Two tips for iPod owners: discounts and video cables

I bought my first iPod back in 2003, and it served me well for almost three years before the drive started making ominous clicking sounds. Then it kept popping into “Drive Mode” and wouldn’t come out. I tried all the tricks, read the support sites, and even asked a friend who used to work at an Apple store. It was pretty clear the drive was terminally ill and unlikely to recover.

“Let’s take it to the Genius Bar,” said my wife, referring to the smug/slick tech support desk at the Apple Store of White Zen Oneness with Merchandising. “I don’t want to take it to the damn Genius Bar,” I said, “That place gives me the creeps, and I already know this iPod is dead.”

And so we went. This is a fairly typical scenario in my house.

As expected, the nice man in the black t-shirt verified my click-clacking iPod was indeed dead, but then he told me something that made the trip worthwhile: you can turn in your old iPod (recycle it) and get a 10% discount on a new one. So my wife’s faith in the magical healing powers of the Genius Bar saved me some cash on my new video iPod.

Once at home, I wanted to try out the new video capabilities by playing back something on my TV. But I hadn’t bought the special Apple video cables that hook it to the TV. Since it’s just a matter of connecting the mini-jack on the iPod side to the RCA audio/video connectors on the TV side, I realized that I already had the cable I needed in my video camera bag. It took me a while to realize I needed to change the video output settings for the iPod, but then I ran into a more sinister problem. Even though the cables all fit together perfectly, the connection didn’t work. Why? It took a little Googling to find out: it’s because Apple sends the video signal out through the red RCA jack rather than the yellow one as God intended. Wha? What an odd move! Is there a reason for this, or is it just a cynical way to squeeze some cash out of the Apple-besotted marketplace?

Anyway, it works now, and I didn’t have to pay Apple for my video cables. Check it out: Playing iPod video on your TV for cheap – Lifehacker. Downloading content from Google Video and watching it on TV works surprisingly well.