I’m not sure whether you’ve all watched the brilliant BBC (ironically produced by ITV Studios) comedy, Cradle to Grave, based on Danny Baker’s autobiography “Going to Sea in a Sieve“. It’s brilliant and one of the best comedies I’ve recently watched (along with Emma Kennedy’s The Kennedys).
But I’m somewhat taken aback that despite the show being shot in HD, there’s no Blu-Ray! Just a bog standard definition DVD.
In this day of HD and Ultra HD formats, it’s almost unforgivable that a popular TV show is given a DVD only treatment. Usually when a TV show or film is release for the home video market, both formats are released simultaneously. Perhaps the BBC/ITV Studios are planning a later Blu-Ray release, but split distribution dates for different formats is very rare. It’s an all or nothing approach.
As a sidenote: I still don’t understand Sky’s Buy It and Keep service. You buy the film in HD, and it’s downloaded to your Sky+ box in HD “forever” (or until you leave Sky, after which you’re snookered), and you get a copy of the DVD through the post. You’ve bought the HD digital Sky DRMed-to-the-hilt copy, but you get a standard definition DVD? No thanks. Never going to use such a service until HD on the Sky box, HD in physical format.
I won’t be buying the DVD despite thoroughly enjoying the series. I’ll wait until I know something about the Blu-Ray release, or I’ll just have to buy the series on some non-physical format. It’s available via iTunes for £11.99 in HD, for example. I would, still nevertheless, prefer a physical copy.
But I do recommend to those people that enjoyed the TV series to buy the book (available in all good physical and digital formats). You will be laughing like a loon. I certainly am (and as such have already bought the follow-up book).
I’ve gone back to Apple Music. Apple appears to have done quite a decent job of fixing everything that was plaguing this service. With the recent release of iTunes 18.104.22.168, everything works beautifully. More info here.
Updates (3rd May 2016)
With more and more albums missing tracks (last straw was a soundtrack album with ONE available track out of 14 unavailable), more server errors, and general PITA bugs, Apple Music is dead to me. I’ve gone back to Spotify and am using STAMP Premium to convert playlists.
Updates (8th March 2016)
Apple Music/iTunes Match continues to bugger about with metadata. I have half-complete albums from Apple Music with different artwork and tracks that are no longer available. Manually uploaded/ripped albums have had their cover art changed DESPITE me manually setting it.
Or if you have one track – let’s say the Mad Men soundtrack in which the show’s title track, R2J2’s A Beautiful Mine – isn’t available for whatever reason, but you if search, you can obtain the official album from which it comes from along with the missing track (in this case, Magnificent City Instrumentals). With Spotify, if the track isn’t licensed for that album, it’ll make it available from an album that is available – thus you have the full album. A kind of deduplication, as it were.
Updates (latest 9th December)
iOS 9.2 released. UI is certainly an improvement, but Apple Music still suffers from “split album” syndrome in which for some inexplicable reason, tracks shared across multiple albums (regardless of whether you own/rent them or not) are split into their own separate albums. This is a Apple Music backend issue which has been persistent since launch (and a bloody annoying one).
Search is broken with iTunes (but fine with iOS). Just the spinning wheel of doom if you try to drill down songs or albums. Apparently this has been acknowledged by Apple according to this forum post. (UPDATE: Fixed, at least for me, since the 18th)
Updates (latest 22nd October)
The most annoying thing right now is if you’re in album mode (iTunes 12.3.1), have recent albums shown, and play more than one track within an album – the focus brings you right back to the top of the albums list – taking you completely out of the album you were listening to.
Updates (latest 18th September)
iOS 9 update appears to kick streaming music into gear – feels a little faster between selecting a track and hearing it.
iTunes 12.3 seems to bring a bit more stability. One improvement I’ve noticed is that I’ve been able to download previously hidden purchases. It was, until recently, as stubborn as a mule.
Updates (latest 1st September)
Tim Burton’s Batman Original Motion Picture Score has changed to 75th Years of Marvel and soundtrack order has been re-arranged. Batman Returns score remains untouched. Under iOS, a TV theme album was suddenly split into lots and lots of separate titles.
Apple Music under iOS 8.4.1 has started playing silly buggers. Try to stream non-offline content and you’ll be asked to join Apple Music. But I’ve already subscribed! Rebooting the device seems to fix this for a while. Apparently this is a “known issue”. Offline content seems to be unaffected.
Updates (latest 26th August)
Apple Music is, more or less, playing much more nicely now. I have found that there are some problems with using other devices (namely my work Mac and my iPhone) syncing properly. To resolve this involves either rebooting the iPhone or turning off iCloud Music Library (on the iPhone this is bad – you’ll lose offline music) and turning it back on again.
I now have over 75Gb of Apple Music content stored offline on my home Mac, around 20Gb on my iPhone 6, and about 10Gb on my work Mac.
Updates (latest 19th August)
The iCloud Music Library unavailable status is becoming more regular now, preventing me from downloading purchased music (which is the biggest frustration of all – if I buy from an iOS device, I have to wait until the status clears before I can download to my Macs)
Despite my overall disappointment in Apple Music, when it works – it works extremely well. Therefore, I’m going to subscribe despite all these problems.
Updates (latest 16th August)
Unfortunately, we’ve gone back to being able to use Apple Music for about 5-10 minutes before getting the “iCloud Music Library is unavailable message” and not being able to do anything for up to three hours.
Have found that when using iOS version of Apple Music during the “iCloud Music Library is unavailable” error in iTunes can cause sync problems when iTunes does reconnect to the iCloud Music Library. You then have to add albums/tracks manually in iTunes.
And there’s this:
The artwork on iTunes is now screwing up quite regularly. The following is from the Minions Original Soundtrack (yeah, don’t ask):
Updates (latest 15th August)
I’ve been using Apple Music with iTunes and iOS today for 4 hours straight without any “iCloud Music Library is unavailable” error messages. I’ve been able to download a fair number of albums for offline use with just a few download errors – and even then, the tracks that failed to download the first time were subsequently downloaded by clicking the refresh button. Let’s hope this is a sign that things are improving!
There is, however, still a problem with hidden music. I’m struggling to download music that was hidden (which I think happened at one point whereby I nuked my iTunes library in the process to trying to get Apple Music working). Clicking either “Unhide All” or individual albums or songs only seems to release some music (which you can download through the iTunes Store -> Purchased link). Some tracks I’ve been trying to unhide for a couple of weeks to no avail.
Updates (latest 13th August)
Apple has just released OS X 10.10.5, iTunes 22.214.171.124 and iOS 8.4.1 which fixes a few Apple Music related bugs. It still isn’t good enough, however.
The good news: the complete album problem looks to be fixed. If you have a few tracks from an album (whether purchased from iTunes or uploaded via iTunes Match/Apple Music from other sources), you can now add all the tracks from the album from Apple Music without having to delete your original purchased/uploaded music. It bloody works! Hoorah!
More good news: Apple looks to have fixed the issue where it was splitting albums into sub-albums. It appears to have happened whenever a track in a compilation album appears elsewhere.
The bad news: Some artwork has been mixed up. iTunes 126.96.36.199 is still laggy (even on a 2014 MacBook Pro Retina) – laggy enough that if you’re downloading tracks and are attempting to add tracks from Apple Music to an existing album, you end up adding the same tracks over and over again – creating duplicates.
Even worse news: Apple still has not fixed the bloody “iCloud Music is unavailable” problem whereby iCloud Music Library goes away for a few hours. During this time, you can’t add or download music from Apple Music or the iTunes store (including already purchased tracks). It appears to be a server-side issue.
Despite resetting my iCloud Music Library completely (since I’m a former – and present – iTunes Match subscriber), the bloody thing STILL misidentifies tracks in the iCloud Music Library. iTunes remains convinced that a Gilbert & Sullivan collection I added in Apple Music is “matched” rather than belonging to Apple Music.
Can I only reset the iCloud Music Library once? The option to try and reset my iCloud Music Library has vanished from my iTunes
Updates (latest 23rd July):
Good (well, it’s not good, but you know what I mean) to see somebody else experience the pain in the AaaS (Apple As AService – pronounced “ass” or “arse”) that is Apple Music. Apple Music is a nightmare (Jim Dalrymple).
An IP belonging to Apple has visited this blog post over the past few days. I hope they’re paying attention. If it turns out that it’s somebody browsing in an Apple Store, I’ll be quite disappointed.
After iTunes 188.8.131.52’s release, I tried removing all content from all iOS devices and trashed my iTunes folder on my Mac, deleting everything in my Music directory on my Mac.
After nuking iTunes, I downloaded all previous iTunes purchases and imported everything else I had purchased from outside of iTunes. I then reset my iCloud Music Library through iTunes -> Account -> View Account menu to ensure that any content is flagged up correctly by iCloud.
But it’s all still very, very buggy. Even doing everything above, downloading any reasonable number of songs or albums will lead to the dreaded Unavailable iCloud Music Library error, and you can’t do anything for several hours. It’s had the additional effect of not being unable to download anything on iOS which, when iCloud Music Library comes back, requires me to reboot my iPhone to get the downloads to work – it’ll be stuck indefinitely otherwise.
There are still issues where iTunes or the iOS music player wants to split “albums” into separate sub-albums. Plus there is another bug that, to see a complete Apple Music album where you have one or more tracks you’ve purchased individually, you have to delete the purchased tracks to make way for the Apple Music ones. It also means having to remove the album too and re-add it.
In short: Apple Music is a poorly designed, bug-ridden pile of crap that should never have been released this early. It feels like a rush job.
If iTunes 12.2 is not in focus, and you’re using a web browser (any will do) while music is playing, you’ll experience substantial stuttering during music playback until iTunes is back in focus.
Things seem to be settling down iCloud Music Library connection wise in iTunes, but there are still many “Waiting” iCloud Library statuses and tracks cannot be played. To further confuse matters, some tracks ARE playable but still have the “Waiting” status.
Licensing of tracks is horribly inconsistent and poorly implemented. Take the Vikings TV series original soundtrack (series 1). The title track by Fever Ray (“If I Had a Heart”) is not available on the soundtrack, but it exists within Fever Ray’s album and as a single on Apple Music. But you can’t access it within the Apple Music’s Vikings track listing at all EVEN if you’d added Fever Ray’s album to your Apple Music collection (offline or not). It’ll show as being greyed out and unplayable. So Apple Music can’t scan its entire catalogue to make tracks available to an existing album if the whole album isn’t licensed.
It’s brave that a company the size of Apple, with the resources it has available to it, that it can release a fresh new music streaming service to over 100 countries simultaneously. That, in addition to releasing new updates to two operating systems and various other product updates.
For me, updating to iOS 8.4 went remarkably smoothly. Signing up to Apple Music likewise. But in practice, the service cannot match that of existing services such as Spotify or Deezer, who have had time to refine their catalogue and applications. To say the iOS version of Apple Music is hideous is an understatement. The screens are cluttered, and the submenu that allows to you to do various bits and bobs is far too unwieldy to be practical.
As for Apple Music’s catalogue – so much is missing from my Spotify playlists I’m wondering what the hell happened with those high-level discussions Apple had with the various record companies. On the other hand, there is stuff in the Apple Music catalogue that’s not available on Spotify. To compare, Apple Music has a much better contemporary selection, but its back catalogue is far too spotty in comparison with more established services. It may change, of course, but for the time being if you’re hoping to match like-for-like with your Spotify playlists, you’re going to be disappointed.
Searching for content on Apple Music is straight forward enough, but suffers from the iTunes Store search problem I keep experiencing in that you have to be very specific otherwise you’ll end up with weird results. Usually, the first couple of words followed by the artist should match pretty well.
A big frustration with Apple Music is that you can’t create playlists on the fly. You have to create them beforehand prior to adding tracks to them. It is an issue that’s replicated within iTunes 12.2 as well (but more on that later). You can seemingly nest playlists, but there’s a whole bunch of fiddling to do first. It’s an enormous PITA.
Downloading Apple Music offline in iOS is relatively straightforward – but you must remember to do this after adding the tracks (or go straight to “Download for offline use”). Adding the album or tracks and not doing this later will result in a frustrating experience thanks to the clunky interface.
Apple released iTunes 12.2 much later than planned, and while it’s an improvement on 12.1.2, using Apple Music with it is one of the most frustrating experiences imaginable and does not come close to that of Spotify’s app. Whether it’s iTunes Match interfering with Apple Music or not, or whether it’s Apple’s servers going doolally, or some other issue I’m not aware of, accessing the iCloud Music Library consistently fails.
The cloud symbol that indicates iTunes is “unable to connect to your iCloud Music Library”. It does this frequently. You can be adding albums or tracks and then suddenly the cloud symbol above pops up. It often fails to vanish for many hours. Some say it has something to do with an existing iTunes Match subscription, but who the hell knows. All I know is that Apple clearly haven’t done enough Q&A on this service to have it fixed in time for launch. I’ve submitted a ticket to Apple Support about this because there’s bugger all information on the Apple service status page about any issues with iCloud Music.
Note: This connection bug only seems to affect iTunes 12.2 on the desktop – the iOS client appears to be largely unaffected by it, but it’s difficult to tell due for sure to lack of decent UI feedback under iOS.
The following demonstrates the many statuses of iCloud files in your new, improved (read: bloody mangled) iTunes library (read: cesspit). Click each image to expand.
Managing tracks, when Apple Music/iCloud Music Library is rarely working, is a much nicer experience than the iOS client, but there are many times in which iTunes feels very sluggish and unresponsive – even streaming directly from Apple’s servers.
Apple Music has potential, but it’s technical shortcomings are highly apparent and feels like the service is an afterthought rather than a carefully crafted service with a decent user experience in mind. It comes nowhere the quality or capability of Spotify, Deezer et al. other than the Beats 1 radio show that is rather nifty. That’s where Apple Music shines – but for everything else, it’s bloody awful. It feels as if Apple doesn’t care at all for the user experience. You and I know that’s not true, of course, but you’d be hard pushed to see that when using Apple Music across iOS and Mac devices.
Thank goodness Apple gives everybody three month’s free trial. But is it a trial or unpaid beta testing? I’m edging towards the latter.
I strongly urge those considering moving from other services to stick with what you have for the time being – you’ll get a far better experience both technically and in back catalogue titles. Apple will, hopefully, fix the technical gremlins that currently plague the service – but I dread to think how long this will take and how many different software iterations we’ll have to go through to get there. Hopefully, it’ll be less than three months.
I’m going to try and persevere with it, because with a bit of love and polish, Apple Music COULD be a worthy competitor. But at the moment, it’s like watching a bunch of clowns honking their way through the “cloud” (weather warning: adverse weather conditions for the next few weeks) in their clown cars scrambling to fix stuff that should have been fixed way before the public launch.
AaaS (pronounced “ass” or “arse”) – Apple As AService needs some serious work if it’s to be taken seriously by the public.
15th July:Now that the series has finished in the UK, I’ll be providing a comprehensive review that incorporates a look at the iTunes/Google Play and Blu-Ray releases. Stay tuned for more information (or look at my JS&MNor Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell categories).
1st episode begins on Sunday 17th May, 9pm – BBC One
American viewers can watch from June 13th via BBC America
BFI Q&A video
BFI has finally re-instated their video featuring the April 13th Q&A session with Marc Warren, Bertie Carvel, Peter Harness, Nick Hirschkorn and Toby Haynes.
Exclusive YouTube clip from episode 1
24th April – in lieu of BFI’s decision to make the Q&A video private, I strongly recommend people head over to this article by vickster51 who sums on the Q&A session beautifully (including audience questions) as well as their own view on the preview. (UPDATE: the video’s back – see above)
I’ve been waiting ten years to see this happen, following the adaptation from its origins at New Line (optioned twice), then at Amber Entertainment (formed by former New Line execs that originally optioned JS&MN), then back to Cuba Pictures – the film/TV division of Curtis Brown, Susanna’s literary agents.
During the time JS&MN was briefly a film (at least in principal), it went through two Oscar winning screenwriters (and countless many drafts) before Peter Harness finally came on board and cracked the code that had defeated everyone else.
So now I’ve seen the first two episodes at the recent BFI screening, well, I can honestly say – hand on heart – that this is one of the finest television dramas I’ve ever had the privilege of watching. It sits right up there amongst Breaking Bad and Fargo – two of the very best television series I’ve clapped my peepers on (I’m excluding Game of Thrones because, quite frankly, it’s getting far too complacent and far too effects heavy – I absolutely see it heading towards virtual sets & general silliness which, as an ex-VFX person, drives me nuts – a story can be visual and gorgeous, yes, but is nothing without substance – whereas something like JS&MN strikes exactly the right balance, and the folks behind it know this).
So Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, to me at least, is significantly more than just “good”.
While we only got to see the first two episodes of the forthcoming BBC adaptation of Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, it was enough to tell me that what I saw is a faithful adaptation of the book. But one must always remember with these things is that this isn’t the book. You can’t put a book through a television shaped hole.
This is a television series based on the book. So bits do get left out (footnotes mainly), turned around, new bits added and so on.
For people that claim the book is slow, you’re going to find this adaptation kicks things into gear. Trust me, Peter has managed to put things in order to get the story pootling along a fair old pace.
You’ll still need 7 episodes to get everything (that’s important) across, but even so, better 7 episodes than 32 (which is how long Simon Prebble takes, in hours, to read the novel).
Multi-episodic television was always going to be the best medium to present this epic 800 page turner of a book visually. Peter Harness has achieved the impossible – a magical transformation in itself – in conveying everything that we (should) love about the story into seven one-hour long episodes.
I won’t go into any detail of the episodes themselves. I’ll just say that the performances are some of the best I’ve ever seen. Eddie Marsan and Bertie Carvel, in the leads, work wonderfully well. Special mention goes to Charlotte Riley as Arabella Strange – she and Bertie work so well together. It’s so natural and fantastic. Paul Kaye as Vinculus is a stand out performance – manic, frightening, menacing. Enzo Cilenti as Childermass is commanding. Ariyon Bakare’s Stephen Black is enchanting. Samuel West as Sir Walter Pole is cast perfectly, as is Alice Englert, Pole’s poorly wife who is brought back from the brink of death by a malingering faerie.
The said malingerer, Marc Warren as The Gentleman With The Thistledown Hair, is absolutely spot on in my eyes. He brings a considerable amount of menace (bloody hell – that STARE), plotting and mischievous to the character that few else could do. I’m sure it was just the cinema’s air conditioning, but felt blasts of cold air whenever The Gentleman was on screen.
There are so many other supporting characters and actors I could mention, but I end up waffling. Just know that everyone that appears in this TV series is nothing short of fantastic and it is a credit to them and the rest of the crew (including Toby Haynes the director, and Nick Hirschkorn the producer), that their love and care of the story has come through in the finalised episodes.
Peter (Harness) tells me that there is something that I’ll appreciate in episode seven. He won’t tell me what, so I’ll just have to wait and see. As for when the episodes will air – that’s still unconfirmed other than it’ll be May.
In summary: it is as close to perfect as you’re going to get.
BTW, I’m not sure whether this was deliberate or not – but my mind started racing when Honeyfoot & Segundus’ coach went through the hole in the wall surrounding Norrell’s Hurtfew Abbey. In Neil Gaiman’s Stardust, there is a wall in which, once crossed, leads to a magical realm full of magic and mysterious creatures. And Susanna Clarke DID write a story set in Wall that featured the Duke of Wellington..
Bloomsbury Publishing was very kindly giving away free copies of Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell at the screening. This special TV tie-in features a new preface by Susanna Clarke, written late last year which details some of her experiences of watching characters she created come to get life in front of her eyes.
.. otherwise you’ll end up having to boot into recovery mode, delete Core Storage volumes, format the SSD, re-install OS X, restore everything from Time Machine backup (see my article on clearing away Core Storage volumes – originally written in 2011).
that affects anybody enabling FileVault during the initial set-up of OS X whether it be an upgrade from OS X Mavericks, a brand new machine, or a re-install of OS X.
Enabling FileVault during the set-up process can seemingly lead to the disk never finishing the initial encryption phase. It’ll be stuck in “paused” mode forever more. Some have said that leaving the machine online for 24 hours will fix it. Some have attempted PRAM, SMC and disk repairs.
But there is only one way to get things moving along: nuking the current OS X Yosemite installation, re-install OS X again, but DON’T enable FileVault during the initial set-up screens. Instead wait to get to the desktop, open System Preferences -> Security & Privacy -> FileVault and enable it there.
Some of the information in this article may be out of date now that OS X Yosemite is the current version of OS X (although I have just experienced an enormous amount of pain with a new Mac shipping with Yosemite – there are STILL problems with FileVault/Core Storage).
There appears to be an issue with the Disk Utility that comes bundled with the Mountain Lion recovery/installation system.
If you are looking to do a completely clean Mountain Lion install, and already have an encrypted filesystem created by FileVault from OS X Lion – you may encounter the following problem when attempting to erase or delete it through Disk Utility. I have been able to reproduce this across two machines now (an early 2011 17″ MacBook Pro and a mid-2011 21″ iMac).
Once you’ve booted from the USB drive and fired up Disk Utility – if you delete the encrypted volume, you’ll find you’ll come across this message:
Disk Encryption Failed
Disk encryption failed with the error
There is not enough free space in the Core Storage logical volume Group for this operation.
You cannot do anything at all with the boot volume – you cannot create a new partition, you cannot install, you are snookered.
However, don’t panic! Just quit Disk Utility, go to the Utilities menu and fire up Terminal. Then issue the command:
diskutil cs list
which gives you a list of logical CoreStorage volumes (and a physical volume as well – but ignore that). Copy the long UUID string of the logical volume. Now type:
diskutil cs delete UUID
where UUID is that long string of characters. During the process, the text-based progress bar appears for a bit before the confirmation that the volume’s deleted. The whole process looks like this:
You can then quit Terminal, fire up Disk Utility, partition to your heart’s content and then finally install a fresh, clean Mountain Lion from scratch. Hoorah.