Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Scrod by the IPod: The Saga of Nano Nano

A few years ago, some of the Dental students on the Nicaragua trip began sporting these little white plastic machines with ear plugs. "Haven't you heard of an IPod??" Will asked incredulously. "Oh... that is one of those things..." I said, "how does it work?"

Will explained you downloaded music to these things and carried it along with you. You could copy an album, or a few songs, the early IPods could not hold much. Interesting, I thought.

Technology comes to me slowly. I usually develop a wait and see attitude. Usually the early versions are obsolete quickly and are expensive. I remember the $225 calculator my dad bought that performed the 4 basic math functions and that was it. A year later one that could do everything but calculate in Blugonian math cost $50. He was always hacked about that.

So, it was with trepidation that I bought an IPod to take to Nicaragua. A cute small silver Nano. It seemed to be all that I needed. I took it home, got it set up and it loaded all the music I had stored on the computer, which immediately overwhelmed the capacity. I think it was going to be too small. I played with it a bit, getting familiar with its functions and quirks. It seemed easy enough, albeit a bit touchy...sometimes doing things I did not want it to do.

I was told it had to be charged and hooked up to connect with the Itunes system so that it would play and I could download music. The screen had this huge DO NOT DISCONNECT sign on it as it whirled and did its thing. I would still be waiting for it, had I not just got impatient and decided to click on the little arrow to disconnect. I thought I had killed it, but it seemed to be ok. After a bit of getting to know you time, I dubbed the little machine "Nano Nano" (with apologies to Mork and Mindy.

I was so thrilled to finally be able to listen to some music on the plane down, rather than the short, scratchy selections they play on coach airline programs. All plugged in and ready to go, it turned on and got stuck. Would not do a thing. Turn on, off, play nothing. Just lit up and was stuck on the main menu. I put it in its box and hoped it would wear out and turn off. A peek inside my carry on revealed Nano Nano happily glowing away.

With all the warnings about turning off such devices, I was concerned that Nano Nano would cause our plane to crash, causing the autopilot to think a swamp in Belize was actually Managua Airport. Luckily, the little malfunctioning machine did not interfere with the navigation system and we landed ok.... the little beast still glowing bright but refusing to budge. Only after totally discharging did it reset itself and seemed to be ok. It was fun to plug into Nano Nano and listen to music while I basked in the sun, sipping a sweet mojito.

A couple of days later, the menu scrolled along by itself for about 4-5 hours, never stopping, just shuffling along. Then the earplugs quit. Nano Nano was no longer my friend.

Yesterday, Nano Nano went back to Costco. "Our most returned item" said Dave, the guy in electronics. He suggested a bigger model, one that seemed to be more reliable. My friend Michael agreed it was a better model so now I have a full size Ipod, a sleek back one with a big screen and 30gb of storage instead of 2. It is still a tricky little thing, but I am getting used to its quirks and maybe we can be friends. After all, it took the end of LPs to get me to buy a CD player. With CDs still around, I am in on the ground floor with this contraption.

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