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Manufacturer: Apple
Min OS X: Any Version    Requires: FireWire Port

Apple iPod
December 10, 2001 | Chris Barylick

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As any recently enrolled grad student will tell you, financing is everything. Now is the time to curb one’s spending, not spend the entirety of their disposable income on the latest cool toys or awesome gadgets when whether or not you can afford to buy food is in question. Yet, sometimes it’s good to simply splurge!

Apple’s iPod portable MP3 player/FireWire hard disk is out, it’s cool and I had to have one, despite the fact that I’m 6’3”, 140 pounds and already look like a malnutrition victim. When the new Clarendon Apple Store opened, this was the first thing I looked for, hunting down the wandering “iPod guy” in the midst of well-heeled middle class shoppers like the mighty lion hunts down the overweight zebu on the Serengeti plains.

I played with it, listened to it, asked questions of the Apple Store employees and fell in love with the iPod only in the way that a techie can when they’ve found something really cool. Small, sleek and beautiful, the iPod cleanly clicked through its menus as I gently slid the control wheel around its circle. The backlight was enough to serve as a small flashlight and the sound was impeccable thanks to the small 60-watt booster built into the pair of headphones Apple includes with each iPod. I was sold.

Taking Her Home
In the fine tradition of going home with whoever or whatever you just met at a fraternity kegger, I discovered the iPod and I were simply made for each other (it was a consumer device, I was a gangly techie with some extra money and love in my heart). It’s a rare occasion when literally everything about a product is simply cool. Unpacking the iPod from its box is something like a simple puzzle, but as enjoyable none the less. The user first slides the outer covering up and over the cube-shaped box, which then opens horizontally like a small book. Open the top flaps on each half to reveal documentation, cables, software and the power supply on the left, the iPod itself on the right. Even the documentation case is aesthetically pleasing, the small envelope opening up in four different directions to provide access to the instructions, warranty card and software (iTunes 2.0.2).

Simply plug the iPod into a FireWire port via the cream-white FireWire cable that arrives with the unit and open up iTunes. The Macintosh searches the FireWire port, synchronizes with the iPod and automatically configures iTunes to recognize and use the iPod. Before the songs in your iTunes libraries are automatically sent to the iPod, the user will see the iPod mount as a volume both on the desktop and in iTunes itself. Click on the little iPod icon at the bottom of your iTunes window and the iPod Preferences window pops up. These options allow more refined control over the iPod such as whether the Mac sees it as more of a hard disk volume and whether to manually add specified songs or simply have the iPod automatically download all the songs in your iTunes playlists to itself, as its default settings tell you to do. After downloading my collection to the iPod (over 200 songs in only a few minutes), I sat back and listened, thrilled with an audio quality through the headphones that was more than equivalent to the Monsoon flat panel speakers and subwoofer with which I usually listen to my MP3 files.

The Software End
I can now boot my PowerMac G4 from a drive approximately a twentieth of its size, this is unassailably cool. Simply configure the iPod to be seen as a FireWire device (click the “Enable FireWire Disk Use” option in the iPod Preferences window) and the system will see it as a FireWire disk. After this, just drag a working operating system to the iPod, reboot your Mac and hold down the Option key to have the system search for bootable devices. After this is done, simply run your Mac as you would if you had booted off an external device and run any programs you want, even disk utilities. Unfortunately, Apple recommends against doing this too often, as it wears down the iPod’s hard drive and could burn it out, something Apple’s warranty program has decided not to cover.


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