About My New Fifth Generation iPod Nano

Holy cow!

Yesterday, my Fifth Generation iPod — approximately equal to what they’re now calling an iPod Classic — the first version to support video — died again. I have a tendency to let the battery drain completely and sit in my purse like that. Then, when I attempt to sync, my Mac doesn’t know what the heck it’s connected to and wants to restore it.

This is the fifth time this has happened and the third time it has happened in the past two months. When I left for an appointment yesterday, it was still connected to my Mac, trying to import about 25GB of podcasts and music and videos. It was taking a long time, so I left it.

Coincidentally, that appointment was at the Biltmore Apple Store, which is walking distance from our “Rear Window” apartment in Phoenix. I was bringing in my 12″ PowerBook, which had a dead hard disk. I wanted to know what it would cost to replace the disk. I learned a few things:

  • The 12″ PowerBook computer was first manufactured in early 2003.
  • I bought mine in July 2003.
  • On a 12″ PowerBook, you must remove 23 screws to get at and remove the hard disk. You then have to screw them all back in. In the right places.
  • Apple has absolutely no interest in repairing 6-year-old laptops.

I’ll blog more about my solution to this another time. Let me get back to my new Nano.

Of course, I hadn’t bought it yet. But I figured that since I was there, I may as well take a look.

iPod Nano

This isn’t my Nano, my thumb, or a video of anyone I know. But mine looks a lot like this one.

And I liked what I saw. So I bought a 16 GB red one. Yes, it’s (product)red, so a portion of the purchase price goes to fight AIDS in Africa. But that’s not why I picked red. I just like red. I’d like to help fight AIDS in Africa, but they’d get a lot less money from me if it was (product)turquoise.

Understand this: I bought a new iPod to replace one that simply wasn’t functioning reliably. The idea was to buy an iPod that would work with the iPod setup in my car and elsewhere. (The Shuffle won’t.)

I liked the idea of video, but since the video feature sucked battery power in my old iPod, I didn’t use it often. I didn’t expect to use it much on this iPod either.

All I wanted was something I could use to listen to podcasts and music while I drove or flew.

I got so much more.

This little sucker is absolutely packed with features.

  • It plays MP3s and other audio format files.
  • It plays movies.
  • It has an FM radio tuner built in. The FM tuner can identify songs so you can tag them and later sync them with your computer for easy shopping on the iTunes Store.
  • It has a video camera.
  • It has a pedometer. It can sync up with Nike’s Web site for some reason I’m not clear about and probably wouldn’t care about if I did.
  • It has games.
  • It can tell when you tilt it so it orients the screen properly. This tilt thing can also be used by games.
  • It can record voice memos.
  • It can store and display photos.
  • It can sync with Address Book and iCal on my Mac.
  • It can store notes.

It does a huge amount of stuff I didn’t expect. And every time I find something new, I get all giddy, like a kid.

Playing with one of these silly things for the first time — as an owner — is better than opening presents at Christmas.

Now I know what you’re saying. “Maria, you work with Apple products all the time. Didn’t you know that the Nano had all these features?”

No, I didn’t. I mean I knew about the movies and heard about the built-in video camera. But the tilt thing and games and pedometer and radio were all quite a shock.

Maybe you’re saying, “Maria, how could you spend nearly $200 and not know what you’re getting?”

Well, I thought that what I thought I was getting was worth $200. The Nano comes in a really sleek little package. Weighs next to nothing. Incredible quality video for such a tiny screen. I was satisfied.

Now I’m beyond that.

Do all MP3 players have this many bells and whistles? What have I been missing?

As you might imagine, I’m very happy with my new purchase. The only adjustment I’ll need is limiting the data I put on it to less than 16 GB. My old iPod has a 30 GB hard disk in it; this is quite a step down.

But I’ll deal with it.

My iTunes Plus Shopping Spree

I pick up a bunch of albums full of classics my parents used to listen to.

I grew up in the 60s and 70s; my parents grew up in the 40s and 50s. When I was a kid — before I learned to tune in a radio by myself, that is — I was kind of stuck listening to the kind of music my parents liked. I’m talking about Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Dean Martin, Nat King Cole, and other “vocalists.”

Although I didn’t really like the music, I didn’t hate it, either. And nowadays, hearing those old songs brings back memories from my childhood. I can still remember trimming the Christmas tree in the living room of our New Jersey home, listening to “It Was a Very Good Year” from an LP on the console stereo by the stairs.

I’ve been collecting some of those old songs for a while, as well as songs from way before that time — big band songs that really made you want to swing. But I never really got into collecting this music as much as I wanted to complete my classic rock collection with my favorite songs from the 70s and 80s.

Sometime within the past year or so, I stopped buying music online. I was simply fed up with the limitations put on the DRM-protected music available on the iTunes music store. I wasn’t interested in breaking the law and downloading music from illegal sites. I wanted to buy it. But I couldn’t see buying an entire CD at a store for $15 or more (plus tax or shipping or both). So I pretty much stopped buying music, except, of course for new releases by my favorite artists: Steely Dan, Eric Clapton, etc.

Frank Sinatra Album CoverEnter iTunes Plus. I wrote about it on Wednesday, explaining how you could use it to update your iTunes Store purchases of EMI-published music to remove the DRM and improve sound quality. One of the things I didn’t mention in that article is that I bought a DRM-free album, Classic Sinatra – His Greatest Performances, 1953-1960. I don’t know about you, but I think 20 songs for $12.99 and immediate gratification without DRM restrictions is a pretty good deal.

So good a deal, in fact, that I stopped by on Thursday and picked up two other albums: Dino – The Essential Dean Martin and The Very Best of Nat King Cole.

I’m buying this music for a few reasons reasons. First of all, I like it and I want to add it to my collection. Second, I think it’s a great deal. And third, I want to do my part to support legal online sales of DRM-free music.

Let’s face it: I’m not a music pirate and most people who rip CDs and buy music for their iPod aren’t either. The music industry is not going to go broke by removing protection from the music. I believe more people will buy it with the restrictions removed. I believe that this could be the answer to turn around the music industry, to get more people buying music again.

But then again, I might be extremely naive about this whole thing and one of the few fools buying iTunes Plus music.

What do you think? Use the comments link or form to share your thoughts with other site visitors.

Gila Monster

My first Final Cut Express video project.

After spending three days going through a tutorial to learn Final Cut Express HD, I was ready to create my first video project. I’m sharing it with blog readers so you can see how much effort a person can expend on 25 seconds of video.

About the Project

This particular project features a Gila Monster (pronounced “heela monster”), which is a rather large lizard that can be found in the Arizona desert. If I’m lucky, I see one or two of these in a year, so they’re not exactly common. They are, like so many things in the desert, poisonous, so you don’t want to get too close. But since they’re not exactly fast and they’re definitely not aggressive, you can get photos of them in action if you have equipment with you.

On a backroad trip with Mike and some friends, we happened to come upon one croassing the road. I had my video camera with me and whipped it out to capture some pretty decent footage. This Final Cut Express project cuts out the boring shaky bits, replaces our silly comments with music, and adds opening and closing titles. This is the first in a series of short videos I hope to add to wickenburg-az.com, so make the site more interesting to visitors.

But this is also an experiment to check out video formats and Final Cut Express’s export feature. I had great success when exporting to QuickTime movie format, for iPod, and for Apple TV. But the Windows Media Player export didn’t work right at all and the AVI format was extremely poor quality, despite the file size, so I’m not going to distribute them. I just spent another few minutes using the iPod version of the file to create an e-mail version using QuickTime’s Share command. That worked best of all for the Web view of the file. Only 3.3 MB (which is smaller than the iPod version, and it looks pretty good.

Getting it Online

XHTML purists will tell you that the EMBED tag is a no-no in Web development. I think it has something to do with Internet Explorer which, for some reason, can’t interpret XHTML and CSS like the rest of the Web browsers on this planet.

So this project is also an experiment to see if the QuickTime Embed plugin for WordPress will work. If you’re reading this article shortly after I put it online and there’s no QuickTime movie below (or if the whole site is messed up), it’s because I’m trying this out and debugging. (Check in again in about 30 minutes.)

That said, here’s the movie with a Poster movie. I think I’l leave the iPod file for wickenburg-az.com distribution.