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ZEVO (ZFS for Mac OS X) is now available for free

Apparently Tens Complement, the company that was developing ZFS for Mac OS X as a separate product has been acquired by Green Bytes in mid 2012. They've very kindly made a version available to everyone for free. There's no UI or any other frills, but for those already familiar with ZFS from Solaris, this is a good development.

See for more details.

You have to register on their forums first, before you can download the new ZEVO Community Edition

iPod Troubleshooting

For a while now, my trusty 20gb iPod Photo has been having uncharacteristically weird problems syncing with iTunes. It would often stop syncing with the error "Disk cannot be read from or written to". Finally, it got so bad that it hardly sync'd any files at all. Looking in the Mac OS Console utility (/Applications/Utilites/, I finally noticed everytime this happened, the Mac would report "data underrun" errors.

So at this point, I thought perhaps it was a corrupted iPod hard drive. I tried restoring my iPod a few times, even completely erased the parition at one point using Disk Utility. I even tried an anecdotal method that requires that you change your Mac's timezone to PST, restore the iPod and then revert your timezone. But the iPod still had the same problem syncing.

Then I came across some forum postings that mention that iTunes will choke on the syncing, if the file it's trying to copy is not readable by iTunes. I checked all my file permissions but they were all fine (readable/writeable by my user on the Mac), so that was a dead end.

Then I found some sites that mentions the iPod's hidden diagnostic menus. Running the iPod diagnostics helped point me in the right direction. I ran all the iPod hard drive tests and they all said it was OK. So I figured that the drive was probably still okay. I also tried my own crude write tests to the iPod drive:

$ cd /Volumes/iPod
$ mkfile 5g 5gig.file

"mkfile" is a UNIX level command that let's you create a file of a given size easily. I was able to create pretty much any size file on the iPod without any errors. So at this point, I figure it's maybe an OS or application level issue.

How to Return an Engraved iPod*

It's been well-noted (or perhaps well-lamented) that Apple iPods that were personalized with an engraving cannot be returned to Apple for return or refund in any manner.

Apple's Return Policy clearly states:

Custom-configured products, including any personalized iPod, cannot be returned or exchanged.

Some would say that Apple offers the free engraving as a subtle and inexpensive way to minimize the number of returned iPods. From a business point of view, this is entirely understandable. The time and money to process returns and refunds is usually a major cost center for any company dealing with consumer products and services. It certainly takes more time processing a return than ringing up a new purchase. All the back-office processes that have to take place to track, transport, restock, and resell (as "refurbished") the returned item is, I'm sure, a cost companies would rather not have at all in the first place.

From the customer point of view, when that iPod ordering web page pops up with the inviting FREE engraving option, many people probably indulge the impulse to add the engraving -- especially when it's a gift to someone else. We're conditioned to think that "free" = "good". However, with iPods it's more like "free" = "un-returnable". The only alternative then is to re-sell the iPod on your own or just keep it and use it.

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