Another new toy.

Years ago I got a tape player and started playing audiobooks while driving or doing dishes. After two tape players broke for no good reason, I kind of gave up on the idea for a while. I was also wondering if, for all the new information I was taking in, I was leaving myself starved for thinking time.

In the end though, I’m hungry for input. I could see by the changes in the library shelves years ago, and more dramatically by the bookstore shelves, that tapes were on the way out. I toyed with an mp3 based CD player, which would handle library CDs well while giving options for other content. In the end though, I was looking to move a few podcasts into the dead time instead of a distraction when I was at my computer, so I got an iPod.

It’s a blue 8GB Nano. It works fairly well, but I’ve got no shortage of nit picking. To start off with, I got thrown a bit by the total lack of an internal speaker. The tape players had one, and it was quite handy to just be able to hit play anywhere without any cables involved, even though I was on power must of the time. For the first few days I made do with loopback on my computer and the speakers from my old computer. I’m underwhelmed with the ear buds, which don’t stay in very well. I assume they are a cheap add in to make it barely useable, and I’ll need something real if I want it really portable. One place I was clear was the car power/radio adapter, which works quite well.

Even when I did get fully set up, it’s a little clumsy. Where the tape player took one button to start, the iPod needs three (and again to stop) – speaker power, wake up the iPod, and then play.

There are also some mysteries of operation which I’ve not penetrated. If I have a backlog of podcasts, all the same series, it will stop at the end of each, making me select the next. This is just fabulous while driving, since the screen require attention to navigate, whereas it was pretty easy to change a tape blind. I also have to select episodes individually; if I just hit play on the series, it plays the first one over again. On the other hand, when it got to the end of a 20+ hour audiobook, it started playing the next, unrelated, one. I must be missing something here.

I got that big file by using Doug’s Track Splicer Applescript Books on CD are chopped into tracks of around five minutes. I couldn’t imagine have to stop, change tracks, and hit play every few minutes. Of course now it appears that they might have played. In any case, although iTunes will group together files identified as the same work, the iPod will show each of them as a book, so separates would be very hard to manage.

I almost wonder I if I would have been better off picking up an earlier model used. The tilt/shake sensor turns it on (even when supposedly off) at the slightest provocation. This applies even when the input lock switch is on. It will turn the screen back off in short order if their is no activity, but I can’t imagine this being good for the battery life while jogging (thankfully not my application) The color screen is an excess for my purposes, but I didn’t quite like limited navigation of a shuffle either. I find it novel that it includes games, but I don’t really have a need for them.

I got the smaller of the Nano models, figuring most anything would be excessive for audiobooks. My first attempt at the library being defeated by the holiday, I started out with some podcasts, and then figured that it would be amusing to load my music collection into the empty space. The irony is that together these actually filled up most of the memory. The podcasts will eventually get whittled down, and then there should be enough space for at least two books, which should be enough to trade out. Still, other than an emergency fallback, I don’t have much use for the music.

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