TweetFollow Us on Twitter

iPod Madness

Volume Number: 19 (2003)
Issue Number: 6
Column Tag: iPod

Getting Started

iPod Madness

by Dave Mark

OK, I'll try to explain this as best I can.

Seems to me it was just a few days ago when the darn thing arrived. I had already started writing my WWDC column. Basically, a follow-on to last month's TinyViewer Interface Builder column.

That's when the doorbell rang.

It was an innocuous looking package, return address Apple Computer, Cupertino, California. I immediately ripped it open, ignored the disk and other trimmings, and pulled out...COOL...a new iPod! Better put it aside - gotta get that column finished.

Hrm...it's just so shiny. Must focus. Must put down shiny iPod.

With great force of will, I put the iPod back in its box and returned to my computer. And that's when I got the email. Guess what, Dave? The new iPods support this cool new markup language so you can create your own linked iPod content. Wha? Huh? And there are these cool new AppleScripts you can play with to manage your iPod notes?

It was all over. All semblance of willpower was lost. iPod madness had taken over.

iPod Notes

As you can tell, I love the new iPods. The case design is gorgeous. The new design is much slimmer and the controls sleeker. The 15 and 30 gig units ship with a cradle and the cradle works quite well. Tie it all up with a new iTunes release and the integrated iTunes Music Store and you've got a marketing windfall for Apple. Can you say ka-ching?

When you double-click your iPod's Finder icon, you'll see three top-level folders: Calendars, Contacts, and Notes. Any items placed in the Notes folder are fair game for the Note Reader, an app built into each of the new iPods (but, sadly, not in any of the older models).

By default, the iPod ships with a single file, named Instructions, in the Notes folder. The Instructions file consists of a single text string, "<INSTRUCTIONS>". Welcome to your first iPod Notes tag. Though not particularly useful for your purposes, the <INSTRUCTIONS> tag tells the Notes Reader to display a simple set of instructions built into the iPod. One cool thing about this tag. Change the language, the instruction language changes. Change the language setting to Espanol, and the instructions appear in Spanish. As it should be.

From the user's perspective, the Notes folder is simply a collecting point for relatively small (notes are limited to 4kb - any bigger, they get truncated) text files. Got a collection of recipes? Put one per file in a collection of folders and drag the folder hierarchy to the iPod's Notes folder. For example, you might organize your recipes in a Recipes folder, with subfolders for Soups, Hors D'oeuvres, Salads, Entrees, and Desserts. You might store each recipe in its own text file, then organize the text files in the correct folder (soup recipe files in the Soups folder, etc.). Now drag the entire Recipes folder into the iPod's Notes folder.

    If you are trying this at home, be sure the Enable FireWire disk use checkbox is checked in the iPod preferences in iTunes 4. If you can't find that preference, attach your iPod to your Mac. Then, when it appears in the iTunes list, click on the iPod's icon in the list on the left-hand-side, then click the iPod icon on the bottom-right corner of the window (left-most of the 4 bottom icons).

When you fire up your iPod, click on Extras, then Notes. On the Notes page, you'll see Instructions as well as a Recipes item. Select Recipes and you'll see the Soups, Hors D'oeuvres, Salads, Entrees, and Desserts folder (see Figure 1). Select Soups, you'll see a list of the Soups text files. Select one of those and the text from that file is displayed. To get back, click the Menu button. Note that the Menu button is more like a browser's back button than a "move up a level" button. When you start playing with links, you'll see what I mean.


Figure 1. The Recipes categories on my iPod.

    Limitations: A single note can be up to 4kb. The current iPods support up to 1,000 notes. The Notes cache is 64kb. Once the cache is exceeded, the cache is flushed, the hard drive spins up and new notes are cached as needed.

iPod Note Tags

Currently, the Notes Reader supports a very small set of HTML tags. All tags are case insensitive.

Use <BR> or the pairing of <P> and </P> to force a paragraph break in your running text.

You'll use <TITLE> and </TITLE> to create a title for your page. If your text file does not contain a <TITLE> tag, the file name is used as the title. If the <TITLE> tag is there, the <TITLE> specified will be displayed at the top of the screen when the text file is shown, and is also used in the scrolling list that contains the text file.

Link Tags

The iPod link tag looks just like its HTML counterpart and allows you to link notes together. Here's an example. I started by creating a text file named Ideal Meal, saving it in the Recipes folder:

<TITLE>An Ideal Meal</TITLE>
The ideal meal always start with a nice piece
of <A HREF="Halvah">halvah</A>, followed immediately by a healthy serving of Mama's 
secret <A HREF="Gravlax">gravlax recipe</A>

I then created a file called Halvah, also saving it in the Recipes folder:

<TITLE>Halvah</TITLE>
A confection made out of crushed sesame seeds and honey. Have a nice piece of Halvah today. It 
couldn't hoit. Goes well with <A HREF="Gravlax">gravlax</A>.
<BR><BR>Back to <A HREF="/Recipes">Recipes</A>.

And finally, a file called Gravlax, also saved in the Recipes folder:

<TITLE>Gravlax</TITLE>
Raw salmon, usually seasoned with dill. Have a nice piece of gravlax with your 
<A HREF="Halvah">halvah</A>. Eat. Eat.

    A note on editing your note files. If you use an editor like Word, be sure smart quotes are turned off. When I created some notes with smart quotes, the iPod displayed them with extreme funkiness. This is because the text encoding used by Word does not match the default encoding of the Notes Reader. More on this in next month's column.

    Also, don't put a hard return in your notes unless you really want a hard return in there. When I use BBEdit, I select Text Options from the Edit menu, then click the Soft Wrap Text radio button and set it to Window Width.

Remember, this is rev 1 of iPod Notes. Over time, I suspect we'll see more tags and other text handling options. And a color screen? With image tag support and an Ethernet port? Huh? Couldja? Please? J

Figure 2 shows the Recipes notes folder after I copied my 3 new notes over to the iPod.


Figure 2. The Recipes folder with 3 added files.

Click on An Ideal Meal (Figure 3). Notice that there are 2 links in this text. The first link is selected by default, with the underline of the second link barely visible. How do you get from link to link? The scroll wheel, of course! Scrolling the wheel counterclockwise moves you up a link, stepping from link to link, stopping at the first one on the page. Scrolling the wheel clockwise moves you down the page, link by link. Keep scrolling and you stop at the last link on the page. There is no wraparound effect if you keep scrolling.


Figure 3. What happens when I click on An Ideal Meal.

Figure 4 shows the Gravlax note, with the halvah link selected. Click on the halvah link and you'll jump to the Halvah note (Figure 5). Note that if you keep selecting links, you'll pop back and forth between Gravlax and Halvah. The interesting thing here is that the links are stacked (like a browser), so when you click the Menu button, you'll bounce back to the previous page, as opposed to moving up in the folder hierarchy.


Figure 4. The Gravlax note, with a link to halvah.

Note that the Halvah note contains a link back up to the Recipes folder. Click this link, and you'll be back up to the screen shot shown in Figure 2. We'll explore link formats in the next section.


Figure 5. The Halvah note, with a links to gravlax and the Recipes folder.

Relative v. Absolute

Just as you can with your web files, you can refer to other notes using relative or absolute link paths. Note that / refers to the inside of the Notes folder, so /Recipes/Halvah really refers to /Notes/Recipes/Halvah. For example, here are some absolute links:

<A HREF=file:///Gravlax>Link to /Gravlax (an error)</A>
<A HREF=file:///Recipes/Halvah>Link to /Recipes/Halvah</A>
<A HREF=/Gravlax>Link to /Gravlax (an error)</A>
<A HREF=/Recipes/Halvah>Link to /Recipes/Halvah</A>

Here are some relative links:

<A HREF=file://Gravlax>Link to Gravlax (in the current 
                                                               directory)</A>
<A HREF=file://Recipes/Halvah>Link to Recipes/Halvah
         (only works if the linking file is in the same
         dir as Recipes)</A>
<A HREF=Gravlax>Link to Gravlax (in the current 
                                                               directory)</A>
<A HREF=Recipes/Halvah>Link to Recipes/Halvah, where
                     Recipes/ is in the current directory</A>

    Note that file names are not case sensitive. Feel free to use any of /, \, or : as a file delimiter, but remember that none of these are legal FAT file name characters and that : is not legal in an HFS+ file name. Use a backslash to escape special characters that are part of the file name itself. For example:

    <HREF="Ferret recipes, 6\/23\/03">

Note also that you cannot link to the Notes folder itself, nor can you link outside the Notes folder. You will simply annoy the Notes Reader.

Dead Links

The Note Reader automatically checks every note for dead links. To see the results of this test, include an <ERRORS> tag in one your notes. The note containing the <ERRORS> tag is completely replaced with a list of all the errors found in all the notes. This means you only need one <ERRORS> tag for your entire hierarchy. Use a testing note for this purpose, not a note containing useful content. Once you've tested your notes, you can delete the error checking note.

Figure 6 shows the results of a couple of purposely malformed links. Bad iPod, bad.


Figure 6. The <ERRORS> tag at work.

Link Files

Just as you might use a file to redirect a user from one url to another, you can use a .link file to redirect a link and a .linx file to spoof a folder of links. Here's how this works.

Create a file named pizza.link that contains the following text:

<TITLE>Pizza Link</TITLE>
<A HREF="Real Pizza">Blap</A> 

Next, create a file named Real Pizza with this text:

Hey, I'm the REAL pizza file. Not that other phony. My file name is Real Pizza.

Put them both in the same folder, somewhere inside the Notes hierarchy. When you scroll to that folder, you'll see two files listed, one named Pizza Link and one named Real Pizza. Click on either one and the Real Pizza content is displayed. Since we never display the link inside pizza.link, the text Blap never appears. Hmmm. Maybe this is a good place to put your favorite bad words.

.link files let you store content in one file and refer to it from other directories. Can you say alias?

A .linx file is similar, but it is used to spoof a folder. Here's an example. Create a file named evil.linx with this content:

<TITLE>Evil, Do Not Taunt</TITLE>
<A HREF="doctors/Dr. Sardonacus">Dr. Sardonacus</A> 
<A HREF="doctors/Doc Ock">Doc Ock</A>
<A HREF="doctors/Dr. Strangelove">Dr. Strangelove</A>
<A HREF="doctors/Dr. No">Dr. No</A>
<A HREF="doctors/Dr. Evil">Dr. Evil</A>

Next, create a folder named doctors in the same folder as evil.linx. Finally, create note files named Dr. Sardonacus, Doc Ock, Dr. Stragelove, Dr. No and, of course, Dr. Evil in the doctors folder. Figure 7 shows what happens when you scroll to the folder named Evil, Do Not Taunt. Notice that the notes listed in this directory are listed in the order we specified in the .linx file, not in alphabetical order. This can be useful!


Figure 7. Been to the doctor lately?

Main.linx

When you navigate into the Notes folder, Notes Reader looks for a file named Main.linx in the Notes folder. If it finds Main.linx, it uses that list to replace anything else in the Notes listing it would normally show. For example, this is a sample I created for the new Macintosh Art Museum Annex (MAMA), just south of Cupertino in Veerkidnya.

<TITLE>Mac Museum</TITLE>
<A HREF="Art/Woman in Kimono">Kimono</A> 
<A HREF="Art/Clarus">Dog Cow</A>
<A HREF="Art/Zebra Lady">Zebra Lady</A>

Figure 8 shows what happens when I click on the Notes folder. Note that none of my other content is shown. The only things listed are the links in Main.linx.


Figure 8. The Mac Museum, in all its glory.

For those of you playing at home, note that links in a .linx file are checked before they are listed. So if you are trying to follow along and you have trouble getting the links in your .linx file to appear, be sure you've created the files referenced in the individual links. The example above won't work properly until I create the Art folder and the three files within that folder. Capisce?

    Worth a look: A new app named iPodNotes from XtremeMac along with a site named http://www.iPodNotes.com. Pretty interesting. The app is designed to help you create and manage your iPod note projects. You can create a new project (essentially, a notes folder hierarchy), add files and folders, edit the files, and even create links to text and audio files.

    The web site borrows from the iCal concept and allows you to share your projects with other folks. For example, my buddy David could upload his list of things he thinks I should do when I make that trek to Iceland I've been dreaming about, along with notes for each item in the list. Or maybe someone would upload the Red Stripes touring schedule for the summer. Or how about if someone put together an audio tour of historic Civil War battlefields that you could download and take with you. It's all good.

    Though this puppy is still in its early stages, I really like this concept. Check it out.

Till Next Month...

Imagine walking down the halls of the Louvre with an iPod in your hand, headsets in place. You click on the Notes folder and see a series of folders, each corresponding to one of the 9 main sections of the Louvre. Click on Salles des Peintures, and you might find a list of the major works of art in that section, including the Mona Lisa. Click on Mona Lisa and you might see a textual description of the painting, along with an embedded link to an audio file describing recent restoration projects related to the Mona Lisa. This model really touches on the power and potential of the Notes Reader.

Next month, we'll dig a little deeper into iPod Notes. We'll see how to create links to audio files and how to work with Note Reader preferences. One of these preferences, NotesOnly, puts your iPod into Museum Mode which causes your iPod to boot right into Note Reader. Perfect for the Louvre example above. We'll also mess with some cool AppleScripts designed especially to help you manage your notes. Remember, if you are at WWDC, come say hello! See you then...


Dave Mark is a long-time Mac developer and blah, blah, blah... We interrupt this important bio to bring you an important message: Gonna be at WWDC? Be sure to find Dave and say hi (His pic is up on mactech.com and spiderworks.com). Bring your comments, suggestions, and maybe even a nice piece of gum.

 

Community Search:
MacTech Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

ExpanDrive 5.4.1 - Access cloud storage...
ExpanDrive builds cloud storage in every application, acts just like a USB drive plugged into your Mac. With ExpanDrive, you can securely access any remote file server directly from the Finder or... Read more
Espionage 3.6.6 - Simple, state-of-the-a...
Espionage offers state-of-the-art encryption and plausible deniability for your confidential data. Sometimes, encrypting your data isn't enough to protect it. That's why Espionage 3 goes beyond data... Read more
Pinegrow Web Designer 2.94 - Mockup and...
Pinegrow Web Designer is desktop app that lets you mockup and design webpages faster with multi-page editing, CSS and LESS styling, and smart components for Bootstrap, Foundation, Angular JS, and... Read more
1Password 6.3.3 - Powerful password mana...
1Password is a password manager that uniquely brings you both security and convenience. It is the only program that provides anti-phishing protection and goes beyond password management by adding Web... Read more
Sublime Text 3126 - Sophisticated text e...
Sublime Text is a sophisticated text editor for code, markup, and prose. You'll love the slick user interface, extraordinary features, and amazing performance. Features Goto Anything. Use Goto... Read more
ForkLift 3.0 Beta 2 - Powerful file mana...
ForkLift is a powerful file manager and ferociously fast FTP client clothed in a clean and versatile UI that offers the combination of absolute simplicity and raw power expected from a well-executed... Read more
OmniFocus 2.7.1 - GTD task manager with...
OmniFocus helps you manage your tasks the way that you want, freeing you to focus your attention on the things that matter to you most. Capturing tasks and ideas is always a keyboard shortcut away in... Read more
CleanApp 5.1.1 - Application deinstaller...
CleanApp is an application deinstaller and archiver.... Your hard drive gets fuller day by day, but do you know why? CleanApp 5 provides you with insights how to reclaim disk space. There are... Read more
Together 3.6.1 - Store and organize all...
Together helps you organize your Mac, giving you the ability to store, edit and preview your files in a single clean, uncluttered interface. Features Smart storage. With simple drag-and-drop... Read more
Cloud 4.1.1 - File sharing from your men...
Cloud is simple file sharing for the Mac. Drag a file from your Mac to the CloudApp icon in the menubar and we take care of the rest. A link to the file will automatically be copied to your clipboard... Read more

5 great apps for the budget traveller
Travelling abroad, or even within your home country, has never been easier thanks to our handy smartphone companions. There are hundreds of apps on the market that promise to make your world journeys hassle-free, but we've selected five of the... | Read more »
Zip—Zap (Games)
Zip—Zap 1.01 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $1.99, Version: 1.01 (iTunes) Description: Touch to contract.Release to let go.Bring the clumsy mechanical beings home. · · · over 100 levelsno adsno in-app-purchases Zip—... | Read more »
Paperback: The Game (Games)
Paperback: The Game 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $3.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: You are an author trying to finish kitschy paperback novels. Complete Westerns, Science Fiction, Romance or even a Crime... | Read more »
How to Rule With a Firm Hand in My Majes...
My Majesty is a kingdom management sim not unlike August’s magisterial hit, Reigns. It’s essentially a reskin of developer Tigrido’s previous management sim, Dictator. As supreme ruler of the land, you must consult with a number of subjects to... | Read more »
Our 5 Favorite iMessage Sticker Packs
At long last, iMessage joins the ranks of messaging apps the likes of LINE and Whatsapp, adding an impressive collection of stickers. They’re a great way to add a little something extra to your daily conversations. [Read more] | Read more »
How to get past Vulture Island's tr...
Vulture Island is a colorful and quirky mish-mash of platforming and puzzles. It’s creative and fresh, but sometimes the game can throw a curveball at you, leaving you stuck as to how you should progress. These tips will help you explore smoothly... | Read more »
The new Clash of Kings is just for Weste...
If you’ve played the original Clash of Kings, you’ll probably recognise the city building, alliance forging and strategic battles in Clash of Kings: The West. What sets this version apart is that it’s tailor made for a Western audience and the... | Read more »
Frost - Survival card game (Games)
Frost - Survival card game 1.12.1 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $3.99, Version: 1.12.1 (iTunes) Description: *Warning: the game will work on iPhone 5C and above and iPad Pro / 4. Other devices are not supported* | Read more »
How to build and care for your team in D...
Before you hit the trail and become a dog sledding legend, there’s actually a fair bit of prep work to be done. In Dog Sled Saga, you’re not only racing, you’re also building and caring for a team of furry friends. There’s a lot to consider—... | Read more »
How to win every race in Dog Sled Saga
If I had to guess, I’d say Dog Sled Saga is the most adorable racing game on the App Store right now. It’s a dog sled racing sim full of adorable, loyal puppies. Just look at those fluffy little tails wagging. Behind that cute, pixelated facade is... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

Clearance 12-inch 1.2GHz Retina MacBooks, App...
Apple has Certified Refurbished 2015 12″ 1.2GHz Retina MacBooks available for $1189, or $410 off original MSRP. Apple will include a standard one-year warranty with each MacBook, and shipping is free... Read more
Logitech SmartDock and Skype For Business Com...
Logitech has announced Logitech SmartDock, an AV meeting room solution designed in collaboration with Microsoft. Logitech SmartDock works with Skype for Business and qualified devices, including... Read more
27-inch iMacs on sale for up to $220 off MSRP
B&H Photo has 27″ Apple iMacs on sale for up to $200 off MSRP including free shipping plus NY sales tax only: - 27″ 3.3GHz iMac 5K: $2099 $200 off MSRP - 27″ 3.2GHz/1TB Fusion iMac 5K: $1899.99 $... Read more
Apple Macs and iPads available for up to $300...
Purchase a new Mac or iPad using Apple’s Education Store and take up to $300 off MSRP. All teachers, students, and staff of any educational institution qualify for the discount. Shipping is free, and... Read more
Save up to $600 with Apple refurbished Mac Pr...
Apple has Certified Refurbished Mac Pros available for up to $600 off the cost of new models. An Apple one-year warranty is included with each Mac Pro, and shipping is free. The following... Read more
Mac Pros on sale for up to $200 off MSRP
B&H Photo has Mac Pros on sale for up to $200 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges sales tax in NY only: - 3.7GHz 4-core Mac Pro: $2899, $100 off MSRP - 3.5GHz 6-core Mac Pro: $3799, $... Read more
15-inch 2.2GHz Retina MacBook Pro on sale for...
B&H Photo has the 2015 15″ 2.2GHz Retina MacBook Pro (MJLQ2LL/A) on sale for $1799, including free shipping plus NY sales tax only. Amazon also has the 2015 15″ 2.2GHz Retina MacBook Pro (... Read more
Toughbook Celebrates 20 Years of Ruggedized M...
Panasonic System Communications Company of North America, Division of Panasonic Corporation of North America (Panasonic) today celebrates the 20th anniversary of its industry-leading Toughbook mobile... Read more
12-inch 1.1GHz Gray Retina MacBook on sale fo...
B&H Photo has the 2016 12″ 1.1GHz Gray Retina MacBook on sale for $1199.99 including free shipping plus NY sales tax only. Their price is $100 off MSRP. Read more
13-inch 2.5GHz MacBook Pro (Apple refurbished...
Apple has Certified Refurbished 13″ 2.5GHz MacBook Pros available for $829, or $270 off the cost of new models. Apple’s one-year warranty is standard, and shipping is free: - 13″ 2.5GHz MacBook Pros... Read more

Jobs Board

*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions (US) - A...
Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, you're also the Read more
Restaurant Manager (Neighborhood Captain) - A...
…in every aspect of daily operation. WHY YOU'LL LIKE IT: You'll be the Big Apple . You'll solve problems. You'll get to show your ability to handle the stress and Read more
Sr. *Apple* Mac Engineer - Net2Source Inc....
…staffing, training and technology. We have following position open with our client. Sr. Apple Mac Engineer6+ Months CTH Start date : 19th Sept Travelling Job If Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions-Norfolk,...
Job Description: Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, Read more
Restaurant Manager (Neighborhood Captain) - A...
…in every aspect of daily operation. WHY YOU'LL LIKE IT: You'll be the Big Apple . You'll solve problems. You'll get to show your ability to handle the stress and Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.