I love my iPod. Nevertheless, there are a few things about it that have started to bug me over time.
Synchronization when full
The iPod’s autosync feature is great so long as there is enough space on the iPod for all your music. But once your pod is full, the options mostly suck. You can let iTunes automatically select a subset of your music to put on your pod, but when I tried this it tended to omit large chunks of my favourite albums. Alternatively, you can synchronize it to a set of playlists. (I’m not even going to talk about manually managing all your own files…yuck.) This has the downside that it’s not fully automagic, and requires mental effort to figure out what music you’re likely to want to listen to. Also, the UI for manually choosing a synchronization list is one of the few parts of iTunes that is genuinely bad.
However dreadful, this is the option I’ve settled on for the moment. The way I work with iTunes is that whenever I import a new album, I create a new playlist for it, tagged with the year in which I bought it, artist name, and album title (e.g. “2005 Gorillaz – Demon Days”). Tagging the album playlist with the year of purchase rather than the year of release has two benefits:
- it makes compiling my year-end retrospective easier, because I can see what albums I acquired in a given year
- in the iPod Synchronization Options Dialog (I like to call it “iSod”) it provides a simple way of selecting all my recent acquisitions
(It also has the downside of making my list of playlists really long…and iTunes doesn’t allow grouping of playlists. Now there’s a feature I’d like.)
So for my manual synchronization list, I choose all of the albums from the current year, plus a dynamic “4 + 5 star” playlist to make sure that I get all my favourite songs, and finally a static playlist (“_Favourite Albums” to which I have manually added all my favourite albums. At the moment, this takes up about 12GB of space on my 20GB pod, and gives me a reliable selection of stuff that I want to listen to.
No per-playlist shuffle option
I like listening to albums in proper track order, but I like my 4+5 star playlist shuffled. iTunes accommodates this, but the iPod’s shuffle settings are global. So I have to come back out to the main menu, then go to Settings -> Shuffle to switch over whenever I flip between the two types of playlist. It’s a minor nuisance, but a nuisance nevertheless.
L/R Headphone confusion
Whenever I grab my iPod headphones and have to untangle or untwist the cord, I end up with the right-side bud in my left hand, and vice versa. Consistently. How? Why? I can only guess that there is something in their shape that subliminally guides my hands to the wrong buds. Some subtle psychological joke on the part of Apple’s designers?