Luckily I was in the car with my laptop so I tried to restore it while on the road. iTunes kept telling me that there was some kind of error with the restore process and it could not proceed with the restore. I figured that either it was the fact that my laptop wasn't running the iTunes I first registered the iPod with originally or I've got a dead hard drive on my hands. I could hear the hard drive whir up when ever it was connected and heard no clicking when the drive was engaged; therefore, I wasn't sure if that was the culprit of my issues. Eventually I got it home and repeated the same restore procedure with the same results. I knew a trip to the Apple Store was needed.
I hate going to the Apple Store. As a techie, I feel that it's a lot of glam and gleam with uppity people in the store trying find the latest stylish gadget to consume their lives fiddling on the bus while on their way to work. I also detest the fact they call their help staff "geniuses". I've stumped many Apple Store employees with simple questions about the capacities of their own products to know that these guys are not so invested in Apple that they want to devote their lives to a Vulcan-like existence of training their minds to be superior to everyone elses'. It's typically some hipster working their on their way to a better job elsewhere in their lives. So, when I walk into the Apple Store, I automatically sense a vibe of concentrated pretentiousness that I'll have to wade through to get what I want.
So, I got the the "Genius Bar" (that by the way doesn't server an alcohol. Apparently they're so smart they keep forgetting to get their liquor licenses at each store) and plop down my iPod and tell them my issue and all the methods I took to resolve it. The guy at the counter was very nice and courteous and seemed to be able to handle three customers at once gracefully. As he made an appointment for us on an iPad (apparently I couldn't really talk to him without one), he told me it was probably a bad hard drive. Cool - we both have the same diagnosis. He then plugged in my iPod to a store Mac and tried to restore it with identical results I had. He then proceeded to replace my iPod free-of-charge (it was under warranty), no additional questions asked. Cool - we both had the same resolution for the problem.
Overall, this was the quickest customer service visit I've ever made to a technology store. So, perhaps I'll allow the guy to be a genius after all - but just for today ;-).