Killing iTunes, dying PCs, and missing email
Bob's Tech Talk
July 1, 2019
Q. A few weeks ago I read that Apple was killing iTunes. How will I load music onto my iPod?
A. In early June there was a flood of dire sounding news about the end of iTunes. Let me put some of the more alarmist implications to rest.
Apple is replacing iTunes with several applications. However, the iTunes app you have now will continue to work.
iTunes is a very old app. By splitting the tasks it does into smaller pieces, the experience should be better for everyone. In the meantime, the current version of iTunes will continue to support users until they migrate to the new apps.
Next time I will cover this story in more depth, including the differences between the Mac and Windows platforms.
Q. As a longtime PC user, I’m frustrated at how the tech world is obsessed with smartphones. Are PCs a dying breed?
A. There are 5.3 billion people over the age of 15 on this planet, 5 billion of them own a cell phone, of which 4 billion are smartphones. That staggering statistic bears repeating: Four billion smartphones. Three-quarters of the people on this planet.
In the entire history of technology, no product has grown faster or gone farther than the smartphone. It has replaced entire categories of tech gear. Consider the old Radio Shack catalog: nearly every product in there is a job now performed by a smartphone. They have simply conquered the world, and they will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.
Oddly enough, there are more “traditional” laptop and desktop computers in use now than ever before. The difference is that until recently, the leading edge of personal computing was performed on PCs. Now, personal computing includes a broad spectrum of devices, from classic desktop towers to micro-sized devices.
No, PCs are not dying, but the significant new developments occur on smartphones first, and I think that trend will continue.
Nevertheless, you can still find a dedicated community of PC enthusiasts online at sites like tomshardware.com.
Q. I accidentally blocked incoming mail from a particular site, and cannot reverse that action. Can you help?
A. This is a great question because it represents the kind of problem computer users encounter every day. Something is broken, frustration abounds, but the details are vague. We know what is not working, but why remains a mystery.
Here is how I would work it out.
There are two challenges inside every problem: the broken part and the repair. Addressing both at the same time makes everything harder. I spend a lot of time defining the broken part.
I want to know what the unwanted behavior looks like. In this case, it sounds like an expected message does not arrive.
What is the name of my email program? Was the message sent? Was it sent to the correct address? Is the inbox accepting other messages? Is there something unique about the missing message that could affect delivery? Is the message too big? Does the message end up in a junk folder?
My goal is to fill in as many details as possible, to dig into each step until I understand how everything fits together.
This might seem needlessly complex, but the extra work pays off because the details lead me in the right direction.
Now I have less repair work to do. I know the name of my email program, and I know the message is going into a junk folder. I can search Google for instructions to tell my email program that a certain message is not junk mail.
In the three decades I have been fixing computer issues, the one big lesson I have learned is that taking extra time to examine the broken part from all possible angles usually pays off. And on those occasions when I am still stuck, I can offer a lot more information when I seek help from someone else.
Wander the Web
Here are my picks for worthwhile browsing this month:
Our World in Data
This blog is one of the best websites in the world. As a tool to understand the world, it has no equal. When the daily headlines get me down, this is where I remind myself how much humanity has improved, and what the real challenges are that lie ahead.
If you are looking for a fresh, creative idea on just about any topic, search Pinterest. It is the world’s largest illustrated notebook. Think of it as a scrapbook with billions of clippings.
Exploring the World of E-Ink
This 20-minute video will teach you everything you ever wanted to know about e-Ink, a screen technology used in devices like the Amazon Kindle.
A tech enthusiast his entire life, Bob can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.