iPod Coping Strategies

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

The iTunes synchronization options dialog (iSod)

(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?

8 Replies to “iPod Coping Strategies”

  1. I find it easier to deal with on the Shuffle – less room, less choices to make.

    Re the headphones, just pick them up, put them how _you_ think, and then swap over… That would fix it, wouldn’t it?

  2. Tried that…but it wouldn’t work. You’d think that it would, but it didn’t. Maybe I wasn’t trying hard enough.

    On the other hand, one of the Apple earbuds has died, so I’ve just got myself a replacement pair of cheapo Sony buds that don’t seem to have the problem. I’m baffled.

  3. Martin –

    (Syncing when full)

    I ran across this a while ago and I agree that it sucks. What I did to solve it was to add a tag in the misc field of music that I did not want to sync (something like “!sync”). I then created a smart playlist to contain all songs that don’t contain the tag in that field. That’s the play list I sync to. It’s not perfect, but it does work. Every time that I add more music to my library, I have to go find something to tag and exclude, but so far there has always been something that has sucked enough to be a relief to drop.


  4. Has anyone had the problem of the whole iPod just freezing up, and the only way to clear it is to let the battery run out?

    This has happened twice already now to me, and ususally when skipping forward a few tracks.

    Also the battery running down while it’s powered off.

    I wouldn’t have bought mine, luckily it was a freebie. Checking out Engadget and Gizmodo, there are some awesome memory based players coming…think I’ll change nearer the time.

  5. I would have thought it easier just to attack this with a selection of smart playlists and ordinaries. For a start, always get it to lob on the last 1000 songs you imported. And anything you’ve bothered to rate (I knwo you: I bet you’ve gone through iTunes rating /everything/.)

    Having said all that: I just bought a bigger iPod. Do you want a 40Gb 3rd gen? I’ve got one here somewhere…

  6. I need help with my ipod. It’s frozen on a play screen, it won’t turn off, or change song, or do anything. I have no idea what’s wrong with it. I didn’t knock it, I didn’t drop it or anything. It’s just frozen. Please Help!
    Email me at: conspiracy_victim1@hotmail.com

  7. I just got my iPod Shuffle and I can’t seem to get it to hold all my music. We are only talkihng about 30 songs or so. Also, when I plug it into my USB port, it shows up for a few seconds on “my computer” then disappears. Has anyone experienced the same problem?

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