Engineering Manager | Trail Runner | Stockholm, Sweden

Black Thursday

Not quite the day I have imagined having.

I was peacefully reading Prophet Without Honor during a predictably boring kyogen when Preview froze, displaying the notorious cursor of rainbow death. That could have been a minor glitch, however soon the whole OS X followed. Now that was a first. Up until this morning I’ve always been able to just force quit any mischievous application. Not this time…

So I rebooted, or rather I tried to reboot, unsuccessfully. The MacBook never got past the grey boot screen, and the flashing folder with a question mark didn’t bode well either. Neither did the clearly audible click-click sound coming from the hard disk.

This is the moment when all your life data flashes through your mind.

I ran home, and tried to boot from the OS X installer DVD to no avail. I mean it booted up all right but the HDD wasn’t present. So I disassembled the Mac and with shaky hands I tried the drive in the desktop. Click-click. Detecting IDE drives… For minutes…

So much for the glory of Rome.

This is how I spent my afternoon looking for two items: 1) a replace drive 2) a Torx T8 screwdriver. Luckily Apple has a really generous policy about hard drives and memories: the user can replace either of them without losing warranty. Not that my warranty was still valid, but it also means both parts are easily accessible and user serviceable. They are behind the same L-shaped bracket I removed when I installed the extra memory from Crucial. Why the Torx then? Because the HDD is held by a flexible metallic plate that keeps the HDD in place and also protects its circuit-side. And this plate is held by four not-so-ordinary screws. Torx is basically a star with six arms, but try to explain that to a Japanese shop assistant. Well, after about twenty minutes of haggling they managed to find the right one, so it went rather better than I expected. It’s a nasty trick by Apple though, least I don’t think these screwdrivers are in abundance in a common household. Or maybe I’m wrong and they are popular over the New Continent. (If anyone’s curious, the Japanese term’s ヘクスローブドライバー T-8)

I went for the same manufacturer that Apple used, Seagate. The original drive was an ST98823AS (80G), and I got an ST9160821AS (160G). An upgrade I could have lived without to be honest. This guide shows the detailed instructions how to replace a drive in a MacBook. It all went shiny, it’s not quantum physics after all. OS X flew on in less than an hour, took about another thirty minutes to upgrade itself to the latest version, and violá, freshly installed Mac.

Also, apparently other people had similar issues.

If only I hadn’t lost nearly fifty gigabytes of music.

My entire music collection.

But hey, if you’re an idiot you surely deserve to die. And I was a prize one for I never even thought about backing up such important data. Why would the hard drive fail in the notebook I bring to classes every day, with which I travel and move around while switched on… The universe is vast but human (my) ignorance is the true infinity.

Only thing I’m left with is the 7.5G of the iPod. Which is a funny thing, because you can’t transfer music from the iPod to the computer, only the other way around. You can only sync with one iTunes application at a time. So I had to use YamiPod to first copy all the music from the iPod to a temporary folder, then import it all back to the new iTunes and then sync back the songs to the iPod. Well, least I have those, although it’s heartbreaking to look at all the broken albums from which one or two tracks were saved by some playlist…

Luckily I had all my music I actually paid for on the iPod as well, or else I’d be looking for sharp things already…

(What does data loss teach you? Buy your music.)

Funny I can get so worked up on a simple hard drive failure you could say. And yes maybe I’m overreacting… but music was what really got me through the days here. And, like TV shows, it’s an integral part of my life. So I’m now all emo, thanks for asking.

I hate being the person who gets so sad for losing an iTunes library.