Friday, April 21, 2006

Mission Accomplished

Easter passed and I forgot to mention that I made good on my Lenten Resolution: The iPod is out of the box. And then some. I have imported all 465 songs from my computer’s library and created a handful of playlists. I have mastered operation of the Click Wheel.

Mission accomplished. Sort of.

Do I love my iPod? You betchya.

Have I downloaded any photos? No. Video? No. Visited the iTunes Music Store? No. Investigated menu options like “Extras” and “Settings”? No and no.

For a good week, I wasn’t able to locate the “Shuffle” function and was forced to listen to tunes in alphabetical order. It took me two days to get past the letter “A.” I made it all the way to “D,” and then the devilish device sent me back to the beginning. Aaargh.

At some point during the initial charge, iTunes pulled a switcheroo, swapping out my library for an imposter, loaded with chestnuts by the Rolling Stones. An ambiguous pop-up message, which required a PhD in sentence diagramming to parse, asked if I wanted to replace “this” with “that.” I acknowledge that Apple’s programmers are technical gods, but someone needs to school them on the proper use of pronouns. Believing “this” to be the faux tunes and “that” to be my tunes, I clicked yes and poof! there went my 465 songs.

I pointed an extremely accusatory finger at Dave because A) he was there and B) he’s a huge fan of the Rolling Stones. Mere coincidence? I thought not.

Eventually, I salvaged my library by re-starting the computer, a technique I learned from the Desktop Support staff at my last job. Every single time I called to complain—like when Entertainment Weekly’s website failed to recognize my “cookie”—I was met with the same solution. “Have you tried to re-boot?” Well, no. I just despise having a good rant stymied by a simple, rational explanation.

With my library recovered, I thought my story would end at “and they lived happily ever.”

Not so fast. The iPod has spawned a cottage industry of supporting gadgets designed to ensure I never have to go without my own personal jukebox. Normally, I am not a huge fan of accessories. Some women simply must have the latest handbag, whereas I consider them the object that constantly swallows my keys and Chapstick. I haven’t worn a belt since George the First was president and scarves are too much like origami.

Yet I find myself longing for a cable/converter that will allow me to plug my iPod into the car stereo. I envision the blessed day when we can drive through Indiana without ever stumbling upon a Christian rock station doing its best to seduce us pagans with Nickelback soundalikes. (But I will miss the occasional detour into Country music, especially gems such as Tim McGraw’s “Live Like You Were Dying.” Never underestimate the lifetime entertainment value of a lyric like “I went 2.7 seconds on a bull named Fu Manchu.”)

I’d also like one of those Bose iPod docking stations—or a reasonable knock-off thereof—which would allow us to streamline our array of electronics. We have a tuner so ancient it has a “phono” connector for a long-since amputated turntable. It’s time to concede my Barry Manilow LPs have taken their last spin.

I’ve already sprung for the athletic strap. I snapped my iPod into the provided case, wrapped the Velcro band around my arm and headed out for a run. I quickly discovered that A) my video iPod is heavy, and B) my arms are scrawny. I couldn’t pull the strap tight enough to keep the iPod from chafing my skin. I wound up with half a dozen scabbed-over blisters, just in time for short-sleeved season. I’m waiting for the medical community to recognize this as a legitimate condition, like “Blackberry thumb.” The way I see it, I can either begin a strict regimen of bicep curls to bulk up the limb in question, or hope that the accessory gurus devise a strap for toddlers. Until then, I run with the iPod in my hand, which I’m sure will result in carpal tunnel.

But at least the damned thing is out of the box.


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