Monday, June 11, 2012

The Geek's Nightmare

I hate to trouble you, world, with tales of my computer woes, but - I have to write something about my computer woes. It has been a trial, this weekend - what you see above is the sight that greeted me when I came home Friday and booted up the old iMac: a black screen - and nothing could change it. It may be complicated - at first I thought it was just dead, but in the process of trying to resurrect the thing, I noticed it seemed to be booting: I hear the start up chime; I hear the disk spinning; all the USB stuff lights up.... There might be hope - I even went the trouble of buying an external monitor, in hopes I could get that to show me whats on the machine - didn't work, but who knows. If some video component is gone, I could still get the guts out of it.

None of this is quite as bad as it could be. I bought a new laptop last year, and was thinking, even then, that I might want to hedge against the age of the iMac. It's 4 years old, and getting close to where things stop working - usually because software stops working - I bought the laptop because my old laptop (vintage 2004) wouldn't run any of the Intel chip software for the mac - or flash - or... On the other hand, I was thinking about similar incompatibilities with the iMac, not a hardware failure. And it is a bitter blow, as one of the things I thought I could do with it, if I stopped using it as an everyday computer was treat it like an region-2 DVD player - that nice screen and all... Looks like that hope's out the window. But - because I had the laptop, I have been able to get back running without too much trouble, and with an upgraded computer to boot.

No - it's the frustration and the panic of it that gets me. And some missing data. That to could be worse - fortunately, I am reasonably careful about backups, doing a couple big ones every year, and enough intermediate ones to keep me from losing to much. Having a laptop helps - I move things back and forth between the machines quite a bit, so again, I have almost everything almost up to date. Even pictures, which could be a worry - I have taken to loading most pictures and video onto both machines, so even though the desktop had the main iPhoto library, it was backed up, and the recent stuff was on the laptop. Lost a lot of cat pictures, but that's about it. The one big exception - and big is the right word - is music. I don't think I have backed up iTunes since 2009 - I guess the Friday 10s could get a lot less varied in the coming weeks. On the other hand, it's probably a good thing that I haven't been buying all that much music in the last few years - if I restored my music from 2009 I'd have 90% of it, I suspect. Still.... I am not sure I am going to do that, though - at least not until I know whether I can get the data off the other one.

Partly because I have all of it loaded on my iPod - which, 5 years after I bought it, is still going strong. (No - that's a lie, though a strange lie. The iPod referred to in that post did not last a day - all that whining about windows? turned out, the problem was the iPod. I took it back, got a different one, and that is the machine that is working as well today as it did then, and that very well indeed. It plays fine, it holds a charge, whether I use it 6 hours at a stretch or leave it alone for a month, and I still have half the capacity to go. I should have loaded my jazz records in there, though that would have been that much more to lose...) And since I don't buy all that many records these days, and when I do, it can take me months to get around to the simple task of loading them in to iTunes - well - I could pretty much continue my current musical existence without missing a beat. So there's that.

Still. Still. That iMac was a nice machine. It is convenient having a desktop and a laptop with separate functions. Laptops, used as laptops, are always vulnerable - much more likely to be lost or broken or something - and that would be a disaster. I have been loose with my backing up (partly because I was moving enough stuff between the two machines) - that has to stop. And - the new laptop being fairly new, and running Lion - well, looks like I will have to upgrade a bunch of software to keep things running. And some of the connections are different. And - whatever. It is a pain. I live on these things, and am quite lost without them.

Oh - and to add insult (and injury) to this injury - this happened to my favorite softball bat! what a terrible week for machinery!

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