The diePod

by Eszter Hargittai on August 17, 2004

I used to be an Apple fan (even own one of the original bondi blue iMacs) but my experience with the iPod has made me disgruntled with the company. I am among the unfortunate many (way too many!) whose iPod gave up service extremely quickly. The battery just died one day for no apparent reason. The iPod was still under warranty so I took it to an Apple store. It took some convincing for them to take a look without charging me the basic $50. Then, after several days, they confirmed that the battery had, in fact, died (brilliant!). Then, after another week or so, they let me know my new iPod was ready for pickup. Unfortunately, my new iPod gave up service soon after as well. By then I was past the warranty period (how convenient for Apple). This time I can’t even tell if it’s the battery. It just won’t recharge and won’t do anything. (It is almost as if there was something comforting about seeing something break in a physically visible manner so you have some idea behind the puzzle. I almost wish I had dropped the thing at some point so I would have something to blame.) I had not used it much, maybe about a dozen times before it gave up service. This whole experience has been quite frustrating, especially for a gadget that costs several hundred dollars.

I am now looking for diePod alternatives. Other companies have not done quite the same job in marketing their products so I am not sure what would be a good option. I am actually considering just getting a memory card for my Treo 600 (a positive review of which will follow at some point) and using that as my mp3 player.

Bottom line: to avoid frustrations, I highly recommend staying away from the iPod![1]

UPDATE: Clearly, Apple’s got battery issues all over the place. It looks like my experiences are not a fluke.

1 Of course, in the grand scheme of things I realize this is not that big of a deal. But if one can avoid such annoyances then why not do so?

A syllabus of errors

by John Quiggin on August 17, 2004

The WashPost runs an Op-Ed piece byPradeep Chhibber and Ken Kollman, claiming that the failure of third parties to do well in the US is due, not to plurality voting or other institutional factors but to excessive political centralisation. The claim is that since third parties

once competed successfully in congressional elections, winning significant portions of the popular vote and often gaining seats in Congress. This was true for most of the 19th century and even the early part of the 20th

the cause of their subsequent failure must be something new – political centralisation[1].

Chhibber and Kollman seem to be well-regarded political scientists. But their argument here is riddled with errors, or at least large logical gaps.

[click to continue…]

Breaking and entering

by Chris Bertram on August 17, 2004

“James Boyle in the Financial Times”:http://news.ft.com/cms/s/2c04d39e-ec5a-11d8-b35c-00000e2511c8.html on Apple’s claim that Real “broke into” the iPod:

bq. How exactly had Real “broken into” the iPod? It hadn’t broken into my iPod, which is after all my iPod. If I want to use Real’s service to download music to my own device, where’s the breaking and entering? What Real had done was make the iPod “interoperable” with another format. If Boyle’s word processing program can convert Microsoft Word files into Boyle’s format, allowing Word users to switch programs, am I “breaking into Word”? Well, Microsoft might think so, but most of us do not. So leaving aside the legal claim for a moment, where is the ethical foul? Apple was saying (and apparently believed) that Real had broken into something different from my iPod or your iPod. They had broken into the idea of an iPod. (I imagine a small, Platonic white rectangle, presumably imbued with the spirit of Steve Jobs.)

He also ponders whether what Real have done is any different from blade manufacturers making blades that fit branded razors.