It Happened

Well it happened. I was told it would happen and I’ll be dammed if it didn’t. I was told to be prepared for when it happened and was given ample and repeated warnings about it happening. And finally after six plus years of using Macintosh computers it happened, I experienced my first major system failure.

I never had a major system failure with my Performa 550, (Unless you count the time I rolled it down a flight of stairs, but that was more like a computer crash, not a system failure), and my 2 year old iMac has been humming along admirably ever since the day it showed up on my doorstep. So in some respects I guess you could say I was lucky to have gone this long without any major problems. However, on the other hand, having gone so long without anything bad ever happening in my little at home computer world, I was, because of that good luck, not prepared. I should have been but I wasn’t.

When it happened the first thing that ran through my little procrastinating brain and out my mouth was, Oh shit, this can’t be happening, I’m not ready for this to happen. Why did it have to happen now? Why did it have to happen to me?

What had happened was a soft freeze of my monitor after I downloaded a piece of trial trucking software called, “Trucking Buddy.” Normally when I download software it always comes from one of the Mac download sites but this particular piece of software did not and consequently when it showed up on my desktop with the extension .exe attached to it I chuckled at my stupidity and proceeded to drag the file to the trash. In doing so I inadvertently double clicked the file and that’s when everything on the monitor froze except for the mouse. I waited a couple of minutes to see if my iMac would fix itself but when it didn’t I used the restart button. Upon restart I was greeted with a blinking question mark on top of a folder icon. This is when the Oh shit, etc. etc. came pouring out my face. I had never seen the blinking question mark before but somehow I instinctively knew it wasn’t a good sign. After a quick search through an old edition of David Pogue’s Mac Secrets my worse fears were confirmed, a blinking question mark on startup is not a good sign.

I had all of my trucking records that I would need to do my taxes this year on this hard drive. I couldn’t afford to lose this data, I just couldn’t! And before you ask, “What about your backup copy?” Let me just say, “Don’t ask!”

I almost panicked. My first thought was to unplug everything and roll the iMac down the stairs as I had done with my Performa. I remember doing that to my old 550 and recall how it worked fine afterwards. Just as I was about to let the iMac tumble down the stairs I came to my senses and remembered that nothing was wrong with the Performa when I dropped it down the stairs, so maybe that wasn’t such a good place to begin with my troubleshooting. I decided to save that work around for when all else failed.

I plugged the iMac back in and scrounged around my desk area till I found the Mac OS 9 disk and spent the next twenty minutes looking in my old Mac books trying to find out what keys to hold down in order to start up from the CD. After twenty minutes with my head in the book I raised it to give it a rest and noticed right there on the OS 9 CD laying in the CD-ROM tray where the words, “To start up from this CD, hold down the C key as the computer starts up.” I begin to think a ride down the stairs might be the way to go.

Okay, I start the son of a …, I start the iMac up from the CD and run Disk First Aid. Whoa! “Volume Bit Map needs minor repair. Volume Header needs minor repair. HFS wrapper partition is damaged.” And the worse one, “Mount check found serious errors.” Disk First Aid fixed all but that last one.

Luckily I was still able to get to my hard drive and my all-important trucking data. Also, my SuperDisk Drive was still able to mount, so I shoved a disk into the drive and copied all my important files to the disk and breathed a sigh of relief. Now if I had to erase the hard drive I would at least be able to keep the IRS happy and that’s an important part of my life. Trust me, those are the last people you’d want to piss off.

As it turned out I never had to erase the hard drive. All I had to do was reinstall the System software. I didn’t believe the Read Me literature when it told me the reinstall would keep a copy of my old System Folder so I could save all my preferences, added extensions, control panels and the like, so I made a copy of it myself and renamed it “Just in case”. But low and behold after the reinstall there it was, “Previous System Folder” right next to the new one. “Just in case” went into the trash and I moved all the stuff I wanted to keep from the old folder into the new one.

I’m back in business now. Disk First Aid gives me a consistent, “Hard Drive appears to be OK,” message every time I run it.

I can’t say for certain that double clicking on that stupid .exe file caused my problems but if I can blame my problems on something PC. I will.

As far as keeping updated backup copies of all my important files? Well, I suppose it’s a good idea, but really, what fun is life without a little risk involved, something to get the old adrenaline moving.

Okay, okay, so I did make backups for my important data but I didn’t make them easy to find. I labeled the disk, “Miscellaneous Computer Stuff.” So the next time something bad happens I can still experience the adrenal rush of not being able to find something that I’m pretty sure I have. This is how I add excitement to my life. Pretty sad, huh?

I think I’ll now go roll this machine down the stairs just to see how it holds up. If you don’t hear from me again, you’ll pretty much know the reason.

Pete Miner

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