I am writing you from Planet Laptop Failure. I have been living here for three weeks now and I'm getting used to it. The food is pretty good, but I can't access my photo library or have email. One fine morning in late June I woke up, turned on my 15" Mac PowerBook Pro, launched my email program, Eudora, and watched as an inky black Curtain of Doom fell down over my desktop. Frantic clicking and cursor dragging revealed small, polka-dotted windows of desktop which then closed again. The computer was running but the display was shot.
On July 6, I sent the computer off to Apple to be repaired under my Apple Care extended warranty. This, after probably five hours on the phone with three different technicians, troubleshooting, holding down keys and taking out batteries and finally reinstalling the operating system from the discs that had come with the laptop. Just so you know, I hate, hate, hate being walked through scary things like that with someone on the other end of the phone telling me what to do. It is the ninth ring of Hell. The last technician I spoke to reassured me, when we had done every dumb combination of restarting and holding down multiple keys, and finally agreed that it had to be sent in to be repaired. "If they have to wipe your hard drive to repair it, they'll keep a backup copy."
Ohhh-kaayyy. This didn't sound good, this "wipe your hard drive" talk.
I did a final backup before sending the laptop off. I grabbed a few files, put them on a flash drive, just the essential stuff. Good thing.
The computer was back in two days. A bunch of bad keys had been replaced and the hinges had been replaced and the screen was no longer dark down the left side and it was silky smooth and running cool, not hot as a durn firecracker, hot as asphalt at the beach...And when I fired it up I got some jiggy electronic music and a screen saying WELCOME! in about ten languages. Enjoy your new Mac! Wha??? Where's my desktop? Where are my files? Where are my 25,000 photos? WHERE'S MY DATA??!!!
It was gone. Everything was gone. They'd wiped my hard drive out without so much as a howdedoo. The first technician I spoke with (make that croaked to), when I asked him where my data was, responded,
"They probably had to wipe your hard drive to fix it. "
"OK, well, did they keep a backup? I was told that if they have to "wipe my hard drive" they'd keep a backup."
"Who told you THAT?"
"Hold on, please." Ten minutes of megahold later, he said, "That's not the case."
Apple had my phone number. They had my email. They had my cell number. Heck, I'd bonded with three different technicians in the course of the week. And they still erased my hard drive without telling me. Niiiice. Wait. Is this the same company that has cute lil' Justin Long as its ultrahip pitchman? It's acting more like the company behind the nerd with too-tight Dockers. What kind of thing is that to do, to erase a loyal customer's hard drive? Someone who's been staring at your apple with a bite out of it since 1992? Who panics when forced to use a PC at the library?
Another frantic, lengthy call to a fourth technician at Apple. Lengthy walking through of attempting to locate a backup program so I could try to recover my data off my external hard drive. Whoops! They'd erased my backup application. "You'll have to take your computer in to your nearest Apple store." At that point I was swallowing tears. I barely managed to squeak, "Okay."
"Goodbye, Julie," he responded. We hung up. He seemed remorseful, but the words "I'm sorry" never passed his lips.
My "nearest Apple store" is 2 1/2 hours away. Do I have a day, maybe two, to kill? No. I don't. I put in three calls to my Apple store, where one Genius had assured me, "If you EVER have a problem, call me!" Well, I did, and I have a very big problem, and he didn't call me back. I think, this kind person excepted, Geniuses probably get very used to fending off weepy people who've lost everything through no fault of their own. Who leave long, tragic messages about lost data and halted careers. And besides, they're busy. They've got truckloads of new iPhones to sell. So I turned to My Own Personal Genius, Bill of the Birds, who said, "Let's install a backup program ourselves, and try to get that data."
Correction: I just got a message on my cell phone this evening, a very sweet, cheery message, saying that my weepy message had been posted somewhere he didn't see it...call me back...by then we'd already waded through the problem ourselves.
And we did. It took eight hours, but we did it. The Phantom external hard drive ground away and the computer hummed away and they talked to each other and did data trophallaxis and by God it worked! It is good to have a Genius in one's home. As each month's files popped up on my desktop, I breathed a huge sigh of relief. At last I had my July work back, and I was almost in business again. I BELIEVE IN BACKUP.
And then the time came to download Eudora again, to try to reactivate my email. We did that, went online and got the latest version. Installed it. And the moment we launched it, the Black Curtain of Doom fell back across the screen of my computer, with its brand new logic board and its brand new video card and its brand new thermal core and its brand new hinges. We were right back to Square One. Unless...
Genius Bill frantically started de-installing Eudora. "ZICK! It's EUDORA that's doing it!" he shouted. Through what bits of the desktop he could still see, he threw out bits and pieces of Eudora until he got it the h-ll off my hard drive. And we shut down, and when we restarted, it was OK again.
Just FYI, Eudora is an outdated email program that is no longer supported by its parent, Quaalcom. So if you have a problem, you're on your own. Like, if your screen goes completely black when you launch the program, and then gets jazzy polka dots and snow and diagonal lines...and then goes black... And my computer-savvy friends tell me that this sounds like a compatability problem. Whatever it is, dread Asian virus or compatability issue, I can tell you you do not want to see a Black Curtain of Doom on your desktop, ever, ever, ever. It is not nice. I'm getting out of Eudora. And wondering if .mac is where I need to be. My head hurts.
My laptop seems fine, now that Eudora's off it. Except that I have no email, and I can't access my photo library. I've updated iPhoto just this evening and it still tells me to get the latest update before I can see my photos. !@#$#$#!! I'm working on both of those issues. Now I have to call my Genius back. I'm about out of tricks.
Having no photo library, my friends, is a major buzzkill for a blogger. I mean, doing this five days a week for almost four years is hard enough when you CAN access your photo library.
Mercury has been in retrograde for awhile. Murphy's Law seems to be the only one in force here. Late June was an a-skicker: First the kitchen sink, then both lawnmowers, then the air conditioner/furnace broke down. Then my laptop. Then the email (Eudora again!) on my Old Slow Computer froze up. I'm reduced to reading my messages off SquirrelMail online. No address book, nuthin'. I can only react to incoming emails; I have no correspondence to refer to, no way to reach out. I'm tired, but I'm clawing my way through it. I've learned a lot about computers and hard drives and I've learned a lot about Apple. I appreciate my resourceful husband even more than ever. And I've learned about backup. If you're not backing up weekly, you stand to lose everything. And trust me, you don't want to lose everything. Buy that external hard drive, get a backup program and learn how to use it.
So. I'm taking a break. Not because I want to, although when I think about it, I really need to. Maybe this is just Mercury's way of slowing me down. Trying to be grateful for that.
From Planet Laptop Failure, I remain
Your faithful but hog-tied
Labels: AppleCare Protection Plan, backing up, Black Curtain of Doom, computer woes, Eudora, external hard drive, MacBook Pro, McIntosh