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29 September 2010

It feels like my Apple, but it isn't

The Apple Mac. It's supposed to be the be all and end all. Right??? I bought mine, a MacBook Pro, with great excitement and anticipation, back in April 2009. It was supposed to be part of the brand new Bronwen Healy Photography look and feel, as I launched into photography as my sole profession, having juggled the photography with a 'real' paying job at CSIRO for some 15 years.

Since that time, the Apple, whilst no doubt lovely (I also plunged in and bought the most gorgeous 24" cinema LCD display, to make things easier on my eyes, as a 15" laptop screen is hard on the eyes when working on high resolution images) the Mac has spent over a month being repaired. First, in August 2009, the DVD burner failed. Off to the repairers (not until December though, as I couldn't be without the machine during this busy period for the 10 days it would take to repair it - read the fine print in your AppleCare Protection Plan - there is NO on-site repairs done on laptops) to have this problem fixed. And once again going back to using my old Dell, which I have always hated using, to burn DVDs in the meantime and then during the repairs. Then in early 2010, it was back in to be assessed, following continual crashes, glitches and strange things happening to the picture on the cinema display. They diagnosed a new logic board and something else. Another week off the air. Then in February the hard drive started making strange noises, and the performance hadn't improved, so back in we went. A new hard drive. This was all performed the machine actually crashed and burnt, so the machine was fully backed up, and apart from the obvious inconvenience of being about to photograph the autumn carnival and a stallion shoot to do, not a disaster.

Last Thursday morning, I 'woke' the computer up as usual and did my normal walk away to put the kettle on. Returned. Humm, the rainbow wheel was spinning. I call this the Rainbow Wheel of Death. When it starts spinning repeatedly and for long periods of time, it is NOT GOOD! I played with buttons, jiggled things, spoke softly to it, then more crossly, with consternation crossing my brow. Walked away again, thinking of all the things I had to get done on this, one of my rare child free days these days, and admit to beginning to snap at anyone who dared cross my path. No cause panic though. If it won't wake up, the book always said force it to shut down by holding the power key down. Done this before, even on Apple's advice. Walked away again. On my return, a sick feeling came straight to my stomach. The screen was black, save for a folder icon, and in the middle of this folder, was nothing other than a QUESTION MARK. Who would have thought a simple and innocent question mark could strike terror into your heart? I panicked slightly. Walked away again. Then restarted it again. Damn. Appeared again. Looked into my book. Starting to run into that "my kids are going to be late for school' time period. Advice not altogether terrible, but still frightening. Means it can't find the operating system. Convinced myself I couldn't deal with it now, so resolved to stay away from it and got the kids ready. Cancelled my hair cut appointment, despite the fact that I have now cut my own fringe 4 times since my last cut that was before the Golden Slipper. The appearance will have to continue to limp for a while longer.

So I agitated about it all morning but dropped the kids off on time, confident I would be back there within the hour to sort it out and that surely it couldn't be all that bad! Hah! Got to school, and damn, forgot that I usually do readers, sigh... That meant it was 10am before I left school. On to feed my dear mare Freelance. I was just finishing her when the phone rang. It was the doctor. My daughter Jessica, only 5, does have a UTI. Explains the fevers and my gut instinct that this was the cause of her wetting her pants again all the time. Bit of guilt passes over me, as I'd gotten cross at her a few days prior for wetting her pants 4 times in one day. I had to pick her up and take her to the doctor. The Preschool were just getting ready for one of the KINDERGARTEN visits, so naturally I arrived to distraught child who didn't want to come with me. Pharmacists computer down, script will take 20 minutes, so we went and had a coffee. Finally get it, and she wanted to go back to Preschool and doctor said that was ok, so took her back. By the time I got home, it was after midday. I phoned AppleCare and we went through the problem. The machine responded to everything the lovely chap suggested, and only failed at the last step, when you do all this fancy resetting and pressing special keys all at the same time, and then my hard drive doesn't come up. He puts me on hold, and I begin to lose that sense of hope and start feeling sick again. Keep telling myself it's ok, all the NEF images are safe on external drives (not backed up though, I must do something, I must do something) and wait for his return. Not good. He thinks the hard drive has failed and can I take it into a service provider. Oh god. I thank him and pack the machine up. I don't even bother to call ahead, but instead immediately drive out to Mac1 at Fyshwick to drop the machine up. The lovely young chap is sympathetic, and then outraged when he looks at the machine's history. 'Phone Apple, tell them what's happened, this isn't usual, demand a replacement machine, not a repair, this is a lemon, they don't normally do this'. Why do I always get the lemon??? So I drop the machine off, and on my way home, call Apple on the speaker phone. They are lovely, and eventually I am escalated up to a senior in Customer Relations. She's not Australian, and is therefore it's a little difficult to understand her accent, but she's sympathetic and starts talking, without promising, of a brand new machine. Perhaps there is a bright light at the end of a dark tunnel???

I get back home and back on goes the old Dell. I hate it, but have to admit, in all the years I've owned it, while it might be slow, it has NEVER crashed. Not once! Sigh... I connect it up in front of my dark and silent Cinema display and connect my Apple Keyboard, to make it feel a little bit more like home. I can't access my email, my website, my bookwork, all the images that are on the formatted for Mac external drive, nor my books that I had just about ready for publication. I agonise about these, are they lost forever or can they be recovered. Of course this important work is completely un-backed up. Shame on me.

Apple rang yesterday, and said they will replace my computer, and we talk logistics and specifications, etc. They've been very helpful and are anxious to put things right, but somehow I feel all a little bit let down. I have yet to make that all important phone call to the service provider to see whether any of the data on the hard drive is going to be recoverable.

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