Defective by Design

Defective by design - photo by jeremy clarke

Apple products will always be second-best, not because anyone else is more creative or stylish, but because the best product is the one Apple developed before it was broken on purpose to stop you from doing things with it that Apple or its friends (i.e. RIAA, MPAA, BSA etc.) don’t want you to do. Whether it’s stopping you from using your iPod Shuffle with more than one computer ever (something I deal with constantly) or giving you “updates” to iTunes whose only purpose is to block useful plugins deemed innapropriate, Apple consistently chooses the imaginary needs of content producers over those of their own customers. They put blocks in your path on purpose, effectively rendering their products “defective by design” (the expression comes from an activist group fighting this and similar Digital Rights Management (DRM) mostrosities).

When it came time to choose a free engraving for the free Nano that came with my new laptop (I would never pay dollars for something so obviously broken on purpose) nothing else seemed appropriate. My favorite part is how natural the slogan looks printed on the back and how, if you stretch your imagination a bit, “Defective by Design” almost sounds like a legit Apple slogan (I mean, it’s at least as good as “Life is Random” right?)

18 Replies to “Defective by Design”

  1. WOW your ipod looks good with the slogan. I agree that it adds a nice touch. I have an ipod that I got for my birthday last year, before I even knew what DRM was. I wonder if there is a place where I can get my ipod engraved like yours. :-)

  2. The engraving does look awesome. Wish I had thought of that during my year of getting my iPod replaced 8 different times before iTunes killed my 9th one on me. Thats when I just gave up all together. Having it stuck to my machine was terribly annoying. Not being able to pull songs off it without other software is awful. It makes the whole point of having a portable mp3 player null and void. Only reason to pick up an iPod is if you can find an old 3G for free and put rockbox on it.

  3. you said this so beautifully. fully enveloped my exact fellings on the ipod/mac, fully. but the same goes for wma/microsoft/creative. they could make their players usb mass, fat32 and play everything(flac, ogg, and whatever else they want). but they dont. as long as the cd doesnt die our music is safe. movies, not so much

  4. Thanks Balinsky. I recently bought a Creative NAno that was a bit cheaper than a shuffle and have found it to be great! It uses the standard USB cord, shows up as a flash drive in Finder and lets me do anything the interface will allow (including listening to FM and even recording directly from FM or a tiny built-in mic). I guess they could work harder on formats but as long as they’re not shoving a New Proprietary format down my throat (i.e. iTunes defaulting to AAC imports and Sony garbage traditionally forcing you to convert everything to ATRAC) I don’t mind so much. Really I’d settle for iTunes just being able to play an OGG file on my desktop without crashing ;)

  5. I’m a huge music lover. So are a lot of my friends. They say that is why the use iTunes. They constantly ask me for new music but I totally refuse to down sample my flac collection to mp3 just so they can play it. Winamp 4 life is what I tell them. They can’t handle having to organize they’re music by hand. I prefer knowing where my files are and that they are tagged the way I prefer. When I first got the iPod almost 3 years ago I made the lame mistake of installing iTunes. I told to ad a DIR of 40 or so sub dirs into it’s library. My 40 sub DIRs turned into over 300. Talk about a royal pain in the arse.

  6. Now, I’m all for the campaign against DRM, but you guys are badly informed. This is not helpful to anyone.

    Jeremy, AAC is not proprietary – it is an improved version of MP3 & is not restrictive by nature. iTunes default AAC import is probably a better choice than MP3.
    iTunes protected music files are AAC + DRM

    Sultan, despite iTunes Store shortfalls, the software itself, the way it imports, organises & plays music is not bad. In fact you have clearly shown you do not know how to use the software correctly.

    & finally, to the author.
    The iPod hardware itself is hardly DefectiveByDesign – it’s a music player that supports a range of music files & it does that correctly. iTunes integration & store is DBD.
    At the end of all this, if you have an iPod & use iTunes AND you aquire a few useful utilities (such as iPod Access) then you have no reason to complain about any restrictions whatsoever – Unless you buy music from iTunes Store.
    The DRM on legally purchased digital music is the fault of Music Companies – not the store (who has no choice)
    Your efforts would be better directed to the source of the issue instead of blaming a pet hate.

  7. what’s the point of allowing comments on your website when you reject them if they don’t agree with your opinion? My last comment was not rude – nor incorrect – it was my comment & I had backed it up with FACTS. I was happy to read your blog & accept your point of view, but if you won’t even entertain a balanced counterpoint, what is the point?

  8. perhaps I am the victim of bad caching? I now see my original comment is still waiting moderation. oh, dear – i hope you can see why my second comment was made, considering that i thought my first was deleted?

  9. Sorry paul for the delay in noticing the need for moderation. Your first comment was legitimate and I would never have censored it.

    As so your points: I didnt’ say AAC is DRM, I said it’s proprietary. Not the same thing at all. DRM is something bad that happens to you because of where you bought it, proprietary is something that happens cause of silly encoding policies. What I’m trying to distinguish is the difference between a file designed to play on all software easily (like ogg and effectively mp3) instead of just on one kind of software like AAC (which as far as I can tell only plays normally on iTunes). When iTunes tries to trick me into using aac instead of mp3 as default they are locking me into iTunes because nothing else will play those files now. If I bought tracks from teh music store it’s even worse because they won’t even play on another computer.

    Sultan’s critiques were a bit specific to his/her admittedly hyper-specific needs, I’ll give you that. But that doesn’t mean that there are no problems with the iTunes software. It just kind of sucks for no reason so often, like not letting me use the “autofill” feature I could access with my shuffle when I was using a 2gb ipod nano. What’s the reason, why dont’ they see that I’d want to use a small nano in the same way as a small shuffle?

    > The iPod hardware itself is hardly
    > DefectiveByDesign

    This is an excellent point, because I didnt’ say the hardware was defective by design. In fact that’s the exact opposite of what I meant. It’s the software that has been crippled, not the hardware, as evidenced by the ability to run Linux and do what you want with it.

    In your comment you say that ipod+iTunes+utilities is just as good as a normal player. But what, really, are those utilities. In my experience they are programs who’s only purpose is to give you access to your device in ways that Apple explicitly chose not to give you (i.e. copy all files to hard drive, have normal finder access, use shuffle on ANY COMPUTER OTHER THAN THE ONE THAT FILLED IT). Would it take apple a long time to give you those features? Do you think they didnt’ try to make sure they could do it? Could they not buy those FREE applications and integrate them? Of course they could implement those features if they wanted to at all, but theyre too worried about the recording industry getting mad to do anything risky at all, even if that means i’m constantly frustrated because my device wont’ p lay on my friend’s computer and I have to plug his speakers directly into it. Things I pay hundreds of dollars for should just work, no utilities so I can use my hard drive as a hard drive.

    And I mean, it’s iTunes business if they want to sell out their hardware customers to their content providers (RIAA), but I’ll be damned if I’m goign to buy my electronics from the company that’s more concerned with protecting content than with giving me a quality product. At the end of the day I guess I just dont’ think hardware/software should come from the media companies that want to stop me from doign what i want, and that’s what apple has become, a media company. I’ll take it from a neutral party instead.

    (p.s. I also direct my ire at the music companies for trying to screw me over, but that goe in the form of just not buying anything from them till they give me something I want. I prefer Creative Commons music anyway)

  10. Paul, you just sound like another Apple fanboy that doesn’t use there computer like the power users do. You don’t constantly push you’re equipment, mp3 players inclued, to there breaking point. Everytime I would install iTunes it would bring my windows machine to a complete crawl, and running iTunes in the background while trying to play Quake, you can just forget it. Yeah, I know you can tell it not to make it’s own dir’s for your music, but that should be on by default as it is with every other mp3 library software. My inability to easily plug my iPod into friends machines to use as an external hdd, with it’s newest firmware made want to do nothing more than to just chuck it in the toilet. I’m like 400 bucks for what basically is nothing more than a glorifed walkman. One of biggest flaw in iTunes is not being able to copy music from your iPod back to your machine. The last iPod I had was a 60gig 5G video that Apple upgraded me too for free after my 7th iPod died. I went to update the firmware and couldn’t find the updater software anywhere on the site. Little research I found it must be done through iTunes, major setback. I bit the bullet, installed the wretched POS bloated software and clicked update iPod. 2 hour wait for a nasty error message. Tried again, same thing sits for 2 hours then terrible error message. 3rd try, even longer wait then really really bad looking error message and the sad iPod icon on my iPod. My iPod has never worked since and I’ve tried everything, even installing Rockbox. iTunes killed my iPod. Hows that for DEFECTIVE BY DESIGN.

  11. iTunes needs the mp3’s to be tagged in order to properly put them in the library in the proper categories, IE artist, album, genre etc. With Winamps media library when importing music into it it firsts looks for the tag, if it cannot find one then it reads the file name structure and organizes it accordingly to that instead of just putting it in a massive Unknown list. Just another advantage of using a much less resource hog of an mp3 player.

  12. You don’t constantly push you’re equipment, mp3 players inclued, to there breaking point. Everytime I would install iTunes it would bring my windows machine to a complete crawl
    Erm, so you push it to the breaking point … it breaks …& then you complain – what do you expect?

    running iTunes in the background while trying to play Quake, you can just forget it.
    iTunes is not great on windows, I hear this a lot. Despite that, it might be nice to do this – you can’t due to the software being to resource heavy, not working well with windows or whatever the reason. I have the same complaints of many apps, I can’t drag and drop from Word etc etc. If you complain about the job it’s meant to do – fair enough. If you complain because you tried something extra, well – sure it would be nice, but every app can’t run alongside every other app. It’s not a valid reason to say the app doesnt work.
    Incidentally, I just tried iTunes with SimCity4 & had no problem on this G4 Powerbook (1.67Mhz + 1GB ram)

    One of biggest flaw in iTunes is not being able to copy music from your iPod back to your machine.
    I Agree. & to add to that, the big issue with the iPod is that you can’t copy music via drag & drop as a mounted drive. I think you should be able to use the iPod without iTunes at all. Drag MP3’s from your HD on there & play them while you travel. Plus, delete or drag them back off the iPod. This is the real issue.

    Apple upgraded me too for free after my 7th iPod died.
    I have 3 iPods in the house. 3nd Gen, Blue Mini & Video iPod. No probs with any of them. Your 7th replacement sounds extreme to me. I never heard of anyone who went though 7 anythings, never mind iPods. I know roughly 10 people who own Macs, iPods or both & some of them have a prob every so often. A failed HD, a bad pixel on screen – problems happen. I don’t think it’s Apple specific as you are obviously insinuating. Either you’re lying, or you’re stupid. Which is it? Please don’t exaggerate to prove your point, I am happy to listen objectively if you will let me?

  13. The iPod looks good with that engraving, i wished i would have thought of putting something witty on the back of iPod…

  14. Paul, iTunes lack of support for many common audio types is still the main reason I refuse to use it. That and you try importing over 1200GB into iTunes on XP and see how it works for you, completely fails everytime.

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