Saturday, November 10, 2007

My PC is Gone, Baby, Gone.

I’m a pretty careful guy when it comes to caring for my systems and preserving my data. I’ve seen enough “data disasters” to last a lifetime.

You know the drill. You get the call from a relative or friend who has been dumping digital pictures onto their PC for the last 2 years and has never backed it up. Their hard drive is clanking, the PC won’t boot, and they’re frantic. “Oh my God, little Nell’s first communion pictures are on there!” they wail.

Usually you can recover some or all of their stuff but it’s always a pain in the butt and your friend or relative always stands behind you the whole time, wringing their hands and asking “How’s it lookin’?” every 5 minutes. Such a fun time! Once I even had to resort to a trick I learned from one of my coworkers to rescue data, freezing the hard drive. If you pop a bad drive in the freezer overnight sometimes it will work for about an hour after you take it out. It worked, but just barely. The drive started clanking again about halfway through the copy and died for good right after I finished.

I actually think there was divine intervention on that one. The drive belonged to a loved one who was particularly distraught and close to tears as I left for the evening with the dead drive in hand. I was flying home the next morning and although her computer was working, she had no hope of ever seeing her pictures again. Man, would I have loved to have seen her face when the FedEx guy delivered the DVD’s I created a few days later. That would have been priceless.

Anyway, we all say “I’ll never be that guy!” but it’s almost impossible not to be that guy.

I have a laptop, an iMac and a honkin’ Media Center PC at home. Any digital pictures and videos we take get loaded onto both the PC and the iMac, and they all get copied to a portable hard drive also. In addition, once every couple of weeks I burn a copy of the My Pictures folder onto a DVD. Same with the My Videos and the My Music folders and just because I’m totally anal, I also run the iTunes backup routine once a month and rip all purchased tracks to CD.

So, you would think that with all this preparation a machine meltdown wouldn’t be such a big deal for me. Well guess what? Even when you’re prepared it still sucks.

The other night, right after I finished the previous post, my PC went into a coma from which it still hasn’t recovered. It froze and that was it. I couldn’t even get it to POST, let alone reboot. Fried motherboard. Gone, Baby, Gone.

Luckily it’s still under warranty so we made a copy of the hard drive (told you I was anal) and off I went to Buy More. The store was great. They popped the hood, confirmed my original diagnosis, then packed it up and shipped it off on its long trip home to the manufacturer.

Beautiful, right?

Not exactly.

Now I’ve got to wait for its return, which could take up to a month, and when I do get it back there’s a good chance I’ll have to reload everything. A small price to pay, especially if I end up with a brand new system, but a time consuming hassle nonetheless.

In the meantime although I’ve still got my laptop and iMac, I’m out of business on a lot of fronts. My laptop isn’t powerful enough to process video and doesn’t have a video capture card and PVR software like my desktop. The iMac can process the video, but the video projects that I had already started on the PC will need to be restarted from the raw video files on the Mac, or they’ll just have to wait. Also a lot of the software I use regularly on the PC isn’t on the laptop or iMac, which means I’ve been busy loading software.

The coup de grace is that my iTunes library is on the PC and my wife’s is on the iMac. Both are radically different and if you’re familiar with iTunes you know the hassle of transferring to another computer.

On the plus side, this will force me to do some things I’ve been putting off. I’ll probably run all my music through a leveling program and then re-import it into iTunes with sound check off. As you may know, the iTunes sound check software really sucks. My levels are all over the place.

And then there’s…


Ah nuts, there is no plus side. A PC meltdown is just no fun at all.

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