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.

Feels So Good

Chuck Mangione comes to Wickenburg.

Last night, I had the privilege and pleasure to sit second row center at a Chuck Mangione concert. In Wickenburg.

Say what you will about Wickenburg’s lack of nearly everything — as I [too] often do — but it has two extraordinary things that make life here a bit more interesting. One of them is the Del E. Webb Center for the Performing Arts. And each year, the folks who manage the Webb Center do a damn good job at lining up entertainers to inject a little culture into this otherwise cultural black hole.

The annual lineup is always a mix of entertainers. There’s country music, jazz, dance, spoken word, and more. While most acts will appeal to adults — after all, more than half of Wickenburg’s winter population is over 55 — there are usually a handful appropriate for families. That’s great (if local families take the kids out) because it exposes them to quality entertainment with a higher cultural value than what they’re probably watching on television. What’s great about the Webb Center is that while adult ticket prices are in the $30 to $45 range, kids tickets are usually just $5.

Product ImageMike and I normally attend one or two performances at the Webb Center each season. In November, we saw “A Charlie Brown Christmas with the David Benoit Quartet.” Mr. Benoit and his companions played a combination of their own music, as well as classic Peanuts music by Vince Guaraldi. It was a great show and perfect for the upcoming Christmas season.

Last night’s performance by Chuck Mangione and his five-piece band was, by far, the most enjoyable performance I’ve attended at the Webb Center. The music was full of energy — my foot was tapping from the very first note to the last. Each member of the ensemble took turns entertaining us with solos while they played Mangione favorites like Bellavia, Main Squeeze, and Chase the Clouds Away, Children of Sanchez. They played for 90 minutes without interruption, left the stage, and returned to a standing ovation to play the classic jazz hit, Feels So Good. Mr. Mangione quipped that the song had put both his daughters through college.

Chuck Mangione Autographed CDAfter the show, most people left quickly, as they usually do at the Webb Center. But those of us who remained behind got the opportunity to meet Mr. Mangione in person. There was quite a crowd for him, which was great to see. I was one of the last to step up. I’d bought a CD at the end of the show (as I usually do) and Mr. Mangione autographed it for me while I thanked him for coming to Wickenburg.

Last night’s concert was sold out, which is always great to see. There were people in the audience who had come from as far away as Connecticut and Tennessee just to see the show. It’s somewhat embarrassing when “big name” musicians like David Benoit or R. Carlos Nakai and William Eaton (who came last year) come to Wickenburg and play to a half- or three-quarters-full house. After all, the Webb Center only has 600 seats — you’d think we’d be able to get 600 people to come to a live performance that didn’t require a lengthy drive down to Phoenix or Scottsdale. Unfortunately, not everyone in Wickenburg understands or appreciates the value of this great cultural facility. For those of us who do, it’s a special treat.

And in case you’re wondering what the extraordinary thing in Wickenburg is, it’s the Desert Caballeros Western Museum. Don’t let its appearance from the street fool you — it’s bigger and better than it looks. Next time you’re in Wickenburg, see for yourself.

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.

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