January 11, 2007
A few things about my iPod

OK, I've got the iPod. I've started ripping CDs and synching them to it. And I'm going to exercise my God-given right as a blogger to tell you all the things about it that I like and dislike.

1. The rip and synch process is faster and easier than I thought it would be. Honestly, I wasn't sure what to expect, but I must have thought it'd be more laborious and time-consuming than it's been, because I've been very pleasantly surprised by that part of it.

2. While the synch process is easy, it's not as useful as it should be. When I ripped the first batch of CDs, I went through each one inside iTunes, and unchecked the songs I didn't want to copy to the iPod. I've got more music than I can put on the iPod (since it's only a Nano), so why clutter it with stuff I don't love? Unfortunately, unchecking the boxes had no effect, as I discovered when I started listening to the results. As far as I can tell, the answer was to have not imported the tuned I didn't want to synch in the first place.

But that's ridiculous. I've got plenty of hard drive space, just not enough iPod space. I want to be able to cycle some music off and on the iPod periodically. I seem to have the choice of removing songs from the music library when I want them off the iPod, or just not importing them in the first place. Either way, should I ever want to add something back, I'll have to re-import it. Why can't it be as simple as checking or unchecking a box? Am I missing something?

3. I've decided I hate the ear buds. Maybe my ear canals are small, but after wearing these suckers for a little while, my ears hurt, and not from the volume of the music. A simple set of headphones is on my to-get list.

4. At some point, I'm going to want to hunt around for new music, stuff I can download and try out. I'm looking for recommendations of MP3 sources that are a) free; b) legal; and c) organized in a way that I can find stuff I'm more likely to enjoy. Any suggestions?

5. If I were a jogger, I'd probably wear my iPod while jogging. Boredom is a real problem for me when I (try to) exercise, so distraction is a must. I can see the case against, but I'd be wearing the iPod and daring anyone to stop me.

Overall, I give the experience an A-. I can see why these things are popular, and I daresay that at some point I'll want a bigger iPod so I can avoid the problem mentioned in #2. But for now, I'm happy with what I've got.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on January 11, 2007 to Music | TrackBack

I don't have a nano, so I don't know if this works. On my bulky-o version, iTunes has a checkmark on the summary tab to "Only Sync checked items"

If not, you could make a smartplaylist with some subset of your songs and only sync that.

As for new stuff, I find the live music archive at archive.org to be fantastic. There are, for example, almost a dozen Spankers concerts there, recorded and posted with the band's permission. They were recorded between 1996 and 2006, so you get everything from Banks of the Ohio & Lullaby of the Leaves to Leafblower, including the new bass and banjo players who started on this tour.

I have earbud attachments that slide into the ear canal. They actually come with three different sized tips depending on the size of your ear canal.

Posted by: Michael Croft on January 11, 2007 7:38 AM

Did you set the "only sync checked songs" item in the iPod preferences? I've used that without problem.

A better approach, I've found, is to create playlists that have the music that you want on the iPod and then don't synch all music- just selected playlists. For example, I have one called "Must Have on iPod" where I drag things I always want on there, some others I've created, one that contains all new music (addedin the last 3 weeks), and then a smart playlist that randomly picks tracks I haven't listened to lately & puts them on the iPod (and once I listen to them, the list automatically updates with new stuff).

Are you talking about the buds that come with it? They're horrible. However, the nicer Apple earbuds with the white rubber ends are quite good, I've found, and smaller than any headphones you can buy.

AllofMP3.com is legal, I think; it's Russian and follows Russian law. eMusic is a good source for alternative stuff, and it's all DRM-free. You can also get a copy of QTFairPlay, which will un-DRM stuff you buy from iTunes. I do it on principle; I don't want to do anything illegal with the music, but I don't appreciate being treated like a criminal, so I unprotect everything and then use it in strictly legal ways.

Posted by: John on January 11, 2007 7:39 AM

You can set the nano the sync to your whole library, or only to one playlist. So you can make a "music for my ipod" playlist, put in that playlist the songs you want, sync only to that playlist, and keep all the other songs in your library. Whenever you add or remove songs from the playlist, the selection on the ipod will chnage accordingly the next time you sync.

From apple.com:

To have iTunes automatically load songs onto your iPod:
Connect your iPod to your computer.
When the iPod icon appears in the iTunes window (below Devices), select it.
If the Summary pane isn't showing, click the Summary tab.
Make sure that "Manually manage music" is not selected.
Click the Music tab and do one of the following:
To automatically update your iPod with all the songs and playlists in your library, select "Sync music" and then select "All songs and playlists." iTunes loads the songs and playlists in your iTunes library onto your iPod, and deletes songs from your iPod that aren't in your library.
To automatically update your iPod with only certain playlists, select "Sync music" and "Selected playlists," and then select the playlists you want synchronized.

Posted by: Christof Spieler on January 11, 2007 7:39 AM

I've decided I hate the ear buds.

I really don't like earbuds, and have used these these inexpensive, old-fashioned headphones while working out for several years now. The sound quality certainly won't blow you away, but it's adequate for workouts and such.

Posted by: kevin whited on January 11, 2007 7:56 AM

First off, I'm amused by your reference to "the iPod." It's just funny to put it that way.

Secondly, don't use those crappy ear buds that come with the iPod. I use Sony earbuds that fit comfortably in the ear, block out more sound so you don't have to turn them up as loud, and have considerably better sound quality.

Posted by: Xanthippas on January 11, 2007 8:59 AM

You don't have to 'synch' your ipod at all. I have that feature turned off. That allows me to manually copy files as if the ipod were another drive.

Posted by: KH on January 11, 2007 9:06 AM

Thanks to everyone for the feedback. I don't think I had seen the page where you can "only synch checked items" before this morning, so I'll seek that out. And maybe playlists are the way to go. I'll give that some thought. And thanks for the earphone recommendation, Kevin, that looks like exactly the sort of thing I've got in mind. Thanks again!

Posted by: Charles Kuffner on January 11, 2007 10:06 AM

The Daily Download at Salon.com is a great and free way to download new music that you might not otherwise hear.


Posted by: Jeff N. on January 11, 2007 10:23 AM

Ear buds that come with players are notoriously poor. Most people spring for a set they like.

I sometimes blog about MP3s on my other blog - the journal. AllofMP3.com was great, it is now a hassle as the American large music industry, with the credit card industry and American government support is trying to drive it out of business.




Posted by: Easter Lemming on January 11, 2007 10:38 AM

One thing you might consider is using the rating system - it's reasonably easy to assign ratings, and that gives you more versatility in managing your music through smart playlists. The ratings don't have to be value judgments, they can just be a convenient place to store information.

For instance, you can use 5 stars for "must have on iPod," 3 stars for "acceptable on iPod" and 1 star for "never on iPod," then create two smart playlists - one that includes all songs with 5 stars, and one that includes a random selection of 3 star songs big enough to fill up the rest of the iPod - and set the iPod to synch only those playlists.

It might be a bit more work than clicking the checkboxes, but the ability to automatically generate playlists based on your ratings makes up for it, in my opinion - you can create a playlist of all the 3 star songs you haven't listened to recently, for instance.

Posted by: kodi on January 11, 2007 11:06 AM

I would strongly recommend playlists. I keep about a dozen iPod-specific playlists in iTunes on our family mac and swap them out frequently with only a couple of mouse clicks.

The playlists also let me more easily tailor what I'm hearing to the occasion -- or to keep stuff for the children on there without subjecting myself to it!

Posted by: David on January 11, 2007 1:23 PM

I would strongly recommend playlists. I keep about a dozen iPod-specific playlists in iTunes on our family mac and swap them out frequently with only a couple of mouse clicks.

The playlists also let me more easily tailor what I'm hearing to the occasion -- or to keep stuff for the children on there without subjecting myself to it!

Posted by: David on January 11, 2007 1:38 PM

You may need to invest in Shinza's Ear Drop speakers. Because they come in multiple sizes for smaller ears.

Posted by: Michael Croft on January 11, 2007 9:29 PM

Everytime i have plugged my ipod to my computer it updates straight from itunes without even asking me if i wanted to do that,i unchecked the box that asks if i want to 'check for updates automatically' but it still updated from itunes so when i deleted songs from itunes songs would delete from my ipod. I recently had my computer rebooted so iv lost every song on it,im scared if i plug my ipod in now it will delete every song on my ipod and thats like 10gb of music that will take a long while to download. What can i do to make sure my ipod wont be wiped out?

Posted by: Coral on January 23, 2007 5:48 PM