I bought one of the new iPod Touches. The 16 gig model. I’ve been waiting for a device that I could use as a portable photo album and this is the first one that I thought could fit the bill. I’ve spent the last few years scanning, editing, and organizing all of my snap shots that were on film as well as my digital photos. I want to be able to find any picture in my archive at anytime. Even when I’m out. Sometimes an old picture can illustrate a point better than words but I’ve never been able to cary all my pictures with me. Now I can. Well, I still need some kind of carrying case for the iPod but that’s pretty minor. The thing is just too new for the dedicated cases to have come out yet.

Last month I finished the final edit of my photos so everything was ready to go. There were some bumps in the road though. iTunes is the software that’s made for working with the iPod and I’ve always thought it was pretty good. I’ve never had any real problems with it but all I ever used it for was to manage my music files. After all, that’s what it was programed to do. Now I have to manage photo and home movie files with it too. That makes things a little more complicated.

I already have all my photo files organized by date and event with the names of the people who appear in them as the file names. That was a lot of work but it allows me to easily search for someone or some place and is independent of any photo organization program. That was important to me because I don’t want my photo collection to be tied to any one program. No worries about updating a photo program or it becoming obsolete.

The Apple OS X operating system handles my organization method just fine and I’m sure Windows or Linux would too. It’s just named folders and files. Operating systems are made to organize that stuff. And with OS X the search function is really good and even displays thumbnails of the photos right in the search window. My system is fast and flexible and none of the photo viewing devises I’ve seen so far had the software to keep up with it. Every portable MP3 or video player is a photo viewer as an after thought. The iPod Touch isn’t so I went with it.

My first fear with the new iPod Touch was that I’d have to use iPhoto. I generally think Apple does a really good job with it’s software but I can’t stand iPhoto. It takes all my well organized folders and disorganizes them. It won’t even line them up by name (i.e date) as the OS does. I don’t want to have to reorganize everything. I shouldn’t have too either. But I didn’t have to use iPhoto because I found that iTunes will sync with my already organized folders. Hurrah, but with reservations.

iTunes and syncing. There’s another thing I can’t stand. That’s because every time you open the program it has to sync the things you indicate. That’s fine unless you want it to sync with thousands of things. That’s why I’ve always manually managed my music. It won’t let you manually manage photos. Ouch! So I start to sync my iPod with my photo collection, 4000 or so of them, and after a few minutes iTunes crashes. Then my G4 tower won’t recognize my new iPod. It won’t even reset it back to the factory settings. So I try my laptop. It recognizes the iPod and when I go to sync the photos it crashes iTunes. I rebot and the laptop still sees the iPod. Whew! I sync slowly a few folders at a time and all goes well. Except my desktop G4 tower still won’t recognize my new iPod Touch. Long story short it’s a bad USB2 port on the PCI card. Not Apple or the iPod’s fault and I need a new card. But that’s for another day because I had another free USB2 slot.

Once the pictures were on the iPod they were a joy to behold. I can hardly begin to describe how nice the iPod Touch is as a photo viewer. The screen is clear and crisp and the touch screen is a wonderful thing and really changes the way you look at pictures. You can pan, zoom, and change from vertical to horizontal effortlessly. When looking at a photo I’m constantly recomposing it and seeing new things in it. One picture becomes many pictures. It’s like having a built in “Ken Burn’s effect” for every picture in your collection. Worth the price of admission.

I wish the iPod had some sort of search function in conjunction with the photo viewer. I can’t actually search for anyone by name as I can on the computer and that would be helpful. But at least the photos all lined up perfectly in the folders named with the dates. That’s more than they do in iPhoto.

The video functionality on the iPod Touch is good too. But there were some pain in the ass organizational problems with the video. I’ll tell you about that next week. I’m a little too bleary eyed for it now.