Tag Archives: ipod

Dumbness or aging?

Please untwist thy matronly lingerie. I speak only of myself.

If any of you younger folks would like to speak of a situation when you forgot something that was once spectacularly obvious and automatic, this would be most welcome. I need it.

The secret weapon that revolutionized my motoring experience is the combination of the Ipod and a stereo to which I can connect it. It is not my way to be an automatic adopter of new technology. If it were, by now I would probably have forsaken my truck, which is older than every traditional college undergrad today (except for a few who went on LDS missions, and next year, they fall off the scale as well). If it were, I would not have a flip cell phone with rudimentary Internet capacity. If it were, I would use that Internet capacity and install ‘apps.’ If it were, I’d dump my landline. You get the idea.

When I found out that I could load all my music onto the computer, that became worthwhile. When I found out that I could load it all into a device smaller than a pack of cigarettes, that became worthwhile. When I found out I could use that as my motoring music source, it was finally time to replace the failing factory AM/FM radio and speakers in my truck with a real stereo and speakers that did not, on inspection, resemble papier-mâché projects. That was about six years ago.

I don’t much interact with my Ipod. I rarely get around to updating the music library, because to do that, I’ll have to figure out how to get MediaMonkey to do so. Itunes? It’s malware. What I do is dial up a playlist through the stereo’s knobs and buttons, start it, and forget about it for months. Every so often it locks up, I reboot it, figure out which playlist I want for the next few months, and interact with it only to change the volume or pause it when I’m at a drive-through window.

Today I thought it was done for. ‘No Device’ on the stereo faceplace. I disconnected the Ipod, rebooted it, and could not navigate it. Could not scroll through menus. The center button seemed to work, and the back button, but if you can’t scroll through a menu, you can’t do much.

I stressed. I rebooted it many times. I agonized. I wondered what it would take to get a new one (now that I have tunes in my truck, I can’t go back). I found out that all the new ones have far less storage. I thought of taking it to the Apple store. I decided to let the battery run down all the way, reboot it, recharge it, and try again.

Losing patience with the slow erosion of the battery, I picked it up and tried to use it. No longer stressed and irritated, my hands remembered. On this device, one scrolls by running a finger clockwise or counterclockwise around the circular thing. It was fine; I had just forgotten, cognitively, how to operate it. But when I was resigned and unrattled, my mind dredged up the proper operation. The only problem was that I don’t touch the thing often enough to keep its functions in my active memory.

Now I’m trying to figure out whether this makes me a technoboob, or a budding Forgetful Old Person. (I plan to decline all the bullshit laudatory titles like ‘Honored Citizen,’ ‘Senior Citizen,’ and all that. A part of me can’t wait to be a good-tipping, easy-to-please old person dining out, being kind to waitstaff. And if anyone points out the ‘senior menu,’ my plan is to smile and say quietly to the waitress, “Actually, ma’am, the truth is that most old people dining out are pains in the ass: entitled, stingy, and crabby. We should be charged more, not less, so I will be glad to order off the normal menu.” I grew up with a parent and grandparent who were abominable restaurant customers, and once I was old enough to stop imitating their bad behaviors, I went the other direction.)

So what’s the verdict? Does the above digression pretty much speak for itself? Technoboob or codger-in-the-making?


The technical camel’s nose

What is malware? My definition: anything you install on a computer that does things to that system that you don’t want and can’t opt out of beforehand. The more wrong it does, the worse the malware. Some companies have terrible histories of malware, such as Adobe, RealNetworks and Apple. The arrogance goes: ‘If you want our product, you must surely want to let us do everything we wish. How could you not Just Trust Us? We’re so wonderful; our products are so unimaginably superior that your mortal mind can’t possibly find a reason not to give us free rein.’

Because, companies, whenever I let your camels’ noses under my tent, I have extra work ahead in order to clean up after the camel.

Apple Itunes is malware. In this case, it caused a piece of hardware to stop working.

Not long ago, my old Hell Inspiron’s power supply died. Not unexpected, but inconvenient to be sure. A glance at the motherboard showed swollen capacitors, which I am advised is a sign of a hosed or soon-hosed board. It was slow anyway (like any XP PC seven years old), so this wasn’t all bad. I had backups and peripherals, just needed a new machine. Of course, I dealt with computer vendor rudeness and failure to listen carefully to me, and as a result the recovery took far longer than it should have, but I’m tech enough to battle through most of that. Perhaps the most enjoyable aspect was buying it from anyone but Hell. Their business model broke years ago when their support became an evasive illusion. I have no idea what Michael Dell could possibly have been thinking to let his brainchild go so far astray.

So, most of the way into recovery, the time arrived to install Itunes and get my music library set up once more. I’m always wary of installing anything from Apple, and especially upgrading it to a new version, because Apple has a department full of evil little elves who work long hours thinking up new ways to make software more irritating for no additional benefit. If you want to have guaranteed headaches, just install some Apple software on your PC and make sure you let it automatically update itself as often as it wishes. The software will do the rest.

What I learned: Itunes can cause your system to forget that it has a DVD player/burner. Evidently Itunes has some facility for playing, burning and otherwise interacting with these devices. Fine, but making it disappear for all other purposes? The short-term fix involves editing the Windows Registry, which is never done casually or with slack attention to detail. Some research has told us that Apple has known about this issue for years, several full-digit versions back into history. And still does not correct it. Why should it? Apple paid those elves good money to come up with such a diabolical ‘feature.’ It’s been a problem since Vista. And by the way, the next time you run Itunes, it breaks the DVD functionality again. You can choose to use your DVD player, or to have Itunes, but not both.

No, I did not pay for Itunes. However, I do own an Ipod, for which I paid, and its instructions did advise me that I could and should use Itunes with it. Thus, I did so at Apple’s instigation after paying for a product. It is very reasonable to expect that this product not behave as malware, at least in a reasonable world.

Apple evidently doesn’t live in that reasonable world. And that’s why you, good reader, should approach any Apple software for the Windows OS as a form of malware. If the Apple camel’s nose appears at the base of your tent, my advice is to hit it hard enough to make it go away.