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Issue #267: September 2, 2012

Q: I have an older iPod with my collection of older songs that I converted to MP3 and loaded but my hard drive fried and I lost everything because “I was going to back up everything later”. I got a new Computer and loaded iTunes but it won’t let me save the songs on the iPod, it wants to delete them.  How can I save my music some of which cannot be replaced.

Stephen B.
Santa Rosa Beach, Florida

A: I’ll forgo the usual lecture for not having a backup of your irreplaceable media files, Stephen.  You can bet you’re not the first one to encounter this problem with Apple’s implementation of the iPod.  Products in the iPod line of devices are designed to use Apple’s iTunes software to access the device, which, in more advanced models, includes apps, photos, videos, contact data, and more in addition to music.  Generally speaking, especially when it comes to music, iTunes is more interested in helping you get these media onto the device than off of it, usually by synchronizing the device so its content matches your computer (which is probably why it wants to delete your tracks, since they don’t already exist on your PC).

Much of this protection is due to Apple’s implementation of Digital Rights Management, or DRM, which is a method of controlling access to digital media products.  It applies to all kinds of media including e-books, movies, music and the like.  In Apple’s case, since they sell music through the iTunes store, they have a vested interest in controlling media so it can only run on one device. That’s well and good, but as you’ve discovered, there are some very legitimate reasons why one might want to take copy music back off of a device that have nothing to do with illegal file sharing. It wasn’t always like this.  In fact, there used to be an iTunes feature called “iPod download” that did exactly what you want to do.  It was removed way back in 2004 in iTunes version 4.7.  Just to illustrate how long ago that was, the iTunes version that is current as of this writing is 10.6.3.

Fortunately, where there exists such a problem, there usually exist capable people ready to put time and effort into solving it.  To that end, there are many programs written by non-Apple people that allow you to move music files easily back and forth from a computer to an iPod, well-outside the restrictions of iTunes.  Using my amazing power of Google-Fu, I looked them up, and I can tell you that all you need to do is enter the phrase “move music from iPod to computer” into Google, and you’ll be presented with numerous choices that will fix you right up.  All my usual warnings about using due diligence in installing software apply, so make sure you proceed carefully!

Q: Recently I get a message on a black screen during the boot process that says “keyboard not found.” Obviously the keyboard has been found as it is well and working, and I am able to type this. About the time this started I had another keyboard attached so that I could check that it was good. Once the check was run I removed that keyboard. Could my computer be looking for that keyboard? This is not causing any problems, but it is annoying in a mild way.

George C.
Shalimar, Florida

A: I remember back in the day, if you’d boot a PC without the keyboard attached, you’d get that error along with the impossible-to-obey command to “Press F1 to continue”.  The error I’m talking about occurred during what’s called POST (Power-On Self-Test) which is when the computer’s BIOS boots up, detects and checks all the attached hardware, and assigns necessary behind-the-scenes stuff like addresses, interrupts, and drive letters.  The fact that your problem started only after you installed a secondary keyboard would seem to indicate a problem not within the BIOS, but with a Windows driver, since the BIOS does not generally load driver software.  You might try displaying the Windows hardware configuration and looking to see if the keyboard device is listed as attached and not functioning.  If that’s the case, right-click on it and delete it to tell Windows not to use that keyboard anymore.  If this is genuinely a BIOS error, then you should look there to solve the problem.  Very likely, the extra keyboard was a USB device, so check the BIOS for USB settings that should be off if not using a USB keyboard.  If all that fails, as you said, the error is annoying, but tolerable.  It will certainly go away when you upgrade that old WinXP machine of yours, which surely must be on its last legs!

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