Thursday, January 20, 2005
Where Did I Put That Turntable?
Eighteen months ago we presented our son with his graduation present, an iPod, when he completed high school. We did not foresee how his iPod would be one of the best investments we had ever made. Organization had not heretofore been one of his strong suits (I’m phrasing this kindly because he might read this). He soon synchronized the device’s calendar, alarm clock, and to-do list functions with his Apple laptop, and the iPod became indispensable to the management of his life, as well as his music.
When he came home last summer the device stopped working. On the display flashed an icon, a file folder with an exclamation point, that wasn’t described in our manual.
We took it to the Apple Store, where the condition was diagnosed as a “corrupt file”. Confirming Graditor’s Law, the one-year limited warranty had just expired, and I was advised that the fix would cost $250. Because that amount is nearly the cost of a new iPod, I gave him mine.
I had bought my own iPod a little over a year ago, when Apple was granting a $100 discount if it were purchased in conjunction with a Macintosh, our freshman’s choice for a college computer. The offer was too good to pass up, so I bought a stripped-down model with only 15 gigabytes (!) of storage. It was more than ample to house my paltry music library, which filled only one-third of the disk. Our collegian is concerned that it’s not big enough to store his music, data files, and professors’ lectures, which he’s now recording with an accessory received last Christmas. (Son, let me tell you how I taped together a cracked protractor so I wouldn’t have to spend 25 cents on a new one.)
And so it was that a non-functional 30-gigabyte iPod languished in my desk drawer for six months. Periodically I would connect it to my Windows PC via a USB cable and try to restore it using programs downloaded from Apple and other sources.
The breakthrough came last month when we finally retired our 1997-vintage Macintosh clone and bought a new iMac G5. I used the Firewire connector and Apple’s disk utility program to erase and reformat the iPod. The next step was to run the iPod-updater program, and load the music using iTunes. Everything worked for a few hours, but the dreaded icon reappeared.
Some websites advised that the problem could be the battery. I ordered a new battery for $31 from Other World Computing (Apple charges $90, which includes installation) and spent the better part of last weekend trying to pry open the case without scratching it. The faithful Swiss Army knife was eventually unleashed on the recalcitrant case, and the scratches aren’t apparent if one doesn’t look too closely.
It was a simple matter to lift the disk drive, unclip the old battery, and replace it with the new. The iPod was restored and recharged, and I listened to its music nearly all day Monday --my employer is very tolerant—to stress-test it, of course.
If this were a Hollywood script, I would end on this triumphant note, but this is life and a journal that speaks only the truth, so I must disclose that the problem recurred the next day. Is it the hard drive, the mysterious corrupt file that resists all attempts at eradication, or something on the circuit board? Stay i-tuned.