Reacting to comments: iPods are good, actually

My latest video was an unscripted “repair vlog” style video, outlining how I repaired an iPod recently and why I love using it:

As is typically the case, the majority of comments have been perfectly pleasant, encouraging comments about how iPods are, in fact, cool, and it’s fun to find new uses for vintage tech. Great stuff.

A few threads of disagreement have popped up, so yeah, let’s react to them, in order of most reasonable to least!

Why not just use a phone on airplane mode?

OK, maybe this isn’t disagreement so much as not understanding where I’m coming from. Which is fine. But nevertheless, it’s a perfectly reasonable question.

I mentioned that I love iPods because they will never interrupt me with a phone call, and folks right away commented that I can just put my phone on airplane mode. True, but also not really the same thing.

Not wanting my music to be interrupted by a phone call isn’t the same thing as saying I don’t want to receive any messages. There’s plenty of times I’m texting with someone, or writing emails, or surfing the web, and want to listen to music.

A bigger issue is the fact that the phone has no headphone jack. That’s pretty much a dealbreaker in many circumstances like my workout playlist or playing music through my receiver.

But the biggest reason why I want a purpose-built device is because it’s intentional.

Music for me is not just “background noise”. It’s a deeply personal experience. I am a musician, myself, and for me, listening to music is often a dedicated activity in itself. My phone, on the other hand, is a terrible burden that society expects me to participate in. Separating the concerns feels logical.

Why not just use a second, older smartphone, entirely offline?

I bunch of commenters asked why I wouldn’t just use an old Android or iPhone, and keep it offline. After all, many older phones have removable storage.

For one, an older smartphone has no tactile buttons, unless of course we’re going way back to physical keyboard-era smartphones (which I adored but I digress). An iPod has an interface I can manipulate largely without looking at it: I can easily raise the volume, skip tracks, and play/pause while keeping my eyes off of the device. That’s not always possible on an older phone.

But here’s the biggest reason why an older phone doesn’t make sense to me: I don’t have one.

Why would I go out and seek out some crummy old phone, when I already possess not only several iPods, but the peripherals for them? Over the years I’ve managed to collect enough docks, cables, and compatible equipment to last a generation or two.

A simple reason I prefer the iPod is that it’s what I had in the mid 2000s, and what I still have today. And that’s a good enough reason to prefer a piece of tech.

iPods are too much work. Android is better.

“Adding music to an iPod sure looks like a chore.” Is it?

I mean, it’s not quite “drag the files onto the iPod”, but it’s pretty close to that when it comes to Rhythmbox. I can literally select the songs I want to sync, and drag them into the iPod. I showed that at the end of the video.

A lot of commenters were saying that they’d never want to purchase a piece of hardware if they have to open it up to change the battery or whatever, and yeah, there’s valid critique in Apple’s design choices, sure.

But your smartphone has those same problems. At least the iPod has a healthy repair ecosystem nowadays.

Putting songs-you-own onto the iPod isn’t all that hard to me. But maybe the real problem is that some folks don’t want to own songs anymore, which leads me to…

Streaming is here to stay, get used to it.

I can’t stand streaming media.

I love streaming tech for livestreams and events, but when it comes to media like music, movies, and television series, I don’t stream at all, and haven’t for some time.

I tried Spotify for a few years, and was constantly annoyed at how my playlists would be suddenly incomplete due to copyright issues or licensing problems. And this says nothing about the fact that Spotify isn’t a great player in the game, or how musicians are forced into working with third parties to add music.

In short, I feel like Spotify is a vulture picking at the bones of a once thriving music industry.

Beyond my distaste for the streaming options, another issue with streaming is that I don’t like algorithm-driven recommendation engines. “New music for you” takes the joy out of discovery. I want recommendations from my friends, not a computer. I like talking about music, and sharing what I’ve discovered with other folks.

Music is supposed to be organic, and for me at least, the streaming industry takes all of the joy out of it. No thanks.

Apple sucks. Use X player instead!!!1!

This is the most unreasonable comment, and sadly the most popular nasty comment. I had to delete a bunch of these for language, too (kids watch my channel, folks).

Anyway, I don’t understand this one at all. For one, we’re talking about iPods, which Apple hasn’t sold in years. Buying or acquiring a used iPod gives Apple no money, neither does making a YouTube video about an Apple product.

It does, however, support a few cool small businesses, like Elite Obsolete and DosLab, which churn out compatible parts for these old pieces of hardware.

But beyond all that, come on. Aren’t we beyond “my brand is good and your brand sucks” here in the 2K20s?

I also see this on videos about Commodore products: “Commodore sucks, Atari rules” or whatever. Like, aren’t we past high school? Maybe some of us aren’t.

Well, here’s my “nuanced” take: Apple products are fine if you enjoy using them.

I have a preference for open source software stacks. I want to see open source hardware ecosystems thrive. On the music player front, a Patron told me about Tangara today, and it looks really, really cool.

My preference for open source doesn’t mean I have to put anyone else down. And it doesn’t mean that for you, either.

Surely, nuance can make a comeback online. Right?

Thanks for reading!

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13 thoughts on “Reacting to comments: iPods are good, actually”

  1. @posts If not for wanting balanced output I likely would have fixed up my old iPod instead. And this is coming from someone who, in fact, hates Apple. While Apple is a company with horrible ethics and supports anti-consumer lobbyists, they weren't always this bad and the iPod is from a time when they weren't. Just because Apple is bad doesn't mean we shouldn't try to preserve what we can.

    I use a DAP (pictured) for most portable music. For times when battery life is a concern, I like MiniDisc because they can go nearly a full day on a single battery. Sometimes I'll use MD because I miss having physical media.

    MD players are great for trips where access to power cannot be guaranteed, such as on cheap airlines. Not only are the batteries swappable and rechargeable, but they aren't lithium-based so you can bring as many as you want to onto a plane. However, from my experience, if you bring more than a few (I brought 10) you might spend some extra time with TSA as they check if each one is an explosive, lol.

    • @posts

      Also, regarding people making those rude comments, and you may (likely) already know this, but most of them are just doing it to make themselves feel better, "Look at me! I'm smarter than this person who made a video/post/etc."

      Twitter was always full of this type of person, which is why I generally avoided it. I'd say any individual (that is to say, anyone not a business, celebrity, influencer, or other public figure) still active on Twitter falls under this description with few if any exceptions.

      It's easy to miss it if you perceive someone as "on your side", but once I learned it I can now see it everywhere on social media. If someone is only blaming/shaming and not trying to educate, they are almost certainly commenting to get that feeling of superiority.

      For me, it helps to try to remember that the people doing that are doing it because everything else in their lives is so unfulfilling that it's the only way they can make themselves feel good. Which just makes me feel sorry for them.

      • @posts

        I think YouTube should implement a shadow-banning option for content creators. I know you almost certainly know what that is, but on the off chance that someone reading this doesn't know: A shadow ban in this context would mean that when you comment on a video it appears to work but no one sees your comment but you.

        Shadow-banning is a very effective moderation tool and it's not new. I used it back in my IRC days, though it was called shun in that context. Using /shun on someone wouldn't give them any feedback saying their messages were blocked. They could still send messages to channels and send private messages, but no one would see them. Shun was a very powerful command because it was possible to do it based on IP/hostname.

        It worked because they often wouldn't realize they were shunned for days or weeks, if at all. Trolls and spammers who weren't interested in actual conversation were thwarted fairly significantly versus just banning them as they'd know they were banned immediately and evade it.

        • @ancyker @posts you can shadow ban comments on YouTube. I think it can even happen automatically (to combat those bots spamming about winning giveaway and whatever else).
          I don't know if it is available for any channel or limited to "high profile ones".
          I know Linus from LinusTechTips shaddow bans people from his YouTube comment section manually (he has talked about it on The Wan Show).

          • @andershass @posts Yeah I remember him saying that too but he also can replace videos without having to upload them as a new one and other things that other creators don't get. When I searched it I couldn't find anyone saying how to do it or confirming they could do it. I also can't find a button for it, so I'm pretty sure you don't get that button until your channel is of a certain size but maybe I just missed it.

          • @ancyker @posts I can select hide user from channel under YouTube Studio comments menu (I got an old account but definitely not monetized). Possible it isn't available when just looking at the video itself but only in YouTube Studio.

            In regards to the reupload thing there is strict rules (like has to be same length) and someone at YouTube has to approve it. But still annoying it isn't something smaller channels can do (at least all monetized/verified channels could be a reasonable limit).

          • @andershass @posts Ah that's cool, I couldn't find it when I searched for it but I probably just wasn't searching the right thing (I was searching for how to shadow ban — using that wording) so that's good.

  2. @posts I wonder if these people would say I shouldn't have accepted the free iPad Air 1 I have gotten, lol.
    I would love if I could tinker with it as much and easily as you can with that iPod.

    I think the main reason I have never bought an Apple product is the price.
    But if one bothers repairing old devices it can be fairly cheap as you and others highlight with repairing old Apple devices (though it probably is easier to buy old Apple devices in North America than in Europe).

  3. @posts Since you mentioned iPods and Tangara, recently I have been exploring dedicated devices for music listening. I went through a few iPods and considered upgrading them. I eventually ended up with something else. While I love the haptic UI of a classic iPod, I also like the idea of more tweakable software and nicer hardware. I was wondering, since Tangara is foss hardware, wouldn't it be possible to tweak the board's form factor to fit into an iPod? I'd buy it.

  4. @posts I have been reading about Tangara at The feature-set sounds very compelling. The device itself it expensive, but it would be supporting open-source development and might prompt me to learn Lua. It's been very popular on Crowd Supply and is still has ordering open. I might just have to sell some old iPhones and iPod parts to afford one!

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