COMMENT: I too make a living writing about technology, I too bought my wife an iPod, I too am a moron.

Three hours and counting! It’s my wife’s birthday, she’s off at the day spa getting pampered While I’m waiting for the little white bathroom-styled bundle of joy to update.

I’d planned to send her off to the spa with her new iPod fully configured and loaded up with some suitable relaxation music. Foolish of me to fall for the same trick as Steve Johnson of the Chicago Tribune who was yesterday subjected to a barrage of abuse, including been called a moron by Apple zealots, over his blog posting No, no, Nano in which he expressed dismay at taking six hours to get his wife’s new iPod nano up and running.

My beloved didn’t start her internment until 9.00 am, so getting the new 30gig iPod Video up and running with a couple of albums was going to be a cinch, right?


Admittedly I’m loading up iTunes on a rather out-of-date Pentium 3 ThinkPad with USB 1.0 ports and Windows 2000 running for which I abjectly apologise to my wife and readers for being a professional technology writer and still forcing her to use such an antique. But it turns out I’m having about as much trouble setting up this iPod and Steve and his wife had with her nano. Isn’t this supposed to be idiot proof?

Steve’s wife got in what he described as “some kind of horrid installation loop from which there was no exit” and I’m not convinced I don’t have the same problem. The missus and I naively popped in the install disc and followed the prompts, just like my mom would do.

I wasn’t surprised to find that we had to update the iTunes software and get new iPod software. That seemed reasonable. Like Steve I’ve been using a PC since the mid-80’s and I’m pretty used to the idea of out of date drivers on installation discs.

The 47MB download was fortunately pretty quick with Apple serving the bits at well over 600Kbps across the home wireless network. But the poor old ThinkPad is pretty ponderous when it comes to rebooting and the hard disk always seem to work pretty hard (but that’s probably the OS as much as speed).

So we ran the update for iTunes and we ran the update for iPod software. The day spa isn’t far away and although it was coming up to an hour to get this thing running, I was determined she would have music to compliment her coddling.

No such luck of course. The iPod updater software decided at this point that the firmware needed a flash to complete the process. Well might as well complete the process so I urged her to proceed and the ‘please wait’ dialogue assured us all was well.

We ran out of time, so I dropped my slightly older but none-the-less lovable, better half off at the workshop for her tune-up and returned home to start my workday somewhat belatedly.

But about an hour later, the thing was still expecting me to wait patiently for the firmware update.

Now I may be a moron, but I’ve been around long enough to know that interrupting a firmware upgrade is not necessarily a good thing

But after an hour and a half and with no apparent CPU usage or disk activity showing on the laptop I figured something was wrong. USB 1.0 is a small pipe, but not THAT small and how much firmware could this little device have anyway? What choice did I have but to quit the process?

With trembling hands I click the little cross and the window disappeared. But had I fried the wife’s new toy before she even gets the buds in her newly waxed ears?

At that point, who knows? iTunes decided it needed another 35MB fillip and reboot before I even got back to the updater. Meanwhile, I’m trying to concentrate on some writing, but this saga is beginning to take over my life. I still don’t know whether the thing is going to work or not. But trying to do the right thing, I patently let the process take its course before returning to see if the firmware is intact.

When I’m finally given control of the process and run the updater all seems to be okay, but now I’m sceptical.

Maybe I should run restore as well just to make sure everything is in its right place for when the newly shined and shampooed iPod owner returns from renovation central.

Thirty minutes. Same deal. No activity! So is the hard drive formatted now or not? I go through the same thing and try again. Another 30 minutes still the same deal. That’ three times in a row, the firmware and two restores that have hung. If this software doesn’t work with Windows 2000 don’t say it does on the box.

It’s now 12.30. I’ve given up trying to run the restore and the little Pod seems happy enough to talk to iTunes, but I can’t help feeling sorry for Steve at the Tribune, he must be an even bigger idiot that me since it only took me four and a half hours to get my wife’s iPod up and running. It took him six!



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