Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Screen of Doom

It started as a relatively simple - and necessary - task of backing up my pictures.  It’s a pretty elementary requirement and I shake my head in 20-20 hindsight with the following admission.  I haven’t truly backed up the thousands of pictures that I have taken since we started traveling.  We have all sorts of work-arounds for things we really want to do: flash drives mostly, as well as me regularly transferring pictures from my tablet to Adam’s trusted and stalwart workhorse laptop.  

So, I suppose it was the inevitable conclusion of pushing my luck when last week Adam pressed the start key on his laptop and suddenly was looking at the gray screen of doom.  There was no advance notice of this impending digital catastrophe beyond the first hint: a large gray folder with a blinking question mark.

It was fairly obvious that Adam’s hard drive had crashed - or was crashing - and we both started making lists of the breadth and extent of the catastrophic informational loss. I desperately tried consultations with Professor Google to locate a magic button, or combination of buttons, that I could press to bring back the hard drive for one final performance: the oft-delayed complete computer back-up.  Just 24 hours, I pleaded to the gray screen.  Just give me 24 hours.

But, the curtain had fallen.  There was to be no final performance.  Just like that.  One moment everything was fine.  The next moment, it was all over.  The fat lady was singing. 

I was devastated.  Not just at the very real possibility that I had lost all of my treasured pictures, but furious at myself for even putting myself in this position.  

A few days later, we arrived in Osaka, Japan.  As luck would have it, Osaka has a huge Apple store. The two-story store - with its suspended glass staircase - was brilliant architecture, but even more brilliant was the burgeoning possibility of regaining at least some of the information trapped in Adam’s broken laptop.  

We waited a few tense hours for a diagnosis. Hope waxed and waned while we had discussions with the store manager, the sales guy, the engineer, and the genius guy both in Japanese and in English. Everyone had an opinion.  Finally the engineer and the genius guy invited us to come back at 7:00 that evening to have the final verdict delivered.  

We walked back in the store promptly at 7:00 and the genius guy walked slowly towards us.  Oh no, I thought, my emotions plummeting, it didn’t work.  The genius guy pointed toward one of the tables where Adam’s new laptop was. The engineer came out from the back room and together they translated the final verdict.  

It indeed was a crashed hard drive, but they were still able to extract the computer files.  Really?!  The pictures too?  Yes, everything.  I did a jig in the middle of the crowded store.  I didn’t care.  It was one of those cases when you dance as if no one was watching!  

Later that evening, we happily walked out with two - his and hers - brand new computers, back-up hard drives, and all of the data from Adam’s old laptop captured and transferred.  We didn’t lose anything!  Those genius/engineer guys are really the best!  Our backpacks got heavier and our bank account got lighter, but I learned my lesson. No more work-arounds - you need the right equipment.  And, if you are going to rely on technology, you have to be actively involved in the preservation process.  Back-up.  Back-up.  Back-up!  


Anonymous said...

Always, always, always! Airport time capsulešŸ˜±

Observers of Life said...

Hi Anonymous - Lesson learned! ;)