10 years of the iPod

A few weeks ago, the iPod turned 10. Hard to believe I know, at the time I’d just recently been bought an iMac (of the original curvy variety) and so I was keeping a close eye on all things Mac (only my AOL dialup connection). I remember reading about the announcement of the iPod and thinking “Wow!” – and feeling pretty smug because as a Mac user I would be able to get one (they were Mac-only to begin with). Of course at the age of 16 £300 for a gadget is hard to come by and so I wait until that Christmas and to my surprise I had an iPod in my stocking.

IMAG0657What struck me was the simplicity and purpose the device was beaming with, it integrated with iTunes so well and songs transferred across at lightening speed. Before the iPod I had been using an MP3 CD player which was a nightmare to navigate, and exceptionally bulky. I was getting the bus to college daily, and I remember I would have to pack it up the stop before because listening on the move wasn’t really an option due to it’s general bulkiness.

Any music player is pretty useless without good music to put on it, at the time I remember listening to Turin Brakes’ debut album The Optimist LP. Even today when I listen to this album, I am reminded of the novelty of the first iPod (as well as standing in freezing January weather waiting for a bus).

Apple released various updates, to support AAC and improve battery life – but the iPod remained the same essentially, a beautiful music player.


IMAG0654By about 2004 my iPod was well and truly battered, this was before it was common knowledge that that “durable” metal back was also very stretchable. I decided to move to a HP PocketPC running Windows Mobile 4, with a 500MB Compact Flash Card. It was nowhere near the 5GB of the iPod, but the geek in me wanted something that could play video and surf the web (using IrDA and GPRS). It was a functional little device, but shoddily built. In 2006 I decided to get an iPod Video 5.5. By now Apple had moved well and truly away from the physical scroll-wheel to a touch-sensitive one – I still use this iPod today and I have never managed to get on with it as well as the first iPod. The video was great though, and the battery was even better. I remember it got me through the hours I had to sit in LAX when my flight was cancelled. That trip was to New York in 2007, a few months after the release of the iPod Touch. After visiting the Apple Store on 5th Avenue, I couldn’t resist the spending IMAG0658my entire holiday money on one of the things and promptly purchased an iPod Touch. The first generation iPod touch was all about music, and being able to buy it online wherever you were – there were no games, no apps, you couldn’t even edit calendar appointments – this was all about the music (and video). It was therefore a nice addition when Apple released an update (I think it cost about £5) that gave users the ability to install apps.The iPod Touch was also the first time I had ever used a mobile browser and actually enjoyed the experience. My phone at the time (a Nokia N95) was a great phone, but browsing the web it it was awful.

The iPod Touch, like the iPod Video I own remains in use today (I have passed it down the family). Shocking when you think since 2008 I have had 2 laptops fail on me yet these devices still work perfectly. The original iPod powers up, but the battery only lasts a few minutes, and I don’t have a PC with FireWire to get songs onto it anymore

So just some of my iPod memories! I wonder what I’ll be using in 10 years time?

Using Dropbox to synchronise existing folders

Dropbox is a great service at a decent price, it’s limited however by the fact that it only synchronises files stored inside your ‘Dropbox’ folder. To get around this limitation on Windows 7 here’s what you need to do (as with anything like this, always backup everything to an external drive first, usual disclaimers apply, follow these instructions at your own risk).

  1. Inside your Dropbox folder, create folders with the same name as the ones you already have on your hard disk, in my case “Music”, “Documents” and “Pictures”.
  2. Move all your data from the existing folders into your Dropbox folder (they should start uploading to Dropbox) – Yes I said move, so make sure you backed.
  3. Delete the original folders (which will now be empty as you moved everything into your Dropbox)
  4. For each folder, create a symbolic link from your original location to the new one inside your Dropbox by running mklink from an administrative command prompt.
    mklink /D “C:\Users\Marc\Documents”  “C:\Users\Marc\Dropbox\Documents”
  5. That’s it! When you setup a new PC, you will have to start from step 4 and all your documents, pictures and music will just appear.

It will also work the other way round, creating a link from inside the Dropbox folder to your existing documents folder, however Dropbox only recognises changes when it gets restarted which defeats the point if you’re using it as a backup service and want to make use of it’s ‘Previous Versions’ feature.

Hope this might be of use to someone, and I hope Dropbox make doing this easier like Windows Live Mesh. Happy syncing!

Samsung copying Apple?

There’s been a lot reported in the news lately about Apple and Samsung battling it out in court to stop each other from selling various products.

I broke my Acer laptop at the weekend (well, I put it in the boot of my car inside a laptop bag, and afterwards the screen stopped working, and I am a good driver I promise!) so I decided I needed a new laptop since the laptop was so cheap anyway the cost of a new screen plus the likelihood of it happening again just doesn’t justify a repair –and a PC is for me at the heart of all things digital that I do. I didn’t want to spend stupid money on a laptop (I would love a MacBook Air, but at £1000 for one with a decent spec, I’ll pass) so I found a Samsung with an i5 and 4GB of RAM for a decent price.

Clearly while Samsung may have taken inspiration from some of Apple’s design (or may not have depending on who’s argument you’re listening to) they certainly haven’t noticed that Apple are not just about shiny products but about the overall user experience. Unboxing and switching on an iPad for the first time is enjoyable, like getting in a brand new car for the first time – doing this for my Samsung laptop was all but enjoyable.The first screen I was greeted with was some partitioning software! Do Samsung really think the average user cares how their partitions are setup? Even I don’t and I’m a self confessed geek.

After finally getting to the desktop, (about 20 minutes later) the next thing I see is a warning from Kaplinsky Security telling me I need to pay up for some security software. Do theses companies not get it? The game’s changed and you can’t treat consumers like this any more. Microsoft have said Windows 8 will have built in antimalware, lets hope they also take control of the setup experience too.

Then I had to spend another hour or so removing crapware. An Apple-esque dock that sat above the Windows 7 taskbar, a Bing Bar, and media players I will never use.

Finally, for some reason the power management was set so that the laptop would use hybrid sleep, this is where instead of shutting down you put the system to sleep, and simultaneously the system hibernates, so if power is lost no data is lost. This is designed for desktops and should never be enabled for laptops, lots of disk activity when you are chucking your laptop in your bag is not a good idea, not to mention the battery drain of always being in standby.

So not a great experience, and nothing like getting a new Apple product. Can’t say I would be eager to try any other of their products after this – what are your experiences?