All entries for Monday 26 July 2004

July 26, 2004

New iPod: Smart or dumb?

So, if you're into MP3 players, it likely won't have escaped your attention that Apple have once again updated the iPod. Short version: it's a bit thinner, the battery life is up from 8 to 12 hours, and it's 100 dollars cheaper.

When I first heard about this, I was underwhelmed. The sorts of features I had been hoping Apple might consider for the iPod included:-

  • Line-in recording for use at gigs or round at friends' houses.
  • FM tuner
  • Recording from the tuner (and although I'm not desperate to see it myself, doesn't it seem logical that once you have a hard disk, an FM tuner and a powerful OS, that you might as well throw in Tivo-style recording for the radio, so your iPod could automatically record every episode of The News Quiz for you?)
  • Simple removable hard disk operation rather than stopping me seeing the MP3s on its disk.
  • SD card slot to archive my digital photos on to its hard disk.

But perhaps I'm wrong: there's a cogent analysis here suggesting that Apple have in fact fixed exactly the two things that they needed to. The only area where iPods lag behind the competition is battery life and price; 8 hours is right at the bottom of the scale for MP3 players, and $500 (for the 40GB model) is right at the top of the price scale. So maybe what they've actually done is opened up the market to a larger proportion of the population, for whom the existing aura of cool and the new lower price might be enough to persuade them that now's the time to buy.

Data Sabbath

In the Observer this weekend, the idea of the Data Sabbath:-

One day each week, a full 24 hours with no computer or email, no phone, no TV or movies, no radio or CD, no Palm pilot, no technology.

I was slightly dismayed to realise that I'd find this quite hard. Perhaps I need to get out more.

Tiles are rubbish!

Why, after all these years, has nobody found a better way to make a shower cubicle waterproof than tiling it? You get about one month of clean, watertight walls, then a month or so of steadily grubbier grouting, then cracks in the grouting, then water behind the tiles, then a year or so later it's time to redo it all. Again.

It's not as if other things intended to be watertight are made up of lots of little pieces all glued together. Nobody makes submarines or aircraft out of lots of tiny bits with joins between them because it's obvious that large sheets would be better for the job. Why don't we either (a) have large sheets of some sensible materials for walls of shower cubicles (frosted glass would be nice), or (b) consider inventing waterproof grout instead of the apparently water-soluble stuff that's in use now. Gah.

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