fognl

Get off my lawn.

Monday, December 26, 2005

The Finer Things

Went to the Apple store on the Plaza today to get my 4GB iPod.

Having finally gone into an Apple store and touched the actual hardware and place in person, all I can say is, it's no wonder Apple devotees are so rabid and growing in number. Everything about the place, not to mention the products it sells, is cool. Everything is all bleached maple, matte-finish aluminum, and clean lines. Even the credit card machines had the Mac UI-type buttons on them.

I played around with a couple of machines there, one of which was a notebook. It had a titanium case, and a really clean look about it. There were no idiotic "Made for Windows XP" stickers on it, no "Centrino" stickers, or any other stupid stuff. The desktop wasn't littered with "1000 hours of AOL" icons, annoying tooltips, or talking paper clips. Just clean design, and smooth operation. It looked like it cost a lot, and was worth every penny. I tried closing the lid on the notebook. On my HP pavilion, when you grab the lid and start to pull it toward you, there's a series of squeaks and groans as the tight-fitting plastic hinges strain to hold the lid up against your will. On the Mac, it's as though hydraulic fluid is at work somewhere inside the lid making the motion smooth when you move it, and making it stay put when you let go of it. It's nice.

Anyway, I got my iPod and left. I noticed that even the plastic bag they put the box in was classy. The plastic is a matte finish stuff that feels a little like cloth. There's a silver drawstring in the top of it that looks like it was made out of the thread used by Tolkien's elves in Lord of the Rings to make their magic rope. Inside it was the iPod, my precious. The box it came in is a work of art. I felt like I was tampering with something when I opened it. I think they even put some kind of perfume in there. There was plastic bag inside which, when I opened it, emitted a smell. It was a pleasing bouquet: antiseptic, yet playful and ethereal with hints of rosewood and saddle leather.

The iPod itself is, of course, a nice plaything. I'm running Linux on my HP, so there were a couple of potential gotchas associated with making it work.

Just to be safe, I backed up the firmware on the iPod in case Linux did something stupid in the process of assimilating it. After plugging it in, this command:

dd if=/dev/sda1 of=~/ipod_firmware

...backs up the primary partition on the iPod, which contains the OS. It's about 87MB. I should be able to run dd in the reverse direction and restore the iPod to like-new condition if I need to if something blows chunks.

I installed a program called GTKPod that talks to the iPod and spent a few minutes figuring it out. GTKPod does a few things that iTunes doesn't do, but it doesn't handle the DRM-infected songs that you download from the iTunes site like the iTunes software does. I don't know what I'll do about that, or if I even care. I'm certainly not going to boot Windows every time I want to update this thing. So far, so good. GTKPod lets you create a bunch of playlists and groups of playlists, normalize sets of songs, set ID tags on the mp3s you're transferring to the iPod, import your existing playlists, and a bunch of other stuff I haven't messed with yet. A side benefit is that once you've updated the tags in the songs destined for the iPod, the ones on your computer are updated as well. I'm still in the process of figuring the photo thing out, but all of the other stuff seems to incorporate just fine into my Linux-based world without a hitch.

One thing I haven't dealt with yet: When you plug the iPod in, it displays a warning: "Do not disconnect." It's supposed to stop displaying the warning when you unmount it, but it doesn't for me yet. There's probably still a module that's still loaded and poking at the iPod when I'm done with it, and it's probably the usb module. I can remove it from memory, but I don't want to lose the USB mouse and other USB stuff. So, I just pull the plug after I'm done. No ill effects so far.

I think what I'll ultimately do is the best thing yet: Buy a Mac! I'm going to turn into a total Mac snob at that point, and be disgruntled at work because they'll make me use Windows. Bugger...




1 Comments:

  • At 12:17 AM , Blogger Dale Cooper said...

    Man, you are a gear head. You should be the site architect for, um, that web site where we help people.

    I never thought packaging could be such a comforting experience. Just think, there are package architects and engineers out there working for Apple.

     

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