The iPod shuffle shuffle

by Giles Turnbull

Owners of iPod shuffles: beware. The next time you attend some geek conference and some dude stands up at the front asking you to raise your hands, think carefully about the possible consequences.

"Some dude" in this instance might be a Scotsman called Ewan Spence who decided to demonstrate the ultimate music mix experiment while taking part in the Opentech geek get-together in London last Saturday.

His idea was simple enough: get the shuffle owners to drop their shuffles in a hat, mix them up, then pull one out again. The shuffle's design and nature mean that if you do this, you don't actually lose anything of value. The music on your shuffle is still on your computer. The shuffle you've pulled from the hat is just as good as the one you put in, but it has different music on it that you can listen to and discard as you see fit.

Here's what Ewan intended:

The experiment was planned to go something like this. Two pairs of volunteers would come forward from the OpenTech audience at the Media Stream session (hopefully with a pair of 512mb and a pair of 1gb iPod Shuffles). They would swap over their units with each other, and take away an iPod Shuffle with a different audio mix on it. Taking some media tool, doing something with it, and getting something different. That’s a hack.

Yeah, quite a fun hack. Sadly he didn't tell the volunteers what was going to happen, and one of them had his PGP Private Key stored on his shuffle. I wasn't there to see the results, but I'm glad to report that said shuffle owner was eventually reunited with his valuable data.

Next time you're on a plane or a train and end up sitting next to someone with an identical iPod shuffle to yours, you might like to try the same mixing experiment, if only for the duration of the trip. Who said technology was anti-social?

This is what iPods were invented for, right?


2005-07-27 08:49:03
Don't keep your private keys on your shuffle. Put them on some cheap USB stick and lock it in a safe.
2005-07-27 09:03:33
Even Simpler
Find out what you're getting into before you hand over your property.
2005-07-27 13:06:55
That’s a really sweet idea, though.

It reminds me of the “stop a random iPod person on the street, plug headphones into the respective other iPod for a few minutes” fad that was going on a while ago, just much bigger.

2005-07-27 13:23:29
A couple of people I know have stickers on their Shuffles so that they can identify them. That would have come in handy there.