I Study the Nano

First gratuitous pretty picture

In a mad desire to re-experience the joys of first-year law school, I have spent a few hours this afternoon studying the Nano.

The Nano is a personal music device &c. Four controls are marked on its surface, one of them in English. That would be “Menu.” The other three are well-established audio symbols meaning “next chapter” (3 PM), “play/pause” (6 PM), and “last chapter” (9 PM). That doesn’t seem like a lot to work with, does it? But of course you can do a million things with these controls, or nearly, if you know how to work them. For that, though, you will have to study the Nano.

In other words, you have to buy a book. The “documentation” that accompanies the Nano is, if truth be known, less than minimal. It is a series of designs, printed on an accordion fold of shiny paper and unaccompanied by text. No messy translation problems! Even if you read the International Language of Gizmos, though, you’re sunk you buy the book, because the drawings on the fanfold are the visual equivalent of Only Four Controls. You may figure out, by dumb luck, that pressing the (unmarked) disc in the center of the Scroll Wheel turns the Nano on. How to turn it off, however, is no more intuitive than knowing that the round thing on which the four controls are marked is called the Scroll Wheel.

Last week, in preparation for this vacation, I bought two books. This afternoon’s quality time was spent with The iPod & iTunes Pocket Guide (Second Edition), by Christopher Breen (Peachpit Press, 2006 – and already mildly out of date).

In two hours, I learned

  • How to pause and re-start a song. Why did I need to learn how to use a clearly-marked control? Because I thought of this as the “Off” control, having been told that it was.
  • How to compose a playlist.
  • How to rate a song. This is handy, because simply by giving your favorite songs top (five star) ratings, you add them to a handy “Top Rated” playlist.
  • Why I have only one piece of cover art. (I bought a Blossom Dearie song that I already had on CD. It’s always good to start out by buying things that you already own, so that you won’t be disappointed in case the transaction fails.)
  • What “scrubbing” means.
  • What the “Hold” switch is for.
  • How to shuffle songs.

And much, much more. Once I’d learned how to shuffle songs, though, I called it a day. My brain, she were fried.

Second gratuitous pretty picture

You may be wondering why we have not just one Nano all of a sudden, but two. Here’s what happened. I decided to get some sort of iPod so that I could download and listen to podcasts on one. Notably, my own. It seemed odd, producing dozens of podcasts without having a clue about how to download and listen &c. Having been told that the Nano was the device for me, I put in for one. At the very same time, Kathleen got one. Her law firm handed them out at a partner retreat, so to speak. In reality, if every partner got one, then every partner paid for one. So Kathleen bought herself a Nano, in effect.

Kathleen’s Nano has her firm’s name (or a portion thereof) etched into the shiny silver backing. Since both Nanos, like all 4 GB Nanos (I’m told), are brushed-silver grey, that’s how we tell the two Nanos apart. This is useful because Kathleen’s Nano has been stocked with songs, while mine plays things like Così fan tutte, the Goldberg Variations, and those Handel concerti grossi that I mentioned in an earlier entry.

Kathleen’s Nano came loaded with a firm playlist. That is, a playlist named after the law firm. Headquarters are in Chicago, so there are several songs with that title, including one by Sufjan Stevens. So, you learn something every day – that’s what Sufjan Stevens sounds like. And I didn’t spend a dime at iTunes!

PS: I wrote this yesterday, but I thought I’d better hold it for posting today, lest you realize that you were hoping that St Croix would distract me from the delights of everyday scribbling.

PPS: It was pouring with rain. There was nothing else to do. Once I’d clipped my nails, there was really nothing else to do.

PPPS: All right, cut it out back there.