Or at least, I’m pretty darned mad at them just now.
Yesterday I got OS X 10.1.5 installed on my graphite iMac, a 500 MHz G3 machine. (This is for anyone who Googles their way to this post.) Everything seemed to work fine, except I couldn’t get iTunes 4 to recognize my iPod. It showed up on my desktop, and the iPod itself was recharging; so the Firewire connection was obviously fine.
I tried starting up the old iTunes, through the “Classic Environment,” but it couldn’t find the iPod, either. I gave up and went home.
This morning I reinstalled version 1.3 of the iPod operating system. I’d installed 1.3 a few months ago, but figured that the version that you install through OS X might work better with OS X. This was a calculated risk, since that kind of installation (what Apple calls a “restore,” for reasons known only to itself) completely wipes your iPod, and if this didn’t solve the problem, I’d be completely out of luck….
I did the restore, and fired up iTunes 4. I waited. The iPod showed up on my desktop; but not on iTunes.
Now, not only could I not get my iPod to talk to iTunes, my iPod was completely empty. It was a hollow shell. I felt like one of my cats had just died.
Since the last time I had successfully (flawlessly, seamlessly) connected my iPod to iTunes was when I was running Classic, I restarted my iMac in Classic mode (which you can find out how to do by looking here; just as important, it tells you how to switch BACK to OS X in the fullness of time). I figured, worse came to worst, I could install an old version of the iPod OS and get back on my feet.
Classic booted up. I plugged in my iPod. I held my breath.
Lo and behold, Classic iTunes found it immediately, and started trying to sync.
I’m now in the process of putting all my music BACK onto my iPod. While I haven’t really solved the fundamental iPod-iTunes 4 problem, at least I’m getting my iPod back, and I know how to get both versions of iTunes to find my music collection (see extended entry for a note on that).
This is clearly a huge problem with the iPod and OS X. A lot of people are having it. The iPod discussion on Apple’s discussion board is filled with lamentation from users who can’t connect to their Macs. There are literally dozens of threads complaining that “iPod wont mount or appear in iTunes,” or “iTunes not recognizing iPod,” or that their iPod will not mount,” or that “2G 10GB iPod not mounting in iTunes 4.0.1.” And for every person who’s sufficiently tech-savvy to write in, there are probably dozens who are just sitting at home, frustrated, wondering what they did wrong.
There are a few solutions on the discussion board– create a new identity, log into it, try connecting the iPod with that new identity; trash some possibly-corrupted preferences file and restart; run the Firewire through an external device (or directly to the Mac)– but they work for some people and not others. My sense is that there’s some deeper problem here with the way the iPod / iTunes 4 interface, and only Apple can fix it.
It doesn’t look like Apple is much help yet. Here’s one person’s experience at the Apple store:
So I go to the “Genius Bar” this past weekend here at my local Apple store and I explain the whole mounting problem…here is what he did…he plugged it into his iBook and saw it did not mount or show up in iTunes, so he restarts his iBook, grabs a new firewire cable, and connects it again…won’t mount. So he walks back over to me hands me my iPod with a dumb look on his face and says he doesn’t know why it is not working and says there is nothing they can do. He said if I wanted I could send it to Apple with $255 dollars and have it “fixed.”
This whole experience is so frustrating because it short-circuits the dream of seamlessness that Apple is selling (in a pretty, sleek, $499 package). If I expected to have to get out the soldering gun, fine; but when it’s supposed to just work, failure becomes far less tolerable.
And while Apple recommends the usual dumb stuff– check the cables, restart, etc.– it doesn’t provide deeper information explaining how iPod and iTunes work together when they do work, which could be useful when things go bad. This is hardly unique to Apple: many companies seems to believe that if they don’t give you any detailed information, that’ll make their products simple. (This was my experience with the Clie.) Not true, guys. Withholding information is not the same thing as a simple answer.
This also illustrates the degree to which anybody who uses any technology more sophisticated than a butter knife or zipper has to be their own tech support person, or they’re lost. We have a long way to go before we hit the land of ubiquity.
For anyone who wants to run iTunes 4 and Class iTunes, you should change your iTunes 4 music folder location, so both 4 and Classic can find the music. (You can do this by going into Preferences, under “Advanced,” and setting the location to “Macintosh HD: Documents: iTunes: ITunes Music:”. If you’ve got a lot of music on your machine already, you probably don’t want to “import” it all into the OS X partition, anyway.)