Curse you, Apple!

I have found that if you disconnect an iPod while it is synchronizing, the file that was being transferred is lost, and the space on the iPod becomes unusable. This is not usually a problem unless you happen to be transferring a movie, in which case you can lose a Gigabyte or more of space. Do this a few times and a sizable chunk of space becomes unusable.

The easy way to fix this is to wipe and re-load the iPod, a simple operation. Just connect, press the “restore” button and wait. For a Nano, this wait is only a few minutes, but to re-load my 80GB iPod with 55GB of music and 20GB of video takes a couple of hours.

When I hit the “restore” button, iTunes asked me if I wanted to upgrade the firmware (the software on the iPod) to the latest version (1.3). I declined…and was dumped back to the main screen with no work done.

Apparently, iTunes thinks “No I don’t want to upgrade the firmware” means “No I don’t want to restore“. I’ll warrant that this has more to do with preventing iPhone users from reverting to earlier, more hackable versions of the firmware… but why oh why should I have to deal with the fallout from this?

In my little corner of the universe, the word “restore” means to revert something to an earlier – usually original – configuration. Apparently Apple are using a different dictionary in which you have to go forward to go back.

Since I needed to do a restore, I went ahead and did it again, this time giving permission for the upgrade, and let it restore.

Time passed.

A couple of hours later I checked in, to find that the restore had completed, except iTunes had decided that a couple of dozen videos could not be loaded because they were “not supported by the iPod”. That’s funny… they had lived and played on it quite happily before.

Scratching my head, I asked the obvious question: “What changed?” The Firmware, that’s what. So I decided that the best way to fix this would be to roll back the Firmware to the “working” version (1.2). After doing a little Googling I found out that:

  • The latest version of iTunes does not allow a restore without FORCING an upgrade to the latest firmware.
  • If you delete the firmware file from the PC, iTunes automagically fetches it from the Internet.
  • If you try to get around this by disconnecting from the Internet, iTunes flatly refuses to perform a restore.

Curse you, Apple!

It is possible to revert to an earlier firmware version, but it involves installing an old version of iTunes and running a free third-party program called iPod Wizard.

Even if you succeed in doing all this, the latest version of iTunes will still insist on upgrading the firmware before doing a restore, contrary to what Apple themselves say on their own support page.

As it happens, there is a workaround; the Videos that would not play were ripped from DVDs (I don’t buy content from Apple due to a philosophical problem with DRM). I am able to re-rip them, and tests have shown that they will work, so I can get around this problem.

I don’t mind having to do a little work to do what I need to do, but I strongly object to having systems that were deliberately designed to fight with me. Apple’s philosophy seems to be “we know what’s best for you”. For those who just want to use their machine, that’s all well and good; but thost of us who like to tinker are going to have a battle on their hands.

Makes me glad I don’t have a Mac.

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