Disclaimer: This article contains text for informative purposes only and does not necessarily intend to encourage you to apply the procedures described which could lead to damaging your iPod.
It all started when I discovered the Facebook birthday calendar exporter application which exports an iCal-compatible (.ics) file featuring birthdays of all your Facebook contacts as calendar events. As a die-hard Mac and iPod user, I saw this opportunity of synchronizing the birthdays of all my friends on Facebook first with my Mac’s iCal application and then with my third generation iPod Nano. In the end, it would have been very interesting to get automatic notifications of my friends’ upcoming birthdays via iCal or check them manually on my iPod.
The process begins by adding the “Birthday Exporter” application on your Facebook account. On the application’s home page, there’s simply a single link which will export an .ics file including the birth-dates of all your contacts. When you double-click this file on the Mac, iCal is automatically launched and asks you to select a destination calendar to add the birthdays as events to the iCal database. (On the PC, it should launch Outlook if present and invoke a similar process – however I never tested this on the PC.)
So far so good! – now you have all the birthdays on your iCal. In my case, there were about 150-200 contacts on my Facebook profile.
WARNING!!! DO NOT TEST THE FOLLOWING STEPS ESPECIALLY NOT ON A 3RD GENERATION OF IPOD NANO OR ELSE YOUR IPOD MAY GET DAMAGED AND UNUSABLE FOR GOOD.
Next step is launching iTunes to synchronize the contacts and the iCal events to the iPod as well as music and photos. In the synchronization process, should you include the Birthday calendar among the data to be copied to the iPod, it becomes corrupt as if it were “unsafely” plugged off the computer. Among the later symptoms of the iPod will be to freeze all of a sudden while listening to music, or misbehaving while browsing through the song library. And the worst of all, it may no longer be synchronized again (it just freezes in such an attempt)!
In my experience the 3G iPod nano could not be reset and restored to its default factory settings – it was corrupt for good – then I had no idea why my iPod Nano got defective all of a sudden, as I didn’t know it was because of this synchronization of the Facebook birthdays thing – so this problem re-occurred a couple of times.
I headed for an Authorized Apple Service Center, to bring over my MacBook Pro, the USB hard drive which I use with it (likely of corrupting the USB ports, therefore the iPod) and the last brand-new iPod nano that they gave me as a replacement) to test everything and see what happens at their place. In the end, we were going to discover that there would have been no problem if we had been just synchronizing the iPod with iTunes library without including the “Calendar” — especially the birthday calendar. However there had to be a couple of painful testing attempts before we discovered that.
I had even examined the .ics file exported by the Facebook application using a sophisticated text editor and still found nothing wrong neither in the structure nor the data. But the synching caused the iPod Nanos to function improperly and in the case of 3rd generation iPod nanos, they were becoming defective beyond repair – at least at the service center.
As soon as I found that although the same process damaged the 2nd generation of iPod nanos, too, they could be reset / restored on iTunes, I made a quick decision, and for the final replacement (within the warranty) for the last time(!) that the Apple Service Center offered me, I made a special deal asking them to give me a 2nd generation iPod Nano – in case if I suffered the consequences of new strange discoveries with my new Apple products, I could restore my iPod to its original state after all.
We could not afford to perform this test on more expensive iPods – yet what we tested already costed near a dozen damaged iPod nanos. I did not test the same type of synchronization on Windows either, because the defect is probably caused by the large amount of calendar data trying to be fed into the iPod, although my birthdays calendar is only at most 44 KB in size.
Anyone wanna discuss this?