I woke up one day recently and thought “how nice it would be to listen to some podcasts while spring cleaning the kitchen”. So I went to iTunes to refresh and download my lastest podcast subscriptions, but when I tried to load them onto the ipad as opposed to the ipod, I discovered that the ipad was associated with a different iTunes account (because unbeknownst to me once upon a time I had created two). The solution is apparently as simple as authorising one account to read from the other; alas, it wasn’t – I couldn’t remember either of the passwords and promptly got myself locked out of both accounts. Re-setting passwords required me to hack into my decade-old yahoo address (65,000 unread messages later), a password which miraculously I did remember, in order to find the password re-set link which iTunes had duly sent to said back-up account. At this point I forgot what I was doing and took a break for a cup of tea.
While drinking my cuppa, I pondered that maybe the solution to all this manual refreshing and updating was to move all my stuff to the “Cloud”. Goodbye to checking this and checking that, apparently when you look/like/tick/move/despise something in one place, it’s automatically and wirelessly synched everywhere you might look/like/tick/move/despise anything in future. Not just music and podcasts. But photos, videos, calendars, to-do lists, even, imagine – email! Folders that look the same on every computer; that miraculously sort themselves; that compose your reply before you’ve even had to think of a response. It makes my knees weak just thinking about it.
Settling myself down again, I began researching the Cloud. Within seconds I was sold – they had me at the slick grey words in bold font assuring me my life would henceforth be “automatic and effortless”.
Except. Apparently I can’t use the iCloud unless I have the latest operating system. So over to the Apple Store I trudge (for the second time today), to download Lion. Unusually enough, in parting with the $36 for something I only wanted to buy in order to buy something else, I encountered absolutely no obstruction whatsoever. Not the case when it came to actually using the facility. In my quest to migrate everything skywards I was dismayed to find I shouldn’t proceed to Step 1 (hello?), unless all my other devices are also operating the latest software. How do I know what operating systems the Ipad and Ipods 1, 2, and 3 are running? Click here. How do I update them? Click here. Want to learn more? No, goddamit!
Must be lunchtime.
As the clouds grew dark, excuse the pun, I returned to the computer with all my “devices” in hand (kitchen trashed and no closer to an empty dishwasher let alone a spring clean) in order to proceed with the task of mass-updation. But with hardware apparently prepared to receive their benediction (Step 1, you will recall) I suddenly became aware of an awful, sinking feeling – you know, kind of like when you jump into the pool only to remember mid-descent that your phone is in your pocket. The iCloud equivalent of that scenario is realising you are about to populate your brand new virtual wonderland with swathes of unlabeled photos; essays you wrote at 1am 13 years ago, contact lists where 22 entries go under the name “Emma”, songs with unassigned genres, a gazillion playlists called “untitled playlist”. What’s the point in all this brilliant technology if you can’t find Meatloaf when you need him? There’s absolutely no substitute for Meatloaf after all.
Dinner. Takeaways. Bugger the dishwasher, I’ll unpack it tomorrow.
But lets get down to the nitty gritty. Suddenly I’m not concerned about podcasts anymore – the urgent and demanding task obsessing me now is a desire to sort out those 35 junk emails I get a day. I don’t care that I signed up for those deals, I’ve decided I don’t want three brazilian wax treatments for the price of two with “the strip” thrown in for free. And it’s unlikely I’ll get the time off for a quick trip to Bermuda either. Small wonder that around mid-afternoon I found myself possessed by an unsubscribe, unattach, unassociate filter-demon; assigning categories and labels to any combination of words likely to ever find their way into my inbox, all in a desperate bid to never see another email ever again. In my fury I even found time to write an email to Oxfam telling them, and I quote, “You send too much spam. You email me more often than my own mother, and the guilt trip you give me is worse as well”. Ouch. Sorry Oxfam (sorry Mum!).
Around about midnight, thoroughly pissed off, I retired for the evening only to be pursued in my dreams by giant contact lists running around with meat cleavers shouting “merge and delete!… merge and delete”!
Many many days later, reporting from the other side of the iCloud, I can say with some degree of authority that, rather predictably, the whole exercise was a complete waste of time and money. Every single function within my iCloudia settings is currently switched to the “off” position. Here’s why:
1) If you use gmail there’s no point using iCloud to store your contacts because it doesn’t sync with gmail.
2) If you use gmail there’s no point using iCloud to write emails because it doesn’t sync with gmail.
3) If you use gmail there’s no point using iCloud to manage your calendar because it doesn’t sync with gmail.
4) iTunes Match (i.e. store all your music in the cloud – “available wherever you are, whenever you want”) is actually only available in the U.S.
In summary, it’s a gimmick and the moral of the story is you shouldn’t, under any circumstances, ever attempt something so rash as a morning spent Spring Cleaning.