Okay, my kids got me an iPod for my birthday, but I do not know how to use it. Can you please give me some basics?

Your kids must really be awesome, because an iPod is a very cool gift to get. I would say iPods are one of the most popular music related devices out on the market today. It seems like everyone I know is getting an iPod (except for me, of course : ). But, if you have time to listen to tons of music, an iPod is perfect for you. Or if you do a lot of traveling, an iPod can be your best friend.

To start this off, an iPod is a portable media player that was designed by the Apple Computer company. There are different sizes of iPods, with the standard being the regular model (also called the 5th generation iPod) followed by the iPod shuffle and the iPod nano.

The standard iPod comes with a built in hard drive where you can store all of your music. The iPod shuffle and the nano use flash memory as the storage device. The 5th generation model has video playback features and the nano offers a color screen. All three of these versions were released in 2005, so they are all still fairly new to the music world.

Now, the iPod comes with a bundle of software that you can use to upload your music, view photos and see videos. This software is called iTunes, which I discussed last week. iTunes works as a library of music. You can either download music from the iTunes Web site or if you have some CDs you’d like to store on your iPod, you can rip a CD onto your computer to later be put on your iPod. Once you have all of the songs you want (and iPods can hold A LOT of songs, let me tell you), you now have an iTunes library. You can then transfer the songs from your computer to your iPod, which is all done by having one end of your iPod cord plugged into your computer and the other in the iPod.

Also, once you have your songs on your computer, you can group them into different categories. If you have several different genres of music, you can separate those into groups. You can divide songs by artist, by CD title or you can make up your own fun lists. For example, my sister and I went to a concert in March and she made a playlist of songs just by the people we were seeing and she named it “Concert 2006.” The iPod also automatically puts your songs into alphabetical order while they are all grouped together, so it’s easier for you to find a song or an artist when you’re searching through your choices.

All of the iPods (except the nano) have five buttons to work with. The basic interface is a scroll wheel right in the middle of the device. Those buttons are: the menu (allows you to scan back through different menus), the center (this selects a menu item), the play/pause button (this also doubles as an Off switch), the fast forward/skip forward button and the fast reverse/skip backwards button. There is also a hold button that you can use to prevent any unexpected button pushing.

You can use your iPod at home, in the car, while you’re working out (or anywhere) and of course, you can use it with or without earphones. In the car, it is run by a radio station. Your iPod comes with a radio remote to use to find a radio station that will play your songs. You can charge your iPod batteries by leaving it plugged in your computer and there are also many different cases that you can purchase to keep your iPod safe from any scratches or mishaps. iPods also come in various colors, which is always fun!

As you can see, the iPod is a major music device and it’s pretty cool to own one. It puts all the music that you own into one spot, which makes listening to your music a whole lot easier. You can take your iPod everywhere you go and enjoy your music 24/7!

If there are any other questions about the software, installation, etc., refer to your iPod manual, as certain things will depend on the type of iPod you have.

~ Erin