A few years ago I was working on some menial app development projects and I desperately need the twin drugs of an Internet connection and a charged mp3 player filled with groovy tunes just to make it through the weekends without bludgeoning myself to death with a stapler.

I was ready to soldier on through another day when suddenly the unthinkable happened: the music didn’t play.

I pulled my iPod off the charger and noticed the dreaded Sad iPod icon on my screen. My iPod was not working. This made me sad, too.

Beneath the icon was the URL I went to work and immediately pulled up the web address. Sure enough, there were all sorts of tips on how to deal with the little sad icon, including Apple’s standard cheery “5 R List” of ways to fix your iPod: Reset, Retry, Restart, Reinstall, Restore.

Of course none of these even remotely worked. Everything I tried immediately ended up with me getting the sad iPod icon once again.

Frustrated I turned to the blogosphere and started searching around for anyone who might have had the same problem of me. And, of course, many people did. There’s a reason Apple’s iPod support page has a Google Pagerank of 8.

After an hour or so of surfing around I came up with this analysis of my situation:

I had a broken iPod that was resistant to all the usual methods of repair. If I couldn’t get it fixed I was going to have to send it into Apple.

So I decided to do what many of the blogs out there recommended: Purposely drop my iPod to the floor.

This had worked for many, many other people even though Apple’s website (wisely) doesn’t mention this possible fix. I couldn’t quite bring myself to dropping my $300 iPod to the hard tile floor on the off chance that it would spin or wobble on the way down so I did the next best thing: I slammed it onto a pad of paper on my desk (providing some cushion so I didn’t crack the case), charging port down.

And like mana falling from heaven, the tunes started playing.

Apparently there are really SIX R’s in the Apple repair repertoire: Reset, Retry, Restart, Reinstall, Restore and Ram.

While I thanked the Jobs Gods for resurrecting my iPod I couldn’t help but wonder WHY such a ridiculous fix worked. I did a little more poking around it and turns out that the hard drive cable inside a lot of iPods manages to work itself loose to the point where the connection is no longer secure. So the iPod electronics are looking for the hard drive, the cable isn’t completely connected and your iPod get sad because it can’t find the hard drive.

Dropping (or banging) the iPod basically jolts the cable back into the socket.

This worked for me and it appears to have worked for countless others. I cannot, of course, take responsibility for anything you do to your iPod. I’m fairly certain Apple doesn’t recommend this method of fixing it, mostly because it doesn’t involve giving them a ridiculous amount of money to repair a product that probably shouldn’t have broken in the first place.

Author’s Note: Due to the overwhelming response surrounding this controversial iPod repair method I have decided to help the many people who are still a little unclear on how this method works. I am listing simple instruction on how to assemble your own iPod Repair Kit which should hereafter be known as the iPad™.

Author’s Second Note: This article was originally published on July 13th, 2007. So, yeah, I named the iPad before the iPad existed.

Required Materials:
iPod with Sad iPod Icon
Pad of Paper, any size

Optional Materials:
…you get the idea.

Assembly Steps:
1. Put the pad on the desk.
2. Optionally, write something on the pad with the pen.
3. Done.

How to Use:
1. Hold the broken iPod in your hand, charger port down.
2. Ram your iPod against the pad firmly, but not hard enough to go through the desk or send the iPod flying out of your hand.
3. Test iPod.
4. Repeat as necessary.
5. Have a celebratory or condolence beer.

Here is the finished iPad Prototype:

The original iPad.

The original iPad circa 2007.

See? I told you I wasn’t very busy at work right now.