Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Apple of My Ire

We have hit a snag in the CD making process, I'm sad to report. Over the weekend I compiled a list of candidate songs. Given that there were quite a few, including several Pearl Jam songs, all of which have live versions that must be considered, my plan was to make a playlist out of all of the songs and then listen to the playlist while at work. This would allow me to narrow down the list as well as see how the songs all worked off of one another. This was a good idea, key word being "idea", however in practice, things have failed miserably all thanks to my iPod.

I have had a love/hate relationship with my iPod ever since I got it. Linda gave it to me as a Christmas gift, which I love, and it was a 10GB upgrade over the capacity of my Creative player which I also loved. What I hated was the fact that at the time I got it, way back in 2003, connecting an iPod to your computer via USB was a nightmare. If it worked, it barely worked, necessitating an upgrade to Ye Olde Home PC in the form of a Firewire card. Back in 2003, Macs all had Firewire while PC's all had USB. Nowadays, fucking everything has Firewire, but we'll get to that in a minute. So I wasn't too keen on having to buy a new card for the PC, but I did it. I also wasn't keen on using iTunes but I did that too but only for managing my music. For transferring music to my iPod, I use Red Chair Software's excellent Anapod Explorer. For one it integrates into Windows Explorer so that I can drag and drop and second, it allows me to transfer music from any PC I want. Fuck you Apple. It's my iPod and I'll hook it up wherever I damn well please you pretentious, turtleneck wearing fucktards. Oh, and while we're on the subject, two mouse buttons? Not that fucking hard?

Any way. After some time using the iPod, my two biggest grips surfaced. One was that there's no ability to manage your music on the fly. My Creative player allowed you to construct entire playlists on the player as well as, more importantly, delete songs on the fly. Given that I listen to a lot of rap music, and the albums often have stupid skits, being able to delete songs as you come across them is very helpful. The iPods don't let you do this, still to this day. Well, fine. I got over it. The second issue was much larger and not as easy to get over. Basically, the battery in my current iPod is pretty much useless. If I use the player, the battery runs down quickly. If I don't use the player, it runs down quickly. And when I say "runs down", I mean to the point where I can't even get the damn thing to turn on. When it gets like this, it has so little juice that it needs to charge some before it will stay on long enough to realize that it's being charged via the USB connection. What this means is that if I want to load some new songs onto it, but I haven't used it in a while, I have to charge it up some before I can even turn it on to load the damn thing up. As a result, I end up just toting around CD's in my work bag so that I have something to listen to at work.

Now yes, I could just keep reminding myself to charge the thing up, but shoudn't it just work if I haven't been using it? The same thing happens with my PSP and it drives me crazy. If I don't use it, the battery runs out completely. If I don't use my DS, it sits there charged and at the ready until I pick it back up. The end result of all of this is that I never use my iPod because in order to use it, I have to charge it, and I never think to charge it when I'm not using it.

Which brings us to where we are now. Knowing that I was going to use it for my CD test playlist, I charged it up, ripped some new CD's and made my playlist. This was all on a Sunday night. Monday I get to work, turn the iPod up, start the playlist and watch as the iPod skips past every song in the playlist until it gets to the end of the list at which point it kicked me back to the menu. After some messing around with the buttons, I found that if I was really fast in hitting the play/pause button, I could get the song to play, but once the song was over and the iPod moved to the next song in the list, we were back to Skipsville. This happened with the new playlist as well as with an old playlist and today I tried it out with an album and, gee, what do ya know, it happens there too.

So, basically, I can't listen to music on my iPod. Great.

Even though I recently had gotten away from listening to music at work, due to all of the battery issues, I still really enjoy listening to music at work, so I want something to replace the player with, and despite my problems with this player, it looks like Apple has it's hooks into me deep enough to where I'll be buying a 120GB Classic iPod. You still can't delete items on the fly, but the battery, oh the battery, now has a life of over 30 hours. That would be a huge improvement over what I've got now. The ability to watch tv shows and play games is nice too, but honestly, I don't see myself doing that. If I wanted to watch TV shows on a portable device, I have a PSP for that, and I never do it due to the time needed to convert videos. I'm not about to buy TV shows from iTunes when I have a backlog of stuff on DVD I've never watched.

Yes, there are other players I could choose, but the 120GB of storage is real attractive. Yeah, the Zune has a 120GB model, but I really don't want to be tied to Microsoft's software and as Linda mentioned last night, the iPods are going to be around for a while. If I stick with an iPod, I'm covered with my current software setup.

Where I'm not covered is with the fucking accessories, and this is where I get really pissed off. As I mentioned before, back when I got my iPod, it was Firewire or nothing. Yeah, well, guess what? None of the current Classic iPod's work with any of the Firewire accessories because they all do everything over USB now. So that means my dock won't work and my AC adapter won't work. Why in the hell would Apple stop supporting Firewire accessories for the iPod when those very same accessories were the only way to get music on the fucking things when they first came out? I mean, come on. I guess I can take small comfort in the fact that so many PC owners bought the damn things that Apple figured it was easier to just have USB the way to go, but that's probably not the case and it still doesn't change the fact that I may have to replace the accessories. I say "may" as I'm still going to test the new iPod with the old stuff, but I don't have high hopes.

Luckily, the iPod comes with a USB cable, and I can charge it and move music to it with just that cable, which means that I won't have to buy the accessories right away, but it's the principle that bugs me. Plus, as you can tell, Apple just annoys me in general and I hate to think that I'm giving them more money on account of being so unsatisfied with their original product. Oh well. At least I can get the player for 30 bucks less by buying it through Amazon. Gotta take comfort somewhere.


Brad Lehigh said...

I love my 30gb zune... only complaint would be that compared to the venerable ipod that's been around so long and garnered the lionshare of attention from the accessories manufacturers, the zune is just now starting to see more extra goodie love.

Besides that... I love my zune pass. $15 and I get unlimited downloads.

Brandon said...

Yeah, I looked at the Zune pretty closely, but when it came down to it, I really like the software that I use to manage my iPod. It integrates into Windows Explorer so that I can do drag and drop, and it has a pretty bad ass little SQL engine so that I can run queries and then take the results and make them into playlists. Better the devil you know than the one you don't.

Greg said...

If it were me, I'd totally avoid the iPods and Zunes. You pay probably 20% extra just for the name iPod. As someone who owns a lot of mp2 players, my favorite is my samsung yp-u2j. It's not good for managing music, but I use that player for podcasts only. For music, I'm using the iPod that I'd never have bought myself, but got as a gift last Christmas. I use that one for video podcasts more than anything. I'm using Sharepod with it, but I should check out Anapod Explorer.

I've also still got the 20gb huge-ass Creative Nomad player that I DJ'ed my wedding from 5 years ago (3 days til the 5 yr anniversary actually) That thing is great. It's huge, as it has a hard drive inside it, but it holds tons of music and takes rechargable AA batteries.

Brandon said...

As long as you stick to the more vanilla iPods, they're pretty competitive in price. I got my 120GB classic from Amazon for $220 shipped, no tax. Once you start getting into the fancy ones like the Touch, you're paying that Apple premium.

As for other players, yeah, I loved my Creative player until the display flaked out on me and I couldn't see anything. Makes it kind of hard to pick music in that scenario. It dying is what brought about the new iPod in the first place.