Using the iPod Shuffle

Today I finally snapped and bought myself a Shuffle. I’m listening to it as I write this.

I put a good deal of thought into this. I needed to figure out whether I would really get a lot of use of it, after spending Ooohhhh, 99 bucks for the 512GB model. I figured it this way: I have a ton of music on my PowerBook (my main Mac). I have a few big categories that should work well as shuffles: Jazz, Blues, Folk, Opera. Maybe I’ll spot some others.

So I plunked down my money, and went to my iTunes library. I made four big new playlists, called All Jazz (2 days’ worth), All Blues (13.9 hours), All Folk (15.9 hours), All Country (only 3.6 hours) All Opera (5.4 hours), and All Rock (16.9 hours). Looks like I need more Country, as the capacity of the Shuffle is about 8 hours.

This afternoon I loaded up All Jazz, using the Autofill function. However much music you have in a playlist, you can just point the Shuffle at it and have it fill itself up with random selections from the list. I enjoyed that for an hour or two, then pointed it at All Folk. I’ve been listening to that ever since. The battery still shows a good charge after several hours. Right now I’m hearing the Grateful Dead’s US Blues, as played by Celtic/Dead fusion band Wake the Dead. It’s wonderful. During the day I’ve been hearing the New Lost City Ramblers, Christine Kane, Chris Smither, Judy Collins, Duck Baker, Bob Dylan, Eliza Gilkyson, Dave Carter and Tracy Grammer, Willy Porter, Gaby Pahinui, etc. etc.

A lot of this is music I haven’t heard more than twice after buying or downloading the album, because I liked two or three songs. The shuffle feature lets me get hit between the eyes by the songs I’ve neglected. It’s just doggone wonderful, finding out what treasures I have on my hard disk. And if I hit one that’s not what I want just now, it’s no big deal. Just skip it and move on.

Now I’m hearing something I don’t even recognize. I think it’s Hem, a disk I bought for one song, but hey, it seems to have some other good stuff on it too. Yup, the battery is holding up just fine, it’s supposed to be good for twelve hours. Nine, more likely. But I’ve only got eight hours of music on the thing. And I’ll switch to another playlist tomorrow, probably, without hearing even half of this one.

Oooh, here’s the New Lost City Ramblers with Takes a Worried Man to Sing a Worried Song.

Loading a complete playlist takes a while. Using my 1.5GHz PowerBook, up to an hour (I haven’t actually timed it). The battery charges up while you’re doing that, of course. Next time you do it on the same playlist, you get a different random selection from it.

As I built my Category playlists today, I realized that a whole lot of songs and albums are drastically mis-categorized. So I spent some time correcting the categories. This is part of the process of getting the most from a Shuffle. Because if you’re in the mood for rock, you really don’t want any folk-style fingerpicking masterpieces, and vicey versey. And Shuffling really won’t work for my Classical favorites. For them, I’ll have to make up a sequential…

Oooh, there’s Ellen McIlwaine singing Everybody Wants to Go to Heaven, But Nobody Wants to Die. Might be better in the Blues category. Mental note.

Like I was saying, a sequential category with a specific program of classical pieces. I’ll be trying that out. It should be fun, I will be a concert impresario putting together an evening’s music.

So, why haven’t I heard any of Misty River yet? That’s Chance for you. I’ll hear them when the electrons decide I need to.

Enough for now, if you’re wondering whether to get a Shuffle, I hope this may help you decide. Now I’m hearing Tracy Grammer singing The Mountain.

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