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September 20, 2004

iPod, iTunes, and assumptions by programmers

This isn't strictly gaming related but it demonstrates another common mistake by developers so it's worth a read (if I do say so myself).

On Saturday my wife gave me an iPod for my birthday - a wonderful present. It's the 4th generation 40gb model, beautifuly designed.
With it comes iTunes, Apples software for ripping CD's and syncing with the iPod.
Here's where the story gets interesting. The iPod can connect via FireWire or USB2, I have both, yet I was unable to get iTunes (or the other Apple software) to recognise the iPod. Eventually I did so on a crappy laptop, just to prove that the iPod worked.

After a few hours of fiddling around I was getting frustrated - I wanted to use my desktop and firewire as the means of updating the iPod. Apples webpages were useless to me, nothing in them helped, but I discovered that most 3rd party freeware/shareware could in fact see the iPod - which made me start to wonder.

One of the unusual things about my PC is that I have no C: drive. My first harddrive is F. I often come across programs (including games) which assume I have a C: drive for them to write to. It's a bad assumption by programmers who think that every PC has a C: as a bootable harddrive. In my case my removable hardware (iPod, CF reader) appear at C: when connected.
I guessed that iTunes was looking for the iPod at drive letters above C: - so I popped in to "My Computer -> Manage -> Storage -> Disk Management" and change the drive letter for the iPod (while it's connected) to I:

and presto, iTunes suddenly realises I do actually have an iPod connected!

This is not documented anywhere on Apples website (although I have submitted feedback for them). I've already found one other person (over at iPodLounge) who had the same symptoms and nobody had been able to help, until he saw my post and discovered the fix worked for him as well.

Programmers are normal people, they make assumptions about things that have held true for many years. For the longest time every PC had a C: - but these days it's not required (WinXP, probably Win2k too). The games industry is just as bad as everyone else, I've had games that failed to install because they couldnt see my C: I've also had problems due to not having a floppy drive in my PC!
If you are making a Windows PC game then you should add to your testing regime the testing of an installation which has no C: - most of you will be fine but you can never be too careful.

Posted by Zaph at September 20, 2004 08:16 AM

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Just wanted to say thanks for this info on the ipod drive letter problem. I got a new PC and my Ipod just wouldnt work. It worked on every computer but mine. Apple were very unhelpful, all they suggested was to reformat and reset it. Nothing worked. Then I came across this and realised my hard drive was also F and it was calling my ipod C. I chsnged it like you said and it works perfect.

So just wanted to say thanks,

Posted by: Ben at August 17, 2005 07:15 AM

Cheers for this!! I had this problem for ages and only just found this fix :) thanks

Posted by: Chris at August 30, 2005 10:55 PM

My cutomer installed their new iPod and promptly lost their CD drive. Nice.

Of course, the drive letter was F and as this is now taken by the iPod, which doesnt appear either.

For goodness sake apple get your act together!
If you cant fix it then at least make the solution available and easy to find.

Posted by: mr fix it at January 13, 2006 08:55 AM

Thanks! Your drive letter info cleared up my iPod problem. The only question I have left is: Why the heck doesn't Apple know about this?!?
C Ya

Posted by: Charlie Yarwood at July 18, 2006 08:13 AM

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