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My Shuffling iPod Experiment


When my brother came over from the States at Christmas he brought with him an 8GB iPod nano that he gave to me – he’s a kind chap. I proceeded to load a selection of my favourite music on to it – 85 albums from 57 artists from ABBA to Belle & Sebastian to Black Rebel Motorcycle Club to Dire Straits to Editors to Interpol to Kate Tunstall to Mogwai to Radiohead to The Shins to… You get the idea, a broad cross-section of music. This totalled 1049 songs and 5GB of space.

The idea then occurred to me to play the whole lot on shuffle mode and see how long it took. This isn’t the first time I’ve tried it – I gave it a shot a couple of years ago on my previous iPod and got about halfway through before stupidly hooking it up to my computer which restarted the shuffling! D’Oh! This time I wouldn’t make such a mistake.

I’d listen to the iPod in the car on the way to work, at work, on the drive home and anywhere else that I could. I started in January and, almost 2 months later, I finally got all the way through them in one go!

My iPod shuffle experiment

I’ve come to the following conclusions after completing this imposing task:

  1. It’s a completely pointless waste of time and after a while it became a battle to keep going so when I’d hear a song and think “oh, I haven’t heard that album in a while, I’ll play it now” I had to resist, which is no fun.
  2. Random really isn’t random. I know Apple say it’s random, but it’s really not. I found that you’d get 4 songs from the same album within 15 songs so frequently that I stopped counting!
  3. It really is possible to predict the future. On several occasions I’d think “hey, it’d be cool if that song came on soon” and within the next couple of tracks it did.
  4. You can’t beat hearing Deacon Blue followed by Queens of the Stone Age, then Sigur Ros, ABBA, the Doors then Muse. You’d never buy a compilation CD with that broad a range of musical styles!

What to do now? Maybe playing all the songs in alphabetical order…

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Creator of John's Background Switcher. Scotsman, footballer, photographer, dog owner, risk taker, heart breaker, nice guy. Some of those are lies.

6 Comments Join the Conversation

  1. You kids with your iPods…honestly!

    As a computer scientist you should know that there’s no such thing as an algorithm that produces truly random results. Anyway, I seem to recall that Apple added a slider to iTunes that lets you adjust the weighting somehow. Finally, I agree with point three but not with point four i.e. you can beat it!

    P.S. Your click wheel looks rather scratched in the right-hand shot.


  2. > You can’t beat hearing Deacon Blue

    How can I ever take you seriously after that statement?


  3. Vastly under-rated. They were at least on a par with the other top Scottish band, Wet Wet Wet.


  4. Did you use different cameras for the 2 pictures of your iPod, or did you use one of your grad filter thingies?


  5. Ha ha!

    No, I used the same camera, just in different places at different times. I caught the first one better, should really have held it the same way for the second but too late for that!


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