Yesterday when I get to work, I flip on the iPod and I notice I've only got 3 playlists--my non-smart-playlists (i.e. the ones that don't do any auto-updating based on last date played or ratings). I make the stupid assumption that the sync just didn't work that morning, and go about my business.
When I get home, I notice that, hmm, those playlists are empty on my computer as well. Why are they empty?
BECAUSE MOTHERFUCKING ITUNES DECIDED ALL OF THE SONGS ON MY IPOD WERE RATED 1 STAR.
I'm not sure how that happens. Yes, my iPod is now about, 3 or 4 years old. And yes, it's gotten pretty flakey. It sometimes reboots randomly losing track of whatever I've played that day (annoying for me, since I use that to help keep the music on my iPod fresh). But why would everything be rated 1 star all of a sudden? Your guess is as good as mine. Sometimes the smart features of iTunes aren't so smart.
I poke around in my iTunes folder for the iTunes library XML file, and luckily, I find that it still has all of the ratings goodness in it. I back it up, empty out the iTunes itl file (the binary file for the library data), and then restart iTunes. Thankfully, now all of my songs have the proper rating, albeit with a loss of data for the past week. I then reconnect my iPod (which I'd previously set to sync manually), clear everything off it, and start resyncing from scratch.
That's where I'm at now. In this process, I've lost all of the podcasts I subscribe to, but that might be a blessing. I'll resubscribe to the stuff that I remember being most interesting, and won't be bogged down with crap.
And, after all this, I'll still probably be buying a video iPod in the next few weeks. But damn, I really do hate Apple today.