Monday, January 8, 2007

Requiem for a Lost iPod

My iPod died the other day. Moment of silence, please. I'm actually in a Fristian state of denial about it, so I took the device to the "Genius Bar" at the Apple Store this afternoon for some last-ditch life-support. There's this thing you can do called "restoring" the iPod, supposedly the panacea for all your iPod comas, but restoring the iPod erases all of the music on it and I spent a lot of time downloading that music in a manner that's one-hundred percent in compliance with Russian copyright law. My hypothesis, and maybe it's just wishful thinking, is that the master boot record is corrupt and most or all of the music on the iPod is still intact.

Although the download gestapo will give you shit over it, it's really not that difficult moving your music from a living, breathing iPod to your computer. There's plenty of third-party software that will do it for you, or there's the Unix back-end in OS X, or if you just open the iPod external USB drive in Windows and show hidden files, your library will appear. So we all realize that stuff like this isn't exactly sanctioned by any supposedly legitimate computing authority, but then again, neither is all sorts of geek computer-pimping like overclocking or registry hacking or encasing your iPod in rosewood.

This is the Apple Store in Soho, one of my favorite places to work because the store has an abundance of electric outlets for loiterers. I have low standards, and there are plenty of places in the neighborhood where you can freeload off a wireless network without the 2:00 presentation "How to use iPhoto" happening in the background. The Genius Bartenders, are, like real bartenders, not hired based on how well they can do their job but on how much they look like Justin Long. In terms of diagnosing my iPod, I'd guess they were less Dr. Gregory House and more Dr. Meredith Gray. In terms of physical attractiveness, they're probably somewhere in the Zach Braff range.

My game plan was to put on my best nerd voice — my glasses and acne help with this — and just ask for what (I thought) I needed, which is a iPod driver installed on my computer. "Driver." It's like ordering a mojito: the odds are around eighty percent that they'll have no idea what you're talking about, fifteen percent that they'll screw it up, and five percent that you'll actually get what you want. But my request kind of came out, after an hour waiting in the Apple store, as, "My iPod won't mount. It says it needs to be restored, but I don't want to restore it and lose all the music."

I'm certain they cover in this Apple Genius Bartending Manual, and the company's official response is, "As an Apple employee, I can't help you copy your music from the iPod to the computer," — which isn't what I asked — along with a contemptuous glare, like I just asked her to help me dispose of the body. Then she shakes the iPod, cause maybe it's only sleeping with the hard drive spinning and snoring, and she tells me that it sounds like the hard drive's dead, which it totally does not sound like. Then she asks if I want to buy a new iPod (for what, all my music's on my old iPod), tells me I could hire a data recovery service to pull my music off the device for thousands of dollars, and castigates me, again according to the official Apple Genius Bartending Manual. "You're supposed to have your music in iTunes." Which I totally will whenever Apple's ready to subsidize my premium hard disk space. What's that, Steve Jobs? No?

The moral of this story is never go to the Apple Genius Bar because the people there are jerks. And not the kind of jerks who mock your tech ignorance but then fix your problem just to show off. They're the kind of jerks who embrace ignorance and spew scorn at anyone trying to exercise control over a machine that they paid a couple hundred dollars for. I tried to send a nasty note to Apple's customer service, but apparently they've been getting too many angry letters and have taken their email address off their website, so I'm putting the note here, where they'll never see it. You're not the music police, Apple. Nor are you the hard drive police or my mom, who's convinced that I'm an ignoramus and she knows what's best for me. Just give me the tools, thank you very much, and I'll solve the problems myself.