The Myth of the Modern Hard Switch

Ladies and gentlemen, the famed iPod of the How To Tell What Song Just Came On Brian’s iPod At The Gym posts:

I’ve used it with on and off frequency, but always full volume, for a couple of years, but it developed a bit of a glitch. Well, several, actually. It has a single switch on the side that is its power switch and determines whether to shuffle the songs on the playlist or to play them all in alphabetical order by artist.

It started to play the songs in order regardless of the switch’s position.

Then, it started to play if you pressed the play/pause button when the switch was off, which led me to some consternation the last time I was in the gym because it would stop playing after a couple seconds. Further inspection of the switch indicated that it was off, and when I turned it on, it worked better.

This week, I had it out of the gym bag because I went for an ill-advised run outside of the YMCA, and I left it on the dresser in my bedroom (by the Montaigne). And it started playing on its own a couple of times, including once at 5:51 in the morning when I did not want to hear music that early.

I’m so old that when I think of a switch, I think of a mechanical device that starts or stops something by moving actual parts. But in modern devices, especially the really small ones like an iPod, the switch is merely an input to the electronics of something, and often merely an input to software. So if the software decides that off is on, the device will be active when the switch is in the off position.

Give me the good old days when the switches were actual physical things and when volume knobs were potentiometers.

Of course, I could not clip a Pioneer or Kenwood hi-fi to my shirt while I run, but this iPod is breaking down to the point where it’s almost unusable, too, which means I’ll have to investigate and invest in another kind of MP3 player since Apple has decided that the iPod should really be an iPhone without cellular connectivity.