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iTunes 101: How to set up Ping

Apple has jumped into the social media pool with both feet by introducing Ping to iTunes 10. Since this is brand-new, we'll show you how to set it up and start pinging your friends. Whatever that means.

After installing iTunes 10, you'll see the Ping button. Click it to enter your Apple ID and begin the process of creating your profile. It'll pull the information stored on the account, like name and address, but fortunately you can edit it. You can add a photo to represent yourself as well. There are many PhotoBooth-style filters available, so have fun playing around.

Note that your photo won't go live until Apple approves it. Mine took a good 20 minutes to show up, and others have said the same thing. Just be patient, it'll get there.

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Next you'll be asked to identify your preferred genres. iTunes may have selected one or two for you, which is fine. You can keep or de-select its choices. The bad news is that you're limited to 3 genres. I enjoy pop, rock, hard rock, folk and singer/songwriters. Unfortunately, I had to narrow it down to three.

You'll also be asked to identify the music you like. You're allowed to choose 10 albums to represent your collection. By default iTunes will select 10 on its own. I can't tell what criteria it uses, whether it's recently purchased, recently played or an album from the most heavily-represented genre. Still, I got some odd results.

My family, which includes a 7-year-old, shares a single iTunes account. Said 7-year-old has a thing for the Disney artists. So, visitors to my Ping profile could believe that I'm a hardcore Hannah Montana/Jonas Brothers/Selena Gomez fan. I'm sure they're wonderful artists with strong followings, but not my cup of tea.

Fortunately, you can de-select the suggestions and add your own. From the options menu, select "manually pick music to display." From there you can add anything from your library and remove what's unwanted. Also, as you buy new music, those purchases are added to this list. Lastly, you can opt not to show any of your preferred music on your profile.

Next you'll set up your privacy settings. There are two main options. First, you can opt to let people follow you, either freely or pending your permission. Alternatively, you can prevent anyone from following you at all, you social butterfly you.

You might also want to connect your Facebook account. You'll see the familiar blue button on your profile page. Simply give it a click, enter your email address and password and you're all set. Now you can pester your Facebook friends with Ping. Not so fast, Facebooker. Engadget points out that the Facebook connect option has disappeared. Steve Jobs blames Facebook's demands for "onerous terms."

Now you're done! Go exploring! You'll find that Jack Johnson has posted some photos from his new video shoot. U2's Bono has posted some video he shot of Russian fans. Lady Gaga...actually, I don't know what she's up to.

It's simple to find friends with the search bar or to send an invitation via Mail. The main feature is quite similar to Facebook's Wall. That's where you'll find updates from the participating artists (a small number for now) and your friends.

So there you have it -- how to set up Ping. Have fun poking around and Pinging.

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