Skip to content
Thoughtful, detailed coverage of everything Apple for 34 years
and the TidBITS Content Network for Apple professionals

Group Therapy for iPod Users

Hi, my name is Steve S. and I have an iPod problem.

Therapy Group: "Hi, Steve!"

Therapist: "Steve, now that you’ve admitted that you have a problem, you’ve taken the first step to helping yourself. Could you tell the rest of the group members a little about your problem?"

Well, I know I shouldn’t carry my iPod with me everywhere, but it’s just so handy that I find myself using it for everything! For instance, last night my wife and I were sitting at an outside table at a restaurant and it was wobbling, so I used my iPod nano as a shim under the table leg to keep it from rocking. Yeah, I know David Pogue already did that, but it was one more way to use my iPod.

Therapist: "But Steve, isn’t the iPod just an MP3 player? Why are you talking about using it to do other things? Isn’t playing music enough?"

You see, that’s exactly the problem – it isn’t just an MP3 player, although it excels at that task. Why, with a little thought and effort, you can use it to do just about anything! Who needs a Palm or Pocket PC? You can use an iPod for your calendar and your address book, you can use it to read books or email….

Therapist: "Okay, calm down, Steve. Just tell the group about how your ‘problem’ with iPods began… Breathe slowly, inhale… exhale… inhale… exhale… that’s better."

It started in 2002. This was during a short time in my life where I didn’t have a Mac and was forced against my will to use a PC. But that’s another story. Anyway, the second-generation iPods had just come out on the market and they worked with Windows. I love music, so I thought it would be a good idea to buy one so I didn’t have to carry CDs with me on trips. As soon as I got it out of the box and charged up, I noticed that there was something in the instructions about moving my Outlook contacts to my iPod. I did it. And I liked it.

Therapist: "That seems rather innocuous. I mean, just storing a few addresses on your iPod isn’t too out of the ordinary. What happened next?"

As time went by I found myself using the calendar function on the iPod as well, and then I decided that I really wanted a Mac again so I bought a PowerBook, and I reformatted the iPod to work with it. That’s when I noticed the option called "Enable disk use." I found that I could actually store a lot of my files from the PowerBook on my iPod to back them up! At that point I was relying on a single Mac, so I knew I’d be in trouble if I couldn’t boot it up some day. I even installed Panther on my iPod so I could boot from it if the system on my PowerBook was corrupted.

Therapist: "This still doesn’t seem too bad. Go on."

Finding out that I could move files easily to the iPod started me down the path to my er, problem, with iPods. First it was just backing up files and using my iPod as a startup disk. Next, I started grabbing text ebooks from Project Gutenberg and reading them on the iPod. When the iPod photo came on the market I knew it was the answer to my wishes – I could store all of my photos on it and view slideshows! I could even leave my PowerBook at home on business trips and deliver my presentations from the iPod photo.

Therapist: "But didn’t you want to have your laptop with to do things like find directions or play games?"

Nope. I looked up a bunch of locations before I went on my business trips and found directions from my hotel to those places. Then I moved all that info to my iPod so I could look it up! And my iPod comes with games. Not many, but when I installed iPodLinux on it I was able to install and play more games – Minesweeper, Othello, TuxChess, even Doom!


Therapist: "You loaded Linux on your iPod? Why?"

Because I could? No, it was a way for me to do even more with my iPod. In fact, I’m hoping that I can use it as a Web server soon.

Therapist: "Hmm. I’m beginning to think that this is a deep-rooted problem. I’d better contact my colleague in Vienna…."

According to the World Clock on my iPod nano, it’s about 1:30 AM there right now, so I don’t think he’d appreciate an unexpected wakeup call. After all, he probably used the sleep timer on his iPod to put him to sleep. Of course, if you do want to call him I’ll use the iPod nano’s stopwatch and time your call so you don’t end up paying some ridiculous amount to your long-distance company. It would probably be a better idea just to wait until his iPod wakes him up tomorrow morning, Vienna time, and then call him.

Therapist: "Steve, your iPod problem is getting out of hand. I certainly hope you’ve followed my advice and are keeping a journal so you can see how this problem is affecting you."

Not only am I keeping a journal, but my friends at TidBITS have published my thoughts in an ebook called "Take Control of Your iPod: Beyond the Music." It tells people all about how to do the same things I like to do with my iPod. The initial release had 128 pages of detailed info and screenshots for only $10, and I’ve just released the 1.1 update with 22 more pages to cover the video-capable iPods and more.

< 14@@!pt=TRK-0025-TB806-TCNEWS>

Therapist: "This has gone entirely too far! Now you’re acting as an enabler, teaching other people how to emulate your insidious iPod addiction. I want to hear what the group has to say about this! Group? Hello? Anyone???"

I don’t think they can hear you, Doc! I taught them how to convert my ebook into audiobook, so they’re all listening to it right now. See those little white cables? Doc? Are you all right? Doc?

Subscribe today so you don’t miss any TidBITS articles!

Every week you’ll get tech tips, in-depth reviews, and insightful news analysis for discerning Apple users. For over 33 years, we’ve published professional, member-supported tech journalism that makes you smarter.

Registration confirmation will be emailed to you.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA. The Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.