Saturday, June 20, 2009

iLoves iPod

Not long ago iTunes was a foreign concept; the iPod a device of mystery and podcasts of no more importance than a mote of dust among the billions on the computer monitor. No more. The iTunes logo is prominent on my desktop. I’m a regular in the iTunes store and iPod goes where I go. I’ve become a podcast junkie.
Now everyone over 30 has rolled their eyes in contempt and turned away so it’s just us older folk left. Go now - download iTunes. It’s like a Bergren Forum lecture series available 24/7 at home on your computer or anywhere in the world where an iPod may whisper in your ears.
I bought an iPod because when we travel Rick likes to drive with the radio off. I, on the other hand, wish to be aurally entertained.
Emilie encouraged me certain that I would like an iPod and Jay said it was easy to understand. My friend, Susan, said that if she could download podcasts, anyone could. Buoyed with their reassurance and enthusiasm I ordered an iPod - engraved - Elaine Hardman, CEO
ITunes is a free download offered with the Barbie-Doll philosophy which is that people will buy things to go with the free system. Not willing to disappoint I started with the iPod and added a docking station so I could listen in the studio and then needed a case to protect it and finally (or not) new headphones for comfort.
Ready to make nice with this technology I began by ripping the Dixie Chicks. I don’t actually know what ripping is but iTunes asked if it might perform the service when it registered presence of a CD and then it sped through the music. When it finished, the screen showed each song title, length, genre, artist, recording date and the name of the album. It even, as if my musical opinion mattered, allowed me to rank the songs with zero to four stars.
I ripped through every CD in the house including AU Concert Band music that I needed to become fluent with and all the great music from Emilie and Josh’s wedding. With the historic cowboy music Jay found somewhere and lots of old rock tunes it added up to 1270 songs in one day.
Either iTunes or the iPod can sort and play by many criteria and it will just play and play and play without juggling CDs. Who invented this thing and why didn’t they tell me sooner?
After ripping I dove into the iTunes store where it seems that the best stuff they offer is FREE. That’s my kind of store.
Waiting for me now are nearly 558 podcasts (19 days of steady listening) including 13 short lessons in conversational Spanish and countless lessons on technology and science. If I wasn’t born a geek, I have evolved into one.
While walking through Wellsville one week doing errands the Vinyl Café visited my ears. The VC is rather like the Prairie Home Companion but set in Canada and featuring Dave and his friends. In this particular episode Dave acquired and faced his fear of rats and brought one home for the kids after being locked in the trunk of his car with it. I likely looked the fool laughing while picking up toothpaste.
This American Life is often, and deservedly, at the top of the podcast download list. It’s always interesting - so interesting that I donated to the show because it’s just too good to be free.
Podcasts aren’t all fun and games. There are programs about philosophy and debates on moral questions. CBC radio offers Quirks and Quarks as well as Ideas. In the political arena I like Rachel Maddow’s information but not Bill O’Reily’s vicious streak. For balance I listen to Left, Right and Center. For daily living advice there is Stuff You Ought to Know and Stuff Your Mother Taught You. For emotional and human interest there is The Moth - a series of programs with real people telling about themselves or family members. One can download whole books and listen while walking the dog or weeding the garden.
My exercise videos nestle into the 120 gig hard drive along with a photo album, all that music and days worth of podcasts and vodcasts (videos) and yet 80% of the drive is empty, waiting for more - and it all fits in my pocket.
iTunes holds a marvelous world of information and entertainment with podcasts that are like winning the information lottery every day. The computer makes it work, the iPod makes it portable and all kinds of things make it really worth having.

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