Tag Archives: music

I’m Going to Miss the iPod Click Wheel

Fifth generation iPodAs I moved our iTunes library last week, I worried that the new system might not be able to sync with the old iPod, but relaxed when I saw that Apple still sold the click-wheel iPod Classic. They discontinued it a few days later, but fortunately we were able to sync the old devices.

Why do I prefer the older iPods with physical buttons and tiny screens?

Because I listen to music in the car, and a touch screen is a terrible interface for quick actions while driving.

While touch screens are better for menus, searches, finding albums, playlists, artists, and just about anything else, they’re actually dangerous for driving. A physical control of some sort is best for any action you might have to take while behind the wheel of a moving car.

Pause/Play, Skip and Volume. Those are the key things you want to be able to do with music without thinking too much about where you’re reaching, or taking your eyes off the road. (Especially if you have a mix of quiet and loud songs.) Volume’s on the dashboard, but it’s so much easier — and safer — to hit an actual button for pause/play or skip than to jab at the touch screen until you get it right.

Cassette…Now I Remember

Audio Cassette

With all the Les Miserables reading and listening I’ve been doing lately, I decided to dig out an old mix tape of excerpts from Forbidden Broadway. It’s been years since I’ve actually listened to an audio cassette. Most of my music collection was on CDs to begin with, the iPod and my phone have long-since replaced the tapes I kept in the car, and playlists with shuffle have replaced mix tapes.

My two-year old, on seeing it, immediately asked, “What is this?” I tried to explain it was a way they used to record music before CDs, that it has a roll of tape inside, more like a measuring tape than sticky tape, that you have to be careful not to touch the edge (which he promptly did — hooray for leaders). Then I tried to demonstrate how the tape rolled from one side to the other, using the time-honored method of sticking a pencil in and turning it quickly.

And I couldn’t find a pencil.

More accurately, I couldn’t find a hexagonal wooden pencil. A mechanical pencil, sure. A bunch of pens. Some round wooden pencils. But nothing that would actually fit inside the capstan and turn it.

Demo of old technology defeated by…a lack of another old technology!

Defeated, I put the cassette in the tape deck on the stereo and played it. It sounded hollow and distant, with too much noise to actually listen to it. Some media age better than others. I’d bet the CDs I recorded it from (wherever they ended up) still play just fine. I wouldn’t be surprised to find my parents’ vinyl albums still play as well as they did twenty years ago, as long as they’re clean.

It makes me wonder what state the rest of my tapes, both audio and VHS, are in. I was planning to try to sell some of the pre-recorded VHS tapes if I could find someone who wants them, but now I wonder if I should play them first or just send them to e-waste.