The Agony and the Agony

By Kit Hayden | Feb 18, 2013
Photo by: Layout for 1940 hand-held

Newcastle — Back in the days when our family radio was a Gothic Philco delivering FDR’s Fireside Chats, I had my very own hand-held.  It consisted of an antenna wire, a tuning coil of copper wire, a piece of crystal, a whisker wire, and earphones.  It was known as a cat’s whisker receiver (CWR).  We’ve come a ways since then, but it hasn’t all been progress.  For example, my CWR used no power and was therefore portable without a battery, and it never broke.  Maybe I should have stuck with it.

Last week, in a moment of temporary insanity, I obtained via eBay an  iPod touch.  As you know, one of the first things one needs to do with an  iPod is to synch  it to one’s parent computer through  iTunes.   This is the “easy” way to personalize the device, loading it with favorites, contacts, photos, every song you ever even thought about, etc.  If you happen to be an Apple addict, and therefore have a Macbook, or an Imac, or an iPad as your principal source of nourishment, the synching is only occasionally difficult; iTunes, an Apple product, is known to both components.  If, however, you are a pagan working with a PC and Microsoft, it’s almost  necessarily not so simple. Oh sure, convention requires that  iTunes, downloaded to Windows, will be compatible.   Oh sure.  When I attached the iPod touch to my Compaq, neither the computer nor  iTunes recognized the intruder.

Generally speaking, when one is having compatibility problems, one can find on the internet solutions offered to other plaintiffs  who, often angry and always frustrated,  have asked about similar problems.  Consider the question “Why does my computer (and/or iTunes) not recognize my iPod touch?”  The search engine offers  2.5 million references.  For example: “update the version of iTunes that you are using then connect the iPod. this should fix the problem.”  “i went to an apple store and they said it is cause i installed the latest version of itunes. but now my computer(windows 7) wont recognize my ipod AT ALL!”  Hmm, seems to be a discrepancy here.  “try using a different usb cable. same thing happened to me and all that happened was my cable shorted out. moved back and forth between 3 computers and it just wouldn't recognize. very frustrating. hope this helps.” Actually, it doesn’t help, and you might try returning to school and learning some grammar.  I found that several people advised, as the first quoted above, re-installing iTunes.  That didn’t work for me.

Eventually, after four or five hours, I was able to get both the computer and  iTunes to acknowledge the iPod, but they refused to synchronize.  The search engine responded to” unable to sync  iPod with iTunes” with 1.25 million references. Among these, “I have just purchased a new laptop after my old one got damaged. I am trying to sync my iPod to the new system with no joy it will connect but not sync. From reading on the net you can only sync to one library but with no access to my old system I am losing patience so can someone please help?”  Sadly, no, and again, “Grammar, my man!”  Apple Support Communities was all over the synch question: “I would try removing and reinstalling iTunes, Quick Time, and other software components for Windows Vista or Windows 7.” Stupidly, I followed the first two pieces of advice, returning me to square one; I had to start all over.  And what, pray, “other software” are we referring to?  A bit vague isn’t it?

After struggling for about six hours on my own, my friend Natasha, who is considerably geekier than I, joined the battle.  After only a couple of additional hours, building on my efforts, she triumphantly succeeded in synching the beasts.  It turned out that the suggestion to remove “other software” was on the mark.  We removed everything that wasn’t Apple software from the startup, booted, and it was all smiles from there on.  This can be done, as any fool knows, by clicking on Startup; All Programs; Accessories; Run; typing in Msconfig; Load start-up items etc. etc. It’s all perfectly straightforward.  But did we solve the problem?  No, we got around it; I don’t know if the problem is in the device, Windows 7, or iTunes.  I don’t care.  Everything is too complicated.

I’ll confess that prior to “upgrading” to the iPod touch I used a venerable 8 GB iPod classic, and I never had a problem synchronizing it with either Windows XP or Windows 7.   “Why then,” you might ask, “did I want to upgrade?”  My motivation was not the Apps (abominable, predatory programs) available with the more modern machine.  These things multiply like fruit flies.  They terrify me.  Perhaps it was just a manifestation of the human herd instinct to go along with the crowd?  I should be beetling about, tipping my head forward to stare at something in my hand, oblivious to everything around me?  Perhaps it was only a masochistic desire for  more frustration, my laptop not delivering enough?  If it were the last, I have certainly gotten what I wanted.  But no, my motivation was  access to the internet with an easily portable  hand- held.

My reward for perseverance is that my ancient eyes find it very difficult to read the tiny figures on the little screen.  Also, in using the virtual keyboard to type my important email correspondence, my spatulate fingers rarely hit the right letter.  What was it T.S. Elliot wrote? “People change and smile, but the agony abides.”

I am surprised to see that CWR are available on the internet, and they are very inexpensive.  Perhaps I should have…no, I don’t think so; not enough frustration there.  “All shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well; by the purification of the motive in the ground of our beseeching.”

Comments (1)
Posted by: Norman Medina | Feb 19, 2013 08:26

. . . chuckle . . ., that's what I think.  :)

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