Phear teh ePod!™
For months now iBrett and I have been looking for a neat portable solution for recording audio when we’re out doing the video/filming thing. When the topic first came up many months ago we both lamented the inability of Apple’s iPod to record audio (yes, you can by a 3rd party add-on but that will only enable recording at 8khz… which is crap). The further we looked into a solution to the problem the more it looked like we’d end up having to buy a mini disc recorder or maybe a DAT system of some type. The problem with those solutions is that, unfortunately DAT systems can be quite expensive and are pretty much just a single use device.. where as, if we’d bought a mini disc then we’d have ended up owning a mini disc.. and neither of us wanted that.
Well, as luck would have it I stumbled on a website a couple of weeks ago called ipodlinux.org which, as the name suggests, is all about getting linux to run on an iPod. Yeah, I thought the same thing, those linux dorks have this inane desire to get linux running on everything from DVD players to concrete birdhouses.. but in the research that followed I came to understand why it is that these guys do this sort of thing….
In the case of the iPod, Apple considers it a ‘closed’ system. Meaning that they are releasing very little (if any) information to developers who wish to create new software or functions for the device (stuff like games or PDA like applications). Apple has their reasons for this and I’m sure that they make some kind of sense too – I wouldn’t be surprised if Apple’s relationship with the music industry is the reason behind the lack or reasonable recording functionality in the iPod’s OS. Think about it like this: Apple wants to sell music via iTMS, they need to be in the ‘good side’ of the music industry to do this, any one (or two) of the major labels could have said “Hey, people can make illegal recordings of concerts with an iPod! We’re not going to let you sell our music if you sell a device that lets people do that!” so Apple says “Fine” and disables the ability to record onto the iPods drive at a rate that would make recording a concert (or any other event) worth while… but, I digress… or do I?
This is where the whole open source/linux thing comes in. Apple’s iPod OS is closed, Linux on the other hand is open to any developer who wants to spend time developing for it. Now that these linux monkeys have a version of it running on the iPod it means that, not only is it possible for developers to create games and apps for the iPod, but it also means that the limitations that Apple has built into the iPod’s OS no longer apply… Which brings us back to the whole ‘Using the iPod as a digital recording device” thing!
An iPod running the current version of ipodlinux is capable of recording digital audio at up to 96khz – which is totally beyond what anyone ever needs (the audio on your music CD’s is 44khz). iPodlinux is still in the early stages of development (the current release only runs on 1st -> 3rd gen iPods) and so it’s not as complete or as stable as Apple’s iPod OS, but the fact that it can be installed along side the iPod OS (which means you can switch back and forth between running linux and running the iPod OS) means that all it does is add functionality to your iPod: like audio recording, file browsing (you can view images in grayscale) and, of course, games!
So, where does all this get Brett and I? Well, After shopping about for a while the subject came up with Buzzmoo.. who just so happened to own a 3rd Gen 15 gig iPod. Some quick negotiations saw Buzz heading to the Apple store to buy a new 4th gen 20 gig iPod and his 3rd gen heading this way in a mailbag… And within about 15 minutes of it’s arrival it was running iPodlinux and recording up a frenzy!
Of course the shenanigans didn’t stop there – I hooked the iPod up to the PC and modified the font in the native Firmware, then ripped that out on the Mac and modded some of the images… and as such, I’ve got here in my hot little hands an extremely customized iPod that joins our AV equipment arsenal!
Phear teh ePod!â„¢