Anyhow, my big news of the week has to do with Dad's work. They apparently have some sort of drawing every year where they give away prizes - the grand prize this year was a 52" plasma TV. (No, we didn't win it.) But Dad did win three other things. A $100 AmEx gift certificate (nice, but not too exciting)... two tickets to anywhere in the continental US (they're adding a third and taking Catie to New York for Christmas while I'm in NL) ... and the third ... an iPod! Which he gave to me!
(Here comes the iPod saga...) I've been wanting one for a while now - Scott had one last year which he listened to nonstop, and Catie got a 40-gig one for Christmas, too, while I was gone. This one is only 15 GB, but it holds a surprising amount. I tried to get Catie to switch with me - she only has one gig of music, so I don't see why she needs such a huge one - but she of course wouldn't, so I've been experimenting with this one and it's not all that bad. I think it might actually hold most of my music, not counting the CDs I rarely listen to. There won't be ANY spare room left, but Dad and I made a deal that if I learned all the ins and outs of this one and taught him how to use it, that he would buy me the 40 gig.
Learning the ins and outs has not been as easy as I might have hoped. First, files H through Z of my downloaded music library somehow all disappeared - and I do mean disappeared. Not in the Recycle Bin, not in some other folder - nowhere. I was practically in tears until Dad reminded me that I had a backup hard drive. That was the first time I've actually needed that thing. I back it up once a month or so, but always regarded it as a chore. But I was sure grateful for it yesterday.
Second, I realized that this iPod is not the HP version (yes, there is an HP iPod) and therefore does not support .wma files. The majority of the CDs that I have copied to my computer are in .wma, simply because that's smaller than .mp3. So yesterday I had to convert all of those back to .mp3 in order to use them on the iPod, and that, plus copying other CDs into iTunes (because iTunes is the only software you can use with an iPod), took the better part of yesterday - about 10 hours in total.
Third, even though I thought I had my massive library pretty well organized, iTunes picks up on all these tiny little details. I mean, who cares about the composer of these songs? So much of the time, instead of falling neatly into Artist - Title format, there are other things there, like the composer or other random text that the users I downloaded the songs from apparently had on their computers. I was having to go through and change the file information one by one by one, and it was taking an eternity. I was also ending up with multiple copies of a lot of songs. That made me realize that simply dumping everything onto the iPod exactly as it was was not a good idea, and that my only recourse was to delete the entire library and start again. Which is what I spent all of yesterday doing. Phase one is complete - all my CDs are imported into iTunes and they are perfectly labeled and organized by album. This afternoon I'll start on the downloaded files. Brace yourselves. Only once it's all finished and perfect will I import it to the iPod - I'm currently listening to that with my "first try" - just the same mess of disorganized titles that I had before.
But anyway, as for a real review - I do like the iPod and I definitely like iTunes. You can make Smart Playlists which search for certain components in filenames - whether that's the artist or genre or release year - and not only put all those files in one spot, but automatically add new files to them as you get them. Also, you have merely to open iTunes and plug in the iPod, and any changes in your library are automatically detected and formatted - you don't have to go through and try to remember it all and do it manually. The iPod itself is well designed, although I for some reason did not get the little 'remote control' attachment for my headphones - therefore when I'm walking around campus with it on my hip in its case, I have to open up the case every time I want to adjust the volume or skip to the next song. That's annoying, but I'm sure I can get headphones with a remote and that'll make it all better. The only thing I've discovered so far that I really hate is the battery life - they say 8 hours, but it's more like 5 - maybe 6 if you just let it run and didn't skip songs or turn it on and off at all. It's only a generation II - as near as I can figure - while Apple is now up to generation IV - so that could account for it. The new ones are supposed to go for 12 hours.
OK, I'm sorry that I've babbled on for so long about my new electronic toy - a lot of that is Part I of my review/explanation for Dad about how it works. :)
As for other stuff going on... MY FINANCIAL AID IS IN!!! Quick recap: I'm supposed to get it at the beginning of the semester - the last week in August - but due to my abroad grades being late coming in, I didn't get it until this morning. There is a certain subject line that every UF student knows by heart - it's the subject line of any e-mail from Financial Affairs, good or bad. "Avoid holds on your account - Urgent Financial Information". I had been hoping to see that subject line in my Inbox for months, and this morning, there it was! It took me a second to rub the sleep from my eyes and register that - and then I started the celebratory cheering. I'm OK now! No more going to Publix and carefully adding up prices so I don't go over the $15 I have in my wallet. No more turning away from that paperback book or scented candle because I can't afford to be set back even a few bucks. No more worrying that I'm going to come up short on my rent. I'm rich again! (Well, by student standards.) :)
I have a job interview tomorrow with a company that drives mini-coaches (they seat 8-9 people) to and from the Jacksonville Airport. The president and his assistant are coming to meet me at Panera. They want to give me one 12-hour shirt on the weekends, $9/hr plus tips. That's a hundred bucks a weekend, easy. Hook me up!
Sixteen days till LASIK. Can't wait!!!
One week until the election. Go, Kerry, go! (I got to shake John Edwards' hand twice at the rally last weekend... I shoved my way in between an oblivious husband and a massive baby carriage.)
Guess that's all, folks... but I'll try to do this more regularly from now on so that you don't just get this stream-of-consciousness dribble, OK? :)