Monday, March 22, 2010

Of My Ridiculous Relationship With Computer Products

When I was four my father did not help teach me how to read. Instead, he taught me to type by rote the precise series of keystrokes necessary for MS DOS to run Commander Keen from 5" floppy on an old (then new) IBM desktop with maybe a 256 processor.

When I was twelve I had a classic beige Dell that ran Windows ME. Through some bizarre occult ritual performed on the device before it arrived at my home, this little box was the complete opposite of every other ME machine, that is, it actually ran programs. But not just programs that didn't run on other ME machines. Any program. Because ME was the last Microsoft OS to run with a DOS base, I could play all my early-nineties CD-ROM games, floppy games that'd been transferred to 31/2 floppy and a host of other games that should not have functioned properly.

Most recently, after a full 18 months of talking up the little gadget, I convinced my mom that an iPhone actually was the cheapest method by which to upgrade from admittedly wonderful and always in-service Verizon EnV and sleek clamshell models to something that could receive weather updated and browse the internet. And replace her maxed-out iPod. And her old Palm Pilot. And her expensive coverage plan.

Anyway, the point is I got an iPhone and I was as happy and a dung beetle with the world's largest 3G-enabled dung ball.

Aaaaand a friend of mine in a CS major who also works for Apple. For my birthday, he said he'd jailbreak my iPhone for me, something at which I had already failed repeatedly.

And then he did too.

I seriously have like the fucking Alcatraz of iPhones. Shit is impenetrable.

Fine. I can live happily without. So I don't have tethering and I can't make it play the sound of the Power Rangers communicator every time a get a text message. I've learned to deal.

Well tonight I came back from a 30 minute dinner to fine my hard drive clicking and every program not responding. The cursor moved, as little good that did me. Gentling tapping the beast did nothing, shooting down my go-to Fonzie method of machine maintenance. I had to to a hard shutdown. Then … nothing.

I got the white start-up screen and a little flashing folder with a question mark. According to the documentation this was either a Mayan glyph representing creation or my computer telling me it could not find the hard disk to start from.

Some frantic calls to Apple Friend later, I took the "couldn't hurt" approach; I unplugged the power and used a coin to release the battery from the rest of the laptop. I was disheartened to see Apple's fine construction prevented me from getting at any of the wiry bits without taking a real screwdriver the the body case. I was left with only one ultimate last-ditch doomsday sudden-death hail Mary desperation play:

I rubbed off the battery contacts and blew into my MacBook like an old Nintendo cartridge.

And I'll be damned if everything wasn't perfectly fine after a slightly drawn-out start-up and some minor prayers to the 'puter gods and a small goat sacrificed at a golden alter of Steve Jobs.

Guess I'm buying a new back-up drive tomorrow.

And a goat.

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