The joys of technology

Saturday, July 26, 2008

I bought a new iPod Nano last week. I feel safe in saying that a lot of people my age and most people older than me don't know what that is because it's on the cutting edge of technology and the older people get, the more set in their ways they become; hanging on to the old and either rejecting or ignoring the new.

An iPod Nano is smaller than a cigarette package; about 21⁄2 inches long, 2 inches wide and maybe a three-fourths of an inch thick. I have no idea how, but it holds up to a thousand songs, hundreds of pictures, videos (either self-made or downloaded from the Internet), television shows, and podcasts. It is a technological marvel.

I decided to get one after my visit to Arkansas a few weeks back. I rode to another town with my youngest son, Will, and his girlfriend Erica, and we listened to songs from his iPod down there and back. He had bought an adapter that plugs into the auxiliary outlet in your vehicle that allows the songs on the iPod to be played over the vehicle's sound system. In doing that, you get to hear exactly the music you want to hear, when you want to hear it. I thought that was pretty cool so when I got back home, I bought one too.

The first thing you have to do is secure a free iTunes account on the net. After this is accomplished, you can buy practically any song ever recorded from the iTunes store for 99 cents a song, a very reasonable price considering that when I bought 45 r.p.m. records when I was a teenager, the records cost a buck a piece. Obviously, they had a song on each side, so technically, you were getting two songs for a dollar but most people didn't listen much to the "B" side of the record so we were essentially paying a dollar for one song, just like iTunes is charging 40 years later. Everytime you buy a song, 99 cents is charged to the credit card you placed on file when you enrolled.

The other way to get songs on your iPod is to import them yourself using compact discs that you own or have access to. You simply put a CD in the CD port of your computer, turn on iTunes, and a prompt will ask you if you wish to have that particular CD imported into your song cache. If you do, an hour long CD can be downloaded in about five minutes. Now we all know that there are many songs on a CD we don't listen to, just like we didn't listen to most of the "B" sides of 45's we bought a generation ago; so once the CD is completely downloaded, you go through each song, eliminate the ones you don't want and keep the ones you do, until you have a customized playlist of only the songs you like and want to hear. The final step in the process is establishing different kinds of playlists that might conform to a particular mood you're in. For example, I have a love songs playlist, a classic rock playlist, a Blues and Soul playlist, and a favorite band or artist playlist. And, if my mood changes, I can switch from one playlist to the other with a simple touch on my iPod.

Downloading my personal pictures onto my iPod was easy. I simply inputted a command and all 150 photos I have stored in my computer were imported to my iPod in less than a minute. Developing my music playlist was a little more labor intensive because I have over 200 CDs and each one had to be imported separately and then each song had to be either selected or eliminated individually so that took over a week. But when I was finished, I had my pictures and videos to look at anytime I chose to do so, along with a personal playlist of over 600 songs. I can either plug the iPod into my car and listen to the music while I'm driving or attach the earbuds that came with it and listen to my songs any other time, regardless of where I am.

On another technological front, I bought myself a big screen HD television for Christmas last year and subscribed to DirecTV after I got it home. This was another great purchase. High definition television is truly an amazing thing to see and I've loved the experience. I always look forward to the beginning of football season but I'm doubly anxious for it to roll around this year because I'll get to watch most of the televised games in high def and once you've done that, regular television viewing just isn't an option.

The one big problem with being a DirecTV subscriber in the wind-swept plains of mid-America is that the wind can sometimes blow so hard that it blows your receiver away from your settings and you have to have a service call to get it back the way it's supposed to be. I'm usually not susceptible to the sales pitches of extended warranties offered by companies when you purchase one of their products, but I did choose to purchase the free service option that DirecTV presented.

I had talked to other DirecTV subscribers before I joined up and their biggest complaint was the wind blowing the receiver off its settings, requiring an expensive service call to reposition the receiver and it was good that I did, since I've utilized that option three times since December.

Technology is like anything else in the world. It can be good or bad, depending on how it's used and these two technological marvels of the new millennium have added quality and enjoyment to my life.

I wish my Uncle Bill, the man who took primary responsibility for raising me, could see them. This would have been Flash Gordon stuff when he was alive.

I'm writing a new book, tentatively called "Three Loves," about the three women in my life who showed me the incredible highs and the unbelievable lows of being in a loving relationship with another person. I hope to have it out by Christmas. My first book, "Thoughts About Love: You Take My Breath Away" is available at The Book End in McCook.

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