And the T5 played on
Last month, I described how I had to abandon attempts to play music from my Pocket PC but found my palmOne Tungsten T5 surprisingly effective as an iPod replacement. Armed with a 1GB SD card and a subscription to one of the online music websites, I soon turned the T5 into a reasonably mean music machine. This month, I’ve added a pair of Etymotic ER-6 earphones to my T5 (£89.99 from
www.ipodworld.com) and when on the move these are now what I use to listen to the T5’s music store. The quality is excellent too, although so little external sound is allowed in that you need to be careful when doing something so mundane as crossing the road.
For home, I’ve bought a 3.5mm jack-to-twin-phono plug lead, which I use to connect the T5 to my Bose Wave radio. I hear that the dedicated speaker and docking station Bose has produced for the iPod has been selling well at £249, but as I already had one of its radios with an auxiliary input an £8.99 lead does just as well.
Of course, I’ve long since filled that 1GB memory card (don’t forget that the average iPod now has a 40GB hard disk). As single-purpose music machines, iPods strictly fall outside the brief of this column, but I’m committed to listening to music on a multipurpose machine that also acts as my PDA. Now I’ve started looking hungrily at the palmOne LifeDrive or, failing that, waiting eagerly for the emergence of larger SD cards for my T5 as a next move up.
The Spell of the PodCaster
As my SD card filled up, I moved away from downloading gigabytes of music from eMusic and instead started downloading podcasts. A podcast is simply an audio recording that’s been made available in MP3 format for the public to download. Usually, they’re structured like radio broadcasts – hence the name – with music interspersed with chatter from a disc jockey. As there are no commercial breaks to schedule and no editors to cut off the flow of anecdote, the talk can often ramble a bit (or a lot). In general, podcasts are put together by amateurs with a love of (or are hoping to get a job in) real radio. Unless the podcaster wants to be sued, the music employed has to be either in the public domain or played with the permission of the artist, which in practice means the music is often from artists you’ve never heard of.
I’ve subscribed to two podcasts. The first, by Jim Fidler, a folk musician and amateur radio ham from Newfoundland who runs www.republicofavalonradio.com, and who gets round the copyright issue by devoting most of his podcasts to talking or playing his own music. As an experienced producer, the production quality of his podcasts is high, even when recorded in the open air, and several segments are recorded on walkabout in central St John’s in Canada. While Canadians like to make jokes about dumb Newfoundlanders, Jim Fidler presents his region attractively, with the benefit of considerable knowledge of the province’s music and the influences of music from Ireland and former British dependencies dotted around the Caribbean.
My second podcast, www.upthetree.com, comes from a group of unemployed or underemployed former art students from Brooklyn, New York, who play energetic indie rock bands from East Coast US and Canada. Talented but somewhat erratic, they bemoan the fact they went to design college only to end up in menial jobs – as a waiter at a fancy Manhattan restaurant in one case – while failing to acknowledge that it’s precisely their education that gave them the confidence (and the contacts) to put together these popular podcasts…