Smart Playlists Just Got Dumber

I mentioned recently how handy it can be to create complex “Smart Playlists” in iTunes. Suppose you want to make a smart play list like this one:

iTunes offers boolean logic for constructing Smart Playlists.

It says the songs in this new playlist have to be “My Non Dogs.” (My Non-dogs is another playlist that includes songs that are either unrated or rated 3 stars or above.) But besides not being dogs, this playlist’s songs also need to be performed either by David Byrne or by the Talking Heads. In other words, iTunes gives us a friendly way to construct a query using boolean algebra.

Prior to iTunes 10.4, that was easy enough. There were little buttons at the end of the pane. A ‘-‘ button deletes the rule; a ‘+’ button adds a new rule; a ‘…’ button makes a rule with multiple conditions, as above:

iTune's old '...' buttons

The problem is that iTunes 10.4 got rid of the ‘…’ buttons:

iTunes 10.4 no longer has '...' buttons.

Smart playlists can still use boolean algebra: all my old lists still work. The only problem is trying to make a new one. How do you push a button that’s not there?

The answer is to hold down the option key. Then the ‘+’ buttons become ‘…’ buttons:

In iTunes 10.4, hold down 'option' to turn the '+' buttons into '...' buttons

I should point out that taking a screenshot is a lot more difficult when you’re holding the option key. The only way I could figure out to do it was by doing a “Timed Screen Grab” using the Grab utility:

The 'Grab' utility is located in '/Applications/Utilities/Grab.app'

Resistance is Futile (iPad 2 edition)

This is pretty much how I feel, too, especially the final thought:

Motorola and Samsung…they’re both large companies with a lot of buying power and strong brand recognition. The problem is, they don’t understand the game that Apple’s playing in the mobile space, so they’re playing it wrong. They’re so caught up in catching up that they’re not even trying to innovate in this space. Maybe HP or Rim will figure it out, but I’m not going to hold my breath.

Which is unfortunate. If Apple’s doing this kind of amazing stuff without any viable competition, can you imagine what they’d be doing with strong, viable competitors nipping at their heels?

I’ve been struck by how much better Apple products are than their competitors. Who, honestly, would pick a Dell or an HP laptop over a MacBook? And that’s the space where Apple is least advantaged and has a clear premium price.

In other markets (music players and phones) the Apple “premium” is much less clear. For tablets, it’s negative: the superior product is actually less expensive.

Why is this so hard? Surely there are smart, design-oriented marketing people out there who don’t work at Apple. Why don’t some of these hapless technology companies turn them loose. I’ve worked at some of those companies, and, sure, the engineers need firm direction to produce something that doesn’t stink. But why can’t people look at Apple and say, “Let’s try it that way for a change, instead of continuing to flounder like we’ve always done?”