Friday Random 15: Out of Rotation

I keep a playlist in iTunes, and on my iPod, that consists of highly rated songs (4 stars or better) that I haven’t heard in at least a year. It’s called Out of Rotation, and it always surprises me in a positive way. Today, when I needed a pickup after car trouble, it came through. Here’s the playlist:

  1. Johnny Cash, “Belshazzar” (Complete Sun Singles, Vol. 2)
  2. Liz Phair, “Chopsticks” (Whip-Smart)
  3. Pernice Brothers, “Waiting for the Universe” (Yours, Mine and Ours)
  4. Sonic Youth, “Radical Adults Lick Godhead Style” (Murray Street)
  5. Ted Leo/Pharmacists, “The High Party” (Hearts of Oak)
  6. Yo La Tengo, “Nothing but You and Me” (Summer Sun)
  7. UNKLE, “Nursery Rhyme Breather” (Psyence Fiction)
  8. The Raconteurs, “Blue Veins” (Broken Boy Soldiers)
  9. The Raconteurs, “Intimate Secretary” (Broken Boy Soldiers)
  10. Pixies, “River Euphrates” (Surfer Rosa)
  11. Gillian Welch, “Revelator” (Time (The Revelator))
  12. Gillian Welch, “My First Lover” (Time (The Revelator))
  13. Chemical Brothers, “Elektrobank” (Dig Your Own Hole)
  14. Prince, “Wherever U Go, Whatever U Do” (Rave Un2 the Joy Fantastic)
  15. Elvis Presley, “New Orleans” (The King of Rock ‘n” Roll: The Complete ’50s Singles)

Improving iPod FM adapter reception in a VW Passat

This one was counter-intuitive, but it worked. I’ve been suffering through static and interference ever since my Monster iPod FM adapter burned out and I replaced it with a different model. My Passat has the rear-roof-mounted antenna, and it’s apparently too far away from the FM adapter that I use for my iPod. It’s great at pulling in distant radio stations, which tend to swamp the empty channels that I’d normally listen to the iPod on.

So I removed it.

Yep, just unscrewed the antenna and now the reception for the iPod is crystal clear. Smart but totally counter-intuitive.

Credit goes to this anonymous poster on MacOSXHints. I read this a while ago and just today had the nerve to try it. No more static for me!

Requiem for a dying iPod?

I’ve had three iPod-like devices since 2001, four if you count my iPhone. The first one was the classic iPod 5GB with the mechanical clickwheel (that was a happy Christmas day). The FireWire port famously broke on it, and I picked up a 10GB model in time for my cross-country drive. I bought a 30GB fifth-generation model in late 2006 when the 10GB model stopped taking a battery charge and developed hard disk problems. The iPhone followed in late 2007 (I wasn’t an early adopter, but I did buy before the 3G model came out).

And now? Well, last night I tried to sync the 30GB iPod about four times. The first time it copied 200 songs, then I couldn’t eject it from the OS and had to reboot and grab it and go. And none of the new songs made it over. The second time it synced successfully but the songs still weren’t there. I rebuilt the smart playlist that had the songs in them, resynced, and this time the sync hung iTunes. Finally I restarted both the iPod and the machine, finished syncing–and again the iPod refused to eject because iTunes claimed that it had files that were open from another application. When I finally got it free, the songs still weren’t there.

Based on what I hear on the Apple support boards, I probably have a bad hard disk in the little bugger, which is consistent with the “clunking” sounds I occasionally hear while it’s trying to sync. So, it’s gone. Maybe tomorrow, maybe in a month, but it’s on its last legs, because replacing the hard drive is not a cost effective move.

So the question is, what do I do next? I can only get a fraction of my 475GB music library on it, but that’s more than I could get on the iPhone, so going to the iPhone alone isn’t an appealing option. And paying $399 for a 32GB iPod Touch isn’t going to happen right now, either, as much as I like the form factor. (I’m a big fan of the scroll wheel but would go to the Touch in a second if price weren’t a factor.)  I don’t know if I can swing $249 for the 120GB “classic” model either, but it’s the only model that has a fraction of the capacity I’m looking for. We’ll see what happens.

Meantime, anyone have a good project that involves rebuilding a 5th generation iPod with a bad hard drive?

New iPods, new iTunes. It must be September

Apple’s really changed as a company; I remember when September was Back to School month and you’d find out about new iMacs, a new version of iLife, whatever. Now it’s all iTunes and iPod.

I like the look of the new iPod nano, and the price point ($150 for 8 GB) and form factor are sweet. But I’m particularly impressed with the software and the use of an accelerometer in what is basically a low end device. CoverFlow is a killer interface, especially in a small device, and seeing it on the nano is pretty sweet.

I’m keen to see whether the new “genius” features in iTunes scale up to my 26,000 song music collection. Hopefully by the time I’m home tonight, iTunes 8 will be downloadable (it’s still 7.7 from where I sit right now).

But I think my favorite visual from today’s event was this one: