And now, I remind you of something best forgotten.

Recently, while poking around the iTunes Music Store, I was reminded of something best forgotten. So I thought I would remind you of it as well.

The Sci Fi channel "re-imagining" of the series "Battlestar Galactica" just had its finale last week. The just-ended series was of course a remake of a series from 1978, which was at it's core an attempt to capitalize on the popularity of "Star Wars," the film that had re-written the definition of "blockbuster" the previous year. Well, long before the latest incarnation of Galactica, but shortly after the original, a bastard child named "Galactica 1980" was brought wailing into the world. As much as the Ronald D. Moore's new version of the series raised the bar set by the original, "Galactica 1980" lowered it much, much farther.

Even though the "Galactica's" original Vipers looked too suspiciously like the "Star Wars" X-wing fighter, and the Cylons were little more than chrome-plated imperial stormtroopers, the 1978 series transcended rip-off status because it had at it's core a very intriguing concept: Humans, just like us, having been vanquished by an evil faceless empire, embark "on a lonely quest. . . a shining planet known as Earth."

Richard Hatch and most of the rest of the original cast never found Earth. The characters in the new series, guided by Moore's hand, did find Earth at the conclusion of a brilliantly crafted, four-year-long saga. (That's not really a spoiler.) In "1980", Lorne Greene and a scaled-down replacement cast also found Earth. They looked out a porthole one day and said, "Hey! Check it out! It's Earth. Let's take our flying motorcycles down and have a look."

The iTunes store has offered the original "Battlestar Galactica" series as video downloads for several years. I have several of these episodes in my iTunes library. But only recently has the iTunes store made "1980" available. I can't tell you how much I have NOT waited for this to happen.

I was inspired to write only my second review on the iTunes store, the text of which I share with you below:

Absolutely, POSITIVELY do NOT spend more than $1.99 on "Galactica 1980." And only spend that much if you download the final episode, "The Return of Starbuck" and none of the rest of this awful garbage.

The only purpose of this series was to try to make "Battlestar Galactica" into a series that was more appealing to kids (it aired opposite "Wonderful World of Disney" if I remember right). Oh, and to also to make it extremely CHEAP to produce as the rapidly withering udder of the Galactica cash cow was nearly dried up for good.

Everything that made season one of "Battlestar Galactica" worth watching was ripped out like so many discarded fish entrails in "1980." Many of the special effects in "Galactica 1980" are an ongoing continuity error as we see "two-seater" Vipers in close-up cockpit shots, but single seat versions in all the (recycled) "open space" special effects shots. That alone show's the network's and producer's assessment of the viewers' intelligence level.

Apparently, people with some actual respect for the Galactica's founding concepts and possessing an iota of creativity staged a commando raid and took over the studio just long enough to produce "The Return of Starbuck." After that, with quality threatening to propogate, ABC rapidly made the decision to bury Galactica for all time. (Well, at least until 2003.)


OK, so maybe it's Form 1, Function 0

I may owe Apple a bit of a mea culpa for yesterday's post. I still think the inline controls that require OEM head phones or the purchase of new (and not yet available) third party headphones with built-in controls is a dumb piece of design. But I may have been wrong about the lack of fast-forward/rewind.

I just found this Apple tech article, which was posted yesterday and says, in part, "When rewinding or fast forwarding an audiobook, you will hear a brief audio snippet that lets you know where you are in the book." So this indicates the fast-forward and rewind are possible, but still sheds no light on HOW it is possible. My guess at this point is double click and hold for FF and triple click and hold for rewind. That would be roughly analogous to current iPod behavior, but this is only a guess as I still have not found the procedure explicitly stated anywhere.

Still sounds harder than it should be, but at least it seems to be possible.


New iPod Shuffle: Form 2, Function 0

A while back I opined that Apple shareholders should sit tight and relax even though Steve Jobs has "gone fishin'" until sometime this summer. Apple has a deep bench, I said. Don't worry. Be happy. Things are in good hands.

But then I took a look a the new iPod Shuffle.

I'm a big fan of the shuffle. I actually have three of the original "Wrigley's Spearmint" shuffles from a few years back. I've gotten moderately geeky with smart playlists in iTunes to easily create a selection of podcasts to load on a shuffle to keep me entertained and informed as I drive or walk from job to job. And since they probably have a current street value less than 20 bucks, I don't worry about a shuffle getting lost or stolen, as I would with a late generation Nano or Touch.

The new model gives us a feature I've long pined for on a Shuffle: the ability to load and play multiple playlists. It's very cool they've finally found a way to allow selection of playlists on an iPod with no LCD display. But as cool as that is, there are other design decisions that I find much more suspect.

OEM headphones only (at least for now) - Third party manufacturers will probably step in here, but with the controls built into the headphone cord, we are currently limited to Apple-made earphones. Two MacWorld writers (Christopher Breen and Dan Moren) reviewing the device say Apple's 'phones just fall out of their ears. With me, they stay in OK, but for some reason my ears start to ache after only an hour or so of listening. After some trial and error, I found Skullcandy in-ear earbuds, which are comfortable for hours and hours of use. I actually go to sleep most nights with these phones in and have no discomfort at all. So as long as it's Apple earphones only, I'll have to say "pass" on this new Shuffle.

No fast-forward/rewind? - I have no "hands-on" with this iPod yet, but I've read multiple articles and looked at the Apple website and their "guided tour" video. The in-line headphone control does, in an ingenious yet less intuitive way, carry out all the functions one would need on a shuffle EXCEPT. . . fast forward and rewind? I see no reference anywhere to how I can scrub forward or backward in the currently playing track. As I said, I play a lot of podcasts on the shuffle. If I'm distracted and miss part of a spoken word audio program, I just press and hold the "rewind" button for a few seconds and listen to the passage again. This is important to me, and is probably important to any podcast or audiobook fan. But if the new shuffle can do this, it is so far a mystery to me how it's done.

So, first glance, the score for the new shuffle is Form 2, Function 0. Was the previous generation shuffle really so big and ungainly that it needed this degree of shrinking and sleeking? I don't think so. This slicker new design seems to come at the expense of ease of use, simplicity, and one (at least to me) vital function.

This new device was probably in development well before the Steve Jobs hiatus, but I can't help but think this is a product he would not have let out the door in it's current form.