Muschamp Rd

iTunes: An unknown error occurred (-9836)

November 3rd, 2019

After finally getting the World’s First Personal Supercomputer out of storage and spending more time and money on an almost 20 year old computer Apple changed iTunes Match and now my G4 no longer gets updates to my custom playlists. After many upgrades it was already too loud to be a music/media server but that was the last purpose it served after Apple’s TimeMachine launched without allowing you to backup one Mac to another.

Having passed the final CFA® exam it took me many months and moving twice to find employment. Even then it is still a contract position, but hopefully in 2020 that will end. Now in Calgary I finally emptied my storage locker as well as getting some of my stuff stored at my mom’s leading to the reassembly of my home theatre system complete with PowerMac G4. People on Facebook were amazed that not only did it work but that it could connect to the iTunes store and get all the music I’d bought in the last five plus years through iTunes Match.

The End of an Era

But the good times were not to last. Although I bought adapters to get HDMI video and audio out so I could hook it to my new Samsung 50RU7100 TV which actually degraded the audio as I converted it from digital to analog multiple times. Also considering the fans basically never go off, if I really want the best sound, I should not use my PowerMac at all. But I’ve invested so much time and effort making custom playlists and that is how I discovered unknown error -9836.

G4 and Home Theatre

Basically I cannot connect my old Power Mac G4 to iTunes Match anymore. The playlists and songs I buy on my laptop do not eventually automatically appear on my PowerMac which is connected to my home theatre system. The Samsung Smart TV supports AirPlay 2 but I have found it buggy and unreliable, I’m not alone in this observation and spent many hours on support. I tried to get it working again today and could not. The Samsung Smart TV also comes with the Apple TV app so the movies and tv shows I have on my iTunes account I can watch, plus I can rent and buy more but the app does not support sharing an iTunes music library for that I need to buy a set top box and use an actual cable, wireless audio is just not reliable in my experience.

Time to Replace my G4

So I will likely buy the Apple TV 4K which is just over two hundred bucks Canadian, a lot cheaper than a Mac Mini and I believe you have some gaming options on the Apple TV now but all I really want is something small and quiet to stream music from the cloud to my stereo. I saw a fancy device from NAD at the Audio Room but what I ordered from them which finally arrived is PP 4 so instead of fiddling and running cables for a twenty year old computer today I’m going to fiddle with and run cables for an almost fifty year old record player, a Thorens TD 160 that belonged to my dad.

I last got the old turntable working around 2001. I had to replace the feet and I also replaced the cartridge with a Grado black, but the drive and motion were fine, but as I told the high end audio guys flipping a record every 22 minutes is incompatible with my painting and music listening preferences. I’m willing to sacrifice audio quality a little for convenience.

The computer I’m typing this blog post on actually badly needs replacing as well. It is from 2009. I have a much newer iPad and iPhone and I don’t even have time to game on them. I do want to be able to run some newer software and I’m amazed this laptop has lasted this long, so I don’t know if I’ll first buy an Apple TV, a new laptop or a new pair of gym headphones which is actually where I do about half my music listening now, thus the importance of iTunes Match and custom smart playlists to me.

If only my smart TV was smarter

As I told the NAD reps I think the smart TV will be the centre of most people’s entertainment system and if AirPlay 2 worked as advertised 100% of the time maybe that is all most people need. Samsung has the SmartThings app to give AirPlay like functionality to non-Apple users. You can even stream video games from your smart phone and use it as the controller while you use the smart TV as the screen. So maybe I don’t need an Apple TV but I wonder how much bandwidth streaming everything will cost? I think Telus sells me 75 GB per month. My G4 has multiple hard drives so I can put my entire music collection on one single box.

I hacked my Ikea home theatre furniture

Back to Vinyl?

I have a lot to do and blogging isn’t a priority, but I may update my miniature painting blog soon too as although I have not painted any new minis yet, I got my collection of models and paints out of storage and once I have my music working like I want I’m going to try painting again at my new painting station. With my new Smart TV and the Apple TV app I’ve been watching a lot of movies and people on Facebook are shocked that I spent so much time and money on this old computer and that I still buy DVDs and Blu-rays. I even bought my first new vinyl records in over twenty years. Then I cleaned my collection and will attempt to digitize and even upload to iTunes Match some old 45s that are never coming out on digital.

On March 20th, during the Coronavirus stay at home mandate, I played back and recored that record I bought, “The Harrow & The Harvest” by Gillian Welch. I used VinylStudio which I upgraded or perhaps straight out bought the pro version of, because their website said I’d automatically get charged the update price. Anyway it wasn’t that hard, there is an algorithm to remove clicks and pops but it didn’t fix the needle drop on the start of side two so I manually fixed that. Then after waiting about 12 hours I forced an update to my cloud library and lo and behold the songs eventually appeared on my phone. I think this is the exact copy I made, the current iTunes Cloud status is “Uploaded”. This album won awards for its recording quality so I wanted to test how my system sounds, I am less optimistic about digitizing some of the old vinyl I inherited.

Vintage Computer Gaming

I may try some vintage gaming on my G4 specifically Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri. Booting to OS 9 is something that my G4 used to be able to do, in fact it shipped with OS 9, I ran the OS X public beta on this machine. Now I have OS X 10.5.8 and I can not run the Classic version of SMAC. Maybe I should downgrade the G4, maybe take it all the way back to stock. The OS X SMACX port was never official my recollection of playing it was it crashed frequently.

I also wanted to archive my old diskettes and I may try to get an old 486 to run again though maybe I won’t care if it connects to the Internet, that would truly be some vintage gaming. I also have old consoles I may hook up but now they release retro consoles so I should consider just getting one of those perhaps. But honestly I don’t seem to have the time and energy for gaming, work and the gym are my priorities right now. I’ve been rehabbing a long time so my smart gym playlist is among my most important.

Splurged on an Apple TV 4K

Setup of an Apple TV is easy from an iPhone

I’m not sure it is worth the price but it sure is easy to hook up my music collection in iTunes Match to my Samsung smart TV and thus my NAD receiver and Paradigm speakers using this little black box. It is doubly easy to hook up if you already own an iPhone or iPad. It is small and silent unlike the Power Mac G4 pictured next to it. I can get a Bluetooth keyboard and apps so maybe I can even do some gaming on it. Of course it lets me watch movies and TV shows but my smart TV’s Apple TV app already did that, it is expensive but some find a use for it.

Like it Loud?

The first thing I noticed besides how easy it was to setup was how loud the Apple TV played my music. I chose a Hamell on Trial song, but one I bought through iTunes while living in China. I don’t know if it is because it is mastered for iTunes or if Apple just assumes anyone who wants to listen to music wants to listen to it loud. It was notably louder than my vinyl records, my DVD player, and of course my Frankenstein G4. Everything goes through the TV well except the record player, it goes from the NAD phono stage to the NAD receiver and everything goes to the same speakers. But the Apple TV does seem to sound good and it is definitely loud.

Too smart playlists

One of my many complaints about iTunes Match is smart playlists that are too clever can not be shared in the cloud and thus between my main Mac and other Apple devices such as my brand new Apple TV 4K. This means my carefully created party mix which pulls songs from other mixes and applies some simple rules is too clever for Apple to put into the cloud where my Apple TV can use it. Simple playlists such that you burn to CDs or even the playlist I use in the gym I can play on my new Apple TV but I will have to devise a simpler party mix that is less smart.

The Apple TV is considerably smaller than a Power Mac.

If you have thoughts on iTunes, especially a way to fix my problem with error -9836 leave a comment. If you are an expert in old Macs and dual booting to OS 9, definitely point me in the right direction. I could not find those systems disks they may still be at my mom’s. If you are insulted I eventually got an Apple TV it is because I just want everything to work as promised and AirPlay 2 definitely doesn’t and even iTunes Match seems to let me down we’ll see how Apple TV+ does. Of course I got the old turntable to function, analog FTW.

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