Wait a minute, this still works

iphone 4

this doesn't make me a fanboy

I mentioned a while back that I would touch on the subject of blind Apple adoration, and this post will make an honest man out of me. A few weeks back I picked up a 32GB iPhone 4. I took some time off work. I stood in line, for a brief period (20 minutes or so), but only because the gentlemen in front of me were switching carriers. I was vaguely concerned about the antenna issue, over which a highly-placed Apple employee has apparently lost his job. But I bought one anyway.

And I didn’t line up because I’m a rabid Apple fan. In fact, I feel somewhat the same about Apple as Churchill felt about democracy; it’s pretty much the worst kind of technology company, with the exception of every other one that I’ve dealt with. But I’ve been suffering for a long time with mobile phones that didn’t do what I needed them to – including syncing with the contact list on my laptop as advertised (by Apple, ironically) – and when my last contract ran out the iPhone 4 had been announced. I had been waiting long enough for a decent smartphone that I didn’t want to wait even longer for a second shipment after the real rabid Apple fans snapped up the first wave. Hence the lining-up.

velcro dots

what's he up to now

I explain this to you not as an excuse, but as an aid to those who are trying to decide what camp to place me in. @DCorriveau commented on the hype surrounding the launch with no small degree of disdain, noting “It’s amazing that a product that ‘changed your life’ now needs to upgraded as ‘soon as humanly possible.’” Meanwhile, in the real world, reaction amongst my work colleagues ranged from oohs and aahs to sheepish requests along the lines of “can I touch it?”

But to Mr Corriveau’s point, my new iPhone has obviated a lot of fully-functional hardware – and an entire generation of iPhones along with it. Casualties include an unlamented Motorola KRZR, a standard definition Flip video camera (yours for $40 O.B.O.), an 8GB iPod Touch, 1st generation, which I received as a gift from my employer some time ago, and my car, which I’m told can’t be retrofitted to take advantage of my iPhone’s features for less than $1,500 CDN. This is obviously a fundamental sustainability problem.

And we deal with these situations in the most ethical ways we can think of at the time.

ipod chart reader

it's a fine tune

I would have been happy to see the KRZR run over by a train, but, realizing this would create a minor ecological hazard, I opted to recycle it when I upgraded. The Flip video will certainly sell eventually – to you, perhaps. The car probably looks a little better without a clumsy after-market dash-mount attachment. And the iPod Touch?

Often times, when subbing in on a gig, I’ve grappled with the problem of keeping my cheat sheets organized and inconspicuous. I’ve used handwritten post-its, spiral-bound notebooks, and even cunning miniature printouts taped all over my rig. All these approaches seem to solve one problem by creating another, either in the realm of presentation, lighting, or simply stability – the notebooks have a tendency to slide off my keyboard mid-performance.

velcro dots on the back of an ipod touch

it has little feet

I thought I was getting close to a solution when I came up with the idea of creating chord charts in a spreadsheet application, saving them as PDFs, loading them onto the iPod, and viewing them with one of several free PDF-reading apps available for the iPod/iPhone platform. The first attempts came out awfully small, though. Then I took a horizontal approach, distilling my cheat-sheets down to the most minimal layout necessary to recall the tune.

Landscape ended up working much better than portrait at this point. Then finally, to eliminate the problem of the iPod sliding off the Motif and crashing to the floor while I was playing, I added some adhesive Velcro dots (available at any fabric store or many drycleaning establishments) and viola: removable backlit digital cheatsheets for your next gig. Cost to me: $270 and a three year contract.

cat inserted for scale

cat inserted for scale

I was, however, disappointed to discover that the USB port on the Motif ES7 does not appear to have enough juice to charge the iPod. The Motif itself is now two generations old, as the release of Yamaha’s new flagship XF series has just been announced. Perhaps I need to upgrade.