Free Wi-Fi – Barnes Noble, Starbucks too

If you live in a college town then free wifi is normally as common as binge drinking and panty raids but in other towns or cities you may be out of luck. I mostly frequent locally owned coffee shops here in Boulder, CO who provide free wifi but sometimes when I’m on the road and unable to locate an independent coffee shop I’ll cross over to the dark side for an hour or two.

Free WiFi for your iPhone

Starbucks offers free wifi to all iPhone customers using their iPhones. Once in the store your phone should automatically connect to the AT&T wifi network if your iPhone has the latest 3.0 version of the operating system. If you’re still on the old 2.0 iPhone OS then you’ll be sent an SMS message that’ll contain a link that you’ll need to click on. You have to do this every time you enter a Starbucks and this annoyance gets really old after a while so perhaps it’s time to upgrade to 3.0! iPhone uses can also browse the interwebs on their iPhones at Barnes & Noble Bookstores and Mc Donalds (yuk!).

What about my Laptop?

If you want to do some real surfing and use your laptop to connect to the web then you can use the following tips to get free wifi when you’re forced to cross over to the dark side.
Our pals at Starbucks offer free wifi access when you purchase a starbucks rewards card. This is just a little plastic credit card you load up with money you then use to buy a cup of coffee with. You’re gonna buy a cup of coffee anyway and the card is free so you’re actually getting the wifi for free too. Starbucks says: “When you register your Starbucks Card and use it at least once a month, you’ll receive two consecutive hours a day of complimentary Wi-Fi, courtesy of AT&T.” Another reason to get the silly card is you can get unlimited brewed coffee refills during your visit with any size cup.
Barnes & Noble just announced (July 2009) that they are offering free wifi in some 700 bookstores across the US. So this is another option. Starbucks coffee shops
Companies such as Panera Bread who run nationwide chains of bakery / cafes also offer free wifi.

Add Lyrics to all songs in iTunes for FREE – or just the albums or songs you want

Sometimes it’s nice to have the lyrics of a song, perhaps it’s a particularly soppy romantic song you want to get all teared up over or just a rocking 80s tunes you want to sing along to. This article will show you how to get the lyrics to any song for free and automagically add them to your iTunes Library one song, album or entire library at a time.

LyricWiki – the Wikipedia of song lyrics

Let’s start with LyricWiki, a huge free online database of lyrics. They are a free site that contains reliable lyrics for any song or artist without annoying popups or invasive ads. They have 868,787 pages on their site. You can search their site via a form on the homepage. Once you have the lyrics you can cut and paste them into a song in iTunes. Once the lyrics have been cut, go to the song you want in iTunes and click on FILE > GET INFO then you can click on the Lyrics tab and paste them into the blank area in this window and click OK. This is fine for the occasional song but if you want to do an entire album or your entire Library then you’ll need to a computer program to help you.

Tune Up 

Mid 2009 a couple of great free programs for the mac existed that accessed the LyricsWiki database BUT as of late 2009 these programs have been shut out of LyricsWIki due to licensing issues with music publishers. There is currently NO program that will automatically add lyrics to all your tracks on the Mac. 

There is one programs that fill fix everything else, track names, cover art automatically- Tune Up. There is a pay and free version. The free version is limited to 100 songs but give it a twirl and the $29 lifetime license may be worth it for die hard music fans. The promo video below shows it in action and they mention that they will be adding the lyrics feature in the future 🙂 


You get get the programs here 



Sorry but it looks like this program is no longer available due to licensing issues 🙁 so you’ll have to add you lyrics manually!!!


 No longer available

Dear LyricWiki API Developers,
It has been a great run, and I have seen some fantastic and
interesting applications come from all of your skills and hard work.

Unfortunately, licensing agreements with the biggest publishers in the
music industry require us to no longer offer the ability for
programmatic access to LyricWiki’s collection of lyrics.

We tried to arrange some way to let API Developers license through us,
but this was not possible.

While this is not something we are happy about, it is a necessity in
order to finally secure licensing for LyricWiki from the major
publishers which will allow the project to survive indefinitely.

== What can the API do now? ==
Everything it used to be able to do except for display lyrics. This
amounts to primarily two things: viewing discographies and matching a
single song to a corresponding LyricWiki URL so that users can be
linked to it.



iTunesLyricsLocator is a FREE Java program (so it’ll work on Mac’s and PC’s) that will download and update your iTunes Music Library with all the lyrics to all of your favorite songs. It can update your entire iTunes music library, or if you create a specific Playlist called “No Lyrics” it will update that playlist instead. This nifty little program can be downloaded from a link on this page. Once downloaded launch the application and a window will appear. At the bottom left of the window is a button marked “Process”. Clicking this button will start the program and if you have not created a playlist called “No Lyrics” it will attempt to update ALL the songs in your library so be aware this may take quite some time.

More detailed instructions – provide by the developer

Java 1.5+
iTunes 7+
Mac OS X 10.4 / 10.5
Windows XP / Vista / Windows 7 (experimental)

Operation / How To Use
Extract the zip file with winzip, winrar or stuff-it expander. Open the folder, and browse to the program directory

To install:
Copy the iTunesLyricsLocator program directory into C:\Program Files and create a shortcut on your desktop (or your Start Menu) to iTunesLyricsLocator.exe.

(Mac OS X)
Copy the application object to your Applications directory.

Before starting the program:
(Mac OS X & Windows)
OPTIONAL: Create "No Lyrics" playlist, and add songs to it.

To run the program:
Double-click iTunesLyricsLocator.exe and click Process button when ready.

(Mac OS X)
Double-Click iTunesLyricsLocator application (Universal) and click Process button when ready.

("No Lyrics" Mode)
Create an iTunes playlist called "No Lyrics" and the application will update that 
entire iTunes library.  It can also be a Smart Playlist based on some arbitrary criteria. For large music collections (10,000+) you will need to wait a few minutes for the job to complete.

Hope you find this useful and leave your comments below.


Disable iPhone Backup to speed up iTunes Sync

When I first wrote this article in 2009 a lot of stuff on your phone like contacts, notes, email account etc did not sync with iCloud so disabling backups was a bad idea. Now in 2015 most important stuff syncs BUT if you’ve got a ton of apps on your phone and custom settings a backup is still a good idea for most folks (you’ll also have to re enter Wifi setting, and loose a lot of other stuff if you don’t ever do a backup and who plugs their phone into iTunes anyway 🙂

But the article is still valid to some extent as we can do a WIFI sync and a backup over wifi take longer than over USB cable. Also when you backup, you’re doing a backup from the previous state of the backup, i.e. backing up only whats changed since last time. So bare that in mind when reading this 2009 article.


One of iTunes most annoying features is it’s insistence to do a full backup every time you plug in your iPhone. You know the drill, you’re dashing out the door to go for a run or you’re off to the gym and remember that you want to listen to the latest podcast from the BBC. You plug in the iPhone, fire up iTunes and hit the sync button only to be met by an annoying “Backing up Richard’s iPhone” status message that just sits there for ever while your precious leisure time ticks away.

Why is my iPhone backing up all the time – I already have all my music stored on my computer in iTunes!!!

The backup feature doesn’t backup your music but it does backup a ton of other stuff. According an Apple Support article this is some of what is includes in the backup (no wonder it take so bloody long!!!):

Safari bookmarks, cookies, history, and currently open pages, Map bookmarks, recent searches, and the current location displayed in Maps, Application settings, preferences, and data, Address Book and Address Book favorites,
Calendar accounts, Wallpapers, Notes, Call history, Mail accounts, YouTube bookmarks, SMS messages, Saved suggestion corrections (these are saved automatically as you reject suggested corrections), Camera roll (photos and screen shots taken by the iPhone), Voicemail token (this is not the Voicemail password, but is used for validation when connecting. This is only restored to a phone with the same phone number on the SIM card.) Web clips, Network settings (saved wifi spots, VPN settings, network preferences) Paired Bluetooth devices (which can only be used if restored to the same phone that did the backup), Keychain (this includes email account passwords, Wi-Fi passwords, and passwords you enter into websites and some other applications. PHEW ……!!!!!

Turn off annoying Syncing NOW! Turn it off!!!

The first but not the best option to cull this annoying feature is to click the little round check icon to the right of the status message. iTunes will immediately stop the backup and start doing what the good lord intended it to do, just sync your bloody playlists, podcast, video, photos, ringtones and contacts!

The second method is the best and once executed will disable iTunes from backing up your iPhone permanently. If your on a Mac then do the following.

  1. Quit iTunes
  2. Fire up the Terminal
  3. Type:

(Ok just an update as of May 2015. The correct code to for the terminal is:)

defaults write DeviceBackupsDisabled -bool YES

An even easier option is to download a little app that will do it for you 🙂 Backup Disabler can be downloaded on this page. Now, you can easily sync without waiting for the backups, and just as easily re-enable them whenever you like.

If your on a PC then check out this little program Backupswitch. It enables you to turn syncing on and off without having to type code at the old DOS prompt.

See a discussion here at Apple Support Forums