Tag Archives: iPod

iPod’s Educational Angle

Wired News: Duke Gives IPods to Freshmen

This is such a cool idea for distributing multimedia curriculum:

Students also will be able to use the devices to download course content, recorded lectures, foreign language lessons, audio books and music from a special Duke website modeled after iTunes. The school will supply voice recorders for some classes, enabling students to record notes while working in the field.

Imagine the implications – one could retreive supplimental course info at any time, from a centralized Intranet website, or possibly via kiosks, and have instant access to all their downloaded material at any time. Giving this technology to each students allows curriculum developers to really get creative and go after new directions in creating educational material.

The kiosk idea gets even more interesting now that I think about it. Imagine having a kiosk at an art museum or where visitors could just download an audio tour. Or how about a symphony hall, where visitors might be able to hear a pre-concert lecture and recorded versions of the music selections long after they’ve enjoyed the live performance. Of course, such a kiosk would somehow have to figure out how to just download a few specific files without trying to sync the whole damn iPod, but that seems like it would be a simple software issue. Alternately, downloads from a website would do the trick, but then you lose the physical presence effect of having a kiosk within the perimiter of a building.

Language learning comes in particularly handy with an iPod. I have imported all 32 of my Pimseleur Mandarin level 1 & 2 CDs into mine, and can review any lesson I want to work on at any time. I have 16 more CDs to add when level 3 arrives.

I think what Duke is doing here is outstanding, and I am betting that many more will follow. I wish that I had this kind of technology when I was in college. Heck, all I had was a Mac SE and access to a bunch of Quadras in our computer lab back at NEC. I mean, that was cool and all at the time, but iPods as a means of enhancing curriculum at a music conservatory is a no-brainer. It has to happen eventually…

Gadget Roundup

Father’s day is coming:

Brighthand RumorMill: palmOne Preparing Treo 610
Rumored Treo successor expected to finally get Bluetooth support. My 270 wants to retire soon.

Sonnet PodFreq | Photo Gallery
Looks like someone has finally figured out how to make a higher-quality iPod FM transmitter than the chaff currently out there. Uses the audio out instead of the headphone jack to help eliminate distortion.

Swissmemory USB Storage in a Victorinox Pocket Knife
The ultimate. Swiss Army Knives have always been a favorite among gadget-struck dads worldwide. Stick a USB key drive on it and you have the 21st century version.

Goodbye world

Sennheiser Worldwide: Microphones, Headphones and Wireless Systems

I’ve been enjoying my new headphones for a while now and they are working out great. My criteria for new headphones were that they offered high-quality sound output, especially in the bass frequency and in reproducing classical music, had some kind of effective noise cancellation to save my eardrums during my morning commute, and were portable. After looking at many options, including offerings from Sony, Bose, and Etymotic, I settled on the Sennheiser PXC 250.

I did hear that the Etymotic ER-4s were by far the best of the bunch in terms of sound output, and obviously very portable, but I am too much of a wuss to stick those things in my ear canals all day. I seriously can’t stand ear plugs to begin with – after about 10 minutes I want to tear them out of my ears. canalphones are too irritating to me and were not an option. But I have three friends at work that swear by these models. (And one of those also has a pair of the Sennheiser 250s – she switches between the two depending on where she’s at or what she’s listening to.)

The Sennheisers do fold up nice and compact for a supra-aural headset. They fit quite comfortably and I have no trouble keeping them on my ears all day at work and on the train. When I’m wearing them, I can still hear some external sound. But noise is greatly reduced – I am amazed when I take them off and suddenly I am awash in sounds that I completely took for granted. Like the hum of the aging iMac on the desk behind me, the television in the other room, the traffic outside, and the upstairs neighbor’s little puppy that is gleefully scurrying across the floor. I am listening to the 3rd movement of Mahler’s 4th Symphony right now and the sound is pristine with the volume set only to about one quarter of it’s capacity.

There are some minor drawbacks however, and these might not be for everyone. If you can stand canalphones, the Etymotic ER-4s seem to be the best bet for sound quality. There is a minor but noticeable high pitched white noise that appears with the active noise cancellation turned on and no music is playing. In a scenario where noise cancellation is necessary, such as a train or a bus, this is hardly a consideration since the environmental clamor and the good job of the noise cancellation will outweigh this minor con by leaps and bounds. Probably the biggest drawback however is the battery pack which hangs halfway down the cord, and the fact that the unit requires batteries in the first place. But I’ve gotten quite used to it and it clips to my belt or is stowed in my coat pocket with ease.

A nice unexpected feature is that the noise cancellation cuts out much of the sounds I had come to expect to hear even in a quiet setting, such as the creak of the bolts in my old office chair, or even the clacking of the keyboard which is already pretty quiet to begin with. I hear them, but not nearly as much now. It’s all just the music (which has now progressed to Bach, Brandenburg Concerto No.3, 1st movement, Jordi Savall)

Listening to music while working helps me focus on whatever I’m doing. Distractions such as people talking, train cars creaking along the tracks, and street traffic can really make it hard to concentrate. I think it’s the constant progression of musical pitch over time that seems to somehow keep my brain moving forward when deep into a coding binge or trying to design a page layout. I am addicted to the act of listening to music – I have 7.33 GB of music on my computer that I listen to regularly which, if played continuously, would repeat itself after 4.7 days. I’m already too familiar with each and every nuance of each and every track, and I feel that I need more – lots more. Considering I’ve been working like this since 1998, a mere 4.7 days of music seems woefully inadequate at this point. These headphones were a logical next step – partly to save my ears on the train of course, but also to provide a much better audio experience than a cheap pair of earbuds or a lousy set of $20 headphones. The new headphones make all the difference, and I am forever spoiled.

So if you’re trying to get my attention from now on and I don’t answer – just throw something at me. But preferably something not too hard…

The Minis

MSNBC – Yes, They’re Cool

When he announced the mini’s $249 price tag in his keynote, the reaction’ from a crowd predisposed to give standing ovations when the maestro cleared his throat’ was like the air being let out of a volleyball.

And yeah, if you look at it in the context of the competition, $249 is probably the right price for the iPod Mini. The 4 GB Rio is the same price, and I’m sure that Apple will have no trouble selling as many iPod Mini’s as they want.

I’ll bet the price comes down a bit after all the early-adopting fasion slaves get their fill. And on the other hand – that 15 GB low end iPod is looking like a pretty good deal now…