since I’ve started listening to podcasts on my iPod. Bigger companies — like Engadget, Twit-TV, C|Net, and so on — are trying way too hard to emulate and imitate the smaller/mom & pop podcasts of hominess and end up creating such an insipidly counterfeit atmosphere that doesn’t feel homey or informal at all. The only thing I can say on this is — stick with what you’re good at, and leave the trimmings you’re trying to copy out of the equation.

*Taking a deep breath*

As I mentioned earlier, it would seem that I’ve been having an intermittent problem with iTunes (ver. 10.1.2.17) restarting after I have closed the program. While not so much a problem as it is a nuisance, I did a little bit of research finding that found older versions used to have a problem with third party apps that make hooks to iTunes being the culprit to iTunes automatically restarting. As I haven’t been running any 3rd party apps in some time that could hook into the iTunes Interface, I decided on dropping by the Apple Forums for a little of research and advise.

Turns out this thread covers just this problem. After a bit of bouncing back and forth to this thread it would seem that the third party application that’s causing this issue is in fact Microsoft and MSN Messenger 2011. So the following are the work-arounds to getting around the issue for the time being (until the next version to see whether it’s fixed or not):

  1. Shut off MSN Messenger Live 2011’s option to display music. (Which can be found in TOOLS –> OPTIONS –> PERSONAL and then un-checking Show information about the song I’m listening to). Or, (which I’ve been moderately successful with);
  2. Stop/Pause iTunes. Wait about 5-10 seconds and then from iTunes go to FILE –> EXIT.

Strange. This hasn’t happened to me before with previous versions of MSN Messenger and iTunes (as I’ve been using MSN Messenger since 2000’ish and iTunes in the last 5 years) or any combination between the two. I recall there being an issue with iTunes locking up when put into Mini-Player for a bit, but it was a known issue that had been addressed by Apple and I haven’t experienced the problem since. Oh well, just the usual fun and festivities when coming with issues fixed with new versions and new things breaking from the fixes.

Finally, it looks as though I’m going to be Mr. PC-Doctor this Friday. My Aunt Norma’s nephew seems to be having issues with a slow computer. So I’m going to be spending time with them and her nephew to getting the computer back up to speed. I’m sure I’ll be talking about that after I get through diagnosing and cleaning things up. Maybe even make a journal entry on the horrors I discover.

Well, that’ll be it for the time being. Until the next time.

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  1. 02/17/2011 at 6:17 am

    I totally agree with your points. The steps of listing in your post are quite useful for getting this problems resolved.

    • 02/17/2011 at 10:15 am

      Thanks. I’m just surprised I’m one of the “chosen few” to actually experience this problem as it doesn’t seem to be affect a large portion of Windows users.

  2. Speed-Up-Windows-XP
    02/17/2011 at 9:55 pm

    Nice post. Sometimes, the problem might be caused by other issues.I do prefer using other app to fix the problem.

    • 02/18/2011 at 7:02 pm

      As I said in the message and the URL to the thread at Apple, and wasn’t able to reproduce the problem with any other programs than iTunes and MSN. And when the “Show Information About the song I’m listening to” is unchecked, the problem cleared itself.

      For the record, after spending 7 hours uninstalling malware from a family PC this afternoon, I removed the link that you had provided from your post because 1. I don’t recognize the product, and 2. what it said it fixed had nothing to do with the problem on hand.

      I’d suggest if you’re going to offer software to fix a problem, you give the product name and let people look into it. Your method of sharing stinks of stealthy and underhanded and I don’t appreciate the spam.

  1. 03/06/2011 at 4:25 pm
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