The box that the iPod
is packaged in gets a lot of comment in other reviews. Apparently
somebody put a lot of effort into the design, and some people think
it is tres cool and all that. I thought it was a tremendous waste
of space, hard to open, and made it difficult to tell if I had
truly found everything I was supposed to have. Ayup, that's me,
grumpy as usual.
But the iPod itself? Ahh, that's different. This is cool. I
should be more jaded, but the fact that 10 GB of storage sits in
something thinner than a deck of cards and about the same width and
length amazes me. And that's just the 10 GB version: you can buy it
with 20 or even 40 GB. It's also hard to accept that I can carry
this around while it is running, that it isn't a delicately fragile
device that must be coddled and protected.
Let's dispose with the music first. I did not buy this for
music. I'm very fussy about the acoustic qualities of music: for
instance I will not listen to music in a car because the ambient
noise destroys so much of the music itself. I won't put up with
cheap speakers or earphones, either. If it isn't high quality, it's
not something I want to hear. So, while the neodymium earbuds that
come with this are really very, very good, I didn't expect them to
cut the mustard for me. I did have to try, though, so I put some
Beatle's albums, some Tchaikowsky, Paul Simon and a little Wagner
in it just to see. As promised, the experience was very good. I
wouldn't say it was painful for me - for a culinary analogy, it was
far better than having lunch at Burger King, but it isn't good
enough that I'd pay this much money just for playing music. That's
me though: I'm very, very fussy about this stuff.
When in my office, I back up my iBook across the network to my
Linux server which in turn uses Microlite BackupEdge to backup to
a DVD. However, I'm very often
not in my office. In the summer months, we spend four to five days
a week in the Massachusetts Berkshires. It's a nice perk of owning
your own business to be able to do that at all, but I do have to
keep working while away. We live in a very spacious "park model"
trailer out there, but there isn't room for a lot of the things I
have in my home office - and especially there isn't room for the
big Linux box. So I needed a way to backup while away. I could use
CD's, but the capacity is limited and it's slow. I wanted a hard
Of course I could have bought something a little less expensive,
but most of my options would have taken up a fair amount of space,
would have been yet another thing that has to be plugged in, and
actually wouldn't have been all that less costly, though much
larger storage could be had for similar money.
But, I don't need a tremendous amount of space. Everything I
absolutely have to backup is less than 2GB. The 10GB iPod gives me
plenty of extra space, so I didn't even consider other options or
the larger iPods.
The iPod comes with a six foot Firewire cable, plenty long
enough to let me work comfortably with my iBook in my lap and the
iPod sitting on the nearby table. The Firewire cable also charges
the iPod's battery. By default, iTunes starts up when the iPod is
connected. You can then click the iPod icon to change preferences.
I configured iTunes NOT to start up when the iPod is connected and
not to update music ever - that's probably not the way most people
would use this, but again the music capability is of little
interest to me. I checked off "Enable Firewire disk use", closed
iTunes, and that's probably the last interaction I'll have with it
for some time. Now, when the Firewire cable connects the iBook to
the iPod, it is automatically mounted and its icon appears on my
To transfer my most critcal data, I have a "topod" script:
rsync -aHv --delete * /Volumes/Anthony\ Lawrence\'s\ iPod/Work
rsync -aHv --delete * /Volumes/Anthony\ Lawrence\'s\ iPod/Part1
rsync -aHv --delete * /Volumes/Anthony\ Lawrence\'s\ iPod/Pcunix
rsync -aHv --delete * /Volumes/Anthony\ Lawrence\'s\ iPod/mail
Notice that I'm using rsync to
transfer the data; I do this so that files I delete automatically
get deleted from the iPod and to save time rather than recopying
One small gripe here: the icon that pops up in Finder is very
bland and unobtrusive. I had a heck of a time finding it mixeed in
to the typical clutter of my Desktop. I think it might be helpful
if it were brighter and more noticeable, at least when first
installed. Perhaps the same icon, but as it would look with the
orange key lights on. That would be quite noticeable. They might
provide an option for the more subdued icon that they use now, but
I think your first experience should be obvious.
I use the iCal calendar for my appointments and always-too-long
to-do list. The iPod can display (though not create) calendars, and
that will be handy for me when I'm on-site at clients and have not
dragged in my iBook. I can check appointments and to-do lists
directly from the iPod. To transfer calendars, I use iSync. This
can also transfer contacts from the Mac's Address Book, but I use
my cell phone for all of that kind of information, so that's not
important to me.
Another nice feature is the ability to read text files put into
the iPods Notes folder. I can imagine using this rather than the
paper notes and emails I sometimes print out to bring with me to a
Because of its sound capabilities, the iBook can also play
audible books. Just about all sound formats are supported, and
sites like Audible.com have
large selections to choose from. Of more interest to me is the fact
that a Google search for "technical audiobooks" turns up a lot of
links. Unfortunately, many of them are tape only, and a large
number are for Barnes and Noble who has recently discontinued
offering these at all, but there must be some real, downloadable
tech titles out there somewhere. If so, I may be using iTunes and
those earbuds more than I thought, because listening to a tech book
while on a long car trip would be great. That's definitely
something I have to investigate more.
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