I’ve Become a Pod People

I love music! I love my MP3s. I used to love MTV, but that’s another story…

And I love taking my tunes with me. So, my faithful, if not glamorous, old Frontier Labs NexII MP3 player & I had been longtime companions. We’ve been together on trips, at work, occassionally at the gym, & on many, many walks. But the old guy was showing his years — the battery compartment was finicky at best, it stopped recognizing any CF memory card other than one specific 128MB Sandisk, and became prone to random shut-offs over the past 3-4 months.

More than once last year, Dede had suggested buying me a new MP3 player for my birthday — and Christmas too! But I was miserly & stubborn, insisting that my NexII could hold on a bit longer. And it’s worth mentioning that the NexII was actually hers to begin with, so I’ve gotta credit her for getting me into an MP3 player in the first place. Well, this year I finally gave in to temptation and asked for a new player for my birthday.

I had my mind set on one, the oddly-named MobiBLU DAH-1550i, which is a 1GB player available only via Walmart.com. I liked the idea that I could drag & drop files to the player (just as I had with my NexII) without having to learn some new interface or abandon Windows Media Player that I’ve grown very comfy with. But the MobiBLU’s capacity is a bit limited and I couldn’t help feeling that I should aim a little higher since I had waited this long and would probably have the player for years to come.

Now, I’ll admit that I’ve liked the looks of the iPods all along. And that the iPod is an industry standard and has all sorts of accessories available for it definitely appealed to both of us. Oh sure, I made sarcastic little remarks about all those mindless Apple zealots who bought into Steve Jobs’ dastardly world domination master plan like rodents following the Pied Piper to the river.

Steve Jobs and the iPod - World domination is at hand!

But secretly, I coveted those sexy little MP3 players with their iconic click-wheel interface, glossy casing, & rounded corners. Earlier this year I had an chance to try Amberly’s iPod Mini and boy, that really hooked me. But the one thing that kept stopping me just short of jumping on the bandwagon was iTunes. I’d read/heard/seen enough to know that iTunes would force me to relinquish control over my music and play the game the Apple way. With iTunes, I’d have to learn a new interface and accept that placing music on the iPod meant moving not copying files to and fro. Nope, there seemed to be too much baggage that I didn’t want to deal with, so the iPod was just not for me.

But despite my resistance, Apple’s sneaky & infectious advertising was working – those cute little iPods kept calling out to me. It’s a best-seller. Websites heap praise upon praise upon the iPod family. TV & print media say that the cool people all have iPods. So who was I to question the iPod? But still there was that darned iTunes…

Dede suggested that there might be some 3rd party software to load music on the iPod without iTunes. Sure enough, while nosing around on Dennis Lloyd’s iLounge.com website recently, I came across some info on a nifty program called Anapod Explorer from Red Chair Software that promised to allow me to retain control of my music, with an iPod, but without iTunes.

All the glory of the iPod but none of the baggage of iTunes? Oh yeah, you betcha… I caved. Dede gave me an awesome early birthday gift — a shiny green 4GB iPod Mini — just in time to take on vacation a couple of weeks ago.   Awesome!   Simply awesome!

A green iPod Mini - it's all good!

So, yup, I’m a pod people now. Steve Jobs is my master. Resistance was indeed futile. The magical little green gem sounds great! When you hear people talk about the intuitive and effortless interface, well, it’s true — the touch-sensitive click-wheel really is that easy to operate. And Anapod Explorer works like a charm, allowing me to move my MP3s to & fro as I please!

Of course, once you’ve been assimilated and have become a pod people, well, you’ve just gotta go find more pod people to hang out with. And there are lots of really good websites out there with iPod info, tricks, tips, & accessory reviews! For example:

iLounge

iPod Hacks

iPod Garage

iPoditude – The iPod Blog

I should mention that iTunes isn’t all bad – in fact, lots of people really like it and Apple updates it often. If you’re not already well-versed and comfy with another piece of software (like Windows Media Player or MusicMatch) then iTunes can be a great tool for playing and managing your digital music collection. However, I’ll also caution you that iTunes gives you the opportunity to purchase music from the Internet – but the music you download at a little under a buck apiece is not in MP3 format and, as I noted in my Digital Music Project blog post back in February, Apple’s AAC music files are encrypted with copy protection. You don’t buy DRM-enabled music — you rent it! So, be sure to consider that before you pay to download music.

So, what are you waiting for? Fall in line, become a pod people, and enjoy some awesome tunes!