Recently in iPodding Category

Um, so I rebooted my sad iPod

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So last week I mentioned how my out-of-warranty iPod and my co-worker’s iPod recently were suffering from “sad iPod syndrome.” Supposedly, this is a condition for which there is no easy fix, besides sending it back to Apple for a repair or replacement.

What a difference a week makes.

DISCLAIMER: In no way, whatsoever, do I advocate what I describe below as a legitimate repair method for any iPod or any other electronic device. Doing what I did is probably pretty stupid, and I still can’t believe it, myself, that it actually worked.

Anyway, we were a bit exhausted at the end of the day yesterday. So maybe it was the exhaustion. Maybe it was built-up frustration. Maybe it was the mimosas. My co-worker drop-kicked his dead iPod across his office, and it bounced on the floor. He was surprised to find that a working menu screen now replaced the sad iPod screen.

Upon witnessing the revelation of his iPod’s improbable resurrection, I grabbed my iPod and turned it on. Sure enough, the sad iPod screen came up. So I booted my iPod…right off of my size 11 Kenneth Coles. No luck. I then rebooted my iPod…across the room. Still no luck. Finally, I held my iPod about 4 feet off of the carpeted office floor, and let gravity take it down to the ground with a dull thunk.

Lo and behold, my iPod returned to full working order. Up popped the menu screen. Angels sang down hallelujahs from the heavens. Okay, there weren’t any angels, but my iPod works again!

Whodathunkit?!?

The day the music died II

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Sometimes I really hate sequels. Back in late April I wrote about the hardware failure of my beloved iPod and its subsequent replacement.

Well….

sad iPod screen
iPod in a coma. I know, I know. It’s really serious.

[exhalation] Well…

You know, I appreciate the homage to the sad Mac icon of yesteryear, but seeing the sad iPod pop up on the screen, knowing that there is nothing I can do about it, makes for a very sad Michael.

This time, unfortunately, it is out of warranty. I did an online search hoping for some answers as to whether my iPod was recoverable. Nope.

I tried the “Hold button on-off, Menu and Select together” reset thing. No dice. I tried to restore it, using both the Mac and Windows versions of iPod Updater. Nada. Bleah.

How’s this for timing, though? Yesterday, someone commented on this blog after their iPod had failed, asking me if mine ever got fixed. I replied that it had, but my co-worker, who had his replaced soon after mine, experienced iPod failure a short time ago. :-(

Looks like a flash-based iPod nano needs to be added to my X-mas wish list. I will not waste another dime on a hard drive-based MP3 player.

Pimp my iPod

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I got a small package from Singapore in the mail this week. The Smartwrap and Funky™ earphone pads I ordered from Sumajin finally came.

iPod with Smartwrap, Funky earpads, and Lajo skin

So my ’Pod may not be as bling-tastic as Paris’s or Puffy’s, but it has it goin’ on in its own little way.

I think I first saw the Smartwrap thing in Popular Science. It’s kind of pricey for a small hunk of silicone, esp. when you factor in shipping, but it is a cleverly designed hunk of silicone that does exactly what it claims to. It prevents the headphone cord from getting tangled up.

I threw in a couple sets of color foam earpads to make the shipping cost seem a little less painful.

As for the green iPod prophylactic from Lajo.biz—I’ve had that for a while. It keeps the scratches off, prevents the slippery little devil from sliding around on my car seat (or out of my hands), and it glows in the dark. One cannot deny the supreme coolness of the green, glowing iPod.

I have a Calvin Klein polo shirt that is a very similar shade of green, and it’s fun to let people think that I coordinated my iPod to go with my outfit.

Retail therapy

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There’s nothing like enjoying the fruits of consumerism to boost one’s spirits—even if those fruits add a few digits to the evil Zero Percent Interest Rate for One Year Credit Cards.

I absolutely adore my iPod and find myself mostly using it when I am driving. The Griffin iTrip (a wireless FM transmitter) has served me pretty well since my iPod first came into my life, but there is just way too much static and interference from other radio signals in New Jersey.

Crutchfield had a decent sale over Memorial Day weekend, so I bought the Alpine CDA-9830 car radio and the Alpine KCA-420i iPod Interface Adapter.

Alpine CDA-9830

Installation was pretty easy. I do have to say—soldering a wiring harness can be surprisingly fun. Plus the sight of the Alpine logo booting up on my iPod’s LCD screen when I plugged it in gave me a satisfying sense of accomplishment. And everything fit neatly inside my dashboard.

Alpine KCA-420i

The thing recharges the iPod via the dock connector, and you can see the song, artist, and album titles from the ID3 tags right on the faceplate. No support for foreign characters, though, so when a few of my favorite tracks come up (e.g. “傀儡謡_陽炎は黄泉に待たむと”) the display shows “NO SUPRT.”

After listening to it for a week, my verdict is that the sound quality is outstanding. I guess my expectations were pretty low after using the iTrip for so long, but the clarity of a clean signal and the broader frequency response (5-20,000 Hz versus 50-15,000 Hz for the iTrip) make a huge difference. This particular radio also has a feature called Media Xpander that’s supposed to correct information that was lost in digital compression, producing a more balanced sound. It does indeed make the MP3s sound better.

I discovered one disadvantage when using the control knob to scroll through 370 albums (or 3450 songs). It is s…l…o…w and always goes back to “A” when you return to the list after playing a song. Accelerated scrolling is such an amazing feature of the iPod’s click-wheel, and you really miss it when using another device to navigate through a long list of albums or songs. At least the Alpine interface recognizes playlists that have been pre-built in iTunes; it looks like I will be using that quite a bit more (and Shuffle Songs, of course).

Rock on.

Ghost in the Pod

iPod in a coma, I know; I know—it’s serious.

My old iPod is gone, it will probably end up in a landfill somewhere. Thankfully, my favorite fruit company “DHL-ed” me a brand new replacement under warranty. They are just so shiny and scratch-free in their virginal state. This time, my new baby went straight from its box into its silicone prophylactic.

BTW, calling Apple’s phone support is a pain in the ass (calling any phone support is a pain in the ass). If your iPod dies, just go to http://depot.info.apple.com/ipod/ to fill out a trouble ticket; the phone support person will probably direct you to that site anyway.

To restore its “memories and personality”—everything that made my iPod my iPod—was a simple, painless process that took about half an hour. The ease of this restoration and my recent revisiting of the writings of Shirow Masamune got me to thinking.

Within our lifetimes, the following scenario could become an all-too-real reality…

From the moment that Dad rescued “Fluffy” from the pound, he had made sure that the newest member of the family had his consciousness backed up and regularly synchronized to the household’s central file server. Fluffy’s synthetic-fleece-lined bed had a built-in brainwave scanner.

One otherwise uneventful summer morning, Fluffy’s energetic bounding though the dewy grass was interrupted by the distraction of some unusual movement in the yard on the other side of the street. With single-minded purpose, he ventured across the pavement to investigate. BAM! The fender of a speeding, video-conferencing motorist tossed Fluffy into the air, and he landed as a twitching mass of broken bones, blood, and fur.

After drying her daughter’s tears, Mom walked back inside and voiced a few commands into one of the many net-connected terminals scattered throughout the house. The next day a nondescript package arrived on their doorstep. She carefully opened the box, tore open the stasis wrap, gently removed Fluffy’s pristine body from the molded cushioning, and shuddered as she realized that it wasn’t Fluffy—at least not yet. The lifeless, empty gaze of the unformatted duplicate construct gave her the creeps.

It only took a few minutes in the SynchBed—the restoration process was surprisingly brief—before Fluffy jumped up and began scurrying around like a creature possessed. He circled the living room a few times before running headlong into Mom’s left shin. A bit stunned, he looked up at her with inquisitive eyes and enthusiastically shook his tail.

Mom picked him up, sat down on the sofa, and rested him in her lap, gently stroking his warm fur. She smiled as she thought about how happy her daughter would be when she got home from school. Her smile soon faded and a tear rolled down her cheek as she failed in her attempt to push back memories that flooded her consciousness—memories of how difficult it was to have her daughter’s first body cremated after it died from a congenital heart defect.

So how’s that for wild tangents?

The day the music died

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My beloved iPod went into a coma on Monday. Even the Restore button of the iPod Updater application (which usually works wonders) failed to resuscitate my precious.

I first noticed that something was wrong with my baby when the hard drive started to make ominous clicking noises. Then Monday morning, I got into my car and fired up my iPod, but was shocked to see that the playlists were empty and the songs were all gone. (Thank Odin I have two back-ups.) The poor little guy won’t mount anymore; he just plaintively flashes the circle with the diagonal slash until his little battery runs dry.

My iPod should still be under warranty; I got it the last week of September. Tomorrow I have to surrender it to my university’s hardware support people. I hope that my baby will come back to me soon, good as new.

Hidden gems

In the dark recesses of my iPod’s memory are songs that I have never even listened to—probably not a unique or particularly exciting revelation, but I found it amusing.

While watching television this evening, a tune caught my ear. I skipped back the TiVo a couple of times to try and make out the lyrics. Then I opened up a new browser tab over the blog I was reading, Googled the lyrics, found the song on the iTunes Music Store, and clicked the purchase button. iTunes asked me if I wanted to buy the song again. Again??? Whiskey Tango Foxtrot? Sure enough, the song was already on my ’Pod.

Quick sidenote—you know…someone placed into cryosleep in early 1998 and revived today would probably only understand the first sentence of the previous paragraph. ;-)

So why did I already have the song? The iTunes Music Store has been giving away at least one free track every Tuesday almost since its inception—108 so far (not counting public service audio books like senate hearings, the debates, etc). I download them religiously, but I often forget to give them a quick listen. The quality of the tracks are usually commensurate with their price, but a few gems pop up now and then.

BTW, the song was “They” by Jem.

Shuffle ’em up

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I came across this blog meme a few weeks back, but now I have forgotten where. First, set your iPod (or iTunes) to Shuffle Songs; then list the first ten songs that come up (no cheating). Thank God, no Yanni popped up — (hey, I’m sure your ’Pod has a few skeletons, too).

  1. “Anthem for Doomed Youth” by 10,000 Maniacs; Hope Chest
  2. “Lovin’ you (Rob Searle Club Mix)” by Vinyl Baby; DDR 6th Mix
  3. “Rocky Raccoon” by The Beatles; Anthology 3 — Disc 1
  4. “Hope and Memory” by Howard Shore; LOTR: The Return of the King
  5. “Here Today” by The Beach Boys; Pet Sounds
  6. “Love is Blindness” by U2; Achtung Baby
  7. “Sonata #10 in G Major - Allegro” by Vladimir Ashkenazy; Piano Sonatas - Disc 3
  8. “White Summer/Black Mountain Side” by Led Zeppelin; Coda
  9. “The Gentleman Soldier” by The Pogues; Rum, Sodomy, and the Lash
  10. “Cloudburst” by George Winston; Plains

You know, the closer my iPod gets to attaining sentience, the more eclectic its tastes get. (What? You thought Shuffle Songs was purely random?)

Somebody

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It’s time for a total 80s flashback. A song recently came up via Shuffle Songs on my iPod that I had not heard in ages by a group that I have not really listened to much since high school, but the lyrics (especially the first verse) really paralleled some thoughts that have been swimming around inside my head lately.

Somebody by Depeche Mode

I want somebody to share
Share the rest of my life
Share my innermost thoughts
Know my intimate details
Someone who’ll stand by my side
And give me support
And in return
She’ll get my support
She will listen to me
When I want to speak
About the world we live in
And life in general
Though my views may be wrong
They may even be perverted
She’ll hear me out
And won’t easily be converted
To my way of thinking
In fact she’ll often disagree
But at the end of it all
She will understand me
Aaaahhhhh….

I want somebody who cares
For me passionately
With every thought and
With every breath
Someone who’ll help me see things
In a different light
All the things I detest
I will almost like
I don’t want to be tied
To anyone’s strings
I’m carefully trying to steer clear of
Those things
But when I’m asleep
I want somebody
Who will put their arms around me
And kiss me tenderly
Though things like this
Make me sick
In a case like this
I’ll get away with it
Aaaahhhhh….

Cross-platform iPod fun

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As the proud owner of a fourth generation iPod for a little over a week now, I am finding my white and silver precious to be a tremendously useful little device. Aside from its obvious function as a portable music player, a function that it executes admirably, it serves as a handy rudimentary organizer (calendar and contacts) and is great for shuttling large files between work and home and across platforms.

Just this past week, we had a customer who needed to move some large video files on a USB-only Windows laptop to a Firewire-enabled Mac. Using the iPod and both dock connector cables (USB-2 and Firewire), this wasn’t a problem.

My iPod was initially formatted for Macintosh (HFS+), but Windows can’t read HFS-formatted volumes. So before transferring over my music library, I plugged the iPod into a Windows system, ran the setup software on the install CD, and reformatted the drive for Windows.

While most features on a Windows-formatted iPod work flawlessly on both Windows and Mac OS systems, there are a few small drawbacks to formatting an iPod for Windows. This is because the iPod software, by default, chooses to format the iPod’s hard drive as FAT 32.

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