The Day My Music Died

April.29.2007

Considering I work in an office by myself everyday, it should come as no surprise that I am quite connected to my iPod. I take it with me literally everywhere around camp as I work so I can listen to mostly podcasts and the occasional music.

It has held up surprisingly well considering the daily use. Well, that is until today. Today, my dear friend, the iPod, died.

I was a little panicky when it first happened until I was clear that it was a done deal. I diagnosed the problem using some message board posts and it is clearly a dead hard drive; a fairly common problem I guess.

So a fine mess this is. I looked into a replacement hard drive and if I do the repair myself, it will still cost about $90 for the hard drive and tools. Ugh. No thanks.

In the interim, my dear wife has offered to let me use her 2 GB iPod nano she got for Christmas. While I was skeptical at first, it looks like it will be a perfect fit. I was able to fit all of my podcasts and the only playlist I actually use (Last 100 Added Songs) with about 1 GB left.

So here is my new question. Why fix my old iPod for $90 when I can get one just like my wife’s for about $110? In addition to that, the iPod nano does not use a hard drive that can be corrupted. It uses solid state flash memory which can handle my active routine a little better.

With that said, I think it is clear what my next iPod purchase will be when the time is right.

Now for the second half of my best free mac apps list. Hopefully you find some nice new software from this list. Feel free to drop me a comment with some more software if you have something you think is great as well.

6. AlphaBaby – Okay, so maybe this isn’t my favorite app, but it is my daughter’s. I decided that instead of scolding her for her computer curiosity, I have instead found a way to encourage it. Since she does not have the understanding or motor-skills to actual use a computer, I found a program that instead just creates colors, shapes, sounds and letters depending on what keys she hits. If she hits a letter or number, it shows that letter or number in a large bright character. She enjoys the show and hopefully is becoming comfortable with computers at the same time.

7. GoogleNotifier – Back in junior high, I think we all had a hotmail account. It was the universally accepted standard in web-based email. Today, that standard is Gmail. I strongly suggest anyone in the web-based email market get Gmail. It is feature-rich and it works with the ever evolving web 2.0 suite that Google is developing. GoogleNotifier works with Gmail and Google Calendar to post a notification when events or messages are received. A great functionality addition to an already great system.

8. iStumbler – As is the case with most people who are slightly above the computer knowledge curve, it is assumed that I have a telecommunications degree. Whenever someone I know is hooking up a wireless network, I am called with the assumption I know what I’m doing. Thankfully, at this point I do. But I didn’t always have the tools I needed. One of those tools that I always use now is iStumbler. It helps locate wireless signals and their strength. I have used is numerous times to diagnose problems and to find the overall signal range of installed networks.

9. gDisk – One additional thing I love about Gmail is the overall storage space. The problem is that I will probably never use even half of the space they allot users. If only you could use this storage for personal use of documents and other media…and that’s where gDisk comes in. gDisk is a standalone application that basically creates a directory in your Gmail account for personal storage. Kind of neat.

10. iAlertU – A few years ago Apple decided to put a motion sensor in their line of laptops as a way to protect harddrive failure from dropped laptops. While I’m sure it has helped in that capacity, the real reason I appreciate that sensor is for this next app. iAlertU is quite literally a car alarm for your laptop. Using the remote control, you turn the app on with the classic car alarm sound. Then, if your laptop is moved even slightly, the alarm goes off and it even takes a picture with the built-in iSight camera to catch the perpetrator red handed. I still won’t leave my laptop unattended for long, but at a coffee shop it’s not a bad security measure.

Well, I hope that is helpful to someone. I strongly recommend anyone on the Mac/PC fence to make the jump. It is a great time to be a Mac owner.

I have always found lists of the top free Mac apps to be incredibly helpful for me to find new and useful apps that just make my life easier. There are a ton of just incredible programs designed for the Mac OS and each time I find one it helps to validate my love for the OS.

For those of you who are stuck on a PC, I apologize for the worthless nature of this post. (Or maybe this will help you leave the virus plagued jungle!)

1. RapidWeaver – I have been using this program a lot lately as I continue to work on redoing the camp’s website. I have been doing web design at an amateur level for a long time now and this is by far the easiest and still feature-rich tool I have ever used. It really allows you to dig in as much or as little as you want and have a great looking site regardless of your decision.

2. FolderShare – I know this is a Microsoft program, but it is really pretty ingenious. Here is how it works: I have desktop computer. I have a laptop. I have a work computer. I have a server at work that I sometimes need access to. While I could setup a VPN to access certain files on these computers, that still doesn’t allow access to everything on all the computers. FolderShare does. You install this program on each machine and it gives you a listing and search function of every file on every machine. Once you find what you need, you download it. You can also use it to sync folders in multiple locations (like a VPN). Oh yeah, and it’s seamlessly cross-platform.

3. Connect360 – The way the Xbox 360 was designed is genius…if you are a PC owner. The machine is capable of pulling music, photos and video off of other computers on your home network. However, if you have a Mac, this feature does not work right out of the box. That is where Connect360 comes in. Now I can listen to any song in my iTunes library while I play. And it preserves all of my playlists, genres, etc. And I can listen to podcasts. Amazing.

4. VirtueDesktops – Ever get bogged down in layer-upon-layer of application windows? I always do. Between email, internet, word processing, and some graphics program, it gets difficult to navigate what’s going on. With VirtueDesktops you create seperate workspaces that flip as you change applications. You can setup common applications to be on the same workspaces so email is always open with Word and so on. It really helps productivity.

5. iPhoto Library Manager – The one downside of the entire world switching from traditional to digital photography is the storage. Sure, it seems like storing photos on a computer is more sensible that dozens of green and red photo albums, but there was another side effect to digital photography: more pictures. These two factors combine to create gigantic photo libraries. This app helps you by splitting your iPhoto Library into separate libraries making it easier to navigate and operate iPhoto.

That is enough for now. I actually have a list of 10, so if you really want to see 6-10, you’ll have to check back soon!