Friday, October 28, 2011

TNM maintenance time: clearing out the garage

Every once in a while things go really, really, terribly wrong with my iPad, iPhone or iTunes. Actually, that's not fair, nothing ever seems to go wrong with my iPhone, but the others? Oh boy.

Today was one of those days: iTunes simply will not check for app updates.

For most of you this would be a simple annoyance that could be solved by doing your updates from your device. But I have literally hundreds and hundreds of apps inside iTunes, most of which are not on my devices. They are there so that when a newspaper or magazine issues an update I know about it. It's hard to get a media app update past me.

But sometimes something goes terribly wrong. Based on my research it appears that every once in a while an app update is bad, or an app gets corrupted somehow. Then iTunes simply won't check for updates. It is very annoying.

The solution is apparently to delete the offending app. But what if you have tons of apps?

So the solution for me, today, on a Friday, is spring cleaning – or fall cleaning, if you will. Get rid of everything. Delete all the apps, kill 'em off, send them into the Mac trash and laugh like an evil jester when you hear the swooshing sound when you empty the trash.

What you are left with is, well, nothing. But your iPad sure works great now!

Sure, it is a pain to re-download all those apps, but Apple let's you do this with no charge. But the big advantage is that you will forget to download a lot of apps simply because you don't use them anyway. They sat there on your tablet gathering dust – well, maybe not dust, but you get the idea – and now they are gone forever.

So, what should I reload back onto my iPad? All those entertainment apps like Netflix, that's for sure. But what about newspaper and magazine apps? Should I really waste space by reloading the NYT? Great news organization, for sure, but are they really serious about the new digital platforms? I have to admit that I really don't think they are. The Guardian? Definitely.

And on it goes. Thank goodness I kind of get a kick out of this.

The problem I really see is that this is still necessary. No tech company seems to want to make things as easy and transparent as Apple does, yet this still happens. If my iTunes can become un usable like this, what would it be like using iCloud? I shutter to think about it.

The reality still is that digital remains more fragile than paper, digital storage less secure than the corner filing cabinet. The situation is improving, but it challenge of reliable digital performance has yet to be met.