Friday, January 07, 2005

A lesson from my iPod....

I got an iPod for Christmas - a mini with custom engraving. Figuring out how to set it up wasn't too bad. I'm a Chief Information Officer by day, and while that doesn't mean I have much in the way of technical chops any more, I did, once, in a land before gray hairs. I understand that if it doesn't work, the best next step is to restart everything and begin again (like slapping the TV when I was ten - it works 90% of the time). Anyway, I succeed - I get a CD's worth of songs onto the thing after three hours.

So I took it to the gym.

I couldn't hear it.

There's tons of ambient noise in the gym - rubber on rubber slaps of feet on treadmills, competing background music from speakers overhead and speakers stuck in people's ears, trainers talking to clients (sounds like nail technicians in the beauty store talking to clients - really), mechanical parts of exercise machines going whirrrr...beep...clunk....whirrrr.
I need to turn my iPod up. The manual is at home.

The thing's sleek. No buttons or movable dials - just this round white circle on the front with one word (menu) and three symbols that look like they belong on a car radio. It makes clicking noises without moving. Weird. You can get to menus with it - kind of. Moving up and down in the menus is some arcane skill with fingertips on the white thing, but the menu button always moves you up and there's another button that seems to work like play/pause elsewhere. So it's like parsing Irish (or Bostonian) English or something - foreign but familiar. I stop exercising for a moment. I look at EVERY menu. No volume. I push everything that might be a button. No volume. I can tell some of my favorite songs are playing but the words aren't clear over the of the gym.

There are other people wandering around the gym wearing iPod's. Lot's of 'em. They seem happy. But unlike when I'm lost on the road, I don't ask for directions. It should NOT be rocket science to turn up the volume - clearly I'm just clueless, and I don't want to admit it is a gym full of brilliant techs. My ego gets in my way. So that night, after solving some of the City of Kirkland's technical problems by assigning excellent staff to them, I get home and decide to solve my own by myself. I go out on the web. The first three references I find for iPod volume obviously assume I know how to do it and just discuss whether the writer likes the volume control or not.

I still want to know where the control is.

I finally figure out that it's like the way you move up and down in the menus, except it is more like how you stroke a lucky penny. You move your finger in a clockwise circle to increase volume and a counterclockwise circle to decrease volume.

How weird is that?

Elegant. User friendly once you know the trick.

Entirely not intuitive to a forty-something female that isn't a gamer - the only thing I knew was that too many teenagers love these things for the volume to be immovable.

It's kind of like having a secret decoder ring. Only I have this suspicion that young people have a lot of secret decoder rings, and I don't even know they are there. Scary, huh?


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At 3:33 AM, Blogger Doniette said...

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At 10:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

hey did you know you can get a free ipod pretty easily?
just go to, sign up and do an offer


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