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Tomas Gallucci

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Apple's Support Team, House, iTunes, File Sharing and You [Apr. 1st, 2009|02:07 am]
Tomas Gallucci
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[music | Danny Elfman - The Kingdom]


Is is wrong to share the content of a tech support issue if you're the one that asked for help but you haven't asked the company providing the help if it's ok to reproduce said content? I've been struggling with the answer to that question, but as I can only see a win/win situation, I have decide to share with you the following information that I received from Apple.

Season Pass
The iTunes Store is a bit unclear on its policy regarding season passes for TV shows. In order to have this discussion, we must first define what a Season Pass is and what it does.

You can buy individual episodes of the current season of your favorite TV show one at a time. But this means that if you want to see the next episode as soon as possible, you have to constantly keep an eye on the iTunes Store and download as the content becomes available. There are two catches to this approach. First, you have to watch the store for new content--there's not an alert system. Second, each episode costs $2.99 plus tax.

Enter Season Pass.

Season Pass automatically downloads new episodes as they become available and you get a discount on the season--usually 10-12%.

Q: What happens if you buy one or more episodes because you don't know how the season will turn out, so you're just trying the show, but then you decide that you'd rather have the whole season and get a Season Pass?
A: Let's compare and contrast Amazon's way of doing business to iTunes'.

Amazon lets you take the money you've already spent with them on the season and apply that to the cost of the pass, and the pass picks up right where you left off along with filling in the gaps. Amazon is forthright about their policy and boldly proclaim it on their site. Apple, on the other hand, isn't as forthcoming. If you click for more info, iTunes tells you what the Season Pass is and how it works, but it doesn't answer the fundamental question: can I apply previously paid for episodes to a Pass and will the pass only deliver the episodes that I haven't bought yet?

The answer to both these questions are no.

If you buy one episode or twenty-three out of twenty-four and then opt for a Season Pass, you have to pay for the entire cost of the pass. Additionally, the Pass will download all episodes until it reaches the currently last available episode. It wasn't until I in-advertantly ordered the SD version of an episode of House and tried to get my purchase refunded because iTunes wouldn't let me purchase the HD version of the episode since I had already bought the SD version. While I had someone on the other end to communicate to, I asked my questions and that was the answer that I received.

In actual fact, not only was this the answer that I got, but I was also offered to have all of my previous purchases of the season refunded so I could effectively apply the balance to a Season Pass. I (in retrospect) foolishly declined the offer.


House Season 5 Missing from the US iTunes Store?!?!?!
I've been patiently waiting for the iTunes store to update House to include 5.19 Locked In. I keep House Season 5 in my iTunes Store window because I'm constantly checking for a new episode. This time when I went to refresh the store, I was told that Season 5 wasn't part of the US store. Recalling the previous altercation between Universal and Apple, I wondered what was going on. A quick search of the iTunes store showed that Seasons 1-4 were still part of the iTunes store. I considered for a split second that this might be round two, which, to me would be senseless given how much money Universal lost the last time they pulled a stunt like this--and that's without calculating the damage done later that season by the WGA strike.

Once again, I fired off an email to Apple's Support Team. The results were my second guess, a content management faux pas. From the support team:

Currently there has been an issue with the file being mislabeled and a few episodes that were on the US store were in [G]erman. Unfortunately in order to prevent further issues with downloading bad files iTunes has removed the item from the store until this issue has been resolved.

Apple is currently working toward a resolution for the issue. You will receive an email after the matter has been investigated and further information is available.

As you can see from the text, it's hard to tell who is at fault here: Apple's IT department or Universal's distribution team. It sounds like it might be both, but it would seem to me that if it were a simple data problem, the issue should be resolved by now, even if there were a lot of bureaucratic back-and-forth between Apple and Universal to make the appropriate changes, with as much money as is on the line, I would have expected the issue to be resolved by now.

I'll let you know when I get that follow up email they promised.


ehowton's NFS woes
As represented in the link above, ehowton has had less than good luck being able to connect his shared iTunes database to the kids computers across the house. After I migrated miniMax0r to m0bil30n3, I wanted to be able to connect to the external storage drive on miniMax0r. Ironically, the volume is named not storage, an appellation that came from having to replace a bum drive and a known Time Machine bug. When I first attempted to make the magic happen, m0bil30n3 could see miniMax0r and miniMax0r was broadcasting that it had a share, but m0bil30n3 couldn't connect to miniMax0r. Furthermore, instead of timing out in a reasonably short period of time, m0bil30n3 would attempt to connect to miniMax0r for a non-trivial amount of time (minutes). I played with the settings for File Sharing on miniMax0r for several hours trying to get the share to work, but alas, it just wasn't in the cards.

I resolved to cash in on the 90 day phone support I had on m0bil30n3.

I scheduled a call with Apple Support for Sunday at noon. Right before our appointed confabulation, I added an alias to a folder on the shared volume to my Public folder on miniMax0r as adding the volume itself was not allowed. I then fired up m0bil30n3 in preparation to make the call as efficient as possible. Of course, since I had made a change (even though I didn't really expect it to work) I was able to not only authenticate with miniMax0r, I am now able to look at any file on any volume on or attached to miniMax0r from m0bil30n3.

Since I didn't want to waste the call, I asked the tech for common problems/configuration issues. He couldn't come up with any that fit my symptoms. Finally, he had me open the firewall configuration on miniMax0r, something I hadn't for whatever reason thought of before. As soon as he said it, I had a facepalm moment. I don't think that it was a firewall configuration issue with miniMax0r that caused the problem, but we couldn't come up with a more plausible explanation, so until proven otherwise, we're going with the firewall being the culprit.

NOTE: The tech did say something about the most common error was attempting to access the share across the network with a non-administrative account on the box with the share. ehowton, I hope this helps, but I don't see how it possibly could. I'm still not sure exactly how I'm sharing the way that I am, I just know that it works and I'm not going to break it in search of a solution!

[User Picture]From: drax0r
2009-04-01 08:09 am (UTC)
I hope this helps, but I don't see how it possibly could.

ok. (on drax0r's computer)
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: schpydurx
2009-04-01 04:11 pm (UTC)
I'm sorry that you won't be working with drax0r on a daily basis like you have been used to doing. Maybe you'll do more keg stands together this way.

The reason I said I don't see how it possible could [help] is that while it does make sense that I had something locked down, I would have assumed that you would have considered the firewall long before I did. Looking at ipfw isn't enough. You need to do this through the GUI in Preferences->Security because this lists the applications that are being allowed/blocked.

My other solution would be to turn on both AFP and SMB.

The only thing that made any sense to me that might be causing you problems is that you're not trying to authenticate to the share as an administrator. Now granted, I know I wasn't attempting to share out via NFS and I wound up with more access than I wanted, but since this is your own home network, you could start least restrictive and see if you can get things to work and then start applying security until you either get the desired result or you find that "X" cause the whole operation to fail.

Good luck.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: fabrizzo
2009-04-01 06:00 pm (UTC)
"Faux Pa" in your post should actually be 'Faux Pas'. You have failed!
(Reply) (Thread)
[User Picture]From: schpydurx
2009-04-01 06:23 pm (UTC)
You enjoy watching me suffer, don't you?
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)