Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Paying For Technology

After the passenger window got replaced, after all those freakishly square shards of glass had been vacuumed up, after all the stuff -- maps, Archie Digests, Harry Potter CDs, serviettes, Chickadee magazines -- was back in its proper spot, we were left with the impression that nothing had been stolen. Even my sunglasses were still there, forcing me to finally admit they were scuffed and stylistically passé beyond redemption. If we could just overlook the inconvenience and expense of replacing the broken window, we could almost laugh about it.

Weeks later we figured out what was missing: the iPod, and that useless widget that fits into the cigarette-lighter.

My wife was saddened -- it had been my gift to her, and she made extensive use of its comforts during business trips away from the family. There was no question it would have to be replaced, but I'd become jaded enough toward the brand that I wasn't beyond considering the competition. I couldn't help noticing an alternative that sold for $200 less than my wife's former iPod, and offered as many features as the iPod that sold for $100 more. A difference of $300 is not insignificant, but I had to admit it didn't quite have the iPod's sex appeal -- also not insignificant. I ran it by my wife, who shrugged and said, "As long as it has the music, I'm fine with it."

It does, plus a few things the iPod did not have, including videos of our daughters. And it's a great deal friendlier toward Linux users than Apple is. Hoo, boy -- I very quickly learned how easy it is to bork-up an iPod. Apple's customer service techs ("Geniuses," they call 'em) are, on the face of it, a forgiving bunch. The guy who served me hooked up the device to his computer, cocked an eyebrow and said, "Curious: the software seems to have been tampered with. I'll just restore that for you..." He did, and threw in a few bonus tracks to boot. Bon Jovi, Toto, one or two songs from Flashdance -- even Milli Vanilli. He certainly knew how to hurt a guy. Just one more reason to go non-Apple for round II.

So far, I'm happier for the change; we'll see what my wife makes of it when she attends a conference in Chicago in a couple of weeks. She's too busy (and far too practical) to care, but rumor is there's a new iPod model coming down the pike. Will it wow like the phone did? Frankly I'm too busy and practical to care.

Other music-technology links: can Rick Rubin save big music? My take: he's got an uncanny ear for what people want to hear, but it remains to be seen if he's got a similarly revolutionary approach to its tech-delivery.

iPhone? ho-hum. Ubuntu phone? Hm. I'd like a closer look, please.

11 comments:

Yahmdallah said...

I recently snagged a bunch of mp3 players for the fambly at toysrus, for $12 apiece. They are a gig (250ish songs) and have the appropirate bells and whistles, those being an equalizer to get better bass and treble, and the option to play folders and songs in order, or shuffle. Granted, you can't make playlists, but I wouldn't want to for a portable device. We are all groovin.

Tom said...

just announced today, iPod nano with video playback... of course, just a couple of months after I bought mine!

DarkoV said...

Whether Rick Rubin is the saviour of Columbia and of future recorded music is certianly not clear in the linked article from NYT. But one thing is crystal clear. For anyone who loves music and has some type of music at the center of their day, Rick Rubin is certainly living the life we'd all love to have.
Unlike most record mavens/producers, he also comes across as a very likeable character. That's reason enough to cheer him on. Here's hoping that he takes an interest in jazz and lends his talents to the resurrection of that musical genre.

Yahmdallah said...

darkov, is jazz really in trouble? It's seemed to be a genre that percolates along just fine. We have two public radio stations in Denver, and one of them is jazz. They're always hawking new releases. Also, I consider the "chillout" genre a sub-genre of jazz, and it's huge.

DarkoV said...

Yamdallah,
Back here on the East Coast, things are not that encouraging. Philly's Temple U. had a jazz station 24/7. 6-7 years ago it went classical and talk w/jazz about 4-6 hours, late at night. Two major jazz venues closed with the last year. I'm particularly t.o'ed at one place as friends had given me gift cert's worth over $150 that are totally useless; this place, Zanzibar Blue, closed within 2 weeks of announcing they were in financial difficulty. Yes, NYC is always there, but "there" is over 2 hours away, not a venue you'd tend to go to during the weekday. Except for WBGO out of Newark, NJ jazz over the radio is gone unless you count light (actually weightless) Jazz radio stations in NYC or Philly.

Jazz specific CD/Album stores are gone and it's not as if they've gone the Internet route, either. They collapsed for lack of interest.
As far as the chillout genre...well, I'm not as open as you are in including in as a genre or sub-genre of jazz; it seems like a noisier/more note-filled version of "Light Jazz", the latter being today's version of "EZ Listenin'" music.
I just hope there are enough folks out there going to clubs and buying artist-packaged CD's to keep musicians interested enough in jazz until the circle comes around again and we're in another jazz revival state of mind.
I think the reason it seems jazz isn't in trouble is due to the popularity of Blue Note's Norah Jones. Take away her record sales and Blue Note is not really doing well.

Whisky Prajer said...

re: Rick Rubin - does that guy not own the job we all want to have?!? I'm not talking about saving Columbia, but about taking artists into his embrace and making them absolutely fabulous. To be that necessary for an artist's development ... like Brian Eno was to Talking Heads, or Daniel Lanois to U2 ... color me green, green, green.

DarkoV said...

WP,
I am the shade of the Chemlawned grass across the street. If I stripped ot my b.d. suit and lay flat on my neighbour's lawn, you wouldn't be able to see me, prone in greenitude.

Yahmdallah said...

Since you know who he is, you prolly know this, but anything Daniel Lanois has been a producer on is amazing. I look for him and will buy a CD unheard if he's produced it. Oddly, his own music is kind of itless.

DarkoV said...

Mr. Y.,
Re. Mr. Lanois, you're dead on about his skills as a producer. As far as his own stuff, I also agree with you with one major exception. Did not even Acadie touch you where it hurts? The first four songs, especially "Jolie Louise" are worth the price of the cd alone.

Yahmdallah said...

darkov, I'll have to give it a listen, I just procured a borrowed copy recently. My reaction to his last effort, since Acadie is a re-release. I'll let you know.

Whisky Prajer said...

Acadie is certainly easier on the musical pre-conceptions than Lanois's last few efforts. My most recent musical impression of Lanois goes back two years ago, at the Winnipeg Folk Festival. Lanois had the main stage, just before the closing act, Emmy Lou Harris. He stood up there with his band, doing their ambient noodling about while a thunderstorm was brewing quite visibly to the south. Everyone was looking at the horizon, then consulting with their spouses, picking up a few odds and ends before the wind (which was beginning to gust) took them away. Then Emmy Lou came on, and everyone sat back down again. There was a few minutes of light rainfall, then nothing. A beautiful night.