Thursday, January 26, 2006

Oof-ity, oof, oof, oof!

So, i got this iPod. I have been VERY excited about it, as anyone who's had to listen to me ramble lately can tell you. It's a refurb, but I bought it from the Apple store with the protection plan, so I wasn't worried about the usual refurb dysfunction. First off, the delivery required direct signature. That means it requires ME to be HOME during the day to sign it. Hello?!?!? Who does that? Fedex can't let my apartment manager sign for it and keep it in the office, I personally must show ID to get my package. So I had to drive up to the north end of town on Tuesday and fight traffic to get my iPod. Thanks, techie_, for the timely map support!

I had plans for the afternoon and evening, and they were better than an iPod, so I didn't even get a chance to open the box until I got home at 2 am. I opened the box, pulled out the 20 foot length of packing paper they used to keep the little box from rattling around inside the big box I paid them to ship me, and finally got to the little box containing my iPod. Yea! *poing-ity* Yea! I opened the little box, and dug through the foam and bits and put the charger together and plugged in my iPod. The second bad part happens here. The screen showed me the sadmac icon (except it's the sad mac face on an iPod body, so I guess it's technically the sadpod icon) followed by a battery symbol. Rose (who I called in a panic) assured me this was simply because it needed to charge and that I should go to sleep. I would wake up with a happypod.

I woke up to a sadpod, but I didn't know how long it should take to do the initial charge, so I didn't fret about it. I came home for lunch, though, and STILL had a sadpod. I went through all the troubleshooting steps on the iPod support page, and testing the USB cable was the next step in the flow. So, I decided to try out the USB cable and see if maybe the problem was with my firewire cable/charger/electric outlet setup.

Unfortunately, this is where the fourth bad part happens. All my back-of-box USB ports are taken, but I have two front-mounted ones that are conveniently located for this sort of thing, along with a microphone and headphone jack. The problem is that somewhere along the way, the circuitboard that the USB ports are mounted on broke loose from its mountings in the front of happybox (my computer), so the only way for me to use them is to open the case and support the USB port from behind with my fat finger while I push the cable into the port from the front. Otherwise, when I try to put the connector into the port, the port simply retreats into the happybox like a turtle pulling its head back into its shell. I decided to try rigging up a solution to this problem, while I had happybox open and amenable to such things, but in order to get a proper viewing angle and access to the board, I had to take off both side panels and the front face of my case. All of this is on my lunch break, mind you...

So I ended up with happybox in my lap, fashioning a little wire harness out of twist ties to mount the silly USB ports in their designated location. It worked for a while *POING*, but after two or three test connections, the harness failed *OOF*. I'll have to try some sturdier materials in the second iteration. However, at this point, i REALLY REALLY REALLY wanted to know if the iPod would charge off the USB cable and i was tired of futzing with the ports. So I set happybox back on its home shelf, hung the face back on it, and pushed the power button. Nothing. Check the power supply switch, off, on, off, on. Nothing. Look at the clock. FRICKINFRACK! I'm already late getting back to work.

I returned to work with happybox in an unknown (but decidedly unhappy) state, a vague memory of having seen what looked like a spark thrown by the little USB circuitboard as it made contact with the chassis in a couple of places, and terrible fears that I'd shorted out my motherboard, or bent pins that connected power-on gadgetry, or Something Equally Dire. All this, and my iPod was still sad.

I slogged through my afternoon, my heart heavy with thoughts that I'd caused the demise of my beloved happybox. I had plans for the evening, too, but they were far outweighed by the urgency of repairing happybox. So I raced home as soon as I could after work and began methodically working through the potential sources of a power problem. I always start at the wall and work my way along the cords until i get to the power button. It's not always the most direct route, but it always gets me to the problem, and it's easy to keep track of what things I've tried that way. Long story short: I eventually found the (multiple) loosened connections, tightened them up, and happybox was running happy again. It is none the worse for the wear, apparently. Yea! *POING*

When i then plugged my sadpod into the USB cable connected to the front port of the now-running happybox, I got the sadpod icon again. This time, however, instead of a battery with an angry exclamation-point icon on it, I got a battery with a happy lighting bolt on it. Things were looking up! My iPod was charging!

By this time, it was too late to make it to my evening plans and I was more than a little frazzled, so I just did some futzing around on my computer. I downloaded and installed the latest iTunes and iPod software so that I'd be ready when my iPod was charged. I noticed that I didn't get any messages from Windows telling me that it'd found a new USB device, but I wasn't sure of the power state of the iPod so I didn't think too much of it at the time... Again, long story short, after a lot of troubleshooting: my iPod is dead. It won't reset, it won't wake up, it isn't recognized by Windows, it won't charge. I tested my cables with another iPod that belongs to a coworker, and the cables are good. So it's definitely my iPod. It's having dysfunctional refurbishment issues, I guess.

The redeeming factor to this whole oof-ity story is that I will be over near the Apple store anyway this weekend, so I'll just take it in and swap it out. That's the beauty of the Apple Care protection plan. They really do a good job of standing behind their products, so I hear. And while I'm there, i can hand over all my worldly possessions in exchange for some nifty accessories, like a protective cover and one of those iTrip doodads that makes your iPod music come out of your truck radio. Yee-haw! As the vicious murderer of several cell phones, I can testify to the necessity of a very rugged skin for my new gadget.

And, in the balance, I haven't lost sight of the fact that I thought I'd killed happybox, and I hadn't. That, in itself, is reason for a *poing*.

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