It’s a test, one of many he has sprung on you over the years, all in an effort to, first, bring you into the 20th century and, more recently, to acquaint you with the 21st. He is aware that you are as un-hip as all get out, but, at the same time, he sees you as possessing at least a passing acquaintance with some things technological – in other words, a geek.
In this latest test case, however, there are giga-ironies at play. He gave you an "iPod" of all things — a huge one. The hugeness isn’t physical, of course, but, rather, quantifies the music player’s sheer capacity to store data. As you understand it, you can stuff up to 15,000 songs into the little bugger.
Now, if you’re crunching the numbers correctly here, that would equal about 1,500 vinyl record albums’ worth of Dizzy Gillespie, Woody Guthrie, Billie Holiday, Bob Dylan, Lynyrd Skynyrd, AC-DC, the Stones, Bill Monroe, Robert Johnson, Lenny Bruce, Hank Williams, Charlie Christian, Merle Haggard and, well, you get the picture.
And, according to the highly minimalists literature accompanying the unit, you can also stuff it full of videos and "podcasts" (you may have to revisit that section at some point) and photos and any old files that you might have saved on your computer – like camping check-lists or rules covering carry-on baggage or recent price lists from the Utah Alcoholic Beverage Control.
Of course, as one of the last of your species to acquire an iPod, you are well aware that the technology will be somewhat obsolete by the time you get all the uploading and downloading configured sufficiently to where you can walk around with those things stuck in your ears and a blank stare on your mug.
Being quite the anti-social sort, however, maybe you could employ the earphones — without having to actually plug them into the iPod — as a deterrent to others who may wish to engage you in that familiar manner to which like-minded, carbon-based life forms are wont.
You could hold them at bay by solely closing your eyes and bobbing your head to whatever obscure rhythm you can conjure from your vast bag of tricks. That way you could report back to your mentor, somewhat honestly, that you are making progress within your most recent assignment, which is, of course, to get a life.
As usual, you are no doubt making too big of a deal out of what is quite possibly a no-brainer. The instruction "manual" that accompanies the unit says right there in one of the world’s smaller fonts that you can be playing music and watching videos in only four easy steps. The first must be a brain transplant, which includes the "patience of Job" option.
Actually, the quite brief instructions are of a size that you could stuff fifteen-times-ten-to-the-billionth-power worth into the player and still have room for the 400-page third edition of "iPod and iTunes – The Missing Manual."
Subtitled "The book that should have been in the box," this rather hefty tome promises the "juiciest secrets of Apple’s pocket virtuoso." If it’s that good, maybe, after having solved your set-up problems, it could end up on that special literary shelf between Henry Miller and Terry Southern.
According to the manual, the iPod is also a "PalmPilot." In other words, you can stuff your calendar, address book, and to-do-list into its bottomless innards. The latter shouldn’t take up too much space. It also doubles as an alarm clock and sleep timer. Now we’re getting somewhere.
It also "makes an excellent book reader, capable of scrolling through recipes, driving directions, and even Web pages." That’s great! You’ll be more than prepared if questions come-up concerning the proper baking technique for creating "Cajun sweet-dough pie" from scratch or how to find Wallsburg when the fog rolls off Deer Creek or how the Dodgers fared on the road the previous evening.
Additionally, there are "GameBoy" features for those moments when you would rather kill time than spend it with yourself. Of course, someone once inferred that you may well need hand-and-eye coordination to be a "gamer." That scared you away immediately. Not to mention the fact that the ability to walk while you chew gum might come into play.
Being a 60-gigabyte hard drive also means you could download everything on your current desktop (a device from the late Pleistocene) and also whatever minutiae you’ve collected upon your laptop and have all that "stuff" at your fingertips. Why? Because you can? Who knows?
So, let’s see. According to the instructions that did come in the box, all you have to do is install the software, put music and videos on your computer, download music and charge the battery, and then, voilà, play the music and videos in question.
Well, that sounds easy enough. Hell, when you get done with that you can spend the rest of the morning translating Czeslaw Milosz and perusing the latest "superstring" epiphanies from the quantum folks.
Hmmmm? That seems to be the "iPod dock connector to USB 2.0 cable" you’re swinging like a lasso over there. Your time might be better spent locating a USB 2.0 port somewhere on your machine, wouldn’t you think? And that little white thing you’re stirring the Bailey’s into your coffee with might well be what they call an "iPod Dock Adapter." Obviously, better focus is what is needed here.
So, who cares about Apple’s proprietary iPod format or declining service or the fact that if you drop it the unit takes it personal or that the industry reads "backup" as "copyright infringement" or that battery life is a problem or that it’s out of date before it’s out of the box? Let’s get this puppy up and running.
Or, just maybe, tomorrow might prove a better time frame. You can get started early and before you know it you can be a "podmeister." Imagine what it will do to your self-esteem to be packing all that audio and video and photo "stuff" around. And, if things work out, your days of doing nothing but bonding with the cosmos and your inner-self may be coming to an end. Your son would be so proud.
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This ski season was great once it got going, writes Tom Clyde. Being outdoors on the slopes was “a powerful and necessary thing this year.”