iPod Touch in London

On Thursday it was cold and rainy in London so, for the first time since my arrival, I took a day “off”. I was not wandering the streets nor riding the underground nor hitting a gallery nor adding to the blisters on my left foot. Instead, I stayed indoors reading, listening to British radio–it’s very British–and manually added the artworks to all the albums in my iTunes library. This is a tedious process. I’m up to artists starting with the letters “Bu”.

The reason for such busywork was, more or less, to beautify my iPod Touch. I’ve been using it extensively, on the Underground, in sunlit squares and in bed, and I was growing tired of the grey music note on white graphic that accompanies any and every song without album art assigned to it. It seemed like such a waste of prime screen real estate.

Never did I think that I would devote such labour to this tiny device. I never intended to own it, I was perfectly content with my tiny iPod Shuffle, but jumped on the chance to get one when I discovered that it came “free” with the MacBook Pro. Like any offer too good to be true there was a catch. I still paid for it but could redeem the price with a mail-in rebate. This was acceptable, I thought. Unfortunately, in the move before the bigger move to the UK, I misplaced the iPod box and its required UPC so I could not claim it. The Touch was no longer free.

When word that the firmware update to 2.0, to coincide with the release of the new iPhone, would cost $10 I scoffed. Can you imagine if Microsoft charged $10 for their updates to the XBox 360 dashboard? There’d be riots. Yet here was Apple charging for this most basic of features. It was charging for the privilege to be able to buy from the new App Store. The nerve.

But I’m considering it. I have grown to appreciate this device a great deal over the last week and a half. It goes with me everywhere. Apart from the music that it contains, which is good, all the other features have proven useful. I take notes. I have used the address book to make a phone call. I check my email and post to Twitter, whenever I can find open wifi in London (not so easy), and use Google Maps to find my way through some of the labyrinths in this city. It’s not like Toronto, a city strictly laid out in a grid like manner, where it’s impossible to get lost. Roads go off in all directions here and in my wanderings, on one day, by dumb luck I crossed through the same intersection three times (it was a SEVEN WAY intersection). I didn’t need the Maps then because I was just aimlessly wandering, but they have proven useful in other situations.

Knowing what’s in the App Store I think $10 is a small price to pay for the extra convenience therein. Besides, the app store has one more category of applications useful for the boring minutes spent on the Underground: games. That is the most compelling because, no matter how many thousands of kilometers away from home I find myself, I can’t escape my nerdy passions for digital interactive entertainment. It’s a passion that I was going to work on during this trip, trying to build an idea I’ve had for a while, but so far it’s all been for nought. I’ve been too busy being a flaneur on the streets of London.

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