Saturday, April 22, 2006

iPod Woes and Why Windows Sucks

This has been the most frustrating week for me and my beloved iPod. You see, I have a 4th gen iPod - the ones with the nifty color screens but sadly no video? Yeah, that one. I heart my iPod, truly and dearly.

Last week, when it came time to sync my podcasts, my iPod wasn't being detected in iTunes. Hmm. Weird. I unplugged the Pod of I and figured I'd try again another day. The next day, everything worked as expected. A few days later, I tried to sync again, and - same problem. No iPod. The next day, still no iPod.

I started searching Apple's support pages, and found this article on the 5 R's and other iPod troubleshooting steps. I tried the first 4 R's - reset the iPod, retry a different USB port, restart computer, remove iTunes and reinstall. None of them helped. I resigned myself to the fate of having to reload the damn iPod. Last night, I did the last R - Restore - and formatted the iPod, wiping out all of my music. Then, I booted up iTunes and my iPod was again detected - as the H: drive. Oddly, though, the capacity was displaying incorrectly. It's a 20GB iPod, but was showing up as having 21GB used and 30-something free. My entire library is less than 7GB of music, so this baffled me. But - at least the iPod was detecting.

As I pulled up iTunes, I found it odd that the "new iPod setup wizard" didn't start up. I manually set my iPod options, and told iTunes to copy my library back onto my iPod. An eternity later, the process was done. I unplugged my iPod and went to bed.

Fast forward to this morning. Time to update the podcasts. I plugged in the iPod, and... it's not being detected in iTunes! WTF?!?!? I unplugged it and scrolled through the menu, and it was blank! None of my songs copied over.

Cue rage.

After calming myself, I dug back into Apple's support documents. I tried booting the iPod into disk mode to see if I could see it in My Computer on Windows. I could not see it, but it did detect in Device Manager as a USB Mass Storage device. I tried a new data cable. No luck. I tried thinking back to anything I might have done over the last couple weeks on my computer that might affect this. I hadn't dropped the iPod or anything, so I just couldn't imagine something being wrong with the device itself. Running out of options, I double-checked to make sure that my iPod was still under warranty. Yup, 85 days left of the 1 year warranty.

Then, I came across a tiny little blurb buried deep in a support article:

"Windows confuses iPod with network drive and may keep iPod from mounting or songs may seem to disappear"

Suddenly, the "H:" clicked with me. A couple weeks ago, I mapped a network drive on my local wireless network to access a folder on my laptop from my desktop computer. (The iPod syncs to my desktop computer). How could my iPod be claiming drive letter H: when that's my mapped network drive???!

I went into My Computer and disconnected the mapped network drive. I plugged my iPod back in, and immediately the "set up your new iPod" wizard appeared. Right now, my library is being copied back onto my iPod, and I am completely certain that this will solve the problem.

Why, oh why, must Windows suck so horribly?

I'm an IT person and a Windows expert. I use Windows on a daily basis, and have mastered all of the extra crap we as Windows users must do to secure our machines from viruses, spyware, and hacking threats. Ever since the Mac OS put a shiny *nix OS under the hood, I've peered over the fence and wondered if the grass truly is greener on the other side.

You see, I'm also a Linux user. My desktop system has, at times, been strictly a Linux box. My problem is that there are a few pieces of software that I need to use on a near-daily basis that have no true Linux equivalents or don't run well in emulation or virtualized. I'm in love the the stability I get from Linux. Unfortunately, I'm a slave to my favorite applications, and it's not worth living without them just to be a Penguin Head.

However, my favorite apps are in fact available for Mac. It's likely that I'd achieve the same stability as a Linux box with a Mac box, due to the *nix inside. And now, with the announcement of Apple Bootcamp (which will allow Mac systems to dual-boot Windows), the only thing stopping me from buying a Mac is...


The price.

However, there is a possibility of a MacBook Pro laptop in my future via my job, and I have a sneaking suspicion that I'm going to fall in love with it. It certainly will be nice to be able to test drive a Mac before sinking any hard earned cash into one. With the devout loyalty of the Apple crowd, I have a feeling that no test drive is necessary.

Oh - and the library copy is done. My iPod is up and fully operational, no thanks to Windows bugs.

My next post might be as an Apple convert...

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Good web hosting deal

As an alternative to seeking out venture capitalist investors, the guys that run the Web 2.0 podcast are offering a sweet web hosting deal through their company, Steel Pixel. Check it out if you're in the market for hosting services. I just might need to invest in one of these...