Tuesday, May 10, 2022

The Magic Touch

Today I heard some sad news. Apple is about to discontinue the iPod. According to the report on Pitchfork, the iPod Touch will remain available in the Apple Store and via authorised retailers until current stocks are exhausted and then that will be it.

I bought my iPod Touch twelve years ago and it's still working perfectly. Until Covid put a stop to my regular commute (Mrs Bhagpuss started driving me to and from work during the pandemic so as to avoid travelling on public transport and we've stayed with that since.) I listened to podcasts or music on the Touch several days a week.

Even though there are many more obvious ways to listen to music these days, until this year I'd been in the habit of ripping new CDs to the iPod and listening to them that way. It's only in the last few months I finally decided to stop, mostly because the 32GB drive was so full I had to choose something to delete every time I wanted to add a new purchase.

The iPod Touch wasn't my first MP3 player. That was a Creative Zen Nano I bought in 2006. It had an amazing 512Mb of storage and an am/fm radio. I used it a lot and was very happy with it until I filled it up, which as you can imagine didn't take long. 

The Touch wasn't even my first MP4 player. That was a Sony Walkman with 4GB storage and a two-inch screen. I downloaded videos to it and watched them in my lunchbreak. I watched the whole of the first series of The Trip with Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon on that matchbox-sized screen and it was perfectly fine.

Good though those players were, it was the iPod Touch that really sold me on the whole mini-computer in your pocket deal. It had a wifi connection and you could watch YouTube and browse the internet. I even used my Touch on holiday to find and book hotel rooms on the fly.

You could play mmorpgs on it, too. I still have Celtic Heroes installed, a game I played and wrote about back at the dawn of the blog. 

The operating software on my ancient device has long been superceded by newer versions of iOS and it's been something of a struggle to get iTunes and my iPod to play nicely together for a while but we muddle along. I could have replaced it long ago, of course, either with an iPhone or a newer model but why spend the money when it still does everything I need? It still works better than most other tablets and devices I've had.

I've never been a fan of Apple. I don't like iOS or iTunes and I find the reputation for user-friendliness of both quite laughable. Nevertheless, I am a huge fan of the iPod Touch. It's always done just what I wanted and it's never let me down. The twelve-year old battery still holds enough charge for a couple of days and I can find things on it without wanting to throw it across the room.

I guess I could jump before I'm pushed and buy one of the remaining newest models before they disappear for good. On the evidence of the one I have, a replacement could well outlive me.

They're viciously expensive, though, and as I said I've finally reached the point where I don't use mine as much as I did. It's past the point where buying another would make any sense. I'll probably just let the one I have drift on until it stops, much like I plan to do.

To commemorate the passing of an icon, I thought I'd use the function I treasured back in the days of the commute: the iPod Shuffle. I'm going to shuffle and post the first five songs that come up that I can also find on YouTube. I promise not to edit for coolness or to prevent embarrassment. If I was willing to put them on I ought to be willing to show them off. 

Here goes...

Never Say Never - That Dog 

Oh, wow! That's so cool! I didn't even know that was on there. I don't own any albums by That Dog but I went through a phase of converting all the music videos I downloaded from YouTube into MP3s and uploading those to the iPod. Didn't we have it a while back? I should have put that in the rules - no repeats of tracks I've used on the blog before. I didn't, so tough. No-one's going to remember anyway. I don't, even.

Let's roll the dice again...

Some Kinda Love  - The Velvet Underground (Version 2 - The Matrix Tapes)... and it's not on YouTube. Version 4 is but not 2, for some reason. 

Try again...

Ghosts - Motel Raphael

Geez! I forgot that even existed! I barely remember hearing it the first time. I have absolutely no idea who they are (Turns out they're from Montreal) and as far as I recall that's the only thing of theirs I ever heard. Their Bandcamp is still active but the newest thing on there is a couple of years old. I used to like to listen to a lot of stuff that sounded like this. Still do, if I'm in the mood.

Okay, come in number three...

My Alibi (Piano Version) - Lloyd Cole

I guess the law of averages was with Lloyd. I have a bunch of his albums on here, after all. This is from the outtakes and demos collection, self-deprecatingly named Cleaning Out The Ashtrays and once again I'd forgotten all about it. My Alibi is one of my favorite later Lloyd Cole tunes but I wouldn't say this is my favorite version. More of a curio, really, although I do like the weird, otherworldly coda. Here's the original by way of comparison.

Two more...

Suicide Club - The Modernettes

I have a suspicion these guys are Canadian, too... yep, Vancouver, formed in 1980... I bought a double CD of theirs after watching a bunch of their stuff on YouTube but I don't think I've ever listened to it all the way through. I'm not sure you'd get away with a line like "Down at the Suicide Club/That's where the girls are" nowadays.

Last cast... here's hoping it's a good one...

run - pennybirdrabbit

Aahhhhhhhhhhh! <Screams with joy!> Oh, come on!, That's a result, right? Another great song I totally don't remember and with a great video I don't remember either. This is exactly why I love my iPod Touch so much and why no other device I own really hits the spot. Have you ever tried to get a PC  to shuffle the contents of a folder? I have and it wasn't pretty.

God Bless the iPod Touch! May it never truly die.


  1. I saw the iPod news earlier today and will probably post something about it this weekend. It was very much an era of tech and music history, going from MP3s and things like WinAmp to MP3 players to the iPod and iTunes, and then having the combo of the iPhone and the drop in RAM prices ending up simply combining the functionality into phone devices, such that a stand alone MP3 player is kind of at the end of its life.

    1. It's a little like the Kindle vs the Kindle Fire, I think. The main reason I like the iPod Touch but not the iPhone (Mrs Bhagpuss has used iPhones for many years, so I'm quite familiar with them.) is precisely because the Touch doesn't have a phone or a camera in it. There's not much to distract me from playing music or listening to podcasts and it does that extremely well. I guess when mine dies I'll probably end up with a (Refurbished) iPhone, though.

  2. The iPod was the turning point for Apple. Before it, they were a computer company, after it, they were a lifestyle electronics company.

    1. Before the changeover to media company, I always thought of Apple as the computer company for people who didn't like computers.

  3. Both of my daughters had an iPod Touch (which is basically an iPhone minus the phone) before graduating to full-on iPhones. I'm the only one in the household who actually buys albums (usually as iTunes downloads) as the girls seem happy with an Amazon Music subscription.

    I used to worry a bit that streaming service front pages and YouTube, instead of browsing through a physical (or virtual) record shop, would steer them into the manufactured pop act du jour, but my older daughter (in her mid teens) seems to have filled up a playlist with the likes of AC/DC, Aerosmith and Black Sabbath so I guess there's some hope for the younger generation after all :)

    1. Heh! I'll refrain from commenting on whether that selection cosntitutes hope! It is curious how some people in each generation gravitate to the past, though. My stepdaughter was all over the Clash when she was your daughter's age and she's still pretty keen on them now she's a mother in her thirties. Meanwhile, here I am, about to retire and strongly believing I'm hearing the best music of my life being made right now.

  4. I still have my second generation classic iPod. (It's the one with the touch wheel.) I took it out, charged it up, and was quite pleased it still worked. I used it for several years listening to music and audio books at work in those pre-podcast days. It has a lot of sentimental value to me as it has an engraving dedicated to me by my late wife. Because I didn't want to use it until I broke it or it failed -- though I know eventually it will -- I swapped to an iPod Touch at some point.

    Amusingly, that iPod Touch ended up being a 'gateway drug' to using iPhones. Eventually my phone became the way I listen to music and podcasts (which replaced audio books) at work. Since my hearing aids are Bluetooth capable, the ease of using the phone made my iPod Touch obsolete for me. I ended up passing the iPod Touch on to my older daughter.

    I had thought about getting an iPod Touch before the announcement just for medical office visits and the like, but never did. (I wouldn't have to worry about running down the battery on my phone.) The fact so many sold out immediately means that option is now gone. Ah well. Still, iPods, like Walkmans were a great invention and I'm glad I had a chance to use one when they were still a big thing. I won't necessarily miss them, but I'll always remember them fondly.

    1. Even without all the added personal value you describe, I think the iPod and iPod Touch are just very appealing objects, much more so than many consumer devices. The design aesthetic is famously clean but they also have a lot of personality.

      In one of the pictures in the post you can see the leather case I bought at the same time I got the Touch. I've had it in that case ever since and the case has lasted as well as the device. It's a lovely contrast in texture between the soft, worn leather and the smooth, hard metalic and glass surfaces of the iPod. Very tactile. By contrast, the Kindle Fire feels almost tacky.


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