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Disaster / A Breath of Fresh Air

Sometimes, events unfold like a script.

Until very recently, I’d been writing away using my venerable MacBook Pro from 2007, which I’d pretty much thrashed six-ways till Sunday. I’d started to hanker for something a shade quicker, but thinking that the machine was for most part entirely adequate for writing, I decided to give things a boost by fitting a new SSD hard drive.

I did some research. I bought a drive. I bought an enclosure for the old one. I bought a Phillips #00 and a Torx T6 screwdriver. I bought a new external hard drive for backups. I bought Mac OSX Lion, to get everything running up-to-date.

Then the MacBook Pro died.

Not “started to have trouble”. Not “started to behave erratically.”

It died.

Turns out, the Nvidia chips in those MBPs had a flaw, and Apple were paying for repair up to four years after purchase. Of course, since I was into my fifth year, it chose to die. I’m not kidding – one day it was fine, the next it refuse to even do the startup chime. Dead. Gone. Departed this mortal coil.

I was in mourning. I’d had that Mac for ages. I’d created websites on it, edited high-def video, authored DVDs, written thousands of words for novels and short stories on it, designed posters for kung fu classes.

And suddenly it was gone.

I was literally on the brink of opening it up and fitting the new hard drive when it snuffed it. I couldn’t get past the irony of it all for a few days. Finally, I saw that, in fact, if it was going to die then it had picked the best time. If it had done it immediately after I’d fitted the drive, not only would I have blamed myself, but I wouldn’t have been able to return the drive for a refund. So, maybe it knew its time was approaching and fell on its sword out of loyalty to its master. That’s my line and I’m sticking to it.

So, instead I now have a MacBook Air. I have to say, it is rather tasty, and I think I’ll get a lot of work done on it. I also have to say, the process of getting back up and running post-MBP-death was made radically simpler by my having a Time Machine backup handy. I’ve been known to be slack with keeping up-to-date TM backups, but as fate would have it, the last thing I did with my old MBP was take a full backup. Phew.

I booted the new Mac, plugged in the backup disk, (waiting a while for stuff to copy), and we were away. OK, there were some niggles post-upgrade, but I got them sorted out without much difficulty.

Of course, throughout this episode I was able to continue writing because I keep my Scrivener files on Dropbox, and use its sync-with-external-folder feature with Dropbox and a text editor on my iPad. So, no slowdown there.

The message of this whole affair is:

  • Keep regular backups. You genuinely do not know if you machine will suddenly stop working tomorrow.
  • Using a cloud service for data can keep you rolling when your machine dies. Yay Dropbox!
  • Scrivener is awesome. Yay Scrivener! (OK, it didn’t really contribute much here, but it is awesome.)

And what did I do with the stuff I bought, aside from the SSD? I went ahead and opened up the old MBP to retrieve the hard disk and put in the enclose, and I’ll recycle the rest. At least I got to keep my techie credits.