EDIT: I'm an idiot. You're a button away from hiding the Genius bar. Still, he's a shill.

I guess I could also call this one, "Where did my MiniStore go?!" (Note: I also own pretty much everything the Crowes have released, plus about 6 gigs of shows to trade, just not on this laptop.)

There have been a number of sites that have tried to provide you with a sort of personal radio station. I've enjoyed Pandora, and just today signed up for last.fm. You toss these sites a few artists you like, and they try to put together music like that artist that you might enjoy. Overall, I like both.

"Genius" brings this same function into iTunes, but with a particularly in-your-face, hard sell to go along with its gutted abilities. Let's start with the annoying: If you have Genius on, you have to have, afaict, the daggum "Genius Sidebar" visible. Folks, that ain't impressive. I shouldn't have to have advertisements in my single iTunes window to have iTunes suggest new music I might want to buy. Just provide the names of some songs or bands without yelling "BUY" or "$0.99" at me. There's a reason the menu items to turn Genius on & off has "Store" for its main heading.

(Also annoying: If you opt out of Genius and then back in, you start from scratch, which means waiting forever for it to go through your songs to piece 'em up. I'm guessing all this info is being stored server-side (in the "cloud" if you're down, I suppose) rather than in xml locally.)

Let's continue with the obvious: This ain't half as good as last.fm or Pandora. I can't even listen to the recommended songs from iTunes in full. This is less listening to a personalized radio station than, well, than browsing a music store.

The playlist idea where iTunes will lump songs you own into playlists of similar sounds is a decent one. That it will pull in songs others think are related helps too -- well, it'll pull them, that is, as long as you already own them. This might be a neat way to rediscover songs in your library you haven't heard in a while.

Yet I still wonder how much phoning home iTunes does when Genius is active. Strangely you have to have an iTunes account to use Genius, even though you're told no personally identifiable info is headed to Cupertino. And to end, well, now the songs you listen to most are going to be used to make Apple money. I know Bottle of Red Wine from Foamfoot is one of the best unknown Crowes tracks out there. Now Apple will too, and will try to sell it to the rest of you taller folk out there based on my uncredited recommendation.

Furthurmore, if I have to stare at the now vertical MiniStore to have the k3wl playlists, well, forget you, Genius. I can pick out songs I like all by my lonesome.

(What, no Bottle of Red Wine on iTunes from the Crowes? Can only get that trading tapes on Furthurnet or what have you? Shucks. Sorry bout that, Steve.)

So there's my rant. Hopefully I'll put together a readable opinion later.

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