My tirade of being an iPodless podcaster are no more!

Not Podless

That’s correct, pod fans, I have a new iPod Shuffle, courtesy of my Mom in Florida as a birthday gift– I had put it on my list of “wishes”, so in her words:

I don’t know what it is or what it does, but the nice young lady in Best Buy helped me pick it out.

So I put it to use today on my bike commute in to work; no podcasts loaded yet, but I enjoyed my mix of crusty old 60s and 70s rock n’ roll. It’s so light, and simple to operate, especially in comparison to the iRiver I was borrowing from work.

I like the iRiver for its recording functionality, so it reminds me of the last podcast I listed to on that device, the ETch session by Donald Norman on “Emotional Design”. It was hard to tell from the audio if the geek audience was really going along with it, but I find his ideas on design always refreshing. He reviewed the three levels of emotional appeal:

“Visceral” – the gut level, I Love It or I Hate It
“Behavorial” – it provides a useful function and does it well
“Reflective” – it says something about me or reflects who I am

Norman’s point was to try and hit all 3 levels if possible to be effective. And also he had a segment where he highlighted that good designs typically have Visceral reactions of both I Love It and I Hate It, so that attempts to produce something that everybody will like rarely achieve that. He also shared an example of an exotic watch that has not intuitive at first to read, but once explained, he found that it was then easily understood. His point was (I think) its okay to have a bold radical design that may require an explanation, or a manual, but it should be so that a one time review is all that is needed.

Anyhow, the iRiver is a great product (for me) on the Behavioral level- it is a tiny workhorse as a digital audio recorder, and at a functional level, it does play back (well you cannot listen to a mix of music and recorded audio).

But the interface is really criminal! The little joystick for volume vs track skips is no match for the clikc wheel- the movement is so slight, that attempts to change the volume in variable skip a track and vice versa. It is less of a problem if you are sitting down focusing on the device, but manipulating the joystick while bike riding or running is another matter.

Then there is the bizarre menu interface, where the options move around the screen in a clockwise/counter clockwise pattern. One would think the navigation is joystick right twice to move over, then down, then left twice to navigate a clock wise circle, but no! All clock wise motions are right pushes, so when you get to the 6 o’clock position, you are clicking right to move left.

Lastly there is the odd labeling of the “hold button” (I don’t have the unit here to snap a photo), but it looks something like:

So if you follow the arrow icon, you need to slide the switch to the left to hold (meaning you can run without your motions pressing buttons).

Or does it mean moving the button to the right is the Hold position?

It’s trivial, but it is not clear function labeling, in that I get confused as to which position is the correct function. A simpler icon of a closed and open lock at the appropriate end might achieve it better.

Anyhow, the design, function of the iPod Shuffle, is a whole different story. Having the USB plug a piece of the device is simple cleverness, and avoiding the need for a cable. The selector switch in the back )Off- Playlist- Shuffle) was a bit less clear, but once operated, it is understood.

So iPodding we go! Thanks Mom!

The post "Podless No More (thanks Mom!)" was originally zapped with 10,000 volts and declared "It's ALIVE" by Dr. Frankenstein at CogDogBlog (http://cogdogblog.com/2005/04/podless/) on April 28, 2005.

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