Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Frater ex Machina

(Pardon my Latin.)

I went down to the Mac Store in Seattle last week for a diagnosis. The counter tech explained that the diagnosis would cost a minimum $45, and they'd also have to transfer the data from the hard drive somewhere else. I had two options: a) Everything would be transferred temporarily to their servers, and I'd have to pay $40 per DVD to get it back, plus $90 for the work of backing it all up, or b) I could buy an external hard drive and they'd transfer everything onto it at no additional cost.

"What's the smallest hard drive you have?"

"Well, normally, that would be our 80 gig model, which costs $99, but we're out. The next smallest is 160 GB."

I don't think it's appropriate to describe 160 GB of memory as "small," but that's just me. So I bought a monstrous hard drive that the tech assured me would work on PCs or Macs.

I got the call later that week. A logic board died. As it happens, it's the logic board that controls the video display, so the hard drive was functioning fine. I just couldn't see anything, which, as you can imagine, makes computer use difficult.

I've bought used Macs for years now, transplanting old hard drives into new shells as needed. The last computer cost $199.95 (the price tag is still affixed to its glowing green cranium). Replacing the logic board would have cost nearly that much, so we decided to let it die and pull the data off the external hard drive by plugging it into my borrowed PC. At least we'd be able to back up our photos and the other irreplacable stuff.

"So I can plug this into a PC, right?"

"Oh, no," the tech told me. "If you plug it into a PC, you'll have to reformat it and that'll erase all of the data." Oh joy. Now I had the contents of my old computer locked into a hard drive that I couldn't access.

So I called my brother Backslash Bluesky, the resident computer genius, and asked him to help me pull my data off the computer. He promised to come by on Sunday, after "picking up something."

He showed up on Sunday with a bag from the Mac Store in his hand. "What did you have to pick up there?"

"Oh, just a little something." He pulled a boxed Mac Mini out of the bag. "It's for you."

I got teary.

When R came home later, she got teary, too. The Mini was the perfect unexpected present at the perfect time. When I dropped off my brother off that night, he also lent me a monitor to plug the Mini into. We now have a brand new computer with the latest version of OSX, programs coming out the wazoo, twice the RAM of the old machine, and a CD/DVD burner inside. And it's new. I've never before owned a new computer.

My brother has never ever given me such an enormous present before. I was positively gobsmacked. Still am.

My brother is the best.

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