When your mac gets pissy, check your hubs

I plugged my stalwart 3G iPod into my g5 dock yesterday, iTunes launched and then gave me a -36 error and failed. Ok, so now my song list on the iPod was hosed. I tried again, same thing.

I tried to restore the iPod but that locked up – even Panther. I had to hard reboot the mac. Several more attempts at this , and several hours later, I took my iPod to Comp USA to replace it under my TAP warranty.

I got home with a new 40 (and new accessories too!) but this iPod behaved like the last one. What the hell?

so I mounted my iTunes library over the net and plugged my iPod into the laptop. It synced fine. ok, great.

I ran DiskWarrior on the G5 and it fixed some disk errors, but the iPod issue remained.

So I unplugged the iSight and usb hubs (I have two, daisy chained) and now it worked! Ok, hmm. I plugged the iSight back in, still worked. Then I plugged the two hubs in, crash. Hmm.

I then plugged in just the first hub and it worked. OK. I plugged in the second hub and it still worked, but the updating would do three songs quickly, pause for two seconds, then three more, etc.

I unplugged the iSight and the Mac kernel paniced. Hmm.

So I went and checked everything and sure enough, the power brick for the second USB hub had fallen off the end of the power strip it was plugged into!

I plugged it back in and the iSight and now my iPod is syncing just fine.

So, at least on a dual g5, the power draw of the USB bus affects the power draw of the firewire bus, and can cause an iPod to lose enough power to cause the hard drive to shut down, which then locks up Panther.

Great. 9 hours to figure all this out.

All bricks are now zip tied to the power strip.

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