Dispatches, thoughts, and miscellanea from writer Jon Konrath

New iPod

I bought a new iPod yesterday, to replace the second-gen 20 Gig one that I’ve had for a few years now. The battery was starting to go, and it’s on the second battery, plus I wanted more space and all of the new features, so I went to the Apple store and ponied up the plastic for the new one. They are really starting to nickel and dime you, though; I had to pay an extra $39 for a dock, and it didn’t come with a cable. I also had to pay $39 more dollars for a cabled remote. You’d think at least one of those two would be included on the highest-end model, but then you’d think people would want a model that held more than 100 songs, and I guess nobody does.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that iTunes (at least on the Mac) properly behaves when given a new iPod. I assumed that there was a direct iTunes to iPod relationship, and I would go through sheer hell getting all of the old tunes onto the new guy. But it turns out that there is a profile for each iPod, and the profile does the library to iPod mapping. So I could have one iPod only sync a subset of my library, or something weird like that, and it’s no problem. My old iPod will go to the Konrath Museum of Old Technical Devices, to be forgotten about for a decade or two, until people are like “What’s an iPod?”. Or something.

The new color iPod display is incredible! I have not messed with the photo features, which are kind of useless to me. (The iPod “Photo” model was rolled into all of the models as of the last rev.) But the screen is incredibly readable, very crisp and smooth. It’s also nice to see a few new features in the BIOS (or is it OS? whatever.) You can enable and disable the items shown on the menu, so I can finally make that stupid podcast link go away.

One of the coolest non-features is that a little thumbnail icon of an album is shown when you are playing a song. The JPEGs are put into the MP3 tags by iTunes, sort of. The pain in the ass is, there isn’t a “go find every single album cover” button or script. The closest I’ve found is that Konfabulator has an “iTunes buddy” that shows the album cover in a little widget. It hunts all of the Amazon sites and finds the image for you, and then shoots it into iTunes, which then gets it into the MP3s and onto your iPod. But this would only really work if I sat and listened to every single song in my playlist to get the tags fixed up, and that would take about 7 years. If you know of any other solution for this, let me know.

I’ve been pulling albums to add albums and stay under 20 gigs for about a year now, so it sure is nice having about 2.5 times as much space to add more stuff. (You don’t really get 60 gigs; it’s more like 55 after formatting and that crap.) I’m now on a mad rampage to rip all of the b-string CDs that I previously didn’t add to iTunes. Because I’m in the middle of moving, I have a third of my CDs in the new place and the rest back in Astoria. I think most of this weekend will involve shuffling CDs around. And I’ve decided that the days of having CDs out on shelves and racks is over. With most of my stuff being retired to “backup” status, I am planning to pack away things in corrugated plastic boxes. Each box holds a hundred discs, and those will go on a shelf or in a closet or something. I don’t really feel a need to have my house look like the back storage room of a store in the mall. My DVDs are now put in binders, which massively saved space. (About 99% of a packaged DVD is air.) And the CDs will now be hidden. The books – that’s still a big issue.

I have been at war with IKEA over trying to get a new desk. I ordered a $100 desk about three weeks ago, and they sent a vague response basically saying “don’t call us, we’ll call you.” Today, they responded, saying that shipping would be… another $100 bucks, plus about $40 of tax. (And to be fair, Sarah handled war-dialing them and trying to keep track of the order, so most of the credit for dealing with these idiots goes to her.) I just ordered another desk from Staples. Maybe I’ll get that by the end of the year. I’m currently working off of a small folding card table that sort of freaks me out, because it’s the type with legs coming out of the middle, and it sometimes makes a little creak and changes height by a couple of millimeters. I have fears of the Mac and giant monitor falling to the floor when I get up to move my chair or something. It’s a brand new table, and very nice for the occasional dinner party, but I don’t think it’s suited for all of my computer gear.

Oh, I now have three pair of those white iPod headphones, and I don’t use any of them. I guess I could “look cool” and/or get targeted by thieves, but I really hate those in-ear things. I’d sell them on eBay, except anyone can buy them new for $12 or something. Oh well.