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Firewire and FAT32

by Rob Friesel

Gruber (condensed): Apple slashes iPod prices across the board but makes a few changes along the way — namely switching from an included Firewire cable to an included USB2.0 cable and all-together removing certain accessories from some of the higher-end packages. Oh, and the shuffle uses a FAT32 filesystem.

We’ll return to the FAT32 issue in a moment.

USB2.0’s replacement of Firewire (I agree with Gruber) is a nod to the fact that they’re moving these things out to PC users left and right. The PC world never really adopted Firewire. Who knows why this never happened. Expense maybe? (Or is that one of those chicken-in-egg questions…) Now that you can charge the iPod over USB2.0 there is little advantage to shipping units with the Firewire cable. It becomes an added expense for PC users to run out an fetch some 3rd party Firewire card and drop it into their machine. And that’s assuming it works out. (I’ve had no end of trouble with it around here. Especially when trying to use the Dock!) The bummer two-fold: there are lots of Mac users out there (e.g., yours truly) that don’t have USB2.0 on their machines. The other bummer? It’s an image thing. “Firewire” is a sexy name with a cool logo and a proud history. Plus, it sites more snugly in its port. /sigh

TUAW is commenting on Gruber’s article as well. They quickly re-cap the top-half of Gruber’s argument and go on to comment on the “special character” restrictions of the FAT32 filesystem used on the shuffle.

The character restrictions aren’t a problem when it comes to transferring music to the shuffle. iTunes has had this stuff programmed right into it since they started offering PC support for the hard drive-based models. The sync’ing routine gets the filesystem of the destination volume prior to transferring the files and replaces incompatible characters with underscores to be safe.

What’s a little vague in the TUAW article is whether they’re more concerned about being “bitten” by the limitation w/r/t/ transferring music to the shuffle or transferring files to it as if it were a drive. I could see the latter circumstance being a potential issue. However anyone accustomed to working in a mixed environment already (or someone who came up on PC filesystems to begin w/) has committed all those “no-no” characters to memory quite some time ago. To this day, I can’t use a “|” or “,” in my filenames w/o a cold shiver running down my spine.

currently playing: God Lives Underwater “Lonely Again” > The Pixies “Is She Weird” > Nitzer Ebb “Into The Large Air”

About Rob Friesel

Software engineer by day, science fiction writer by night. Author of The PhantomJS Cookbook and a short story in Please Do Not Remove. View all posts by Rob Friesel →

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