Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Amazon Wish Lists Rock and Gifts that Inspire Spending

Christmas shopping (or shopping for the Holidays, if you like) this year was pretty darn efficient because some people had vague wish lists; since it's a tough economy, you have to make every dollar count, right? The process was pretty effective with Amazon.com wish lists with specific items...and I guess that means it's okay to have a gift registry even if it doesn't involve a wedding.

I got stuff I wanted for Christmas using the wish list system for the first time (since the days of Santa Claus, that is). I think this was the second year I used Amazon.com's wish list to buy stuff for other people. Anyhow, I bought one of my friends a remote control for a PS3 that she doesn't have...yet. To be clear, the remote control was on her wish list. I'm pretty sure that I gave a gift that will inspire spending more money (and thus saving the economy...maybe not singlehandedly but you get the hyperbole, right?).

This Christmas, my brother gave me an iPod Shuffle. It's probably my favorite gift of the season, and it gets bonus points since it wasn't on my wish list. Like the remote control that will likely lead to a video game console, my new iPod has been throwing money all over town since Christmas:

Since my car's CD player is busted, and I wasn't going to spend over $100 for a new head unit, I bought an FM adapter with RCA inputs.........$30.

I also wasn't going to spend X amount of money to have someone install it. The instructions may have come in Spanish, but it doesn't take Babel Fish or fluency to know what "un cable de tierra" is. (Okay, maybe two years' worth of high school Spanish, one year of college Latin, and about 6-10 LA-area UHF broadcast channels en Español may have been floating in the back of my head.) The technical support for the FM adapter was closed that day, but a few well-placed Google searches found appropriate user forums. And a few good keywords gave me a bunch of good dashboard removal instructions and wiring schematics.

Besides, my dad the mechanical engineer showed me some pointers when it came to electrical wiring. Spending time with one's dad doing manly car stuff (albeit car audio)........priceless. (We're only at the second item, and it's priceless! Pretend this paragraph appears later in this article.)

Since my car is as dirty as sin, I needed to protect the little mp3/AAC player with some sort of silicone case. Radio Shack had them on clearance (since aluminum cases are apparently the in thing now, I guess); I got five different colors........$5.

Since my car's left-front and left-rear speakers do not sound, either due to a dying head unit or loose wires near each speaker, and since I want to hear the left side of songs, I needed to reduce the stereo TRS signal from the iPod to a mono RCA plug for the right side of my car. Of course Radio Shack has all sorts of cables and adapters........$4.

Yes, I know: The creature comforts of my car are falling apart, but at least it's paid in full and a bloody workhorse under the hood (knock on wood!). Besides, I don't need to hear fancy production panning while driving (this statement coming from an IMDb-credentialed composer, mind you!). Back to the subject, which reads more and more like a MasterCard commercial:

Since the silicone case makes the player slightly larger than the original cradle, and since I don't want to constantly undress the iPod every 12 hours or so of use, I ordered a decently-reviewed 1/8-inch TRRS connector to USB, sans the cradle from Amazon.com. It was the last one that Amazon.com (Super Saver Shipping) had in stock........$13.

Already you can see how an estimated $50 iPod can double its net worth in accessories!

Since I'm not a fan of regular earbuds, and since it would be ridiculous (but slightly cool) to walk around town wearing my studio headphones, I'm currently looking for some comfy in-ear earbuds - the kind that would accelerate my music producer's rate of hearing loss with the added music consumer's hearing loss. I'll be Beethoven in no time! (By the way, the other day, I bought 99 tracks of Beethoven recorded by various orchestras from Amazon MP3 for about $2!)

Since everything's on shuffle, I'm going to need to reload the unit with more and more music. I've been kind of addicted to Amazon.com's $1-$4 daily mp3 album deals. The news of iTunes removing DRM for all its songs brings that service back in the game against Amazon MP3. Also, some iTunes tracks will be as low as 69¢, which is great because I still have some change left in my iTunes account from gift cards. If you do the math on that.......$$$$!

In conclusion, kickass gift from my brother........priceless. And the iPod is doing its part to save the American economy, at least for retailers. I haven't looked closely at the accessories, but I doubt that US manufacturers (I hope they're still around, in any case) created those things. One sector at a time, I suppose.

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