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Still Planning to Buy an Apple, But ...

Posted by: Rob Hof on November 27, 2005

After getting loads of terrific advice from Mac enthusiasts in response to my request on what Apple to buy, I think I’ve settled on an iBook. Portable, possibly better Wi-Fi reception than a PowerBook, cheaper but sufficient for my home needs—which may leave me enough extra money to add for a Mac mini or big network hard drive for my main media storage.

But my assumption that Apple’s better for media just got shaken. Dave Winer plugged his new iPod into an old Mac and lost all his music and audiobooks. Then Yahoo’s Jeremy Zawodny upgraded his iTunes software and lost 1,200 songs.

When a couple of people with far more tech knowledge than I will ever possess can’t get their Apple media stuff to work right, I wonder what I may run into. I probably will go ahead and get an iBook anyway for all the usual reasons—and be very careful about backup. But incidents like this sure don’t give much comfort to potential switchers like me.

UPDATE: The commenters who trashed Dave (and Jeremy) for supposedly making dumb mistakes should check out Dave’s update:

Plugged the video iPod into my desktop computer in Berkeley, and watched very carefully as it erased the contents of the iPod without confirmation. I didn’t accidentally click OK giving it permission to erase all the content on the iPod, it did it without asking.

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Reader Comments


November 27, 2005 02:03 PM

Sure, those are good points, but how many times have you plugged something in, or installed something, into a Windows machine and lost everything? If your answer's zero then you're a minority ;)

Patrick Robinson

November 27, 2005 02:37 PM

There are some excellent tools for both preventing data loss and recovering from it. If the itunes library was already on an ipod
it's not really lost it can be recovered and restored to the
hard drive. Go to and download a shareware tool that will allow you to copy the files from your ipod back to your mac. Great tool. Obviously you can also get TechTool Pro4 from, or ProSoft's Data Rescue It or Alsoft's Disk Warrior. These are very valuable additions to your software library in any event and can save you hours of time and lots of money in the long run.

Chick Beckley

November 27, 2005 02:54 PM

Buy the iBook because the Apple product and OSX are far superior to the Wintel solution. However, synching iPods and iTunes software needs to be transparent and without incident. Comparing it to the Windows experience is not acceptable. Apple has always raised the bar with innovation and excellent products, not with being satisfied with "it's better than Windows can do." The Windows bar is so low that Apple could stop innovating today and wouldn't have to do any real work for the next 10 years. That's not what I have come to expect from Apple. If there is a problem with synching iPods or iTunes software, rest assured it will be fixed in a very timely manner - it's just the way Apple does things.

John Greenwald

November 27, 2005 07:42 PM

Just to clarify the above comment, Dave Winer did not lose all his music. He committed a silly rookie mistake: he hooked his iPod to a different computer than the one he has his music stored on. Naturally, his content was replaced. When he goes home and hooks to his other computer, he will have all his music restored. To blame any of this on Apple is absurd.

I have great respect for all the fine things Dave Winer has done over the years, but just once it would be nice if he could accept some responsibility for his own mistakes and not look for someone or something to blame.

Please do not let someone else's silly mistake color your computer-buying decision.


November 27, 2005 07:56 PM

Winers problem came because on his mac that he originally loaded the songs, etc , he had the auto sync w ipod checked on his itunes prefs.

When he connected to the other mac, it auto synced.

The ipod carries that bit of prefs info. Lesson : leave the itunes prefs to sync manually.

Jeremy was using a windows machine, so his problem, I dont know what happened.


November 27, 2005 07:58 PM

People with 'far more tech knowledge' should know to backup regularly. NO computer is fool/human proof, windows or macs.


November 27, 2005 08:00 PM

I see your point, but it's not a very logical bit of reasoning. You've read of 2 problems by mac users. That's like saying "I won't fly on planes because occasionally they crash." Go online and search around. Every program ever made has bugs and has caused problems for users.

Secondly, I read Jeremy Zawodny's article. I read it painfully because I knew what the problem was, and how it could be fixed. He never "lost" his files. They were, and still are, on his hard drive. He made a mountain out of a mole hill - a mole hill which, agruably due to his own mistake, he built himself. Zawodny neglected to keep his software up to date, and as a result, upgrading caused a glitch. iTunes didn't know where his files were stored. That's all. Easily fixed by anyone with half a brain. But instead of shutting up and using a small amount of systematic reasoning, Zawodny decided to panic and write a mean, uninformed article about it.

Anyway, making a long story short, you're safe to buy a Mac.

Robert Boylin

November 27, 2005 08:14 PM

If you'll be disappointed with an early release of the Intel powered iBooks by February next year I might hold off. It would be announced on Jan. 10 by Steve Jobs if it's to happen. There are usually good buys in January as well.

Take it from someone who's been going to Macworld since 1988; with all the existing hardware updated recently, I expect we'll see something big on the hardware front in his keynote. It might be quite easy to run Windows as well as OS X if the need arises.


November 27, 2005 08:42 PM

Both of these data losses are due to inexplicable user error. For being such techno-geeks, both seem to have made simple errors and, being techno-geeks, blame Apple for their stupidity. Winer plugged his iPod into someone else's Mac while on vacation. Anyone who knows anything about iTunes/iPods knows that each unique user may have certain Preferences chosen, and in this case, the preferences clearly were set to placing the iTunes of the current machine onto the iPod. This is basic stuff, Dave!!!

And the other guy went from iTunes 4.9 to 6 without bothering to upgrade to 5. Without backing up. And most of his problems were with the library, not losing his music. This is also basic whining and is blaming Apple for making stupid, basic mistake. Do not consider either experience when making a decision about Macs or iPods. Sometimes being a geek means making assumptions and then blaming others when something goes wrong. Assume= makes an ASS of U and ME.


November 27, 2005 08:45 PM

The "lost" itunes files - they're actually a change in the itunes library structure from itunes 4 and itunes 6 so itunes6 does not recognize it and you do have to have to pull down a couple menus to have itunes recognize the old library ... if you go back and re-read it, people have pointed it out to him. Yes, you're right there are still some things that are not perfect and some that are just dumb - like that itunes thing but for every dumb thing on the mac, there are about 45 on the PC so you are way better off on the mac.

However, you should keep in mind that the rumors of the ibook or PB becoming an Intel one in Jan are probably true so if you want to be the first one the block, you might want to hold off. Of course, the first 6 months, you'll pretty much just have a browser and maybe Office but if you want to be first ... I would wait ... but if you want access to thousand of apps, shareware, etc ... then hurry while the getting's good ...


November 27, 2005 09:04 PM

hard to know why those incidents happened to your friends, but i've synched six ipods with two powerbooks, an ibook, and an imac and never lost one song...sometimes people simply hit the wrong buttons i guess, or don't read all of the instructions (or maybe the products were faulty - always a possibility)...i hope you have a good experience - i switched a number of years ago and have never looked back

Randy Barber

November 27, 2005 09:44 PM

Not backing your data up on any computer is stupid. You could lose a hard drive at any moment. I had tons of problems with Windows, and so far, none with Mac. But I still backup everything!

John C. Randolph

November 27, 2005 09:44 PM

The AirPort reception in the current powerbooks is basically identical to the iBooks. It was the original Titanium PowerBook G4 that had the antenna problem.


John C. Randolph

November 27, 2005 09:46 PM

When you plug an iPod into a Mac, if it's synced to a different music library, you get an alert panel asking whether you want to sync it to the current iTunes library. If you don't want to, then just hit the cancel button.



November 27, 2005 10:12 PM


I would wait to buy a powerbook/iBook until February. the rumor is (and I believe it) is that there will be a Macintel PowerBook out announced at MacWorld in January


November 27, 2005 10:24 PM

One thing to keep in mind about an doesn't have a PCMCIA card slot. If you happen to want to try/use EVDO, you're SOL.

David H Dennis

November 27, 2005 10:38 PM

I would look at the 15" PowerBook before deciding.

The extra resolution is worth the extra money in my opinion, and the display is far higher quality.

Well worth the extra bucks in my opinion.

(I'm actually going to be buying the 17" model soon but I figure in a lower price bracket you should at least look at the 15).

Hope that helps.


Bill Palmer

November 27, 2005 11:22 PM

Dave Winer clicked "Yes" when his computer asked if it was OK to erase the contents of his iPod. If he's claiming otherwise, then he's probably guilty of the zombie-ism that causes users to blindly click on the default option of any dialog box that appears, and then later not recall ever having done so. Zawodny failed to have his computer's data backed up and lost it as a result. How are either of these issues supposed to be Apple's fault? Even designs as innovative as Apple's can't always stop users from blatant stupidity.


November 28, 2005 03:25 AM

When Dave Winer plugged his iPod into a different computer, I doubt he really "never got a confirmation dialog asking if it was okay if it wiped out the music and audiobooks that I painstakingly took hours of my time to set up." When you plug your iPod into a computer other than the one it's associated with, you get a dialog that specifically asks if you want to associate your iPod with the new computer instead; the dialog also states, quite clearly, that if you say "Yes," your iPod's contents will be replaced with that of the new computer. (And even then, in Dave's case, although his iPod's contents may have been "wiped out" when he -- perhaps unintentionally -- clicked "Yes," those contents will be completely restored when he gets home and connects his iPod to his own computer.)


November 28, 2005 08:35 AM

those are NOT people with more tech knowledge than you , they are people who made silly mistakes. either by not backing up their files or not paying attention to dialog boxes. As has been said..

relax, buy a Mac. not having to worry about malware, spyware , viruses and trojans , will be your reward. (of course that may not always be the case, but it certainly is today)


November 29, 2005 01:21 AM

I believe there was a warning before your friend lost all his music. The warning asked if YOU WANT TO REPLACE THE MUSIC WITH THE ONES IN THE COMPUTER THAT iPod is plugged in...if you hit Yes...too bad...all old music are wiped out...


November 30, 2005 12:02 PM

I don't know what happened to either of these people. But, I'm fairly certain that blaming the guy for not backing up his data is not the answer. I LOVE my mac and my iPod, but blaming someone for the added damage resulting from not backing up data is like blaming someone for being hurt because they were not wearing a seatbelt when the cause of the accident was the brakes failing. Sure we should all back up our data (and wear seat belts), but hopefully (crosses fingers) we'll never have to use our back ups (or seat belts).


November 30, 2005 12:30 PM

Before you buy an iBook G4, look online for the problems that iBook owners have been having with defective logic boards. My daughter bought a 12" inch iBook in June which she absolutely loved and last week she began experiencing problems with the laptop freezing up. She sent the laptop back to Apple only to since it was still under the warranty, however Apple determined that the logic board was bad due to having liquid spilled on it (according to them the liquid must have come up from underneath). My daughter has emphatically denied having the laptop around any liquids. After doing some research online, I find that this is a common reason Apple gives for not replacing bad logic drives since it is considered "user abuse" and not covered under the warranty. Apple would replace the logic board for $700 which would be about 75% of the cost of a new one. Of course we cannot afford this repair, much less buy a new laptop so my daughter now has a $999 paperweight. If we ever buy a new Apple (big if), I would get a Powerbook instead.

Dave G

January 19, 2007 06:36 AM

"When a couple of people with far more tech knowledge than I will ever possess can't get their Apple media stuff to work right."

I just don't believe it Rob, look at the size of your huge forehead - surely you have enough space to pack acres of tech knowledge in there to use a Mac usefully.

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BusinessWeek writers Peter Burrows, Cliff Edwards, Olga Kharif, Aaron Ricadela, Douglas MacMillan, and Spencer Ante dig behind the headlines to analyze what’s really happening throughout the world of technology. One of the first mainstream media tech blogs, Tech Beat covers everything from tech bellwethers like Apple, Google, and Intel and emerging new leaders such as Facebook to new technologies, trends, and controversies.



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