Lo, I have sunk into the depths of consumerisim…

I am far from being a “trendy” kind of guy. I tend to be either ahead or behind the curve in terms of whats cool and whats not.

Case in point: I had my first “website” before the Internet existed…okay, it was a BBS, but it was up and running in 1980. Arguably it was a blog, since I posted opinion pieces, and it was as close to the ‘web’ as you could get in 1980. And it had a forum of sorts. I was 16 at the time, and in those days no one except a real loser had a computer.

Flash forward to 2005. Everyone is on the Internet. Blogs are the “new” cool thing. Years ago, all the trendy folks started buying iPods. I was pretty skeptical, and even recently I stated some rather negative opinions about the gadget itself.

But I finally went out a couple of weeks ago and bought an iPod. I was seduced…

…the little gadgets carry gigabytes of music around. In the case of the one I bought, 20 gigabytes. My entire existing digital music library is only about 3 gigabytes.

But worse than that…a couple of months before I bought the iPod, I connected up to iTunes. And that was what did me in: quick and easy access to music the way I want it. I pay my $0.99 per song, I can pick and chose the songs I want from a library of something like a million tunes, I can burn them on CDs, play them on my computer (up to five different computers), or play them on…an iPod.

I found iTunes hit the magical “sweet” spot for me: I want to legitimately pay for my music, but I don’t want to be robbed of my right to choose how and when I want to play it. Sure, I’d much rather pay a more reasonably $0.49 a song or something, but iTunes seems for me at least to be a reasonable compromise between what I want and what the music industry seems to demand.

Why not go the subscription music route, like Napster or whatever? That way, you get as many songs as you can squeeze onto your hard drive, all for one monthly fee. The whole “subscription” music idea bothered me: paying a monthly fee to pick any music I want sounds good on the surface, until you realize the music stops playing when you stop paying…all of the music. And to make this “it disables when the fee runs out” work, the music is encumbered with a ton of digital rights management stuff. Sure, you can hack that stuff out by re-recording, but I have no desire to feel like I’m “cheating” or “breaking the law”: I figure the music companies should either offer me music the way I want it, or I simply won’t buy the stuff and I’ll listen to the radio instead.

I bought the iPod because it works and plays well with iTunes. I can’t say I’m overly impressed by how well it works: Apple seems to have some problems dealing with the Windows XP environment, and I’ve had a couple of “hiccups” when transferring music to my iPod. The worst so far was when it started “pretend” synchronizing- the “syncing your iPod” message would appear and then the “safe to remove” message, but nothing was being transferred. A full reset/reimaging of the iPod fixed that, but the average user wouldn’t have had a clue what was going on.

iTunes itself is great, but the Windows iTunes to iPod experience isn’t perfect…maybe a 7 out of 10. But the “iTunes accessories” experience is awesome and more than makes up for the “iTunes under Windows talking to iPod” problems. Just for the existence of a huge selection of add on gadgets, cases, connection kits, speakers, and so on alone…I would say the iPod is worth the premium compared to other comparable portable music devices. Find a 20 GB mp3 player: it will probably cost you about $300. An iPod of the same size will cost you $350…I’m saying that difference is probably worth it.

Netting it out, am I happy with my iPod? Yes, for sure. Has it transformed my life, taken existance to a higher plane, made me want to have Steve Job’s children? Hell no. Its a well designed gadget, which is good. I still think Steve Jobs is an arrogant prick with a grossly overinflated reputation (most of his “genious” was stolen, quite literally, from much smarter people like Steve Wozniak). And Apple has no one’s best interests at heart other than their own…so the fact that some of the stuff they make is good does not elevate them to some sort of religious and philosophical greatness.

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