Stuff Is Brilliant
Noise to Signal’s contributors are decidedly mixed on the subject of Apple. We have some Mac users – myself included – and we have some who view castration by acid as a viable alternative to using iTunes. So while the recent removal of DRM from the bulk of the iTunes catalogue is probably worth a comment, it’s hard to do it without stirring up the same old nest of drowsy, ageing hornets.
So since it was days ago and you’ve no doubt already formulated an opinion and moved on, I’d like instead to raise a brief toast to the wonders of stuff…
Playing Project Gotham on Xbox 360 – Microsoft’s machine, lest we forget – I’m now able to listen to anything that’s sat in my iTunes library through the console. Anything at all. Yes, that includes singing loudly to LeAnn Rimes’ Can’t Fight The Moonlight as I overtake on a hairpin corner; don’t judge me until you’ve lived my life.
But this is an ode to other stuff too. And stuff, even for a low-level gadgeteer, does so many cool things.
So my lovely iMac – loaded with movies and music as it is – and 360 are connected to (award-winning) Zen broadband, and, via a Netgear router, also to each other. The wonders of Conect360 mean that, even though Microsoft aren’t quick to mention it, the two devices are happily chatting away to each other. No USB-ing the iPod into the 360. Just…just there.
I mean…that’s kinda brilliant, isn’t it? Yeah, sure, you’re all doing this stuff every day, you’re not impressed. But when I was a kid – when connecting a casette player to the audio outs of a VCR and recording an episode of Red Dwarf to listen to on a Walkman was awfully clever – I’d have gone bananas for this. Back then I was thrilled by the idea of watching a tiny portable TV with varying reception quality. (Again, please reserve judgement.)
Now I get on a bus with all three series of Father Ted, not to mention my entire music collection, in a device smaller than a packet of fags. My iPod Touch happily plucks a wireless connection from the air and, when plugged into a neat set of speakers, allows me to listen to a radio show in the bath three days after it went out. I could watch TV shows, too, but somehow QI is more of a ‘living room’ kind of show. For Stephen Fry, I dress.
Shouldn’t stuff like this make us a little giggly?
On my iPod I have a stack of episodes of things, all ripped from DVD – Handbrake, there – and I know what I have on DVD thanks to Delicious Library. And this is where any last vestige of coolness vanishes.
Yes, I’m genuinely thrilled by a piece of kit that catalogues my DVD collection (and CDs, and books…). Thrilled I tell ya. Hold your DVD’s barcode to your webcam and it gets scanned in, plucking the name, sleeve art and general info from Amazon.co.uk (or whichever version of the store you use in that strange country you’re from). A voice reads out the title, and when you’re you’re done the entire list is compiled and transferred to your iPod.
It’s an insurance tool really. And a lending library, since it allows you to index who’s currently borrowing your discs, taking their details from your address book while adding a ‘due date’ to your calendar. But…isn’t it also just kinda nifty?
Stuff – it’s just great, isn’t it?
So as DRM is stripped away, Amazon’s quietly started selling downloads (requiring, it has to be said, a pretty rubbish app), iTunes’ Genius mode continues to create brilliant, surprising compilations based on a single track, and I can’t keep my hands off the roly-poly iPhone/Touch game Rolando, what software and hardware is making your life more lovely right now?