iPod Woes = Solved?

Posted by Thomas Gideon on 15 May 2005

I went to the Apple store in the Mall, yesterday. I needed to run some other errands in the area, so figured I'd sign up for a slot at the Genius Bar and see if talking to a live tech might make a difference. The jury is still out on whether that is the case, but I am optimistic. After a good natured, forty-five minute wait, I finally got to ask for help. Despite trying all day, I could not get my iPod to duplicate the problem, so offered as much information about my usage and the symptoms of the problem as possible.

I described my podcast listening habit, at first describing it as Audible.com content, or like it anyway, not knowing if the tech would know what a podcast is. That triggered something in his memory, thankfully.

He said the only times he's heard people with very similar complaints to mine in the past were for folks using a lot of Audible.com content. I guess, under the hood, the only difference is that Audible.com includes some sort of DRM.

See, I started converting all my longer, talk only podcasts to AAC and added bookmark support a little over a month ago. The tech concurred that doing so would be almost identical to loading a lot of Audible content. His hypothesis is that the iPod has some really surprisingly limited support for multiple active bookmarks.

He suggested either turning the bookmarks off or pulling files I had already listened to off of the iPod altogether, to keep the number of active bookmarks down.

This is the only thing that makes sense so far and explains why Apple could not duplicate the problem when I sent the unit in, previously. The techs at the Genius Bar explained how they do some of their testing and they apparently have a captive library of media they use for battery testing, and the like.

If that test library has no or few bookmarkable files, then they'd never see the problem.

Also, the timing of the problem coincides well with my discovery that iPodderX can be configured to automatically convert files in a feed to AAC, then enable bookmark support. I did not do this for all my feeds, as I've explained, but enough that this seems to fit the history of the problem.

So I am going to try to actively managed and reduce the number of active bookmarks on my iPod. I may also spend a day or two listening to just music, all files I know don't have bookmarks. Either way, I think I can either verify or falsify this working hypothesis quickly and with confidence. Then I just hope Apple pays attention to the bug report I file, asking for more bookmark support in the next firmware upgrade.