Home > Uncategorized > Life-Changing iPod/iPhone Tip

Life-Changing iPod/iPhone Tip

November 7th, 2008

In his Tangled Up In White post, John Gruber of Daring Fireball writes about the “green” revisions to the most recent batch of Apple headphones that serendipitously make them slightly more tangle free. I had to purchase a new set of headphones in September when my original iPhone headphones went from functional to complete disintegration in a period of about 72 hours. When those things fail, they fail. I probably should have done my research and bought some uber-headphones for a couple hundred bucks, but instead I dropped into the AT&T store a block from the office and got a pair of the new Apple headphones (the ones that shipped with the iPhone 3G). I can attest to Gruber’s estimation that they are more “rubbery” than “plasticky,” but that’s not really the point of this post.
The point of this post is whether your headphones are rubbery or plasticky should be irrelevant to the effectiveness of keeping them untangled, because you should be following the One True Way Of Headphone Wrapping. Wrapi-do in Japanese, I believe. Also affectionately known as The Devil Horn Method. All snark aside (momentarily at least), this little hack really has kept my buds tangle-free for years now.
Here’s how it works: Pretend you’re at a Def Leppard concert and make the devil horns with your left hand. (Don’t pretend you don’t know what I mean — middle and ring fingers bent and held down by the thumb, index and pinky extended.) Tuck the buds underneath the middle and ring fingers to secure them and use your devil horns as posts around which to loop the cord. (Some people advocate a figure-eight wrap, but I find a simple loop works fine.) Leave a couple inches of cord at the end. Slide the loop off the devil horns, and wrap the remaining cord around the middle of the loops, creating a little bundle. Thread the plug end through the loop opposite the buds and give it a gentle pull to tighten the bundle. This little package now fits neatly in your pocket, is almost entirely tangle proof, and unravels with ease.
There’s no video of true wrapi-do, but here are two that come close. This dude has the right idea, but he has clearly never attended a Def Leppard concert:

On the other hand (haha, get it?), this fellow has nearly perfected the devil horn methodology, although the flailing thumb concern me a bit.
The figure-eight wrap is acceptable, if a bit ostentatious, but he goes off track with that whack tuck move at the end, instead of threading the plug through the loop appropriately. That’s just wrong. You’ll never get to nationals with form like that, bub.
UPDATE: Daring Fireball linked here and also to a perfect example of wrapi-do. This is dead on:

Greg Uncategorized

  1. Charles
    November 9th, 2008 at 16:54 | #1

    Those two wrapping methods are absolutely identical. I repeat: topologically identical. Once you remove the cables from “devil horns,” the twist will relax and it is identical to the first wrap.
    I’ve been teaching this technique for decades, I learned it from electronics repairmen so I call it “The Electrician’s Wrap.” But it is more appropriate for large cables (like power cords) that do not contain tiny, fragile, shielded wires. There is too much stress on the central wraps, they are wrapped too tightly at too small a radius. An alternate version I teach (for big cords like 6 or 8 feet) is to grab the two ends of the cable together in your left hand, pull the cables out from there with your right hand until you have the halfway point, then fold it in halves repeatedly until it’s a manageable bundle. Then wrap and put the end through one side of the loops like in the videos.
    But none of these methods are optimal for iPhone cords. I just wrap the cord loosely around my hand and shove it all in my pocket, untied. Sure, it tangles sometimes. Tangles are better than broken wires.
    The biggest problem with these wraps or ties is that the earbuds are still exposed. The rubber rings on my earbuds wore off completely, I didn’t notice until I stuck them in my ears and wondered why it was so uncomfortable. I note that high-end earphones like Etymotic come with small leather storage bags.

  2. gazhay
    November 10th, 2008 at 04:48 | #2

    “One True Way of Headphone Wrapping”
    yeah, i love wrecking my headphones and having to replace them. The only *true* way to wrap any cable, as any sane person knows, is over-under.
    Save your cables from this demented method people!

  3. msadesign
    November 10th, 2008 at 08:11 | #3

    dude. I don’t think that’s what Gruber wants. And it’s not what I want: I want to just stuff them in my pocket, see? and have them come out not tangled? k?
    Also. Every electrician knows about over/under. And she also knows that little electronic devices have teeny little wires that will break if you repeatedly try to wrap them like coax. I know this because I did this.
    We’re almost done here. All the examples get points off for style. When wrapping the cable around the folded mass, you always line up the successive turns so that you get rows just next to each other. Neatness counts.
    It’s shocking really that I have to say this.

  4. instig8r
    November 10th, 2008 at 08:59 | #4

    Re: One True Way…
    That’s the way we used to do microphone cables when I worked for a TV station: over-under. Absolutely prevented kinks (deadly to audio cables). That was 35 years ago and I can’t wind ANY cord (even the extension cord for the electric lawnmower) any other way. I seem to be singularly unable to teach anyone else the technique, though. I just get stares and threats of mental inquest warrants…

  5. amadeopuzzo
    November 10th, 2008 at 10:36 | #5

    Obviously not sailors. As any sailor (as in sailboats) would know, when you wrap a line, you give it a quarter twist in your fingers as you come around, so that the line doesn’t twist up on itself. Add that to the top video, and then tie it off by creating an extra slip knot loop with the end, and you’re done. We wrap our lines from sheets to halyards in this way, and I’ve done it in miniature on my earbud cords for years. Works clean and neat.

  6. April 5th, 2009 at 09:59 | #6

    Apple has finally bringing wireless stereo to the iPhone/touch. Release 3.0 includes built-in support for Bluetooth Stereo (A2DP) so dealing with and running around with wires will be at least optional.

    There are many decent Bluetooth Stereo headsets out there. I like and use the Motorola S9 :: they are very small, music sounds great and they also work for phone use. Say, I am on the treadmill listening to music off my current smartphone; when a call comes in, I hear a little blurb, I tab the Motorola S9 to pause the music and begin talking on the cell. When the call ends, the music resumes. Bluetooth Stereo is so cool.

    For extra credit, buy yourself a Jabra A121 or some such. This is a $20 little gadget that plugs into any 1/18″ stereo miniplug of any device to transmit its audio via Bluetooth Stereo. Works gread on the gym’s threadmill flat screens, computers, old iPods and anything else that does not support native A@DP. Wireless reach is about 40 to 50 feet.

    Running wireless coming to a street near you…