Saturday, January 27, 2007

Cool iPod Accessory in Bologna

I recently saw the coolest iPod accessory.

First, a little sidebar. I was visiting my 93-year old aunt in Bologna, Italy, right after Christmas, on my annual visit. I have written about her before, she lives totally on her own, and does her own shopping, cooking, cleaning, laundry, banking, etc. Her hearing and memory are sharper than mine, and she does not miss a thing.

I felt pretty guilty on my visit, as the only thing she let me do was wash the dishes. One evening, I brought home a few groceries, and she was mad at me for 2 days! She enjoys being totally independent. I felt a bit guilty having a 93-year old taking care of me. The photo shows her with her "young" 75 year old cousin.

When I visit Zia Lelle, I enjoy walking around Bologna every day. This is a great old city, and people have been living here for three thousand years. First settled by the Villanovians in the 9th Century BC and then taken over by the Etruscans a few centuries later, Bologna went through countless rulers until Italy's independence.

The University of Bologna was the first university founded in the western world, and is the world's oldest university in continuous service.

Every day I would walk to the Piazza Maggiore, in the heart of the old city, about a half hour from my aunt's house. The piazza is also the site of the unfinished Basilica of San Petronio. This took several centuries to build, and the facade was actually never finished. Now I don't feel too bad that the outside of our house also needs a bit of work.

Ok, on to the story. It Italy, people are always drawn to the piazzas, even if there is nothing special going on. There is always "people watching", and the many small open cafes at the periphery are usually bustling with folks coming and going, and in friendly animated conversations.

One of the days I went to the piazza, there was a street musician singing and playing who had an entire sound system mounted to his large motorcycle. I was amazed to see that the heart of the system was an iPod! This was connected to a mixer, along with his mic, guitar, and drum machine. The iPod provided the background music for his show, with everything amplified by a small amp powered by a small, very quiet, generator. I must say this is one of the cleverest uses for an iPod that I have seen.

Here is a close-up of his system, showing the weatherproofed iPod. Everything was sturdily mounted to steel bars bolted to his bike, so he could just fold things up, cover them, and hit the road again.

Now, how cool is that.