iTunes and Tess Turbo

Last weekend, I installed an auxiliary audio-in port in the new Mini Cooper S, as well as the official BMW / Mini iPod adapter. When my Mini iPod (called MiniPod now, but still answers to Zbigniew) is connected now, I can control it through the regular radio controls.

Well, sort of. But we’ll get to that.

With the BMW / Mini iPod adapter, I can load six playlists onto the iPod that the Mini’s stereo will recognize: MINI1, MINI2, MINI3, MINI4, and MINI5. Very excited, isn’t it.

So, I went into iTunes and applied some Boolean logic. I’ve written before about my general concepts for making interwoven playlists in iTunes. I started with my base radio station, and went from there. Don’t laugh — I started with MINI4.

Lately I’ve been into U2 again. Must have been the release of 18, their new CD full of some of their greatest songs (and some crappy ones, while others are missing). I have a non-smart playlist in iTunes called concerts, to which I had manually added some U2 concerts and other live recordings (The Who, Live at Leeds; Eric Clapton live; Zeppelin live; etc.).

MINI4 matches all of the following:
— playlist is Concerts
— play count is 0

Why the play count deal? The Mini iPod adapter does not display the ID3 data on the screen, and this way I can slowly work my way through the concerts I have on file.

MINI1 then became the following
MINI1 matches all of the following:
— playlist is Base Radio
— playlist is not MINI4
— Limit to 5GB

This is my catch-all, eclectic-as-hell generic radio station. Good for long haul driving and plane trips, I guess.

MINI2 matches all of the following:
— playlist is MINI1
— genre is “classic rock”

I jokingly refer to this as my test drive playlist. Sometimes, you just need some Stones, Gary Glitter, and Springsteen. Best played really, really loud.

MINI3 matches all of the following:
— playlist is MINI1
— genre is “mashed”

Yeah, “mashed” as a genre. Not sure how to describe it, other than asking you to imagine the music from one song used with the vocals from another song. Suddel, Black Eyed Peas are signing to “Shook Me All Night Long.” Drop by Go Home Productions and see for yourself.

MINI5 matches all of the following:
— playlist is MINI1
— My Rating is greater than 3 stars

This last one is really for when I want to hear good music. Short trips, trips with the kids or when others are in the car, etc. And for the gym — I listen to this when exercising.

MINI6 plays everything on the iPod, which, given the live stuff, I don’t use.

Shortcomings with the iPod adapter and / or the Mini stereo?

Doesn’t display the ID3 tag information on the stereo screen. Stupid. No reason why they did not program that in. Lazy.

After being turned off (manually, or when the car is off), the stereo does not remember that you had it set to random mode, and it starts, from the first song, in linear play. Lame. My five year old can remember that it was on random mode, but the car can’t. Lame, lame, lame. Oh, and this applied to the CD player, too. Nice “feature,” huh?

Oh, and yea, if you were listening to the iPod, say, at the gym and had it on random mode, it won’t be after you plug it into the Mini iPod adapter. Yep, the settings all get baselined as soon as you plug it in. Lame, to the 4th degree.

When the iPod is connected, the screen and controls for the iPod itself are controlled by the car alone. So, no, I can’t scroll through to find that album I want to hear — I have MINI1 through MINI6 to listen to.

What to do?

I could replace the iPod adapter with the DICE model, a non-BMW/Mini solution that is suppose to have many if not all of these problems solved. But that’s $150, and then trying, in good conscious, to unload the current adapter on eBay (which will kill me, because I would not recommend it to anyone at this point). I might also try hacking my iPod some, to see if I can get it to interact differently with the adapter. Might start with Rockbox. If it doesn’t work out, well, I can just put it back into iTunes.

Or, I might see if Songbird makes a difference — I really, really, really miss on-the-fly updates to smart playlists. Way back in the day, back before iTunes 4.6 (we’re on version 7 these days), the boolean logic of the smart playlist was actually loaded into the iPod as well, so the playlists on the iPod would actually see songs come and go as they met the criteria of the smart playlists boolean logic. I completely LOVED this feature, and was beyond crushed when Apple killed this capability. If I could get it back, I’d load 6 GB of awesome music, and synch once a month. The Mini won’t care how I make playlists, I should think, so if I can find a way to bring that back, I might still be in business. Doesn’t resolve the no-data-on-the-stereo-screen crap, but the geeky coolness would offset the lameness by 0.1%, which would be something.

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