Saturday, October 03, 2009

Darkness Falls

So I arrived at the office on a Tuesday morning, put my Mac Book Pro on my desk, opened the lid and hit the space bar and nothing happened. It took a few seconds for me to register the nothing, because it was so totally unexpected; I felt the first twinge of alarm as I forced the machine to reboot, and still got a blank, black screen. A few minutes of emergency troubleshooting procedures, including removing and replacing the battery, and I knew I was in trouble. I was pretty sure that the machine was powering up, but the screen was dead. Plugging in my external monitor didn't help: the external monitor announced that it was not getting a signal, and went back to sleep.

And of course it was a busy morning, I was due in meetings, and I really didn't have time for a technology meltdown. Fortunately I had cleared all email requiring an urgent response earlier that morning, while I having my first cup of coffee. I could access email from my iPhone, but many of the documents that I needed were stuck in the corporate document management system, which is built on Interwoven, and can only be accessed via Outlook or Internet Explorer. So I logged a call with our Internal Support people. and got on with the meetings.

A meeting or so later, Internal Support handed me a loan laptop, a revolting piece of junk (I won't name the brand) running Windows XP at the speed of an arthritic snail. I struggled through a few more hours, my stress levels rising every time some absurd piece of Microsoft nonsense got between me and getting things done. Finally I got a break, and called the Apple support line. A pleasant young woman walked me through the inevitable diagnostic procedures, and confirmed what I already suspected: the dreaded nVidia 8600 bug had finally struck down my machine. I had known it was possible, but the reports were so long ago that I hoped I had been spared.

I wrote down my case number, and walked down to the Apple Store. I had already checked, and the Genius Bar was booked out until Friday, but I was due to go to Melbourne for a few days break on Saturday, I had no intention of going without a Mac. The Genius Bar people wait listed me, and happily I ran into an old friend, so I had someone to chat to while I waited. The wait was only about 20 minutes, and the resident genius confirmed the diagnosis: dead nVidia processor. At least 5 days wait for a repair. Arrrggghhh!!

So I did what any DINK with an Amex card does: I left the Genius Bar, went down the retail level, and bought a new 15.4" Mac Book Pro. Fortunately my friend was there to provide input, since I was a bit stressed, and would have overlooked the Mini DP to VGA adapter that I needed.

I then went back to the office, wrapped up the working day, and headed home to start reconstructing my electronic life. I had been planning to buy a new Mac Book, but I had really hoped to wait until Oracle finalises the purchase of Sun, and pays out my shares. I had intended to take the money (whatever there is of it) and put it towards new Mac, which would have given me a nice sense of closure. What I hadn't planned was having to conduct an emergency rebuild. Fortunately I had done a Time Machine backup on the preceding Sunday night, but I didn't just want to restore from that. I really wanted a clean install of Snow Leopard. So I started by booting of the Snow Leopard DVD, and getting the install running while I did some planning.

The first thing I load, always, is Synium's Cleanapp. Then Camino, EagleFiler, 1Password, Vmware Fusion, Curio, Evernote. I recovered bookmarks, restored my essential data from Time Machine, and by the next day I could work. I still have a fair bit of clean up to do, and I need to take a cold, hard look at some of my old data and convince myself that it really needs to be on my laptop, rather than archived on an external disk where I can get it if I really need it. But that can happen over the next few days, while I am on leave, because I getting renovations done and need to be at home. But apart from the unexpected expense, to really wasn't that bad.


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