Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Dead. They're all dead.

I've had to switch blogs with shorter notice than I anticipated. My Mac seems to be dead, taking my whole entire Radio cloud with it. It's a cloudburst. So to speak.

This has not been a good month for electronic devices in the Bluesky home. Observe:

About two weeks ago: I was working on my laptop at the glorious downtown Seattle library. I started hearing an unusual clicking sound near the wi-fi card port (and, as I found out later, the hard drive.) Click. Click.

The laptop is the computer I use for my contracting work. Without it, I can't get anything done without going into the office. I have a second computer, but it's a Mac, and most of the Excel spreadsheets and Word documents I need for work won't translate cleanly. Also, I've got all of my current resumes and job application letters saved on it. Losing it would be a big problem.
I tried restarting. It worked once or twice, and then suddenly it stopped working at all. All I got was more click, click, click. Exasperated, I got it to restart one more time and managed to pull off my resumes before it died again. Click.

I took it to Seattle Laptop, grimacing at the $42.50 minimum diagnostic fee. Luckily, the technician in the store gave me a free diagnosis as soon as I told him the symptoms. "Your hard drive's dead," he said with a grimace.

Dead? Dead's an ugly word. A new hard drive will cost $139 plus installation. I guess we'll just use the iMac until some money comes in.

Last Saturday: Oliver woke us up at 5 in the morning. I was planning to go into the office to work, and wanted to get just a bit more sleep before I got up, so R took the boy out into the living room.

Mere minutes later, she knocked on the door. "Did you shut off the computer last night?"

I vaguely remembered restarting the computer before I went to bed.

"Well, it's not working now."

Not working didn't sound good, so I rolled my groggy self out of bed. Our computer had a mysterious problem restarting recently, and it turned out to be the fault of the iPod that was connected when it restarted. I disconnected the Pod and restarted. Nothing. The little power light went orange, went green for five seconds, and shut off.

I unplugged the computer for a few minutes, made some coffee. Nothing. I tried poking the little pinhole with a paper clip. Nothing. At this point, I started to feel an odd sense of deja vu.

I broke out the system install disks and tried to reboot from there. The computer wouldn't even stay on long enough to recognize the disks. We're in trouble.

Later that day: I notice that my iPod battery doesn't seem to last for more than 20 minutes. I guess we'll have to replace that, too.

Luckily, my office has a spare and rarely used laptop they're willing to let me use. There's no Ethernet port, but my wireless modem still seems to be working, so I swap in my wi-fi card from the dead laptop. It's now our only home computer.

Monday: I take the iMac down to the Mac Store to get a diagnosis. When I called earlier, the person who answered the phone suggested that it might be a hard drive problem. I asked the pivotal question: Can you pull the data off the hard drive if that's the case? She said it was very possible.

Our iMac is our life. All of our pictures of Oliver live there. (Some of them are in other locations, like Shutterfly and Flickr, but the original form is on the Mac.) Years of resumes, a couple of tax returns, drafts of short stories and chapter beginnings that aren't backed up anywhere else, all of our passwords. WAV files of Oliver babbling and laughing. Our life.

I have to remind myself that we have backups of many of the photos. We have physical copies of many of them. And he's only nine months old - it's not like there'll never be pictures of him again. But we have so many from his early early days, and they are all meaningful, and they are all irreplacable, and I'm kicking myself now for not backing up those photos weekly when I had a chance.

At the Mac Store, they agree that they can try to back up the data. As always, there's no guarantees. They force me to buy a ginormous (80 gigs!!!) external hard drive for $129 to save the data. The other option is paying $90 for them to save the data, and then $40 per DVD. Extortion.

I also pay a $45 diagnostic fee. I may have to kick in another $45 if they can't find the problem in 30 minutes. The tech says that it might be a power problem or a logic board problem, but then he loses my support when he admits he can't even open an iMac by himself. Question in my head: if you're just a glorified cashier working in the support department, why are you telling me what might be wrong with the computer?

We might have to buy two hard drives now. R's sister says she may have a spare laptop she can give to us. I am grateful beyond words.

Tuesday: My iPod ran for an hour and forty-five minutes yesterday before I had to plug it back in. Maybe our luck's changing.

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