The Day the Zunes Stood Still – “The Great Zune 30GB Blackout”

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UPDATE – 12/31/2008 5:34PM:

Incidentally, all my Zune 30GB devices charged and woke up this morning as promised – functioning just fine as if nothing had gone wrong.

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UPDATE – 1/1/2009 4:50PM:

Something that I needed to verify turned up a few hours ago:  The Original Zune 30GB was a re-factored Toshiba Gigabeat S. This is where the hardware originally came from and why the Zune 30GB devices are so much different from today’s existing Zune 80GB/120GB and Zune Flash 4GB/8GB/16GB.

http://www.engadget.com/2006/08/25/fcc-reveals-toshiba-1089-and-its-looking-a-whole-lot-like-a/

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UPDATE – 12/31/2008 2:42PM:

Well that was quick!  The resolution was posted here:  http://forums.zune.net/408989/ShowPost.aspx

As I understand it, the Zune 30GB device had a hardware interfacing driver that was written by an outsourced/non-Microsoft 3rd party and it wasn’t written to take into consideration ‘leap years’.  When we hit day 366, the Zune hardware driver reported something alien to the software/firmware (the stuff that you flash onto the device every revision) and – walla. Lock up.

The Zune 4/8/16GB Flash devices and the Zune 80/120GB devices were all engineered by us so we wrote the drivers for that and accurately accounted for leap years. This is the reason these devices are unaffected despite the fact that the firmware on all the devices are the same.

It was possible to crack open the Zune and disconnect the battery from the hardware and otherwise blank the clock on it. Doing so will get the device working again since it will think the time/date is something like 12AM, Jan 1st 2006. But the moment you sync the device with the Zune Desktop software, it syncs the clock and BOOM. Dead Zune again.

The current workaround will likely be “just wait until January 1st, 2009”. Allegedly, this will fix the problem. I’m pretty sure we’re working on fixing this driver issue so that this doesn’t happen again in 4 years.

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UPDATE – 12/31/2008 2:18PM:

I’m hearing 2nd hand that the Zune team knows exactly what the problem is.  Instead of posting a patch immediately, the resolution may be as simple as just waiting until January 1st 12:00 Midnight, making a more appropriate title for this post, “The Great Zune 30GB BLACKOUT” being that it looks like this might just be an issue for exactly 24 hours.

I won’t go into details and instead leave it to you to put your thinking caps on and figure out why this is isolated to 30GB devices, why the simple act of synchronizing your device with your PC using the Zune Client would cause a lockup again even after ‘hard resetting the device’ and getting it back to a usable condition, and why simply waiting until January 1st 2009 might be the trick.  The answer is actually quite logical.

Anyway, cross your fingers.

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 UPDATE – 12/31/2008 1:23PM:

Well, fortunately, this is a problem that is isolated to just the 30GB as far as I can see because I also own a Zune Flash 8GB and a Zune 120GB device and neither has had any problems whatsoever.  This is just bizarre.

And apparently the fit hit the shan in newsrooms worldwide and the whole world has started writing about the “suicide” deaths of all these Zune 30GB that people have been writing into support about.

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ORIGINAL POST – 12/31/08 6:31AM

First of all, NO, I don’t have a resolution for this problem.

At 12 Midnight on December 31st, 2008, for some reason a huge number of Zune 30GB classic devices turned themselves on, rebooted, and froze on the "ZUNE" boot up screen.  The problem simultaneously occurred across Zune 30GB devices all over the place apparently and has lit up the boards like wildfire.

Labeling themselves as "Victims of the December 31st 2008 Zune 30 Meltdown", folks are posting comments all over the Internet boards about how everyone’s Zune 30GB devices seemed to be in a state of perpetual frozen-ness.  It’s almost strangely unifying.

The occurrence itself however is downright eerie.  Some folks have reportedly popped the case open and did a hard reset of the device which has reportedly fixed the problem although some are saying that the fix appears temporary… until the device attempts to sync with a desktop either via wireless or via cable, at at which point, it locks up again.

    To do this, use a small screwdriver to pop off the plastic shielding where the zune cable plugs into and remove the two screws on either side of the plug. Next pop the cover off and locate the battery plug at the top left corner of the zune, using your screw driver, pop the cable connection half way off, and do this to the other plug on the right side. Wait 3 seconds, then push down the right connector and then the left battery connecter. Your zune should start up immediately. Press the backing of the zune down (make sure headphone jack is aligned) and put the screws and cover back in place.
    http://forums.zune.net/404026/ShowPost.aspx

Here’s some of the Internet chatter:

I’ll post an update if I get a resolution.  And yes – I have two devices sitting here completely locked up and I’m waiting for the batteries to run out.

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One Response to The Day the Zunes Stood Still – “The Great Zune 30GB Blackout”

  1. Unknown says:

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