Friday, June 21, 2013

why iTwat

hi there

regular readers of this blog will no doubt be all too aware that i refer to products from those darlings of the media, Apple, frequently as being iTwats. an opportunity has arisen to go into some detail on this, if you are interested, and show exactly why this is the case.

it is indeed partially, as you may well have guessed, down to the proclivity of a special kind of user to be an utter twat with the things. you know the ones i am talking about. the "status symbol" breed of owner. those that cannot go anywhere without the device, and indeed set it up wherever they are sat for the world to see. i have lost count of the amount of times i have seen people set up their iTwat in a meeting and have neither touched it or recorded anything on it.

mostly, though, it gets called an iTwat because of the utter, utter twat like way Apple behaves towards you, the person who has given an awful lot of money over for one of their items. yes, pictures to follow, be patient.

let me tell you a story, starting some 8 years ago. a company, who i won't name as such, had a demo sale, offering a "limited number" of iPods. my Dad for some reason was all of a sudden keen on getting one, and so took himself off to the store, well before opening time on the day of the sale.

imagine his surprise when, despite him being the first customer in, he was advised that they had somehow sold out of iPods. fancy! i am not sure how it works wherever you are in the world, but here whenever there's a sale, you can guarantee the staff have put aside practically everything for themselves, friends and family. i recall at one sale at what has to be one of the worst bookstores in the world i found an anthology of Emily Dickinson. when i went to buy it, the staffmember tried to sieze it and keep it for themselves, angry that they had not spotted it before the sale started!

anyway, after some brief and you would imagine tasty arguments with the store, my Dad got the 30GB iPod he intended to, at the listed price. for the sake of making this post pretty, here is a picture of it.



yes, that is Batman on a Bat-Bike. i left it in to look stylish.

anyway, my Dad looked after the iPod with all the care an attention he is known for. to clarify that, you have not seen a keyboard destroyed until you have seen my Dad, for want of a better word, 'type'. it somehow survived a fair bit of time with him, but for some reason 30GB of space was just nowhere near enough for his John Prine and Willie Nelson collection. off he went to get a new, bigger one and off the iPod went to me to get some use out of.

quite a smart one it was, too. 5th Generation, i think, and capable of playing video if for some reason you wished to watch video on a screen that size. it worked every night that Eskom granted us the electricity we paid them for. i like to listen to things on a night as i doze off, you see.

it survived several years of that, and indeed survived reformatting and restoring, in particular after James decided to add a security code to it and forgot what it was. it has, alas, recently died. despite, or perhaps as a consequence of, more or less living in a docking station, the battery just will not retain any sort of onboard power that it needs to do its thing.


look, even Batman and his Bat-Bike have abandoned it in its next picture.



time, then, for another one. despite all that i have said and will no doubt say here, the iPod was a fantastic invention. mp3 is no proper way to listen to music - the compression kills the sound of the greats, but i suppose it suits a generation that seems to think the new Daft Punk album is any good - but it is a very convenient way to. the iPod is the best way to listen to them - other mp3 players i have tried just do not match it.

as luck or fortune would have it, i noticed a sale of sorts on iPod equipment at a few stores. sadly, no "classic" models, like the one pictured above, were available. that meant that i ended up having to get this.



yep, an iPod "touch". no buttons bar the power one. all touch screen. i really do not like touch screens. i however like less the idea of nothing playing as i go to sleep, so i bought it. just the 16GB model, if you are interested, for i have no need for a large amount of space. my listening tastes on a night are somewhat limited, revolving usually around either Monty Python, The 12th Man or indeed George Carlin.

i have to confess that the "touch" is rather good. usually i am a disaster with touch screen things, but this one tends to respond only to what one pushes. i used it last night and it did not end up smashed against a wall. the journey to get it to play, however, sees some moaning and my complaints coming your way. you have been warned! 



yes, that is it displayed against a DVD box, so you can get an idea of the size. if for some reason you want an idea of the size. onwards, then, to the problems experienced.

i managed to get enough life out of the old iPod to get it open on the PC that i had installed the latest version of iTunes. it is not on my regular PC - iTunes is a memory and resource killer. i hate it. the hatred got more intense as i discovered that i could not, as had been the case in the past, now copy and paste tracks from my iPod to the PC. oh no, Apple is having none of that. to do this i now had to register an account at iTunes, which involved giving them my credit card details.

excuse me? i have just bought this device of you to use as i see fit. why is it that all of a sudden i have to have an iTunes account to use it?

as i mentioned above, mp3 is no decent way to listen to music properly. as a consequence, under no circumstances would i ever buy an mp3 album when the CD is available. i am quite capable of "ripping" it to an mp3 of my quality choice, thank you. an mp3 is probably fine for things recorded for the iGeneration of today, but proper music requires at least a properly recorded and mastered CD if the vinyl is not available. it's just how music is meant to be heard.

anyway, some faffing later and i have the account set up. tracks that i want are loaded to it, and off it goes to the docking station. at which point i get this. 



nice one Apple, cheers for that. why is this docking station not supported by this new iPod? a very good question. i did a search on the internet and found an alarming number of people have the same issue.

some suggested that it could be down to a "dirty docking socket". not the case with me - even the old dead one still lights up a bit and pretends to charge when plugged into it. i imagine, then, that it's down to the other reason i saw on the net - "firmware" and "iOperating system" have blocked the device from working with certain accessories and chargers. brilliant.

it seems, then, to be a ruse to get you to buy more wires, connectors, chargers and that sort of thing, only of course buy them featuring a bitten apple on the box. no thanks.

so, how to charge? well, plugging it in to the PC works, but that's not always a convenient thing to do. i decided to experiment a bit, and, well, check this out. 



yes, that's it charging! and just how am i getting it to charge? from an unlikely source, as it happens. here's a picture of my set up for it.



yep, that's a standard issue BlueBerry (or BlackBerry or whatever it is) charger. i just shoved the iPod cable into that, shoved it in to the mains and off it went. apparently those clever people at Apple could not work out a way to block this from being used. quite glad it worked, really, as otherwise i would have had to go off and buy one of the rather expensive Apple chargers.

i am sure my frustration with this is shared by many. the "we don't like our consumers very much" approach is really only challenged by Sony in regards of being kings of it. still, hats off to the brilliant strategy devised by Apple, which has seen their restrictive, insanely overpriced for the production costs and technology within it products become somehow in demand and sought after.

for many years, Apple did not even advertise. they didn't have to. offering "members of the media" generous discounts - and i do mean generous - meant that they seldom got a bad review, if at all. shiny things leads to journalists giving you more free, good publicity than you could ever wish for. if i got a non-iPod iTwat device for the kind of prices reviewers get them at i would probably think it's the best thing ever, too.

the other side of the strategy - midnight launches that we used to get for albums now being the reserve of the latest iTwat, oddly "limited" stock despite sensational mass production in China causing artificial scenes of over-demand and of course an interesting use of the illness of Mr Jobs in the media - all made the idea of owning an iTwat device essential and cool to those who care for appearance rather than use. fair enough, i suppose, but the mind boggles as to why we see angry, often aggressive reactions to any sort of restrictions or interference with any other electronic devices by anyone else, and yet all seem happy to bow to the ways that Apple do it. go figure.



be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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