Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Thursday, August 26, 2021

shufflin' along
I believe I read somewhere that the majority of iPod owners regularly set their players on Shuffle. I know I do. Everyone likes variety.

When you’re dealing with thousands of music tracks, over a wide range of genres, you expect to go a long stretch between hearing the same song or artist. But that’s often not the case, prompting some to question the randomness of Shuffle and wonder if the iPod doesn’t “know” to play certain songs more than others.

I myself experienced this, and even after assuring myself that the probabilities checked out, still ditched every Police song off the little 5-gigger.

The obvious solution: Shuffle by genre, or artist, or some other tag. Slightly more ambitious would be creating enough playlists to cover your various musical moods. But that involves editing song tags, syncing up the iPod with your computer… Too much work.

- Costa Tsiokos, Thu 08/26/2004 10:37:03 PM
Category: Pop Culture, Tech | Permalink |


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  1. Part of the iPods battery life is based on preselecting songs, even when its set on shuffle. The shuffle mode selects ‘random’ songs on sections of the internal hard drive that are close to each other, in order to minimize power usage hunting all over the entire drive. This results in somewhat less than ‘random’ randomization, I’ve found with both my 5 gig and 15 gigger.

    Comment by The Belt — 08/27/2004 @ 10:29:24 AM

  2. I’ve looked at the song folders on the iPod drive, and the songs within aren’t filed in any particular order — they aren’t alphabetical by file name or by any other ordered measure. To compensate for the pre-selection of songs that are stored near each other, I think the iPod sort of “pre-randomizes” by adding songs this way. So if you have 500 Elvis songs in there, it’s (somewhat) less likely to play two or three in a row on disc-wide Shuffle.

    Obviously, it’s not strict randomization, and it’s not perfect. With the number of cycles most people play through their iPods, a ghost of a pattern probably emerges, or at least seems to. But if it means the difference between 10 hours of battery life and 5 hours, I’ll live with a little repetition.

    Comment by CT — 08/27/2004 @ 11:09:05 AM

  3. The iPod Shuffle: Blogs vs. Times
    No matter who wins, we link.

    Trackback by Negro, Please: Cold Blooded — 08/27/2004 @ 01:41:56 PM

  4. Well, it definitely pre-randomizes. As soon as you turn it on, if you have the shuffle option on, its selecting a group of songs to play and preloading them into the memory cache. This minimizes seek time and extends battery life. Thats why if you constantly hunt for better ‘random’ tunes, you’ll compromise battery life real fast.

    They have the battery life part working reasonably well, but whatever algorithm they’re using to ‘randomize’ just doesnt seem to work all that well. I swear there are songs on my iPod I’ve never heard it play before.

    Comment by The Belt — 08/27/2004 @ 09:04:23 PM

  5. […] ne and only, cold-blooded Jason at Negro, Please tossed me some linkage yesterday! I have my iPod obsession and the NY Times to thank for attracting this att […]

    Pingback by Population Statistic — 08/28/2004 @ 10:45:10 PM

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