Mega Nano Hassle

Having an iPod Nano can be a lot more work than you bargained for.

I got a fatboy Nano for Christmas. It’s great, sleek, beautiful, tiny, and the wretched bleeding thing does not hold all my music.

Having never had this problem before (owning both a 20GB 4th generation and a 30GB 5th generation of what is nostalgically now referred to as an iPod classic) this is causing me some serious angst. (OK, I’m lying about the angst part. Actually it’s just minor irritation, bordering on mid-level annoyance.) But in the wee, wee hours of the morning they really don’t feel too terribly dissimilar.

It turns out there is no easy way to tell the black-box machina Apple calls iTunes to “sync-up-all-the-music-that-fits-on-my-ipod, selecting-by-albums, giving-me-new-stuff (or at least a random sampling of all my music) every-single-time-I-sync.

I don’t know about you, but I find that distinctly annoying.

After all, my time is too valuable to spend manually figuring out what kind of music I want to listen to for the next few days. After spending 30 minutes on the worthless local paper, channel-surfing for an hour or so, and some impressive-looking but sadly resultless procrastination on household chores, the last thing I want to do is to make the computer do what it ought to do for me. It resembles work entirely too closely.

So: Apple. Please create a setting in the iPod prefs that does the above-mentioned task.

I would really hate to draw the conclusion that you are simply making it tough for people to own low-capacity iPods and engaging in some stealthy marketing for upmarket 160 GB versions … particularly when you’re releasing 8GB iPhones that would not hold my music collection either. That would just be cynical.

After all, if the geeks at ArsTechnica can’t figure it out either (and no, none of the suggestions there possess either of the two desired virtues of humane computing: elegance and … actual functionality), how can a mere mortal figure it out?



9 CommentsLeave a comment

  • For my older nano I just delete the nano playlist itunes created and plug it back in. It will ask if you want to create a new playlist and the select the songs randomly again. That is enough for me.

  • Thanks Paul. First thing I tried.

    iTunes promptly told me that the Nano couldn’t sync because the playlist it was intended to sync with didn’t exist … and so it deleted all the music on the Nano!


  • There is a way to sync manually … this is what you probably should do if your iPod cant synch (or you dont want it to) all your music.

    I think you check, “Disable automatic synching for all iphone and ipods”… in the iTunes preference.

  • One final step i did not (oops) mention is you have de-select manual and reselect whole library and hit sync and it should refill. The process does require the nano be emptied and refilled.

  • Except they *have* figured it out at the link you posted:

    I think I’ve got it:
    * First put your random to “random by albums” (preferences).

    Then make a smart playlist with these rules:
    * No rules
    * Limit to [size iPod] selected by [random]
    * [v] live updating

    Now you get a cool random album playlist. If you don’t like some of them, delete them and new albums will pop up in their place. A whole new list is made by deleting them all.

  • This reminds me of a T-shirt my daughter got saying “I’m almost always right.”

    I’m thinking I’ve tried that 4-5 times, but I wonder if I missed the first step in global preferences.

    Will try again tonight.

  • OK, that works now.

    However, I still have one beef: refreshing the playlist. I found this tip:

    To refresh the contents of the smart playlist, just select everything in it and hit the Delete key to remove its contents. Because Live Updating is switched on, the smart playlist will be automatically repopulated with music.

    Come on … there’s got to be a better way to refresh a playlist than this counter-intuitive process!