I Bought an iPod Photo

I didn’t want to do it, but I had to.

The biggest problem I have as the author of computer books and articles is that in order to write about hardware and software, I have to own it. Or at least have it in my possession for enough time to learn and write about it.

That’s why I bought an iPod years ago. I had to write about using iTunes with an iPod for my Mac OS X book. I couldn’t get a loaner from Apple and I didn’t know anyone who had one. So I had to buy one. I still have it and still use it. It’s the original iPod, which held 1,000 songs on its whopping 5 GB hard drive. At the time, it was an incredible breakthrough in MP3 technology. But today, it’s a dinosaur, almost embarrassing to admit owning. (I own a Newton, too. But let’s not go there today, huh?) But it works, so I don’t care.

Want to know where I spent the most time listening to my ancient iPod? In my old helicopter, Three-Niner-Lima. I had Paul, my old mechanic, install an audio patch into the intercom system and put an RCA jack on the side of the instrument panel. I bought a nice leather case for the iPod with a mounting do-dad so I could hang it beside that jack. Then I used a standard Radio Shack cable (not bought locally; those guys don’t have anything you need when you need it) to patch the iPod into the helicopter’s intercom system. I could listen to tunes while I flew. Best of all, when there was a radio transmission, the music would automatically cut out so I could hear the radio. Ditto when I talked on the radio. A great arrangement. It made some of those long cross-country flights over Arizona and California and Nevada deserts a bit more pleasant.

The iPod Photo came out about a month or so ago. Probably less. I can’t remember. Anyway, Apple took the next logical step and made it possible to put photos on an iPod. So they’re worth looking at, they changed the screen to color. And since 10 or 20 GB isn’t enough to hold all your music and photos, they come with either 40 GB or 60 GB worth of storage.

I tried to get one from Apple as a loaner. They have an editorial loan program that is extremely difficult to get hardware from. I succeeded twice times in the past — I got an iBook loaner once and an iMac (ET style) loaner another time. But this time I wasn’t as lucky. I was told the waiting list was “a mile long.” Wow. So I bought one.

It came yesterday. I had company so I couldn’t tear open the box and immediately play with it. So I took it to work this morning. I’d just finished work on [yet] another Word book and was waiting for the index to come from the indexer so I could lay it out. I’d promised articles to two publishers. But I could spare a few hours to configure and learn about my new toy — I mean, vital piece of hardware.

It’s cool. No doubt about it. The dock it comes with sure beats that FireWire cable I left on my desk for syncing and recharging the old iPod. And the color screen is beautiful.

I stuck it in the dock and immediately started putting songs on it. I was able to fit my entire iTunes music library, which really isn’t much — only about 1,600 songs. (No reason for me to copy all my CDs to my computer’s hard drive when they weren’t going to fit on my iPod anyway.) Then I copied my iPhoto photo library to the iPod. All 2,600 photos. When I was done, I’d used less than half of the iPod’s 40 GB. Sheesh.

I got an e-mail from one of the editors waiting for articles and wrote back to her, mentioning that I’d just gotten an iPod Photo. How about an article that explains how to create a custom slide show with music on the iPod? She wrote back saying that they’d been talking about iPod photo in a meeting that morning. Write the article! So I did. And I submitted it this afternoon.

So I guess it must be an important piece of hardware, necessary for my work. After all, I’d owned it for less than 24 hours when I wrote an article about it that earned me $300. Another article and it’ll be paid for.

And yes, the new helicopter will be iPod-compatible. It has a built-in audio jack. But I think I’ll stick the old iPod in there, just for old time’s sake. After all, 1,000 songs really is enough.

What do you think?