I'm not saying it's great news, but still:
So, I downloaded something on my PC that said that it might be able to retrieve the contents from my iPod and insert it back into iTunes. Sadly, it would not work with my Mac-formatted iPod, unless I bought a $40 tool to allow me to read Macintosh filesystems. (And even then, it seemed dicey. And I like dice.)
So, I found Senuti (it's like iTunes, but backwards, get it?), which was able to yank a bunch of stuff off my iPod, including playlists, number of times I played each song/video/movie. Good stuff. However, iTunes seemed to think that the music videos and movies I downloaded weren't authorized for that machine. Each time iTunes would open up, it'd ask me if I wanted to transfer the licenses over to that machine. Several times I said that I would, since that would be a very simple way to get me back to where I was a week ago. Sadly, it silently failed to do anything.
I went several times (20? 30?) between Senuti and iTunes, and this process includes "ejecting" (surely there's a better name for preparing to unplug than that) the iPod, closing iTunes, unplugging the iPod, plugging the iPod back in, navigating around in Senuti, getting pissed off at the default window size, navigating to the "zoom" menu option (how does that not have a keyboard accelerator? Or a button on the window title bar?), finding stuff inside Senuti's view of my iPod that I want to drag into iTunes, crossing my fingers that Senuti doesn't crash. Or iTunes. Or something else. The comic strip that was saying that Macs don't crash is dead wrong, by the way.
But this is good news. I'm getting to it, really.
I finally went to my iTunes Store Purchase History, wrote down every single purchase I made longhand. (By the way, you can't cut and paste from the iTunes Store Purchase History view - who would want to do that?) I then went through my iTunes library to see how many of them had been stored on the (more reliable?) file server or had been recovered with all this Senuti nonsense.
It turns out that all of my music is back, which is a relief. Some of my playlists have been recovered, which is a luxury. I purchased a few albums from iTunes (including a few iTunes-only albums), for which there's a "correct" order for the songs. All of my playlists, including these albums, now are in random order, so there goes the integrity of the albums.
The stuff that's not back includes a handful of music videos, some standup comedy specials, and Tin Toy, an early Pixar short.
The files for most of these are actually on my new Mac hard drive, so they seem to have been retrieved to some level of fidelity - the filenames are correct, and the sizes seem plausible. If I try to launch them, iTunes silently ignores me. I would prefer a beep, a dialog box, a web page saying "you're trying to play a video file that has crazy DRM protections. If you're really you, click here to reset the DRM and have new versions sent to you". Or, just a beep.
As I'm thinking about buying my purchases all over again, I click on the "check for purchases" menu option. I don't know what the point of that menu option is - it seems like as soon as I connect to the iTunes Store, it could silently check for any purchases I might have made. (And why does it even need to check? Wouldn't we all know that I had made purchases? I'm pretty sure I would know. Even on Ambien, in the middle of the night, when I'm driving around, talking on my cell phone, asleep, I'm pretty sure that iTunes wouldn't have to check to see if I had made any purchases.)
So I clicked on that menu item, and all of a sudden, the "downloads" item lit up with 134 items to download. Zounds.
So, I think I'm going to get my Maria Bamford Stand Up special again, and Tin Toy, and "Karla With a K". And, just maybe, as a side effect of re-downloading the whole shebang, my album downloads might be in the correct order. That would be crazy.
In any case, I'm still gunshy about iTunes. I'm going to burn my downloads off onto DVD (not to play in a DVD player, just because 4.7GB is better than 700MB).
And that Tango song I was going to buy to practice to? I'll probably just get the CD from Amazon.
I heard a rumor that Google is gearing up to sell music. I wonder if I will find it less hateful.