iPod iDolatry

I got a 2 GB iPod Shuffle for my birthday (thanks, Mom!) — an entirely unanticipated gift. I’d never owned an MP3 player and, when I’d seen the Shuffle in stores, figured it wouldn’t really be all that useful — no display, you know? But then I got one of my own, and my world changed.

My favorite music is with me everywhere I go! This has literally transformed my commute (via tape adapter), my walks, and even washing the dishes (while I can play the same music through my laptop’s speakers, it sounds so much better through headphones). For walks, it’s almost as good as ThinkGeek’s personal soundtrack t-shirt, except that it doesn’t annoy others around me. (I do have to check my impulse to sing along, though!)

I thought the lack of a display would bug me. But it turns out that it supports the main ways I listen to music anyway — sequential, or random. If I don’t like the current song, I can just skip to the next one. What a beautiful little device!

Even better: I’ve discovered an actual use for podcasts! I’d experimented with a couple in the past, but whenever I’m actually using my computer, I’m almost always processing information (writing code, reading papers, work stuff) in a way that doesn’t permit me to pay attention to talk. But now… I can listen to podcasts in all of those same places (car, walks, dishes)! My favorites so far are:

  • The Loh Life, by Sandra Tsing-Loh: I love her articles in the Atlantic Monthly and, the few times I’ve caught her in the mornings on KPCC, I’ve loved her short (~3-minute) monologues. But it never seems to sync up with my commute these days. No more! Now I have Sandra with me anytime I want! Edit: Sandra also has a daily 1-minute show called The Loh Down on Science!
  • Cast On, by Brenda Dayne: I experimented with a few knitting podcats, but this is the only one that really stuck. I think I’d listen to “Cast On” even if I weren’t a knitter, just for the fabulous music she plays throughout the show. I haven’t recognized a single song, yet I’ve liked every one of them! The knitting-related material is great, too, from her “sweater of the day” stories to the thought-inspiring Essay.

Podcasts, like audio books, are definitely great for knitting accompaniment. Now my Shuffle makes it easy and portable. Can Apple ever go wrong?


  1. geoff said,

    August 31, 2008 at 5:45 am

    Yup. MP3 players are cool inventions, Apple makes the best ones, and that’s why their stock price has gone up so much in the last several years.

    Couldn’t agree more about podcasts. I enjoy Car Talk, Radio Lab, and Venture Voice, but I’m always looking for more.

  2. jim said,

    September 4, 2008 at 9:32 pm

    I’m a big fan of Wait Wait, Don’t Tell Me (NPR) and The Acoustic Lounge on KSFS (updated whenever they get around to it).

    Can Apple ever go wrong?

    If you’re a software vendor who’s supporting more than just Mac OSX, yes, absolutely. (Unlike every other *nix platform, Mac OSX doesn’t support the necessary operations to do off-screen rendering.)

  3. What I Learned Today » Blog Archive » Geocache and Geoseek said,

    September 12, 2008 at 11:01 pm

    […] This is my second post in the Kiri Learns to Use Technology Ten Years After Everyone Else series (previously: iPods). Due to an exceedingly generous friend, I now have my own GPS unit. That means I can join all the cool kids at geocaching.com and play technological hide-and-seek! […]

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