Thoughts

Why are we still syncing in iTunes?

What I have to talk about has to do with these two apps, which are closely related and happen to sit right next to each other in my Apps folder: iSync and iTunes. We could call it part 2 in a series of posts where I look at things that don’t sit right with Apple computers (here’s part one). I don’t intend to become a critic of Apple, but I think it only right to point things out when they don’t make sense.

I’ve always been bothered by the fact that the syncing of our devices (iPods, iPhones, iPads) takes place in iTunes and not in an application dedicated to the syncing of external devices, designed from the start for this purpose, like iSync.

Perhaps at the get-go, when the iPod had just gotten released, and there was only music on it, it made sense to tie it into iTunes. But now, when most iPods do a lot more, like sync contacts, calendars, TV shows, movies and apps like video games and more, why are we still syncing in iTunes? It makes no sense to shoehorn all those syncing functions into an app designed for the organization and playback of our music.

While I’m on the subject, why is it still called iTunes? It also organizes and plays podcasts, TV shows, movies and books. Shouldn’t it be renamed to something like iMedia? (Disclaimer: I haven’t given a lot of thought to the new name, but I know iTunes doesn’t quite fit anymore.)

Back to iSync — doesn’t it make much more sense to sync devices in it? Shouldn’t it be the go-to-app for all our devices? Shouldn’t it sit prominently in the dock, and be the button we click when we connect a device, whether it be through USB or through WiFi?

It’d be a fairly easy task for Apple to take the whole syncing process out of iTunes and place it within iSync. Then, we’d see something like this when we opened iSync.

Instead, what Apple did with the new OS X version, Lion, was to take iSync out entirely. I had to go back through my Time Machine backups in order to resurrect it and restore it to my Apps folder. Their move makes no sense whatsoever!

I’d like to issue a challenge to Apple: bring back iSync, properly re-written as a syncing app for all Apple devices, and slim down iTunes — also, rename it to something more appropriate that reflects the many media files it can handle these days.

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Thoughts

Why are challenges a challenge?

I suppose they wouldn’t be called challenges otherwise, right? So how do we tackle them? What makes them so… challenging? Methinks it has to do with the things I’m about to write. They’re not groundbreaking, and I don’t think they’re new, but they’re worth stating.

First, we should remember that our attitude determines our altitude. Don’t know who said this, but it holds true here. How we perceive a challenge, whatever it might be, determines how we deal with it. Is it insurmountable? Do we think it is? Then we’ll cower before it and procrastinate till we absolutely can’t procrastinate anymore. And then, we’ll put out a mediocre, last-minute, so-called solution to the challenge that faced us. We’ll hope it’s good enough, and keep our heads low so we don’t meet with such challenges again. Or worse, we’ll give up. We’ll avoid it. We’ll call it quits.

Or do we find it an easy task? Great, then we’ll get right to work on it, till we get stuck, and all of a sudden, that small challenge starts growing before our eyes. The more stuck we get at whatever phase we are in our progress, the more scary the challenge becomes. If there’s a deadline looming, things get worse. All of a sudden, it’s insurmountable. It’s there that we face a choice. Do we move forward and get over that obstacle, or do we do what I outlined in the paragraph above? Most people opt for the “so-called solution”. Of course, others move right past that obstacle. They find a way, and they complete what they set out to do. We call them winners. I suppose we could call the others wieners, at the expense of offending them…

So what is it that separates the winner from the wiener? (I love saying that…) I don’t think it’s just innate ability, although that plays a part. The thing is, all of us have different gifts, and while we may be great at some things, we’re not so good at others. So what stumps us may be a piece of cake for the next fellow. What’s more, that means that we’ve all been winners AND wieners, so there’s no reason for anyone to feel offended. I think we can all think of times when we met with success, and times when we failed… or we put out the “so-called solution” and got by, but felt we could have done much better. I think what separates us is the ability (and this is not innate, but learned) to step back and look at things in a different light when we’re faced with an obstacle. It doesn’t mean we’ll necessarily come up with the solution, but it means we’ll give it another go, with a different mindset. It may mean we call for help, or we try a different method, or we go back to the drawing board — the specifics of what we do are different for each challenge. The point is, we don’t quit, we persevere.

What also helps is breaking down each challenge into bite-sized morsels. I actually can’t stress this enough, because it goes back to what I wrote in the second paragraph above. This directly affects our attitude, which then all but determines our success. I’ve found time and time again that if we take the time to plan something carefully and break it down into small steps, while that challenge may be huge, it becomes achievable and much less intimidating. I wrote “morsels” before because each step should feel like a small achievement, a victory, a reward that we can give ourselves. Feel free to do a little dance if you wish when you achieve a step in the process. Marking progress encourages us to push forward. I think it’s called a positive feedback loop.

It’s funny that no matter how intellectually advanced humans are (okay, that point may be a little debatable when we consider humanity as a whole…) we are motivated in the same way as animals. We give a hamster a morsel of food repeatedly after performing a certain action, and he’ll keep doing that action in the hope of getting more food. Pavlov’s dog is another example of this. Sure, we don’t usually strive to achieve goals for food — we do it for a sense of accomplishment, success, pride, vanity, lust, money, power, sex, things, and sometimes, food… but it still works the same, and that’s funny to me.

The next time you are faced with a challenge, remember, don’t be a wiener, be a winner. Break it down into small, achievable steps. Find out what motivates you (hopefully it isn’t something bad) and feed that motivation with little morsels of success. Get help when you’re stuck, or look at it in a different light. Above all, don’t give up, keep at it, and before long, you’ll find you’ve overcome it.

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