Tag Archives: shuffle

Say Hello to My Little Friend

iPod Shuffle (4th Gen)
iPod Shuffle (4th Gen)

I’ve had a love affair with music since I was a kid.  I can’t remember a time when music wasn’t a huge piece of my life.  And because of that, I love running with music.

A long time ago, I picked up a tiny little iPod, the iPod Shuffle (2nd Generation) to carry music with me when I went cycling or traveling.  I loved that little thing, and it still works very, very well to this day.

However, as I’ve started to do more running, I’ve discovered that you cannot control that model of Shuffle with the on-cable controls — no volume adjustments, next/previous track, etc.  When I’m running, I’ll find that a particular track at a particular time doesn’t hit me quite right, and I wanna skip it.  Sometimes, I’ll find a track that was so good with my pace that I wanna repeat it.  While you can do that from the front of the Shuffle, you sorta have to fiddle with it on your waistband or pocket, and that’s a little distracting to me.

4th and 2nd Generation iPod Shuffles
4th and 2nd Generation iPod Shuffles

As I started to research, I got tangled up between the newer iPod Nano (I have an older one of those too!) and the newer Shuffle.  The new Shuffle pays attention to those on-cable controls and is really teeny, but the new Nano had Bluetooth for headphones.  I even bought some new Bluetooth running headphones to see if I could get them to fit my earholes and get used to them.  No deal.  You see, I love my Bose sport earbuds, despite being cabled.  They fit my ears like they were custom made for them, and ultimately, that’s what made my decision easy.  Shuffleland, here I came.

A few things of note.  First off, the price now is about half what I paid for my first Shuffle.  They both only sport 2GB of storage, but with an option in iTunes, you can “down convert” files to 128kb/s, putting more music in the small space.  Even at 128kb/s, the audio quality is fine for my old ears when I’m out running or riding, and 2GB has always given me plenty of variety when I’m out putting trails behind me.

I’ve had this little thing for a couple of weeks now, and I really love it.  It’s teency, even smaller than the previously diminutive Shuffle.  This time, I even got it engraved at the factory. The only complaint I have about the engraving is that it is really, really small, and is more like a printed message, making it very hard to see.  Still, I know it’s there, and that’s a good thing.  🙂


I was struck with the reduction in the size of the packaging.  In the photo, you can see the difference in size between the little plastic coffins these two devices were shipped in.  Apple’s gone to some lengths to minimize the amount of packaging in many of their products, and it really shows with the tiny little box for the new one.  One casualty of that move — you only get one Apple sticker, instead of two.


The charging system has also gotten smaller.  With the second generation device, there was a long cable and a little dock.  The new Shuffle has a little pigtail cable that plugs directly into the headphone plug.  I kinda like that, especially given that I’ll be traveling with this one to races around the country.  In fairness, it is a little awkward to plug into the back of a Mac or iMac, but works great with my MacBook or a USB hub.

So, after a couple of weeks of putting it through its paces, I think I’ve decided this new little piece of gear is a keeper.  Hopefully, it’ll last as long as my first Shuffle!

Uncle Steve Speaks!

Today at noon (our time, anyway), Apple put a black t-shirt on Uncle Steve, and like Willy Wonka, he proceeded to extoll the virtues of all the new things we didn’t know we needed.

First off, let me start by saying that I want a guitar like the one they used for the signature image from the keynote:

Now on to the fun stuff. Beck, @braddog and I went to lunch — regular Wednesday occurrence for us — knowing that during lunch, Uncle Steve would begin the presentation. As it ends up, the place we frequent has apparently put in a wifi hotspot. Score!

Apple had announced that they would stream this event live, so with the discovery of wifi, I set up my iPad to watch the keynote live. Jay had his iPad following the Engadget live text feed from the auditorium floor, and I did the same with my iPhone. Yes, it was geekapalooza.

So what’d Steve announce? Well, in no particular order…

New iPods were all over the place. There was a refresh of the iPod Shuffle announced. Apple decided that the pill/hairclip/borg-implant format of the now-previous version of the Shuffle wasn’t exactly a big hit. I mean, there were no buttons on it anywhere. Aside from providing a mystery for our childrens’ childrens’ children when they cull through the landfills we left behind, there’s really no use for a device with no obvious interface. Enter the new Shuffle… or, is it the old Shuffle? It was really a back-to-the-future moment to see the new Shuffle rolled out, looking almost exactly like my old trusty red Shuffle. It’s a tad bit smaller left-to-right, but still sports the great big ol’ alligator clip on the back. Hurray! Nothing new for me though. Mine’s a 2GB, and I think the new one will go to 4GB. For what I use it for, there’s not much need for the extra capacity, Voice Over, Genius Playlists or any of the other new little things.

The refresh of the iPod Nano was definitely a cooler machine… kinda. About the size of an iPod Shuffle, the new Nano has no click-wheel, with everything controlled through a touch-screen interface on a teency screen. This one also has an alligator clip on it, which I think is a great addition for something that small. But — and there’s always a “but” — there are some missing features. The new Nano does not have a camera, leaving the Nano 5G as the oddball of the line for having one. I’ve also been led to believe that you can’t watch video on the new Nano. These are both kinda big things — philosophically — for me. Uncle Steve sold us on a Flip video killer last year with the 5G Nano, with the ability to shoot 640×480 video, as well as watch video shot with the thing or imported from iTunes.

My guess is that the drop of the whole video concept has a lot to do with the success of the iPhone 4, and the introduction of the new iPod Touch. The new Touch has a front-facing camera for FaceTime video chat, as well as a rear facing camera (although my understanding is that it’s not as high resolution as the one in the iPhone 4). Cameras have been rumored for a looooong time on the Touch, and it’s nice to finally see them show up. The Touch also gets a high-resolution Retina display, just like the iPhone 4. I was disappointed though that the capacity wasn’t really increased from the current top end of 64GB. If I remember right, the original introduction of 64GB to the Touch happened mid-model year, so maybe an increase to 128GB will happen a little later.

And to support all this, iTunes 10 was announced. Frankly, these are normally just updates to handle the new devices, but this time, there’s the addition of a social networking element to sorta tweet your music purchases, preferences and likes to an opt-in community of other music fans. This sounds kinda cool, but until I see it, my jury is still out. You see, I kinda expected to come home tonight, and be able to download it. No such luck so far. Even the iTunes site at apple.com is still sporting iTunes 9.2 with a “coming soon” for version 10. Uncle Steve probably said something about it not being available yet, but I missed that.

Another cool announcement was for iOS 4.1, which is available next week. Instantly, I thought my iPad would finally get the benefits of multi-tasking and folders, but this was not to be. That’ll come in iOS 4.2, which is due in November. Bummer. However, Uncle Steve threw us a bone. Along with bug fixes, iOS 4.1 will add an HDR feature to the Apple-supplied camera application. This is cool, cool territory, and definitely a bit of a trendsetting move. Basically, it’ll take three shots in quick succession — not three images from the same pixel capture on the sensor, apparently — and then blend the underexposed, properly exposed and over-exposed images into a single image with a broader range of light captured than a single image can produce. This has been easy to do in software on the desktop for a while, but the addition of this into iOS 4.1 will really rock. Can’t wait until next week to try it out. (Privately, my prediction is that by the end of 2011, it’ll be hard to find a camera that doesn’t have this feature built-in.)

The last big announcement — the “one more thing” moment — was an updated version of AppleTV. This product’s been around for a while, and has sorta been the stepchild of everything at Apple, being called the “hobby” by Uncle Steve. Well, no more. Basically, the new device is a streaming device for your TV, letting you rent streaming content (films and TV episodes) to your TV, stream content from iTunes on your computer, stream photos from iPhoto, and apparently loads of other new things. No storage, a quarter the physical size of the current Apple TV, and no power brick (man, everyone should get that message!), all for $99. No subscriptions, no contracts. Way cool. And yes, I ordered one. It’ll be here in four weeks. At that price, it’s hard to make a mistake in picking one up, even if the thing is incredibly crappy, which I’m not expecting.

Yeah, I know I haven’t mentioned AirPlay yet, but frankly, I’m not sure I understand enough of what it does to describe it yet. One thing it does seem to do is allow you to stream video or audio from your iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch to your TV through the AppleTV unit. That’s as much as I know about that one so far.

So… what’s the score?

  • Thumbs up on the return of the old iPod Shuffle design.
  • Thumbs down on the dropping of video and camera from the iPod Nano. (And because of that, my iPod Nano will now be relegated to the “don’t get rid of it” pile here at the Deauxmayne.)
  • Thumbs up for the cameras on the iPod Touch, and…
  • Thumbs down for not increasing the capacity on the Touch.
  • Thumbs up for HDR in iOS 4.1.
  • Thumbs down for not bringing iOS 4 to the iPad until November.
  • Half a thumb up for the new iTunes 10.
  • Thumbs down for not having iTunes 10 available now!
  • Two thumbs up and a toe for the new AppleTV.

I think Uncle Steve wins!

EDIT: iTunes 10 is available for download now!!!!!

A Little Coolness

Tonight, I arrived home to find an e-mail from Amy Judd at NowPublic. I’d never heard of Amy or NowPublic, so I was a little surprised at her request. She was writing a story about the PRODUCT (RED) branding concept, and asked if she could use one of my photos of my iPod Shuffle that she found on Flickr.

I did a little poking around at the NowPublic site, and from all appearances, it appears to be grass-roots journalism, aimed at mobilizing the average Joe into reporting on just about anything, from local to national to international stories. I liked the feel of the site, their expressed respect of my copyright wishes for my image, and the fact that they asked before just using one of my images. All good marks in my book, so I said “yes”, added a comment, and now have my first published photo in a journalistic context. Definitely a different stroke for me.

You can see the article here. Look for the slideshow, and you’ll see my image, as well as plenty by other folks. Enjoy!