It Worked For Apple…

Remember these guys? At one time they were the big name in home computing, along with Atari, TI, and um, that company with the rainbow logo in the shape of an apple.
After passing through various hands over the years (including German and Dutch companies, finally landing in the hands of another Dutch outfit called Yeahronimo Media Ventures), Commodore is now back with an online music store.
I guess (to them) it makes sense to follow the Apple model: sell some MP3 players and then create a place where people can populate them.
The music selection is a little sparse and unusual, but maybe that will change as time goes on. I guess they’re hoping this will bring the Commodore name back in front of everyone, just like the iPod did for Apple.
In the meantime, I’ll keep playing my old C-64 games on the VICE emulator while getting jealous of my old Commodore buddy Dan who just bought a complete C-64 system with some new-old-stock software and peripherals.
We’re partyin’ like it’s 1985.

iPod Surgery

The battery on my iPod has never been a stellar performer; it usually died after about 90 minutes of playing.. if I was lucky.
I decided to order this battery kit and performed the installation today. One of the nice things about this kit was the fact that they gave you the tools to pry open your iPod without having to worry about bending the metal case. The other nice thing was that they provide detailed, illustrated instructions on how to do it, which is a good thing since they cram a lot of stuff into those little boxes.
The new battery also has 30% more capacity than the original battery, according to the specifications.
The iPod is now on the charger, so I’ll have a report in a few days on how the new battery performs.

…but that 6% MEANS something…

There’s an article on Gizmodo this week about how portable CD players are still outselling digital music players by a wide margin. The article quotes an IDC survey that says while 53% of all US households have a portable CD player, six percent have some sort of digital music player.
Six percent, folks. Think about that the next time you read a breathless article about how podcasting is changing the world as we know it, and you’d better join the legions of white-headphone-wearers or you’ll be cast to the…. well, someplace where unhip people go.
The author refers to the higher cost of iPods and other digital players being a factor in that low number, but the most poignant part of the article is this:

The other reason you have to factor into the CD player

Quiet, Numbskulls, I’m Podcasting

Much has been written recently about podcasting as The Next Big Thing. Every time I open the newspaper or a magazine there’s something about “get yourself out there” along with recommendations for software and microphones. Radio stations (well, the mega-conglomerates that own the radio stations) are saying that the internet and podcasting are killing traditional radio. Steve Jobs, who not long ago referred to podcasting as “Wayne’s World,” added podcasts to the latest version of Apple’s iTunes software. Oh my God, the whole world is going to communicate through recordings played on pocket devices connected with white headphones!! Where’s my charger? Where’s my internet connection?! Why do they block this port at my office?!?!
Alright, let’s look at this with a cooler head, shall we?
A podcast is a recording that someone makes on their computer, and the listener downloads it to his/her portable music device to be enjoyed later. In many cases, the person doing the podcast produces them on a daily or weekly basis, so as a listener you can “subscribe” to them.
This is exactly what I did when I was a kid, when I recorded my own “radio shows” with a Panasonic tape recorder and played it back later– the only difference was that I had no internet on which to stick the tape, so those hours of my reading the headlines out of the Daily Herald simply languished in a drawer.
(To be fair, some of my “shows” were pretty cool. One of my favorites was catching all the different slogans on the First National Bank of Mt. Prospect’s time-and-temp phone line– “Don’t bank it in your sock, sock it in the bank!”)
What the breathless thousands aren’t talking about are the other aspects of podcasts, many of which need to be addressed (or at least kept in mind) before we can take it seriously.
1. Content: Let’s make an analogy. In the early days of movies, you had technology people trying to create art. Thomas Edison made a bunch of films which, when viewed today, are interesting only from an historical standpoint. It took a few years and people like M

iPod Skins

A few months ago, I discovered a site called that sells cool stickers that you can use to dress up your iPod, Xbox, GameCube, and other electronics.
These are high-quality removable decals that will make your ‘pod look unlike everyone else’s. I went for the blue neon flames for my Shuffle (above), and Becky got a customized one that looks like a package of Juicy Fruit gum and says “Becka’s Juicy Tunes.” For a while, my regular iPod had the dark burlwood decal on it, which looked pretty cool and a little like the dashboard of a Mercedes-Benz, if I stretched my imagination.
So if you want to make a statement with something other than a plain ol’ white ‘pod, here’s your way to do it.


As the parent of two internet-savvy kids, there are certain things I knew going into getting them online, and a few I learned along the way. This guide from Microsoft is somewhat helpful, if not entertaining.
Too bad they didn’t use the appropriate convention for writing r0X0rZ.

iPod Shuffle

My impulse buy of the month: an iPod Shuffle.
I was a the Apple Store on Michigan Avenue the other day talking with one of their “geniuses” about the fact that the case on my iBook is a little loose in one corner (they fixed the problem, sorta) and one of the salesmen told me they’d just received a shipment of iPod Shuffles. I had been thinking it would be nice to have a music player with me when I work out, but my 15 GB iPod was too bulky (plus I was worried about it’s getting smashed) so it didn’t take much convincing for me to grab a 1GB Shuffle.
So far, I’m impressed. I was very skeptical about an MP3 player that had no display and chose music for you, but I realized that (a) a display isn’t important when I’m doing something that prevents me from looking at it; and (b) I can still decide on my own what to play.
I won’t go into a detailed review of the Shuffle– there are a bunch of them out there already— but I will share a couple thoughts.
Getting music on the Shuffle is really easy. iTunes recognizes it right away and you can populate it three ways: (1) click and drag songs to it; (2) create a playlist and drag that to it; or (3) choose the “Autofill” option and iTunes will “randomly” pick songs to download to your Shuffle (more about “random” on the next page). This third option is only available when the Shuffle is plugged in; it does not appear in iTunes when a regular iPod is connected.
Playing music is in two modes: straight through or shuffle. If you load a playlist, the Shuffle will play the tunes in the order in which you loaded them; if you choose “shuffle” it mixes them up.
The sound quality rivals my 15 GB iPod. There is no equalizer option on the Shuffle, but the default setting is very nice. I intend on using my Sony earbuds with this unit instead of the mediocre iPod ‘phones that come with it.
Last night I brought it to the club with me and it worked great. I just stuck the thing in my pocket and went about my workout. I never worried about crushing or otherwise damaging it.
I would recommend this unit to anyone who wants a very simple, straightforward music player without a lot of complicated features. The fact that it doubles as a USB flash drive just makes it that much more attractive.
If you want to see what the Shuffle’s innards look like, check this out.

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