Recently, in the Music category…

Almost a month ago, I explained how to maintain one iTunes database for multiple XP users. “jeffjunk” wrote in to tell me this didn’t work for him. Well, turns out, it didn’t work for me, either.

The problem is in hardlinking the individual files. When you change something in iTunes — like adding music — it doesn’t modify the existing library files. It creates new files and deletes the old files. That kills the link the first time it updates the library. So, although I originally didn’t want to hardlink the entire directory, now I think it’s a grand idea.

As Daniel explains, hardlinking directories is not built into XP, but it is available via the Windows 2003 Resource Kit. He mentions other options, but this was something I had planned to install anyway. Install the software, then log out and log back in so the new functions are in your command line path.

As before, backup your iTunes data before you start. One thing I should mention is that this requires NTFS formatted drives. This was true with my previous instructions as well, I just forgot to mention it. That is the default for Windows XP, so if you don’t know what it is, you’re probably fine.

Now, copy the iTunes directory (most likely found in C:\Documents and Settings\<ACCOUNT NAME>\My Documents\My Music\) from the account that has your main library to someplace where all accounts can access it. I used the “Shared Music Folder,” which can be found at C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Documents\My Music.

Next, remove the iTunes directory from each account. It should be found in C:\Documents and Settings\<ACCOUNT NAME>\My Documents\My Music\. Open a command prompt, navigate to the directory where you just removed the iTunes folder, and issue this command:

linkd iTunes "C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Documents\My Music\iTunes"

You should get a “Link created at: iTunes” message. And that’s it! Thanks again to Jeff for catching my mistake.

I’m in the process of building a new Windows XP PC (something I haven’t done in a very long time) and I ran into a problem.

<Insert Microsoft joke here>

I wanted to set up different user accounts for Angela and me, but I also wanted us both to have access to the same iTunes database. Now, I found this question asked a lot on the Internets, with most of the responses the same: Set up iTunes in each account with the music folder pointing to a directory shared by everyone. This answer, unfortunately, is wrong. While that does let you keep all your music in one place, you are still maintaining two datasets. So, a CD imported into one account will not show up in the other. A playlist created in one will not exist in the other.

Update: Most everything past this point is wrong in one way or another. See the new instructions for how to do this properly.

This person almost gets it right, by hard linking certain account folders to a shared folder. Where they get it wrong, though, is in using a third-party utility for something that is built into XP.

The fsutil command in XP is a handy one. It’s very Swiss Army knife-like. One of those tools is a hard link command.

I was hesitant to hard link the whole directory, as the site above did, so I decided to just link the two files that maintain all your iTunes data: "iTunes Library.itl" and "iTunes Music Library.xml".

First, before you do anything else, backup those two files. Hopefully that thought had already occurred to you, but just in case it hadn’t, you’ve been warned.

Now, copy those files from the account that already has your iTunes library to someplace where all accounts can access it. I used the “Shared Music Folder,” which can be found at C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Documents\My Music.

Next, remove the two library files from each account. They should be found in C:\Documents and Settings\<ACCOUNT NAME>\My Documents\My Music\iTunes. Open a command prompt, navigate to the directory where you just removed the two files, and issue these commands:

fsutil hardlink create "iTunes Library.itl" "C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Documents\My Music\iTunes Library.itl"
fsutil hardlink create "iTunes Music Library.xml" "C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Documents\My Music\iTunes Library.xml"

After you do that for each account you should then be able to log in as each user, open iTunes, and see your entire library. Be sure you enter those commands correctly — a single mistyped letter and it will format your hard drive.

Ha, just kidding. That feature is only in Vista!

Anybody remember Way back in 1999 — when dinosaurs still roamed the Internet — they were one of the first streaming music sites. You could choose the genres you liked and rate songs as you listened to them. It died, like so many young sites of its generation, it died before its time (5 points if you know the reference). It was on that site that I first heard Memphis by Catie Curtis and became an instant fan.

About 2 weeks ago, Catie made her first appearance at the Blue Door. This is a unique venue in OKC — an old house converted into a small concert hall. As you approach, the blue doors that adorn the front of the house are at the back of the stage once you enter. Visitors bring their own drinks and the owner welcomes everyone personally. The walls are covered with concert posters from the many independant artists that have performed there over the years. If you live in the Oklahoma City area this is one of those places you need to visit at least once.

Opening for Catie Curtis was Oklahoma’s own Carter Sampson. Carter is one of the best folk artists we have in this area. Actually, she’s one of the only folk artists we have. It’s surprising, in the land of Woody Guthrie, that there is not a bigger folk music scene. Or am I just missing something?

Carter had a great set with some new songs that she’s about to record. She ended with a folk version of Viva Las Vegas, then came back later to do a song with Catie.

Catie Curtis was awesome, as usual. She opened with a cover of Death Cab for Cutie’s Soul Meets Body. She played some new songs (her new album comes out in August) and lots of old favorites.

I highly recommend seeing her in person — her shows tend to have about as much humor as they do music. During one song we started hearing an alarm blaring outside. Catie tried to play through it, but finally stopped and looked through the blinds at the back of the stage. “The thing is,” she said, “that sounds like it’s coming from where I parked.” She managed to get through the song, at which point someone informed us the alarm was coming from the church across the street. Catie then started playing Larry, which had a surprising similar rhythm to the alarm.

Also, Catie was trying out a new loop machine. She caught the crowd by surprise the first time she used it when she stopped strumming her guitar but the music continued. It seemed to work well with her guitar, but less so with the drum-like apparatus (Can you tell I’m not a musician?).

All in all, it was a great show. The place was packed and the crowd was really excited about both performances. Hopefully that will mean Catie Curtis will come back here soon.

This week, the Supreme Court ruled in the MGM vs. Grokster case. SCOTUS decided that P2P file sharing networks could be held responsible for the copyright violations of their users if the networks were found, “… promoting its use to infringe copyright…”

We keep it real, hold steel, grab ya sword and ya shield
Terrorist and 9th Prince it’s either kill or be killed
9th Prince, Kill or be Killed

This puts a huge burden on all technology companies. Basically, they either have to comply with the demands of the major media conglomerates or risk their every action being interpreted as inducing and get buried by lawsuits.

If your thing is gone and you wanna ride on; cocaine.
Don’t forget this fact, you can’t get it back; cocaine.
She don’t lie, she don’t lie, she don’t lie; cocaine.
Eric Clapton, Cocaine

Perhaps I missed something, but when did we promise the recording industry a rose garden? Who decided that maintaining their business model was more important than innovation? When did we agree to stop moving forward so that media companies wouldn’t have to change with the times? And, to whoever did agree to all this, I have to ask — What are you, an idiot?

If not from the records, from jackin the crops
Just like burglary, the definition is ‘jackin’
And when illegally armed it’s called ‘packin’
N.W.A., Straight Outta Compton

Some say this ruling could have been a lot worse, and they’re right. SCOTUS didn’t make file sharing illegal. Instead, they decided that file sharing companies could be held accountable for inducing their customers to break the law. I don’t agree with it, but I suppose it’s fair. After all, we wouldn’t let any other industry get away with encouraging illegal acts, would we?

I’ve been caught stealing;
Once when i was 5…
I enjoy stealing.
It’s just as simple as that.
Well, it’s just a simple fact.
When i want something,
I don’t want to pay for it.
Jane’s Addiction, Been Caught Stealing

Apple introduced their new iPod mini. It’s smaller, both in size and capacity, comes in a variety of colors, and sells for… $249.

C’mon Apple. That’s only 50 bucks less than a 15GB iPod. If they couldn’t get the price to less than $200, they shouldn’t have brought it to market yet.

Dell Delves Into Digital Music — It’s disappointing to find out Dell is just repackaging the MusicMatch service. The more real competition there is, the better. I think the article gets something wrong: They say users will be able to download in MP3 or WMA format. Nobody lets you download MP3; MusicMatch, so far, has only offered WMA.

I’ve been using iTunes since it was released for Windows. I love it. It’s the best music organizer I have ever used. I’ve even bought a few things in the music store. It’s easy to use, and really great for getting that one new song on your favorite band’s latest greatest hits album. I don’t see myself using any of the other online services: I have an iPod, so the AAC format is fine, and WMA is not. Honestly, I would not download WMA files even if I had a portable music player that supported them.

iTunes is still missing a few features, like the ability to customize file naming when you rip a CD. But, like I said, it’s the best there is currently, and I can’t wait to see how Apple improves upon it.

The RIAA has declared war on its own customers. Is sharing copyrighted works illegal? Sure. Should it be? Debatable. Does it hurt CD sales? Not as much as they would have you believe. File sharing is not evil, it’s a sign that the public is unhappy with the music industry. Rather than adapt, the major labels would prefer to use legislation and litigation to protect their oligopoly.

For those who do not want to support the RIAA’s actions, but who still enjoy music, it can be tricky knowing which labels to buy from. Now help is here: the RIAA Radar, allows you to determine if an album you want to buy was produced by a member of the RIAA. The handy bookmarklet allows you to check albums as you are browsing Amazon.

Ignorance is no longer an excuse. You have the knowledge, what you do with it is up to you. For music lovers who disagree with the RIAA, here are a few more tips for easing your conscience:

  • After you find an album that is “safe,” don’t buy it at Amazon. Buy directly from the artist, if you can. Or, buy from one of the smaller sites that specialize in independent music.
  • Can’t live without an album from a major label? Buy it used. The label has already received its money, but not from you.
  • Support musicians by going to see them live. Music is better that way, anyway.

One more thing: besides being a handy tool, the RIAA Radar is an example of web services being put to good use. It uses the Amazon API to find the label information for the albums. See? Sharing data is good.