There I was, settling in to knit and watch some tv online, ready to have a relaxing night of doing nothing, when suddenly:
The computer freezes, mid-video, totally unresponsive, accompanied by a clicking noise the likes of which I have not experienced with any laptop. Kind of like the sound a remote control car would make if you tried to drive it into a wall repeatedly.
I shut it down manually, stopped for a moment to hyperventilate at the thought of how many things I had not backed up in several months, and (probably stupidly) turned the laptop back on to assess the damage.
Actually, it seemed like everything was fine -- it turned on as though nothing had happened. Of course I felt somewhat betrayed, as though the laptop had been planning some kind of mutiny for months. But at the very least this gave me enough time to back up everything onto the external hard drive and take the time to have a proper panic attack about it. (Especially when google searches for "macbook" and "clicking" automatically filled in the words "of death." Not especially comforting.)
The next day I brought it in to the Genius bar at the Apple store on Boylston, which is kind of like walking into an Apple computer -- you have to give them credit for sticking with the theme. Everything is either white of made of glass, including the translucent spiral staircase that goes up to the third floor where the genius bar is. Can I make a suggestion though, Apple? For people coming in with hardware issues, the sensation of falling three stories down a glass spiral staircase is not very helpful. Just FYI.
When I booked the appointment the night before, the website said it would take 15 minutes, which I was skeptical about. But it actually did take exactly 15 minutes. The kid at the bar opened up the computer, listed to my description, said "Yup. You need a new hard drive. Sign this waver.... initial here and here, sign there. OK bye!" and I had to put the brakes on the whole situation just to get an assurance that the backup that I had was ok and find out exactly how to restore the system later, before they took my laptop away from me. Dear Apple, I know your whole thing is about being hip and easygoing, but can we just stop and be serious for a second, because this is all of my data we're talking about. Can we just acknowledge the gravity of this situation before taking my laptop to the back room and sending me on my way?
24 hours later I picked up the laptop and brought it home again. I didn't open it for another day -- I gave it the cold shoulder to teach it a lesson. Then I set about trying to restore it. A few hours and two pots of coffee later, and I think everything is basically back to normal. Nothing was lost.
Anyway, there are a couple silver linings of this whole thing, at least. First, I was very pleased to remember that I had shelled out for the extended AppleCare Protection Plan, which at the time I thought was probably a waste of money. So the repairs were free. Secondly, they decided to upgrade my hard drive from 120GB to 160, and upgrade my operating system from 10.4 to 10.5 so that I would have TimeMachine for future backup purposes. Bonus. Thirdly, having to move everything over to the new hard drive is making me stop and reorganize my files, and purge a lot of crap that was on the computer, which will be good in the long run.
But now I'm considering whether to get a second external hard drive for the TimeMachine stuff, because at this point I view my laptop as a wild animal that I've taken in as a pet. It seems like a nice companion right now, but at any moment it could turn against me and attack. I'm going to end up obsessively backing things up all over the place.
I'm really looking forward to having a couple months of boringness with no drama. That sounds nice right about now. I'll write again with a real update, when I'm sure that this animal has been sufficiently tamed.