Down But Not Out

iPods, Import Licenses, and Apple Engineering

Dirk Pilat - 2002.06.26

Evening all!

Good to see that you're still reading my incoherent ramblings from Kiwiland. At the moment, New Zealand is in a bit of an uproar: The prime-minister (a lady with a rather stern voice and a hairdo like my history teacher!) has called an early election (well, three months early), the politicians are all up in arms about it (as they do), and the rest of the population is not really bothered (which is a pretty international response).

Down here, on the lower end of the south island, things are just as normal as usual: The sheep are apparently due to give birth in six weeks (making the particular spot I live in rather loud: I am surrounded by a rather sedate flock of sheep, but as soon as the little ones arrive, it's gonna be hell), I have been sitting rather more often than usual in front of "Stinker," my OpenBSD box, trying to learn as much as I can about this fascinating OS (which is, of course, rather beneficial for my OS X skills) and, oh yes, I got myself an iPod.

After a rather unusual struggle with the NZ Custom Service (I didn't know that you have to have an import license for items over $400NZ (ca. US$200)), so my express service via DHL was idiotic, as my iPod was lying for five days at Auckland Airport, until I paid 12 percent General Sales Tax and got myself a proper license (nope, I did not plan to sell the little thingie).

So now I have a proper license, and the little iPod is sitting in front of me, looking rather smashing and just like the expensive, incredibly clever engineered little gadget it's supposed to be.

Everything about this thingamajig oozes class: the packaging (which is really quite nice), the glass surface, the display, and the polished steel back. Very, very nice.

I have to admit that this restored a bit of the interest and faith I recently lost in Apple after a series of rather bland but functional releases (eMac, Xserve, OS X 10.1.5). My 5 GB collection of songs was whisked in no time to the iPod via FireWire, and then it just worked! No setup necessary. The controls are just so bleeding ergonomical and intuitive that it just works. I connected it to my car stereo, and again, it worked!

Once again I have found my faith in the engineering and design department of Apple, and I have to admit, I feel a bit cross about some cheap PCs having the possibility now to connect to it, as I think it's the ultimate gadget to lure people to buy a Mac: All day my practice staff (most of them female) wanted to touch, play, and just coo over it.

Of course, I told them that only a Mac will work with this, and I'm sure that some of them went home to have a good look at that sad old beige eyesore they have standing at home under their desk. (No, I don't mean a legacy G3, but a Wintel machine. The best thing you can do with those things anyway is to put OpenBSD on it. Best recycling idea ever, I think.) LEM

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