Anne van Kesteren

Why iPod scores

Last Saturday I bought an iPod mini. I didn’t do much research on it and just bought the first one I came across: Silver; 3,7 GiB; together with a remote control. After coming home from a party that night I opened the box.

  1. Install iPod software and iTunes;
  2. Be annoyed that you actually have to pay attention, because all kinds of unwanted things are checked by default;
  3. Reboot;
  4. Watch iTunes crash;
  5. Restart iTunes and put a CD in your player: ‘Oi Va Voi’;
  6. Watch it being classified as ‘Alternative & Punk’ and see how iTunes also retrieves a lot of other information from the internet;
  7. Wonder if ‘Alternative & Punk’ is really correct;
  8. Notice that iTunes actually imports each song and makes an AAC file of it; as small as an average MP3 file;
  9. Try dragging it to your iPod;
  10. Again;
  11. Get a bit annoyed;
  12. See an option ‘create a playlist’ and try the dragging thing again;
  13. Joy!

Now I installed iTunes at my own computer I noticed you can actually directly drag to the iPod and you don’t have to create a playlist. Not sure what that was about. Perhaps because I plugged my iPod in too fast yesterday: Before installing the software which is strongly discouraged. O well, brilliant piece of technique.

(After doing a bit of searching it turns out AAC is a successor of MP3 based on MPEG-2 instead of 1. And it’s backwards incompatible; completely in line with some markup language not to be named. There’s no point in that though. For people wondering about gibibytes and such, see this article on Wikipedia.)


  1. I installed iTunes a while ago (even though I don't have an iPod) and was paranoid about some of the options! But you can turn a lot of things off.

    Isn't AAC the Apple Lossless format? Again, you don't have to use it. I just use iTunes as a music player, which works very well.

    It took me ages to sort out all my sound files though. It pays to right-click first on the MP3 in Windows and make sure the Artist and Title are set. And decide on a fixed format for naming files in Windows too. It makes importing existing files much simpler.

    Posted by Chris Hester at

  2. iTunes should automagically sync your entire library with your iPod without any intervention from you (that is, dragging), unless you purposely turned off automatic syncing.

    Posted by Sage at

  3. iTunes should automagically sync your entire library with your iPod without any intervention from you (that is, dragging), unless you purposely turned off automatic syncing.

    A previous version of iTunes did this exact thing.

    I wonder why it don't anymore.

    Posted by Henrik Lied at

  4. I sometimes wonder why everything needs to be used using a pc... pcs are noisy, slow, take up space... and are great for various things, but I just think that playing music is not one of them (not to mention that they look ugly in, let's say, the living room).
    What I'd want to come with an ipod-like thingie is a docking station with an integrated cd player. Plugging in the portable player, inserting a cd, done. Too bad that Sony screwed up minidisc and that cd text hasn't been adopted by everyone; the concept of compiling your own discs was simply great, but 1:1 copying time and the fact that for non-cd text discs titles had to be entered by hand were of course disastrous drawbacks...

    Posted by Tjaard at

  5. I got an iPod for this past Christmas. A lot of my friends had one and sort of suckered me into getting one. I asked for it for Christmas as a sort of joke. Low and behold I got one. Anyways onto what I was going to write.

    I didn't have any problem using my iPod on my PC. I already had iTunes installed (and have never experienced any crashes). I plugged it in and iTunes came up with a message saying that I needed to format the iPod. I did so. It took a bit, and well I had a working iPod. I went into the iPod tab in the preferences (simplicity is wonderful isn't it?) and changed things that weren't to my liking (like synching my music with my iPod). I dragged my music files to it, converted the ones that wouldn't work on it (I use Ogg Vorbis a lot), and dragged them to the iPod. I highlighted the converted music files, hit the delete key, and it asked me if I wanted to delete the files themselves. I click on "yes." I now have several playlists to my liking, but that was my initial use of the iPod itself. I didn't really have any problems, but then again I wasn't expecting any sort of complexity in usability coming out of an Apple product.

    I also have a Macintosh Powerbook as well. It would have been more appropriate to plug it straight into my Powerbook, but it was in use at the time by my sister to check her e-mail. Otherwise I would have initially done all of this there.

    Posted by Dustin Wilson at

  6. Isn't AAC the Apple Lossless format?

    No. AAC is lossy.

    Posted by Henri Sivonen at

  7. Also, AAC is not Apple's propriety format. It's a standard format. The only thing that apple have done to it is stamped their DRM stuff on top for their protected AAC's which iTMS uses.

    The standard encoding options iTunes chooses (aac, 128kbps) is a good level of quality. Also smaller file size to mp3's.

    Apple's lossless format is their propriety lossless format, similar to FLAC. Takes longer to encode though I think, plus its not a free format.

    Posted by Chris at

  8. For the people wondering about synchronizing, I turned that feature off as I intend to use my iPod on more than one PC and I don’t want iTunes to erase things accidentally.

    Posted by Anne at

  9. Hey, while iTunes is pretty evil (gah, don't want to discuss this, I just don't like it), the iPod (either one, though I didn't test the "iPod Shuffle") is pretty (and) usable. And the scrollwheel is probably one of the greatest operating controls ever.

    Posted by Jens Meiert at

  10. Anne: yeah, thats about the only annoying thing in iTunes for me. plus, you can't just drag music from iPod to iTunes.. only the other way round. unless you use something like ephpod...

    Posted by Chris at

  11. The thing that sucked when I got my ipod mini is that the USB 2.0 requirement is actually a *requirement*...I just assumed USB 1.1 would just result in slower transfer speeds...nope...itunes simply refuses to cooperate with 1.1 I had to go out and spend $20 on a USB 2.0 card. Also the earbuds sound rather tinny...must invest in a real pair of headphones soon.

    Posted by MikeyC at

  12. One drawback of the iPod, according to a friend, is that you have to format it for Windows or Mac - you can't build up a load of tunes using a PC and then plug it into a Mac. Or so I'm told.

    Apple's lossless format is their propriety lossless format, similar to FLAC. Takes longer to encode though I think, plus its not a free format.

    I thought Apple had just made it Open Source?

    Posted by Chris Hester at

  13. If we’re going to argue here about little details, links would be appreciated. Just posting some thoughts and ‘thinks’ doesn’t help proving something.

    Posted by Anne at

  14. You can use an iPod on both Mac and PC at the same time. Just format it as PC-compatible and you're done (reference: The iPod Shuffle is a Flash-drive formatted as FAT32 by default by the way.

    If you want ultimate quality for the music on your iPod you should encode your CD's using the LAME encoder. The best out there is LAME 3.90.3 mod, compiled specifically for the "audioholics". A Unix build is included with iTunes-LAME 2.0.7. You can also use it standalone by moving it out of the package and into /usr/local/bin or whatever you prefer.

    Apple Lossless encodes much quicker than MP3 on my machine; that is an eMac 700. It encodes at 10-11x as opposed to 4-5x for MP3 (192kpbs). Also, ALAC is not Open Source.

    Posted by Vincent Grouls at