They'll pass over the money without even thinking about it; for it is money they have and peace they lack.
  -James Earl Jones "Field of Dreams"
and don't go mistaking paradise for that home across the road
  -Bob Dylan "Ballad of Frankie Lee and Judas Priest"

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

PC blues, iPod stuff

First, the new computer wouldn't burn DVDs. As I mentioned below, I was concerned that it was getting too hot in the cabinet, so I moved it out sit behind the subwoofer in a corner of the room. No help. I called HP. This was the second time. The first time that I called, the nice man in Mumbai told me that I need to have Lightscribe disks. I subsequently found out that this was not true. A Lightscribe drive can burn to any disk, only needs Lightscribe disks to burn labels. Anyway, I had tried that before calling back. This time (it was Saturday morning) it took me twice to get somebody that I could understand and that had a decent connection. My intention was to have them ship me a new PC or a new drive and then ship them back the old one when the data was transferred. The guy asked me a bunch of questions and concluded that "the drive is working". I disagreed but he contended that since I could read DVDs it was working. My only option was be transferred to another nice subcontinental fellow who would charge me $60 for the privilege of speaking to him. IF that person agreed that it was an HP problem and not my fault, then they would waive the charge. Right about this time Mike came to the door to take me to Lowe's to buy some cabinets for the garage. I had no time for this nonsense so I chewed the guy out and hung up.

My options appeared to be:
  1. Take the thing back to Best Buy with the same story
  2. Roll the dice on this dubious sounding $60 venture
  3. Give up. I hadn't needed a DVD burner and would have paid the same amount for a PC that didn't have one. It was just a matter of principle.

I spent the rest of the day and most of the next dealing with the garage. On Sunday night I noticed that the Squeezebox was not lit up, which happens when it can't connect to the server (which runs on the PC we are talking about). This will normally happen when it loses its wireless connection. But it stayed that way. I switched the plasma over to PC mode and there was nothing there. I checked the PC and it was off. I couldn't make it come on without pulling the power cord, reinserting it, and turning it on. It came up OK, the Squeezebox came on and I switched back over to watching TV. A little later I noticed this happened again. Some time the next morning I had determined that it couldn't stay up for more than about 5 minutes.

This was great. I had a demonstrably dead soldier on my hands that Best Buy would take back without question, which they did. They had it in stock and I now have a new PC, which can burn DVDs. What had I lost? Not much other than the work of setting the PC up the way I wanted it and a $1.99 episode of Dragnet that I downloaded from iTunes. I had my iTunes library on the Nano, right? All I had to do was load them back down to the new PC. It turns out that this is not so easy...

If you hook up an ipod to a different computer than the one you are synched with, iTunes will tell you that and ask you if you would like to wipe out the songs on the iPod and replace them with the ones from the (in my case empty) library on the new computer. If you answer no, it will bring up your iPod in iTunes but the songs are grayed and you very specifically can't drag them to your library. I guess they don't want people sharing songs. Here is what I did:

Enable disc access to the iPod. That mounts the ipod as a drive which you can then access like any other files. If you drill down you find the songs. Unfortunately they are in folder named F00, F01, etc. all with names like XHRW.mp3. So if you relied on the file names for anything, you had lost them. After some experimentation I found that if you enabled the option that allows iTunes to manage the filenames, etc. AND told it to copy a file into the iTunes hierarchy, that it would place it in a folder under artist and album AND construct a meaningful name. So the procedure was to copy each folder of songs off the iPod into a temporary folder, then tell iTunes to import all of the songs in that folder. When done, you have all of the songs from the iPod in your library, organized in a reasonable fashion. You can then tell iTunes to update your iPod, effectively putting back what it already has. You can also delete the folder of temporary files. Turning off disk access is good too because with it on you have to manually eject the ipod in the application before removing it from the dock.

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