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September 27, 2005

Mac, He Dead

Well, that was interesting. I came upstairs a little earlier today to discover that my Mac had entirely died on me: Black screen, couldn't get it to reboot, and so on and so forth. The good news is that it's under warranty; the bad news is that, well, my Mac is dead, and with it some stuff I've been working on. As they say: Arrrrrrgh. But at least The Ghost Brigades was finished and sent off. Had the Mac died before then, all that would be left of it right now would be tiny shards of metal and plastic.

Anyway, if you've e-mailed me anything of any import in the last couple of weeks, you might want to resend. I can't guarantee I have a copy anymore.

Posted by john at September 27, 2005 06:19 PM

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Comments

Steve Eley | September 27, 2005 06:55 PM

Could just be something simple like the power supply or a blown capacitor on the motherboard. You might easily still have all your stuff on the drive.

John Scalzi | September 27, 2005 06:57 PM

Oh, I'm not worried about the hard drive, actually. I'm sure everything on that is fine. I just can't get to it.

Sandra McDonald | September 27, 2005 08:33 PM

My iBook wouldn't power up about 3 weeks ago. The battery was charged, it was plugged in, I tried resetting the power managment whatever as outlined on the Apple web site, and nothing. Had to send it off. Wasn't under warranty, which sucks.

I love my iBook and mini Mac both, but I have seen at least four people on my lj friends list having iBook problems this month. It's like allergy season...

Nance | September 27, 2005 08:40 PM

I'm not hearing this. La la la la Macs rule Steve is God la la la la.

Mark J Musante | September 27, 2005 08:51 PM

Whatever you do, copy the contents of the hard drive before sending it off for repairs. There's no guarantee that the contents will survive.

Tom Nixon | September 27, 2005 08:52 PM

My year-old Toshiba notebook's hard drive gave up the ghost two weeks ago. Deader than a door nail and they couldn not get data off it. Thankfully, I didn't lose my latest book or other important things, but I did lose many, many emails (that I have sorted into directories based on topics). I've fixed that now.

domynoe | September 27, 2005 09:25 PM

My first pc was one that died every 4 weeks to 4 months - and the people who sold it to me swore up and down that it was something I was putting on the machine because their checks showed everything as A-okay. Obviously, I didn't go to them when I bought pc #2. But pc#1 did teach me to back everything up on a near daily basis.

Funny how the Dell hasn't needed that particular paranoia, but it's good to have anyway. ;)

David Klecha | September 27, 2005 09:26 PM

Backups rule. I've got a network setup now that grabs stuff from my two computers and my wife's and dumps it all to a portable harddrive. Unfortunately, I've only got the one Mac, so if it dies, some Mac-specific data would be a bit useless until it came back from being repaired. But hey, at least I wouldn't have to send it off and hope the data came back okay.

JonathanMoeller | September 27, 2005 09:32 PM

I rotate through nine 250MB ZIP disks for daily backup. Every day I back up all documents (writing, correspondence, blog, website, etc.) to one of the ZIP disks.

Then every time I finish a book draft, whether rough, revision, or final, I burn a data CD-R and store it in a different location in the house.

Paranoid, yes, but I've found that when dealing with computers and key data, you need to be as paranoid as a despised, yet megalomaniacal, despot.

Maureen M. McCarty | September 27, 2005 09:41 PM

Urk. My iMac has 6 months left on its warranty, but I'm going to take your post as a cosmic hint that it is time to back up once again. Thanks! :-)

RooK | September 27, 2005 10:18 PM

It's a sign!
I understand thee, Lord, and shall not further contemplate the Mac purchase that bedevilled my unworthy thoughts, even though I was sorely tempted by the 30" high definition monitor and the lurid promises of sexy GUIs.

Get Thee Behind Me, Steve Jobs!

Anonymous | September 28, 2005 12:52 AM

Hurr hurr. "Just get a Mac."

Anna Feruglio Dal Dan | September 28, 2005 05:25 AM

Mac break like everything else under the sun. They lull you with a false sense of security until they do simply because nothing seems to go wrong until the Major Stroke.

This said, my iMac HD gave up the ghost in April 2003. I got my files off it before it died completely but forgot to back up my photos. Which is why I have every text file I ever wrote including some I wish I didn't but none of my old photos. Sigh.

The Apple people got the content of my Home folder, but I had cleverly put the photos somewhere else.

Anyway, since I was then in the progress of finishing a translation and I was to go to Clarion in a couple of months, I got a Powerbook. My iMac came back smarter than before apart from a sticky bit on the body I haven't managed to rub off yet, and has worked without a glitch ever since. My Powerbook has been my joy and delight. And everything gets duplicated between them and to an external FireWire drive. And the important stuff goes to the .mac space too.

Being a long time Mac user, it's not that I exactly advise having two of the things around, but since I hang on to the old one until it's hopelessly obsolete and by that time it's usually worthless on the used market, I've often had a very old, very maddening but workable fallback machine around (in the closet).

Leslie | September 28, 2005 09:34 AM

Had an ibook die on me last spring. (fried motherboard after a lightening strike so close that it degaused the tv). We pulled the hard drive out, stuck it in a firewire enclosure and pulled all the data off - immense relief. Hope your data turns out to be easily retrievable!

Charlie Stross | September 29, 2005 11:53 AM

Two tips:

1. Buy the biggest baddest iPod you can get -- ideally the 60Gb color one -- and put it on your books as "external hard disk drive". Use it as such. Fill the remaining space with music and get a car kit so you remember to take it with you when you're out of the house. Presto: instant off-site backup in case your home burns down. (Remembering to back up your work after each day's work is just a matter of habit.)

2. If the iPod is too big/expensive, get yourself one of these. (The 1Gb model goes for about US $100 on ebay.) 1Gb will hold your life's work if you're a writer, it'll play in anything that can take SD cards (PDAs) and in anything with a USB port (Macs, PCs), and it's the size of a postage stamp.

My documents tree fits in 480Mb right now, including installers/regcodes for the software tools I use to write them. I keep a backup copy on my second Mac, updated every week. I keep a backup copy on my iPod and an external desktop hard drive, backed up daily. I keep copies on my mobile phone and PDA, backed up whenever I remember (typically, major deltas to a story or book). I've got an Ultra-II SD-plus card on order and when it comes, I may well work on it live (as a USB drive) and save the thing on my laptop as a backup. You can never have too many backups. Backups, backups, backups, Mmm.

John Scalzi | September 29, 2005 12:30 PM

Actually, I do something very similar #2, so I can confirm this is an excellent idea. When I was writing TGB, I also saved a copy on each computer and periodically uploaded the book to a protected folder on Scalzi.com -- had the Mac died during the writing, I would have lost a chapter at most. Which would be immensely frustrating but ultimately not critical.

This time around the only thing of not that I can't access is a short story I was working on, and the publisher of that has given me an extra week to get it in, so again, it's a bummer but not critical. The irony is I had told myself to back it up, but then Athena called me downstairs, and when I finally got back upstairs a couple hours later, the Mac had gone down. Stupid me.

But yes, to echo Charlie: Backup, backup, backup.

Dave | September 29, 2005 11:30 PM

Best thing to do is get an external usb drive, format it on the PC, then you can save all your files too it, and as long as you don't have any proprietary mac formats (Pages documents for example) you should be able to open them and edit them on the PC, just in case.

zuleme | September 30, 2005 08:33 AM

Maany people don't know there is a lithium battery that needs to be replaced every few years, when the voltage runs down the computer will just shut down. Also, you can try to restart aand zap the PRAM.
If you want to, email me if either of these are possible. My husband is a Mac tech. I have 8 or 9 of them and do video editing and music for work. He will give you instructions to try the PRAM, or you can look it up in a Mac book.
Loved your Agent to the Stars and you inspired me to start putting my whole first novel for kids on my site and write the second on line.

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