As I sit here with a Cesária Évora CD on in the house, I have an update to the car AV system issue, wherein it couldn’t stop playing Bob Dylan. That is, I found out why it’s playing a disproportionate amount of Dylan.

I noticed, as it played more songs, that it was not just playing a lot of Bob Dylan and the Beatles, but that it wasn’t playing anything beyond “C” in the alphabet. I have the files on the microSD organized in folders (directories) based on the artists and albums, so at the root level there’s a “Bob Dylan” folder, and that has sub-folders called “Blonde On Blonde”, “Blood On the Tracks”, “Desire”, and so on. In those folders are the MP3 files for the songs. I used the touch-screen interface to look in the folder of the current song, then went up to the “artist” level, and then to the root. I scrolled the list of artists, which should have gone from “10,000 Maniacs” to “Youssou N’Dour”. But the list stopped somewhere near the end of the “C”s.

Ha! There appears to be a limit to the number of directories. And with only around 1000 songs active, instead of the 4000 on the chip, the chances of Dylan had been multiplied by 4 for each play. No wonder I was getting so much! OK, I can work around that limit.

I took the chip into the house, put it in my computer, and wrote a script to pull all the files out to the root level, so there are no directories/folders. “/Bob Dylan/Desire/03 Mozambique.mp3” became “/Bob Dylan-Desire-03 Mozambique.mp3”, and now I have 3984 files in the root directory, and no folders. Pop the chip back into the car system, and try it out.

Great! There’s a “D”... now an “L”... a “G”. Much better!

But it didn’t take too long to notice that it never played anything beyond “L”. I went to the list and scrolled again (and was happy that one can scroll backward, and it wraps around).

This time, it was easy to tell exactly: the files in each directory are numbered sequentially by the system, and with everything in the root directory I could see what the actual limit is: 2500 files, exactly. That’s horrid!

2500 files might be a reasonable limit when microSD chips only went up to 2 GB. But that was a while ago, and it’s perfectly easy to have 8000 files or more now, and higher-capacity chips are coming out all the time. It’s absolutely ridiculous to build in limits like this, considering how the technology is moving forward. Any reasonable file system has tossed such limits away long ago.

I’m trying to delete 1500 files from the microSD card, but it’s tough: the music on my computer is already selected from my far more extensive CD collection, and represents my favourites. How do I pick 1500 “favourites” to eliminate? The first 500 went gradually, but it wasn’t too awful. The second 500 were a real challenge. I’m still working on the last 500, and it’s very tough!

I’ll be writing to Pioneer, to express my displeasure and to see if there’s anything that can be done. And I guess I’ll go back to streaming the music from my BlackBerry, which still has all the songs, and for which there’s no such limitation.


[Update: Hank suggested that I add the model number of the system, in case anyones looking for answers to similar problems.  Thats a good idea.  I have a Pioneer AVIC-X930BT, and the limits of 300 directories and 2500 files apply also to the AVIC-X9310BT and AVIC-Z130BT models.]