Design simplicity

There’s an article by Donald Norman that has been stirring up controversy online. Whereas last time I thought he was wrong, this time I think he’s right—mostly.

In general, he’s correct that people don’t buy the simple, well-designed stuff. Instead, they buy the stuff that looks like it has the most features; and they tell what that is by looking at how many settings and controls it has.

Not always, though. The best exception that proves the rule is the now almost ubiquitous iPod.

Apple announcements

That iPod Hi-Fi looks like it was stolen from the set of Space: 1999, doesn’t it? Come to think of it, a G5 would fit the decor of John Koenig’s desk perfectly. Perhaps the Apple iPhone will look like a commlock? Then there’s the Intel Mac Mini. We all knew that was coming. However, while the MacBook Pro comes with a Mobility Radeon X1600, the Mini comes with an Intel GMA950 integrated graphics chip.

Video iPod: It’s About (Quick)Time

A lot of blather about the video iPod has missed the point. No, I don’t think that many people are going to want to buy 320×240 copies of TV shows and music videos at $2 each, that they can’t even burn to a DVD. That’s not why the video iPod matters. You’ll notice that the new video iPod is still almost exactly the same as the old iPod, because it’s still primarily a music player.

Free iPod!

Apparently there are some people still falling for that “freeipod.com” pyramid scheme. I posted a pretty skeptical analysis last month, but TrollJournal ate it. I thought the whole pyramid would have collapsed by now, but it seems not. So, let’s repeat the analysis… Let’s try to give freeipod.com the benefit of the doubt, and be optimistic in our analysis. First off, note that every time someone goes to the site and registers directly, rather than being referred there, nobody gets credit for that new member, so existing members are less likely to get their free iPods.

I am cheap

It seems like everyone has an iPod. My officemate at work has one. Half the people on the T who are wearing headphones are wearing little white Apple earplug headphones. Even penniless graduates have iPods. I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before I see a homeless person with an iPod, begging for iTunes Music Store credits. Yup, it looks like everyone has a goddamn iPod. Except me. It’s not that I don’t want one.

Headphone amplifier + iPod = delight

If you listen to portable audio equipment a lot, you’ve probably noticed that most portable units can barely drive a set of headphones. You have to crank the volume all the way up, and even then the sound is either distorted beyond recognition, or feeble and lacking in‘kick’. This is particularly an issue with MiniDisc units and very small MP3 players. The solution to the problem is simple: you need a headphone amplifier.