This is a love letter to a piece of tech. And I think that’s OK. If you can treasure a stone, or a piece of paper, why not an old minidisc player, or your first console? I have possessed many of pieces of tech over my 24 years, from my first we’re-too-poor-to-buy-you-a-real-gameboy-but-here’s-a-similair-looking-thing-that-plays-only-one-game hand held Bucky O’Hare (fuck yeah)* console at the age of 9, right up to my most recent aquistion, the superb iPhone (easily the most enabling gadget I’ve yet to own).
*not the theme tune, but it should have been.
This is a love letter to my MP3 player.
It’s not just any MP3 Player. It is a 60GB Toshiba Gigabeat. And it is the longest operating piece of tech I possess. Why am I writing a love letter to my MP3 player? Bit too far down the slippery slope of techidolatory?
Let me count the ways…
I bought this 5 years ago. It is from America, I shipped it via a PObox, resulting (at the time) in a 50% reduction in price, this thing only cost me £150, 60GB, back then, pretty big. I rewired the plug. It is a lovely piece of design. Navigating through touch before that was fashionable, and the case, the case is divine, brushed steel, blue lights, and a decent colour display.
This piece of tech came to me at a turning point, I got it the same week my very first play was put on – at Nottingham Lakeside Theatre. I associate it with the feeling of walking on air.
It still works. IT STILL WORKS. I have dropped this so many times, it comes running with me four times a week, often in torrential downpour. I have spilt things on it, I have lost all of the screws fixing the back cover. Snow, wine, soil, paint. It’s seen all of it. IT STILL WORKS.
I don’t run the firmware. I run a genius piece of open source software on it: Rockbox. It basically turns it into a drag and drop hardrive, that plays anything you can throw at it.
It’s my goldilocks piece of tech: 60GB, for me, is just right, 20GB of audiobooks, 40GB of music.
And that bring us to why the thing really is so important to me: my music. The Gigabeat has soundtracked my life from 19-24. It’s been there at just the right moment as the rain pours and I run and the music’s kicked in and I feel like I’m flying. It’s set music to every train journey taking me to friends, opportunities, home. It’s the only way I slept for about 3 months after the first time I got my heart broken, when I couldn’t even cry myself to sleep, I just plugged in my wireless headphones, set the sleep function, and put on an audiobook. It’s always with me, like an anchor. And while the places I’ve lived and the people I’ve known over the past 5 pretty amazing years of my life come and go, this piece of tech has been there to elucidate, enrich, console.
It means a lot to me. And that interests me, because gadgets are largely designed to be replaced. They’re utilitarian, or they’re status symbols, or they mark out out as part of a particular tribe. But I also hear people talk with real fondness about them sometimes.
Do all of your gadgets come and go? Or do some of them mean a bit more to you?
This is my favourite detail: where a portion of the back has worn away in the shape of my thumb print. I swear it’s indented.
Two more highlights of my gadgetry:
They’re not glamorous, have I mentioned how poor I am?
I love my PC, I have lived in over 14 houses in 6 years, to me my home is two things: my books, and my desktop. Despite not hating Macs, and quite wanting to get my hands on one as soon as I learn how to manufacture a philosopher’s stone, I continue to love that I can drop in more RAM, slot in a wireless N card, upgrade my graphics, every time I need a little more from it. It grows with me. I like that.
My headphones. Sennheiser PX200s. Beautiful. They’re closed, they fold up really easily, they’re incredibly robust and they give the best sound from anything that compact IMO. I don’t go anywhere without them. Got an adapter for my iPhone too.