Category Archives: iPod

Apple iPod

The iPod has been a great invention. It was the first Apple product I/we owned. It was Philip my son who first made me aware of the iPod, he showed me the advert for the 1st generation iPod, it almost seemed to be too good to be true. A small device that you could slip in your pocket that could hold hundreds of CDs. I sat trying to work out how much storage space I would need for my full CD collection, which at the time was about 200 CD’s.

Before the iPod came into our lives I had been using a CD Walkman to play my music CDs on journeys and around the house. But it was limited in battery life and by how many CDs you could carry.

Sony CD Walkman

Sony Discman

Before the CD I had a Sony Walkman, this was back in about 1983, at the time I lived and worked in Cyprus and I used to record audio tapes instead of writing letters and posted them back and forth in the mail. It sounds old fashioned but it was great getting tapes from friends and loved ones. I forget the exact model number, but I bought a Sony recoding Walkman which had a built in radio and a single speaker on the back and a built in microphone too, so it was quite a versatile device.

So anyway the Apple iPod, Philip was still at school when the first one came out, he was originally going to buy the 5Gb model, but me being me I offered to give him the difference in money to buy the 10Gb model.

iTunes was also a big improvement over Windows media player at the time. I was using that on my PC before I got my own iPod. I discovered Smart Play Lists and that has been quite a bonus for me, they present music to me that I’ve not listened too for a while and that means I listen to a lot more tracks rather than buy new ones all the time.


My own first iPod was a third generation 20 Gb model, not exactly a classic but it got me started. There were a few issues with this model, mainly battery life and also the battery charging indication, because it doesn’t control the charging very well, the battery would get overcharged and this in turn would limit the life of the battery. I have changed the battery on mine at least twice, a strong set of finger nails and good eye sight is all you need to get the back off to change it!

Eventually along came the iPod Touch in Philip bought a 32Gb 1st gen model and sold his original iPod.

I also upgraded my iPod to a newer model with a colour screen and a 60 Gb drive. Compared to my previous one it was a massive improvement on the user interface and battery life too. I still use this one in the car, it holds all of my music collection and I just synchronise it every few months.

I also bought an iPod touch in 2010 although I have used it for a lot of other things as well as listening to music. Alison now uses it for listening to BBC Radio 4 in the kitchen!

Alison joined the club with an iPod Nano, she listens to dozens of podcasts rather than music. I’ve recently started using this as it is so compact and light in your pockets.

Her mini disc player/recorder still works, but interfacing it to anything is a pain

Philip replaced the iPod Touch with an iPhone 4 which he has recently passed on to me

iPhone 4 with iOS7

iPhone 4 with iOS7

Alison now has my iPod Touch, it has replaced the 1st generation iPod Touch which still works but it is a bit limited in what you can do with it now, which reminds me of my Psion organisers really!

With wireless syncing of devices to our iMacs and iCloud we no longer need to connect the latest devices to our computers every few days, just a charger by the side of the bed or in the kitchen is fine.

Over 30 years of portable music devices since the Sony Walkman through to my iPhone, the technology has got better, but one thing hasn’t changed… the music I listen to. Steely Dan and a the rest of my music collection.

iPod Touch Apps

I did a couple of articles earlier in the year about which apps I was using on my iPod. I thought I would update those posts with a single post with a list of all the additional apps I have loaded.

My choice of apps as you will see is influenced by the fact that I live in France but I frequently travel to UK, so I have a number of apps in a ‘Travel’ folder specifically for UK travel these then don’t take up too much space on the screen.

One of my jobs over Christmas will be to regroup my various apps in to more sensible grouping, writing this post made me realise that I need to do that task sooner rather than later or not at all!

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Mobile Phones

Some technology in our lives become things that we depend on from day to day. Mobile phones are certainly fit in to that guise. I first used a mobile phone back in 1986, but it was only on loan to me for a business trip. Back then phones used analogue technology. Modern day GSM phones were not available then. They were also still very expensive. Not many people had mobiles back then.

It wasn’t until 1995 that we got our first mobile a Nokia Orange. It was a GSM phone, but phones of this sort or era would struggle to last more than a couple of days on a single battery. I used that one for a couple of years before we got a couple of Nokia 702’s a bit more chunky but better battery life.

Then in 1999, along came the Nokia 7110, it was quite a revelation at the time. A big screen a roller for navigation. It supported WAP. A slider covers up the keyboard when you aren’t using it.  The previous phones were recycled, but this one I couldn’t part with. Sure it got replaced with more modern phones, colour displays, cameras, all the things we now expect as usual in a phone. But I kept the 7110 going on Orange just for the Orange film Wednesdays.

It wasn’t until the other day that I realised that the 7110 was now over 10 years old. It still works, I quite like using it as a second phone, the large display is great because I can read it without my reading glasses. Sure it’s simple but for a phone for texting (it has predictive texting) or for calls it’s fine.

Contrast this with another gadget I found in the cupboard the other day a Sony MZ-NF810 Mini Disc recorder. I bought this for my wife Alison in about 2004, this was just before iPods took off, but at the time she wanted something with an FM radio. Alison moved on to an iPod Nano and like other bits of technology the Mini Disc recorder got put away in the cupboard.

I am looking in to doing a project at the moment that I needed to interview people. I remembered the Mini Disc recorder… perfect I thought… but when I looked in to using it, the software isn’t available for the Mac OSX, but even with the PC software installed whilst I could find a way of putting audio files on to the MD recorder, I’m not discovered a way of transferring it off the MD recorder on to a PC in a digital format.  The best way seems to be just linking the headphone socket to the line in on my iMac.Then I discovered the Voice Memo recorder on my iPod Touch which can save files in MP3 format, so with a small external microphone I’m sure this will do the job perfectly, so the MD recorder I think will end up back in the cupboard again, such a shame in a way,



I’ve been using Dropbox now for over a year. I don’t know what we would do without it. We have had shared folders on our network for many years, but Dropbox takes this one step further and adds many additional useful features.

Even if you only have one computer Dropbox can act as a useful on-line back up for all your regularly used files, just store them in your Dropbox folder and they will be backed up securely on line.  If you have more than one computer, then Dropbox will keep the files on both computers in sync automatically. So you will always have the latest up to date versions of your files with no need to use USB sticks and concerns about do I have the latest one on here or is it on that other machine.

You can also share Dropbox folders with other users which I find extremely useful for keeping up to date information on the Pembury website, people manage their own sub-domains on the site and I just have to upload the files. It saves them having to email me all the files each time there is an update. You can also share photos with Dropbox, privately or publically.

Dropbox works on PC’s, Mac’s, Linux machines, and mobile devices too (iPods, iPhones etc), take a look at the video on the site.

Grab yourself a free Dropbox account, use any of the Dropbox links on this page and you will get some extra storage for free. Let me know if you sign up and I will tell you how to get some more space for free as well.

iPod Touch Apps – Ones I’m using – Part 2

The following are some of my less used apps on my iPod Touch, see the rest in Part 1 of this post

  • Google Mobile App – Free from Google it features all the usual Google apps such as Gmail, Calendar, Search engine, Buzz etc.
  • iBooks – Apples own Kindle app.
  • Kindle – lets you read your Kindle downloads on your iPod touch useful if you don’t have a Kindle… yet! I haven’t really used this one much yet, but text is very clear on the iPod, although naturally the screen is some what smaller than a Kindle.
  • Panorama – a simple app that lets you take panorama pictures by joining together multiple pictures taken with the built in camera, and it is Free
  • Flickr – Access your Flickr account to share and view pictures
  • Remote – This app lets me control iTunes on my iMac from anywhere in the house, not worked out why I would want to do that yet!!
  • Skype – Like the desktop app it lets you have voice calls and now video calls with other Skype users on PC’s, Macs, Linux platforms.
  • TV Guide – A free UK TV programme guide, a miniature Radio Times if you like.. and it’s free
  • Wikipedia – a great free app for looking up the answers to quiz questions, or the details of an actor whilst you are watching TV!
  • WordPress – Useful for updating WordPress Blogs like this one, you can edit posts and create new ones.
  • Radio Player – a great free app for streaming UK radio stations to your iPod
  • Fon Maps – This application is supposed to indicate the location of FON WiFi hotspots, but it doesn’t appear to work – Failure
  • Heart Pal – I use this free app to track my blood pressure, it shows the highs and lows and an average figure too. I have a BP monitor that I take the readings with and then feed these in to the app.

Don’t hesitate to ask me for more information if you need it on any of the apps listed.

iPod Touch Apps – Ones I’m using – Part 1

I got my iPod Touch back in late November last year. It has proved to be a very useful bit of kit. I don’t really use all of it’s functions, but I’ve been discovering new things most days/weeks.

There is a huge variety of apps available for the iPod Touch, some of them work ok, some not so ok because they are really intended for the iPhone which has a slightly different feature set.

So here’s what I’m using, most are free unless I indicate otherwise.

  • BBC News – Essential for keeping up to date with World and UK news and it’s free
  • Camera + – A much improved camera app compared to the standard one, this one lets you do some limited editing and adjustments to the pictures before you save them, share them by email, Twitter or Facebook. Sadly the resolution of the iPod Touch camera is a little limited, I don’t use it often compared to my small compact.  And for £0.59 this is a must have app.
  • Dropbox – I’ve been a Dropbox user now for well over a year, can’t be without it so it makes sense to have it on my Touch as well. It’s a great way to always have your files, photos etc available on all your devices and PC’s
  • Facetime – A great video conferencing tool, works great, better than Skype in most respects. It’s simple to use and great on the Touch because I can go walking around the house with it and show family and friends what is going on here. Free to download and free to use.
  • Facebook – Easy to use, although I would like to see them include some extra features in to this, such as managing friends.
  • Road Trip – I use this to record how much fuel we are using in the car and for our oil fired boiler!! Lots of apps available, after a lot of false starts I discovered the free Lite version of this which can cope with my requirements of entering things in litres, paying in Euros and still getting a Miles Per Gallon figure. Having satisfied myself that this app could handle my slightly unusual requirements I bought the paid version which can handle more vehicles including the boiler!! Which is just a bonus really.
  • Target Weight – Tracks my feeble attempts to loose weight, nice and simple to use, basic graphics and stats but it is free and works quite well.
  • Tumblr – I’ve only just started my Tumblr blog, but the app on the Touch makes it very easy to add posts on the move and adding pictures and quotes etc.
  • Twitter – Just the standard Twitter app, it works for me.
  • Week Cal – The standard calendar in iOS only has Day view or Month View, or a list view. Why they missed out the most obvious view… Week View I don’t know. This one is a paid for app, but it seems to do the job ok, although I still use my Filofax for everything calendar related!!!
  • Battery Master Free – a simple battery battery level indicator, the iPhone 4 has a simple indicator in the status bar showing the percentage, something that hasn’t been shared with the iPod Touch yet.

More in Part 2 of this article.

iOS Apps a flaw in their design

I have had an iPod Touch for a few months now. Great device and it does most things I want.

However, this morning I discovered a flaw in the way some of the apps interface with the basic settings. I was looking for a simple app to log my car fuel consumption, what could be more difficult than that? Plenty of apps to choose from in the app store. But so far I’ve not found one that does exactly what I want… and here’s why.

  1. I’m English, but I live in France. So I prefer my language settings on my iPod to be in English, but I also set my regional settings to UK, otherwise the calendar is in French….
  2. I buy fuel in litres, but I like to know what my car is doing in Miles per Gallon, but set some of the apps to MPG and they ask for the cost of fuel per gallon.
  3. Living in France I’m paying in Euros, but most of the apps, are using the regional setting to display my costs in GB pounds.

What I need is an app that has currency, quantity, cost, and units etc independent of the device settings. Anyone know of such an app?

In the mean time I will stick to my own spreadsheet, it copes with all these different units, language demands very easily!

iTunes Smart Play Lists

I’ve been using iTunes for several years and I think I got my first iPod in March 2004, a 20GB 3rd generation model. I have since got a bigger capacity one. But the topic of this post is how I have been using Smart Play Lists.

I have one play list which I use a lot, which I devised so that I don’t listen to the same song again once I have played it on my iPod or on iTunes. It uses the last played date which is recorded when ever you play a track either on the iPod or on iTunes. So this is what my Smart Play List looks like:

So if a track has not been played for more than 10 months and also if it is rated 5 stars it is included in the list.  So each time you listen to a track when you next sync with iTunes then that track will disappear off of the play list for at least 10 months in my case.

You can also restrict the size of the list depending on the capacity of your iPod, this adds a bit more variety to each sync.

I also normally turn on shuffle to further randomise the list otherwise you will quickly play all the artists at the beginning of the alphabet and never get to ZZ Top!!

You don’t have to set it to 10 months, you can vary the time span accordingly depending on how recent you want a repeat to be.

I have found this works for me quite well and I rarely get fed up with what iTunes feeds me.

TomTom Go 720 Further Update

Using the 720 in France has confirmed my earlier thoughts about how well the TMC receiver would work over here.

With all of the transmitters on 107.7 MHz removes the need for the receiver to retune at regular intervals as it does in UK.

I have also been impressed with the detail of the mapping over here in France. Every small road and country lane appears to be on the map. I have added a couple of map corrections in my local area where roundabouts have been recently built, replacing traffic lights.

I haven’t used the phone interface much yet, but it does interface well with my Nokia 6300 phone.

The iPod interface works well, I have used the direct line-in connection and the FM transmitter. The later suffers the same problem of all FM audio transmitters, that of finding a clear enough channel for the full length of your journey, which for me in France this week wasn’t easy. The audio quality is comparable to my original Griffin iTrip that I have used for a number of years.

The direct line interface worked even better, I used this on our Mini Cooper, another advantage of using this interface is that you can set the car radio to pick-up traffic news via RDS and the radio will swap over, however, if you do this, it is best to output the spoken instructions from the TomTom via its own internal speaker.

Camera Bag Addiction!

Could this be a new modern day addiction, one that doesn’t involve any chemicals sold by odd characters on street corners.

If you have ever been a subscriber to any of the photographic forums, when ever the topic of what camera bag do you use for your Camera XYZ comes up, all the lurkers come out of the shadows to offer their suggestions, ‘oh I use this and I have this body, this lens, this flash gun’ it results in a full inventory of their camera gear and what bag they haul all this stuff around in.

I’ve found myself recently falling in to this addiction for LowePro bags and accessories. My list is growing, but it’s not all for camera stuff, the latest edition to my stable is a LowePro Rezo 15, for my Apple Video iPod or is it iPod Video (you have to get the names in the right order!). I used the excuse that I wanted something that would contain my iPod, protect it’s shiny surfaces from the elements and knocks.

Oh alright it was another excuse to get the latest catalogue to peruse and size up what bag or pouch would hold my iPod, after carefully measuring it and then scouring the catalogue for the pefect fit…

I will resist the temptation to list my full collection here…