Sunday, April 30, 2006

Owning an iPod is a part-time job...

If you've owned anything electronic, chances are pretty good that you've uttered the following phrase at some point in your life: "It just quit." Well, that happened to my iPod last week. Here are the realities of owning an iPod.

I chose an iPod because it sounded better than everything else on the market. I bought mine the week before the Gen4 iPods came out - July 17, 2004. Then I took it back and bought the Gen 4 version. Right away Apple charged me $50 for the exchange. So when they asked me what my ZIP code was, I gave them the real one: EIEIO. And to our surprise, the system took it!

I spent hundreds of hours ripping my collection of CDs at 128kbit, because that's what Apple sells. Then I spent hundreds more hours ripping at a higher quality after finding out how terrible they really sounded at 128kbits. Then I spent hundreds of hours renaming my collection when I found out that the hardware wouldn't display the artist and title at the same time unless the artist name was in the title of the MP3. Then I spent hundreds of hours renaming them back to the default when I learned how difficult it was to maintain an alternative namimg scheme as I ripped the new CDs I bought.

Then I started listening to it. Those earbud things were the first to go. I bought a set of Sony studio monitor phones and it sounds incredible, but they make me look like a roller disco reject. I added a class A headphone amplifier and it sounds even better and makes me look even less cool. But damn it sounds good. And when I listen to it, I'm measurably happier than when I'm without my tunes.

Then my PC crashed and I had to reinstall. There's no (usable) way to export iTunes custom configuration. I didn't have time to go through adding everything to iTunes and renaming everything, deleting duplicates, etc. So for at least a year, I had the same set of tunes on my iPod and no way to add new CDs to the iPod.

Then about a month ago the stack of new CDs became too great and I went through the 100hr ordeal of importing everything, renaming it, deleting duplicates. Then I went to sync the iPod, and in the last year, it developed bad sectors and wouldn't sync. No problem, I scanned it with my PC, marked the blocks bad, then reinstalled firmware, software, and it synced, and I once again had up-to-date tunes! And they sounded great!

And for a month I was happy. And then one day, without being dropped or abused in any way, it just quit! There was a sad pod icon, then it started chattering, then it formed a line in the LCD, and no form of reset would bring it back.

It died 4/26/2006. I never had the problems that others reported with low battery life or scratches. I got about 21 months of use out of it, at a cost of $24.99/month. I spent at least 400 hrs of my life managing content and troubleshooting problems. That's a part-time job.

I may buy another one after they stop using hard drives and gain much larger screens, but right now, they're just not worth it. Rest In Peace EIEIPod.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Wabbit Season! Bass Season! Shoot! Blam!

This is to use in situations like when you're in the Walmarts, bored from waiting so you're looking at a feeshin' rod while your girlfriend is shopping for the perfect pink bunny slippers or whatever, and some townie wanders along and asks you what the biggest carp you ever caught was, then starts telling you about this one he almost caught with dynamite "that one time when it rained a lot."

Go away, Elmer Fudd.

Monday, April 03, 2006

One In Ten-Thousand...

It was Friday evening and I fought my way through the last-minute shopper crowd at the Walmarts, hoping against hope for a pound of fresh-sliced pepper jack cheese from the Deli counter. The line was at least as long as the shortest bakery line in Soviet Russia. Had a hard week, nothing to look forward to on the weekend except more work.

Some townie found a way to jack an iPod into the store intercom, and started playing "Because The Night" by 10,000 Maniacs. I haven't heard it since the early 90s. In that five seconds, I went from having a terrible day to feeling really, really great!

Then I realized that the iPod craze isn't about the iPod as a status symbol. It isn't a rebellion against the music industry. It isn't because people don't want to listen to 48 minutes an hour of ads on the chance that they might hear *that song*. But radio doesn't stand a chance. Radio plays the same tunes over and over. The magic tune is different every time, and it only works once.

It's about the music. It's about finding that one song in 10,000 that *totally* changes your day.