Sunday, January 18, 2009

Old Dogs and New Toys

Since daughter Alicia was visiting, the family decided to celebrate my birthday about 2 weeks early. After a dinner with neighbors last Tuesday evening, we went back to (ostensibly) see for the first time the apartment into which son Seth moved about 2 months ago. It is very nice; about a block from the ocean in Redondo Beach. While we all were sitting there, Donna presents me with one of those gift bags and brings out a large brownie and they all sing happy birthday to The Ancient One.

Inside the bag I found an iPod nano. It is one of those music players (whatever they're called) that young people have attached to their ears with little speaker "buds" while they listen to the music contained thereon. I had just read about this particular device (along with many others) in a recent issue of Fast Company with heralded the arrival of SSDs (solid state drives) with a prediction that they would gradually replace the current HDD (hard disk drives) in our computers and such. This little iPod nano that I received contains 8GB (gigabytes) of memory which is a lot although my son told me I would fill it far more quickly than I thought possible.

My nano (I immediately became attached to the cute little thing) measures 3½ inches by 1¼ inches. It is all of ¼ inch thick. To get a better sense of its diminutive size I took the below (not too clear) picture of it in the palm of my hand.

Although I am a septuagenarian, I decided to not let myself become intimidated by such a tiny piece of new technology. Since Tuesday, I have been uploading my (mostly jazz) music collection on to my computer's external hard drive (an HDD drive) using iTunes software. Then I plugged the nano into the computer via a USB port and downloaded it all to my new toy. Thus far, I have moved 25 albums, containing 17.1 hours of good music to the nano using about 942MB (megabytes) of its memory. In other words, it is only about 12.5% full. Amazing! But then came the test: How does the music sound?

Off I went on my morning walk. Since the device is solid state, it can be shaken and jostled about without a problem. Following the claims of the literature, after I inserted the buds in my ears (they're even marked L(eft) and R(ight), I gave the nano a good shake which put it into "shuffle" mode and songs, randomly selected by the toy, began to play. I must say that once I mastered the volume controls (sliding a finger left or right around the center dial), I was amazed by the high quality of the sound entering my ears. If I had not decided to "shuffle" the music, I could have selected the album or artist or musical piece I wanted to listen to. It truly is amazing.

Yes, this old dog is hooked on his new toy. And now I face an additional challenge: Am I up to multi-tasking, i.e. can I continue to read my thrillers and mystery novels on the morning walk and listen to fine music at the same time? I think I am up to it. You know, some things happening in the 21st century are pretty nice.


Darlene said...

Mu son gave me a music system for Christmas and I still don't know how to use it. I put a CD in and there is no 'play' option so I hear nothing no matter which button I push. I guess I am techno hopeless.

Cameron said...

You actually read books while you're walking?

That's impressive. I wouldn't be able to concentrate fully on either activity.

However, I have been known to listen to music while walking on occasion. It helps me walk faster!

Leon said...

DARLENE - The iPod has been a bit of a challenge but I now have 30 albums (mostly straight ahead jazz) on it. I'm getting too used to it.

Leon said...

Yes, CAMERON that's when I do most of my reading of mysteries. No physical damage yet although I occasionally discover parked cars when I least expect them. While the walk is often beautiful, the reading makes it easier to walk long distances over the same route nearly every day.