My Life as a Traveler

Music to Go-Go

Morgan's 4th gen, my Touch, and the two Nanos (black one has a blank screen)

This is music week in the Greene household. My factory-installed Harmon-Kardon car sound system failed a few months ago.  It took til now for my good friend and car guy Shawn and I to get to it, so last weekend we took apart my car and installed a new stereo and speakers (cheaper than fixing the H-K pieces with the result of better components). My new head unit (not a body part, although these days I could use a new one), or stereo, now rocks and has the added fine feature of being able to play any iPod in the world. Which also rocks, as I have a fairly extensive iPod collection, all because of my car.

Here’s what I’ve got: an iPod Touch, 2 really old 2nd gen Nanos, and a 4th gen Nano. The one old Nano has a blank screen, which means that when I plugged it into my after-market iPod attachment that I installed in my old stereo, it would play the same songs in the same order alphabetically by artist, and every time I got into the car, it would start all over if I didn’t use the car every day. There was no way to change it, no matter how much I dialed and clicked that wheel.  Way tooooo much AC/DC (installed by Morgan), although we had to run through ABBA first.

I bought the 4th gen cheap on eBay right after the 5th gens came out. I thought it would work in my car, but no, it was too new. I went back to eBay and bought an even cheaper 2nd gen Nano with a functioning screen and would have been happy using that one, but then the entire sound system went kaput and I never got to use it.

My newly installed system will play all my iPods now and I can sync and keep the two old ones in the car – one for podcasts and one for music. Even the blanked out one is useful now because it is now controlled by the stereo, not the clickwheel. My iPod Touch is still my fave for travel and everyday out-of-car use (I would use it for my car, but I kept forgetting to bring it in or take it out of the house). Morgan got the 4th gen, which now can play in my car, a better program than the Philips mp3 player he had, which would not. With Morgan ditching RealPlayer to come over to iTunes, I am forced to make playlists now and consider which of my songs are worthy enough to travel with me due to the addition of all the heavy metal on my iTunes.

So why the long story? Well, some of the travel that I do is by car. With a 14-year-old boy. Who loves music. Heavy metal. With a soundless sound system, he reverts to headphones, which totally stalls any conversation. I’m just so thrilled to have a kickin’ system that will play his tunes when we’re together, and when we’re not, will play what I want. My new stereo has a cd player, but also a USB port that is in my glove box. I just provide the cord that goes to the iPod, and voila! Music.

What does this have to do with traveling? This applies to rental cars, too. Just about every rental car now has a cd player. This is great, but who carries around a bunch of discs anymore? What we want now is either an AUX port or a USB port – and I’m seeing this a lot more every time I’m in a rental car.

Soooo for your next road trip — bring your iPod, mp3 player, or anything else that you want to hook up to a USB port (but don’t let me catch you doing email while driving.) Best piece of advice:  be sure to bring a little cord that will plug into the aux port as well as your headphone input  – you know it’s the right one if both sides can fit into your headphone jack. With this, chances are that your rented ride will be able to give you the ability to play whatever is on your player through the car’s speakers. Coool.

Next post I’ll share some of my favorite podcasts, music, and other fun things I keep on my travelling iPods.

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