The other day I noticed that some of the podcasts on my iPod weren't working. That is to say, they would play for up to 20 seconds and then stop. I tried fast forwarding past that point. No joy. So, I did what Apple always says to do. I did a soft reset. Still no good. Music played fine, but podcasts would not. Now I know that they are handled differently, so I wasn't surprised. Just annoyed. So, I went to the next step. And this was an error—my first mistake. (We'll come back to what I should have done later.) The step I took was to click "Restore" in iTunes. This restores the iPod to its factory settings. No worries. I have all the songs backed up in multiple places. So I did it. And I connected it again to iTunes to have it restore all my settings and music. I plugged in the iPod.
Problem with the iPod?
I saw this:
Arrg. Not good at all. I looked and looked on the Internet. I listened to my iPod as it spun up and failed. "Oh, no!" I thought. "Another failed iPod!" (I had replaced the disk in this 20G iPod last year with a 30G disk.) I have a 1G iPod Nano. So, I figured I would have to use it and swear off iPods. So, I plugged in the Nano. And... (you are head of me here, aren't you?). Same error. Whoa. Hmmm. My iPod has a USB cable and a FireWire cable. Try the FireWire.
Success! It was restoring! The iPod's USB cable was bad! (I knew the USB port itself worked, as I use it for other things, such as synching my Palm handheld.) So, another early mistake. I should have tried the FireWire cable or another iPod USB cable. While it was restoring, I checked something I should have checked way earler: what do the podcasts sound like played in iTunes?
They had the same problem. (Again, not all, just some.) I'd start a podcast that said it was 45:34 in length and it stopped after 34 seconds or so. Again, I had not moved through the correct, diagnostic sequence.
So, why the bad podcasts? I think I now knew. Recall, as I mentioned above, I previously reported on probems with backups to my FireWire drive. Recall, Dave Nanian of Shirt Pocket had pointed to problems from other devices plugged into the FireWire drive, especially an iSight camera. I asked Dave, "Any background as to why having another device plugged into the FW port of my FW drive would cause this?" He replied, "It's mostly the iSight. It's bus-powered, and gets into weird states where it starts causing the voltage on FW to go completely nuts, which causes other devices to generate errors."
I think that this was the cause of some flakiness in some of the podcasts. With the exernal iSight unplugged (where it will stay until needed), I re-downloaded the podcasts. No problems. Lessons learned.
- See if the problem is the same in iTunes as on the iPod. The iPod's data is only as good as what iTunes gives it. I would have switched from looking at the iPod to looking at the data in the iTunes library.
- Try a different cable if you have a connection problem. It might not be that but cables are easy to check. And if the cable is bad it is cheaper to replace than an iPod.
- Don't plug other things into the FireWire port of you external disk besides another daisy-chained disk of the same type. Especially don't plug in an external iSight Camera.