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Blink May 20, 2007

Posted by reverseengineer in iPods, Rants.
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Curious, this problem I now have with my 2nd generation iPod shuffle.

A couple of weeks ago it began to just blink back at me, yellow-orange-yellow-orange, instead of the comforting steady yellow it usually does when it’s playing my podcasts back at me on the train. Then after a bit of this, it shuts down, refusing me my daily MRT fix of Buzz Out Loud. At first I thought it needed to get charged, but even when I hooked it up overnight to the Powerbook, I got the same blink blink blink the next day. Uh-oh.

I restored it and reloaded the files, and it worked for about a couple of days, and then blink blink blink again. So I gamely did the restore routine once more, and it steadfastly refused to play. I thought it was some problem with the laptop, so I restored it on the desktop Mac, and while connected on both computers it seemed to work fine, unplugged it was blink blink blink. I did it several times over until I gave up for the meantime. I resorted to carrying the bigger 5th gen while I figured this one out.

Did I drop it somehow, crunch it underfoot? Did I leave it in the coin pocket of my jeans and let it go through the laundry? Did the dog ingest it and return it from the other end and the maids just cleaned it up and didn’t tell me? No, it had been just where it usually was – on my ID lanyard.

At the office, Clarissa Concio, Editor-in-Chief of our music magazine Burn told me her beloved iPod had gone bad too at around the same time, and she was afraid our iPods were exhibiting the Blink of Death, also known as Error 1418, which apparently had been happening a bit more often than was comfortable. This notorious problem, also known variously as Error 1415, Error 1417 and Error 1428, attacks any model iPod when upgrading to iTunes 7 or later. Even Apple seems dumbfounded, as evidenced by their page on the problem, and advises people to “attempt to restore your iPod.” Helpful.

What I did try out of desperation was restore the thing on the Thinkpad T43, effectively changing the nationality of my shuffle to Windows whether he liked it or not. Lo and behold, it started working again! So thinking the thorn, whatever it was, had been pulled from the paw, I went back and restored it again on the Mac.

Blink blink blink. No dice.

At least it isn’t a permanent hardware problem, I thought. Just some software snafu with iTunes. At the risk of driving the shuffle insane, I shifted it back to Windows, authorized the T43 on the iTunes Store, resubscribed all my podcasts (and even added a few) and resynced everything. I had no choice. Now it works fine, only it thinks it is a Windows iPod now, which essentially, for all intents and purposes, it is.

Poor thing.

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