I’ve been kicking around the idea of getting an iPod for years, but
haven’t been able to quite justify it to myself. It’s been less a
matter of price than of where I’d use it and—as odd as it might
sound—what I’d listen to.
See, I’m actually more of a radio listener than a “listening to my own
library over and over” listener. I want to hear new stuff, and unless
someone is coming along and inserting things into your music
collection when you’re not paying attention, it can’t do that. Of
course, modern commercial radio isn’t that good at it, either; in
Tampa, I listened to WMNF, a community radio station, that was
good at that. Out here the closest thing to WMNF is the (in)famous
KPFA, flagship of the Pacifica Radio network. (Anyone who spends a
week listening to Pacifica will, from that point on, giggle
uncontrollably whenever someone describes CBS or The New York Times
as “the liberal media.”) As much as this would get KPFA’s fanatical
listeners up in (politically correct) arms, though, WMNF is a much
better station. This is why I ended up being an XM Radio subscriber.
But, as I’ve been trying to ride the rails more, that’s 90 minutes a
day without availability of radio. And at work I don’t have one,
either—which I don’t usually want, but sometimes it’s nice to have the
option. That removes one objection. What removes the other is podcasting.
I’ve been an RSS convert for a while, using the redoubtable NetNewsWire
to read several dozen web sites. It took me quite
some time of noodling with RSS before it suddenly “clicked” and I
understood what the attraction was. Podcasting has been the same way,
but I figured this one out much faster once I realized there might
actually be interesting podcasts out there.
So, last night, after kicking around my budget still more, I decided
to buy the smallest iPod that was actually useful to me—the 4-gig
iPod mini. (The iPod shuffle is a fascinating little gadget, but it’s
not what I want.) It’s difficult to explain “Why an iPod rather than
another MP3 player?” without setting off a flame war—any statement
which equates to Apple does things better than their competitors
will make people furiously write rebuttals, to explain why Apple isn’t
all they’re cracked up to be and/or why their competitors in any given
space are better. As Dave Barry might say: I have studied this field
in exhaustive detail, and after painstaking evaluation, I can state
objectively that you are all on crack.
So anyway, I bought an iPod, and after a bit of dorking around, I’ve
decided the best way to use it will be to have it automatically sync
specific playlists in iTunes:
- My “Recently Played” smartlist, so it automatically picks up new
music (or old music that’s re-caught my ear);
- My “Rated Songs” smartlist, which simply collects all the songs I’ve
given star ratings to;
- A “Podcast” list that I’ll create tonight, to which NetNewsWire can
be set to automatically populate when it downloads podcasts I want.
Of course, this requires me to start finding programs I’d be
interested in. I’ve discovered that there are some NPR programs being
podcast, including Living on Earth and On the Media, both of
which I like but rarely get a chance to hear. And there’s lot of
strange little music shows out there, plus the rapidly growing
universe of wow that’s amateur crap! that you’d expect from such a
medium, which I will probably not have the patience to sort through
looking for gems.
On the chance that any of you are mired in podcasts, anything I should
be particularly looking for? (Or specifically avoiding?)