Quirky Isn’t The Word

Plenty of people claim that their technology is a little “weird”, that they have to give their machines a bit of a kick before they’ll actually do anything. But I think I’m a winner when it comes to oddities about the tech I rely on to produce…well, anything, really.

A few years ago, I decided that a PC wasn’t doing what I wanted. I actually suspect (and blame) Scrivener had a large part of my decision to finally invest in a Mac. Plus one of my student friends had a Mac, and it was an all-singing, all-dancing, display of everything I ever wanted and would ever want out of a computer.

I took the plunge and bought my MacBook, installed Scrivener and sat there, gloated, for weeks at how amazing everything was on it. I could make web sites on it! Never mind that I could already make web sites on my PC, shush, this was something else. I could do everything I wanted to do on my PC, and it was just so much prettier!

About two, maybe three months into the honeymoon period of said MacBook, I started to get my first problems. When I booted it, occasionally I would get a folder with a question mark in it. This is supposed to be a very bad thing within the Apple Circle. Basically, it’s like something’s wrong with your brain, that kind of serious. Sometimes it worked, other times it didn’t. That was about it. So after a little while, I sent it to the Authorised Apple Repair Center, where they fitted it with a shiny new hard drive. I lost a few chapters of Divided They Fall I was working on at that point, but it wasn’t the end of the world. And everything was great again. For a bit.

You would think that at this point, having seen how unstable a platform this machine was, I would have taken precautions and set up some kind of (or any) backup routine.

I didn’t.

I continued happily for a while, until eventually, about 18 months ago, I started to get another problem with my MacBook, which I now call the “Confused Restart”. Basically, whenever I booted up, it would get to a point and then tell me it needed restarting. In the beginning, it would do it about 3 times then come on. I learned all kinds of useless stuff about Macs at this point, the fact that you could reset your RAM by hitting a key combination the main hallejulia at this point, since it seemed to work.

In any case, it came to a point where it wouldn’t boot at all from the drive, and I had to take it back to the repair centre (out of warranty, this time), only to find that their official diagnosis was “we don’t know what the hell’s up with it”.

They replaced the hard drive again. I lost a large amount of Divided They Fall this time. I whined a lot about this at the time, but of course looking back it’s only a reminder to how important backups actually are, so in hindsight, it was still my fault.

You cannot rely on technology to do anything on your behalf. You have to have something set in place for if when something goes wrong.

In any case, the repair centre charged me close to £100 to “repair” the MacBook. Within a month, the problems were back, and me–being a pussy–didn’t take it back demanding that they look at it again without charging me.

So I abandonded the MacBook and looked into eBaying it. I also bought a MacMini ( I still wanted–and by this point was quite addicted to–Scrivener). Then, one evening, I was going through my boot up routine (consisted of boot up, restart, restart, restart, RAM reset, retart, restart, boot), when the cat, Neo, decided it would be fun to sit on the MacBook. By this point of course, I had learned the importance of backups and invested however much it was at the time for a USB hard drive, so I didn’t care of whether or not the cat (wet from the night out chasing field mice or whatever) sat on it.

To my surprise, the MacBook came on the first time, with the cat sat grooming itself with its furry backside rooted on the keys. After pushing Neo straight off, I turned the machine off and tried it again.

Same message, “You need to restart your computer”.

I rested my arm on the keys and rebooted.

It came on, starting with its usual chirpy “I’m alive” note and starting into the operating system.

I was practically crying at this point, I’m sure.

So now, I have to start my MacBook (the machine that, through it all, is still my machine of choice when it comes to anything writing or anything vaguely resembling writing) by leaning on it.

Yes, quirky isn’t the word.

Oh, and PROGRESS! Yes I’m not just babbling on about my lack of technological prowess.

2010 02 28 Scrivener Progress

This is what I have stopped doing in order to waffle about my writing tools.

I’ll get back to it now.