Like many interesting people, I got me an iPod shuffle. It is my first piece of apple hardware, and I must say, I'm impressed with the quality and design. Of course, in the small package comes a lot of fun:
The obvious thingListen to music, of course, be it ripped from CDs or bought via iTMS. Or from some competitor who reengineered the Apple DRM. Or downloaded from a podcast. Or digitalised from vinyl. Or...you get the picture. Also you can listen to audiobooks (although the limited capacity should preclude longer titles) and podcasts (see also wikipedia). But what could you listen to other than that?
- Create small sound loops, play in shuffle mode to create semi-aleatoric music. (I'll do that some day)
- Want to learn a language? Exercise your vocabulary by recording words with their translation and play them in shuffle mode (there should be some repository for those to faciliate exchange)
- Write a story that can be shuffled for a twist
- on sub-sentence level (more a whacky poem than a story): N Degrees of separation
- On a sentence level - (Short-story style, describing a moment): Leaving New York
- On a section level - this might be more serious, think of a whodunit as seen by different characters unfolding at random (An interesting thought: The order of sections might change the meaning)
- Record some fortunes to hear some motivating quotes between your music. Using flite and lame:
fortune | flite -o tmp.wav && lame -h tmp.wav result.mp3It sounds ugly, absolutely distorted (probably due to the speech samples being compressed in the first place). Maybe using festival instead of flite will improve this?
- Record instructions for real-world games (shuffle-equipped smart mobs anyone?)
- The Joy of Tech suggests making a game out of listening to your music.
- Find the track you want faster using the Martin Shuffle, presented by Peter Norvig.
- To find out what track was played last, I created a small python script.
Using it as a hard disk (and other ways to get music on it)
If you use iTunes under MS Windows (sorry, I'm pretty much an x86 guy), you have to partition your shuffle into one music and one data partition. However, though I still use iTunes sometimes (when I'm on Windows), I found that the shuffle will not object to putting some data files into the standard (music) partition under GNU/Linux.
And while you're at it, you can also put music on your shuffle without iTunes: gtkpod, gnuPod and Martin Fiedler's shuffle DB builder. I use the latter exclusively, for it has the absolutely fabulous smart shuffle and is quite hackable (in fact I helped with some refactorings). Since I got it, I have not started up iTunes once.
Software HackingAs the ipod.hackaday.com tutorial on how to dismantle the iPod shuffle shows, the patient contains a highly integrated DSP powerful enough to decode AAC, MP3 and a slew of other formats from a vfat FS on flash memory as well as driving a LCD, recording from a line in, and stuff (although the latter features are not used in the shuffle). What would I do next, if I had the skills to pull it off?
- Learn how to flash the iPod shuffle (the firmware on the original iPod is on-disk, but the shuffle has no sign of it. Where can it be? A potential way of attack is to ask the iPod firmware updater using USB snooping.
- Learn how to program the CPU, a SigmaTel SMTP3550b
- Enable new features
- Change details like gap between songs, or enable sound output while the shuffle is plugged into USB, maybe even enabling real time USB sound output
- Introduce some other codecs (other players with the same DSP can do WMA, so why not ogg, flac, or speex?)
- The killer: enable executable files, create an API for key input and sound output
- Find out if you can grab the keys software-wise to do other things than going back and forth and manipulating the volume - get interactive...
- Activate line-in (possibly with some major hardware hacking?)
- Write an executable that tells the time
- Apple - iPod shuffle, the official page. If you do not own a shuffle, you may probably buy one there.
- Apple - iPod nano, the official page. This player might be a good option for those pondering whether to buy a shuffle.
- Chris Petrilli thinks different about iTunes and fair use rights.
- Jason Kottke has a list of (not quite) 50 things to do with your iPod, some of them would work with a shuffle.