And A Bag of Chips

Have you noticed that it’s sort of March already? You’ll get that. I guess.

Free Bird

I recently joined a local freecycling group, and I think I love it. If you haven’t heard of freecycling, it’s the simple process of giving stuff you no longer need or want to people who can use it. No money changes hands, no trades – just giving stuff away. Being the wacko liberal that I am, I love this idea. I made my first offer to the list the other day, and by 7pm that night, our Foreman grill knock-off had been picked up by its new owners. I suppose I could have tried to sell it on eBay, or waited till spring to put it in our garage sale, but knowing it went to someone who really wanted one, and seeing the gratitude and excitement they had in receiving it, was worth much more than the $5 or $10 I could have gotten out of it.

How delightfully un-capitalistic of me.

Digital Hospital

In a similar vein, I’m also ridiculously proud of the way I brought my seemingly dead iPod back to thriving vitality. My little Podette is a first-generation Mini, two years old, with a standard eight-hour lithium-ion battery – a battery that never seemed to last long enough in the first place, and really began to fail in the last month or so. I’d be doing a little treadmill action, and Podette would poop out after four songs. Four songs! I couldn’t get more than fifteen minutes out of her unless I could take her directly from the AC charger into action, and then I would only get 30 minutes, max.

I began to despair. My faithful Podette, friend of my heart, with her shiny pink case and sweet 4 gig heart, seemed destined to leave me forever and be replaced by a slick imposter. Sure, she doesn’t have a color display, and she’s bulkier than these new, flashy models, but my Podette is the most beautiful iPod there is. Period.

So, what to do? Besides being mindlessly devoted to Podette and the 800+ songs she keeps for me, I certainly didn’t want to thrown down the scratch for a new model, or even a refurbished Mini. I’m a student, you know, who scoops poop for a living and makes as much as some poets! Which is to say, nothing, really. I began to wonder…could I fix her?

CNet had my answer.

Though the iPod Mini is encased in a stainless-steel body that seems as impenetrable as Fort Knox, it seems that some brave Mini devotees have taken screwdrivers in hand and solved the mystery of just how to get into the darn things. Not only that, but their intrepitude seems to have inspired some enterprising folks to begin selling iPod batteries and battery replacement kits – at low, low prices! Prices just right for a penny-pincher like me. Cnet’s excellent tutorial (with video, even) on exactly how to perform this miraculous surgery got me raring to go, and before you know it, I had a brand new eighteen-hour (!) battery in one hand (twelve bucks!), and the smallest little screwdriver you have ever seen in the other. It was go time. And then, it was stop time.

See, everything went just as expected – I pried off the top and bottom panels, unscrewed some things, popped out a bracket, disconnected the click wheel, and slid out the guts. It was kind of easy. I felt powerful and, dare I say, tech savvy! I unhooked the battery, popped the new one in, slid everything back in the case, tightened, snapped and closed it all up. And.

It didn’t work.

Well, the battery worked, beautifully. The little screen came on and the hard drive spun right up and I dialed the click wheel to turn up the volume and – the click wheel didn’t respond. Nothing. Oh no. No! My little Podette, what have I done?

What I’d done was inadvertently sever the tiny, delicate ribbon that connects the click wheel to the motherboard sometime during disassembly. I hadn’t realized it when it happened, but another round of prying and unscrewing lead me to the awful truth: I had killed the click wheel. Oh good lord, how much do those things cost? Can I even buy one? Had I murdered Podette in my zeal to breathe new life into her? Back to the Internets.

Panicking and near tears, I typed and clicked my way to some answers. Seems the click wheel is a replaceable part, though not a cheap one. I found a shady-looking shop that sold them for $79.99, and another outlet that would take about $100, or many, many bags of dog poop, to replace and install the part. But I would trust my Podette to no one else at this point. If she were going to shuffle off this mortal coil, I would be the one to bang the nails in the coffin, to mix a couple metaphors. I then turned to that last bastion of hope to the consumer desperate for that rare and random item: eBay.

$35 and about a week later, I held in my hand a shiny new click wheel. Well, not shiny, exactly, as it came off a mini even more dead than mine, but a working click wheel, and that’s all that matters. In about twenty minutes, I had the part installed and all openings closed and screwed. Headphones were quickly jammed into my ears, and my Podette, she works.

To celebrate, I danced around my kitchen to “Queen of Hearts” by Juice Newton and one of Looking Glass’ best hits (okay, their only hit), “Brandy (You’re a Fine Girl).” My Darl was out of town so no one was on hand to witness this celebratory rite, but I tell you, it was glorious.

5 thoughts on “And A Bag of Chips

  1. Hooray for saving the Podette! Hooray for Freecycle! We gave away a washer and dryer on Freecycle. Talk about uncapitalistic. My husband’s sister thought we were nuts. Which made me happy. 🙂

    I see you are up late tonight, too. 🙂


  2. I LOVE BRANDY! one of my faves. Hey… I am finally getting layed off from the Agency Mothership! But in excruciatingly slow fashion (June 30th). And I have the unpleasant priviledge of dealing with your old bosses on a more regular basis. Meh. But I hear life after the Agency is wonderful stuff! See you round BFB!


  3. Congrats on resuscitating your iPod! That was fracking impressive. (I couldn’t have done it.)


  4. Wow, you fixed her up all on your own. I will have to tell my boy about Cnet – he has a defunct first gen iPod he’s been trying with no success to rehab. You’re an inspiration!


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