The Crash

It’s been many weeks since I’ve posted, but I do have an excuse. Over the holidays I was traumatized by my Mac Mini. First, it was processing at a glacial speed, which was bad, and when I took it in to be checked (at an Apple Store, in a packed mall, a week before Christmas), I was told that my hard drive had crashed. “That’s good,” the young man in the bright red T-shirt told me, and in a way it was. The hard drive is major, but it isn’t an outrageously expensive fix.

So, I left the computer in the shop for organ replacement, along with the nifty little external backup drive, which I had remembered to bring with me. After the new hard drive was in, the folks at Apple would reinstall the software and files from the backup, and I would be up and running again. They said they’d call within forty-eight hours.

After about sixty hours, I called them. “I was going to call you,” the guy said. “There was nothing on your backup device.” I hadn’t hooked it up correctly to the computer; it turned out there was much more involved than just plugging it in.

So,  went back to this bustling mall on the Sunday before Christmas to pick up a repaired computer with nothing on it.

I did have a plan B. Carbonite was one of the first in-the-clouds backup systems, and I had been subscribing, by auto-renewal so I didn’t forget. Only two months earlier, my credit card had expired and Carbonite had called for the new numbers. I paused for a moment then. Did I need this second backup? Yes, yes, yes, I did, and fortunately I knew it at the time.

The day after I got the computer home, the stored files began streaming… trickling… drib-drip-dripping into my computer.

I spent a lot of time talking with Carbonite’s friendly technical support crew, and twice I got to speak to people in the second echelon. The first time I did, we scrapped the first day and a half of downloads and restarted the process, routing the files into one discrete directory on my desktop. They were streaming again.

By the next morning, they were back to a drip. I saw how many files were left, how it was taking three minutes per file… and I called technical support. “At this rate,” I said, “it’s going to take another twenty-three days to download my files.”

That was the second time they sent me to the upper echelon. This young man told me that my Internet connection was slow.

I asked him, “What does that mean, ‘slow’?”

“Here, where I am, and even at home on my own computer, I can download ninety-four megabytes a second,” he told me. “You’re downloading two.”

He, of course, lives in a city and has huge cables, while I, a country girl, was downloading my entire computer through a telephone line.

Whidbey Telecom is a divine company. They fixed it so that I could increase my Internet access package for the time it took me to download my computer, and they also delivered the improved equipment on that very afternoon—Christmas Eve!—and let me keep it after I lowered my access.

They’re all great, actually—the brilliant techies at Apple and Carbonite and Whidbey Tel.

I got it all back on Christmas morning, and I knew it was a gift. But I haven’t felt the same about my computer since. The magic is gone.

What was horrifying about the experience—and it was horrifying—was seeing how much I depend on this technology for support in my work, information about my world, connection to my friends, entertainment…and how little I understand about how it all functions and how to use it intelligently.

4 Responses to “The Crash”

  1. Lisa Mitchell January 11, 2015 at 3:42 pm #

    OMG. Worse than I knew! Nothing worse than failed tech that we so rely on. And it’s really fine that you and I don’t understand it. Our tech guys probably don’t understand Kashmir Shaivism either. I’d rather spend my precious free time meditating and contemplating That!

    • Margaret January 11, 2015 at 6:24 pm #

      I agree with you there. Still, I’m putting my tech notes into one little notebook now, taking some responsibility for the workings of my world. What was it Rishi Patanjali said–yoga is skill in action!

  2. Matt McDowell January 12, 2015 at 11:39 pm #

    Tech guy and aspiring yogi here 🙂

    Margaret, so sorry to hear about your tech woes. Hard drive failure is something we all deal with. There’s a saying: “there are two types of people: 1) those who backup, and 2) those who will.” Kudos to you for having multiple backups of your stuff!

    I also wanted to recommend bootable backups. In the event of a hard drive failure, this allows you to start your computer from an external drive, meaning you can be back up and running in minutes, rather than days. See: http://www.macworld.com/article/2461362/

    For the growing numbers of us whose livelihoods depend on technology, this is a necessity. I can personally recommend both Carbon Copy Cloner and SuperDuper — they have saved the day.

    One final note with regard to tech fixes: no tool can be a substitute for staying calm. Troubleshooting is a learned skill, and the first step is learning to quiet one’s mind before doing anything else .

    • Margaret Bendet January 13, 2015 at 2:11 am #

      Thanks, Matt! Looks like great advice.