Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Wiped Out

It’s sad the sound that data makes when it is lost. All those wee little screams.

Last month I got a new computer, my fourth since I entered the electronic age in 1989. They have all been Macs, though to my knowledge I have not gotten appreciably cooler because of it. You just can’t trust commercials.

My old Mac was still chugging faithfully along, though by IRS standards it had been fully amortized twice over and then some – it was seven years old and there were just things I could no longer do on it, so it was time for a change. And since Apple was having a sale over Thanksgiving weekend, I figured this was the chance! I could get one just like Kim’s. Except they don’t make those anymore. They have Upgraded their offerings, and instead of merely Huge, now they come in Monstrous.

It came to the house on a flatbed truck with its own mule train to get it from there onto my desk, which, fortunately, consists of a steel door laid out across two steel file cabinets. It took up most of the room, blocking out the window that I never use and looming over the chair. It was awesome in its glory. Sleek. Shiny. Powerful. Fast.

And given to fits, flickers, and blackouts. Honestly, it was like having an electric wino in the house.

After a number of phone calls to the helpful folks at Apple, they decided that it would be easier simply to replace it than try to walk me through any meaningful attempt to fix it – a judgment which, given my computer skills, probably demonstrates why Apple is the savvy, successful company it has once again become. In the time it would have taken me to figure out what they were trying to tell me to do they could probably have sent out an undercover squad of midget repairmen to sneak into my house and replace every individual piece of the computer, one at a time, with a different and slightly shinier piece, and midget repairmen don’t work cheap.

Midgets are hard to repair.

So this morning I boxed it up and sent it on its way. But before that I figured I should wipe the hard drive of all of my personal data. We’ve done the identity-theft routine once here in our house and I figured there was no need to do that again. So the Apple guy told me how to do that. He gave me detailed instructions for every step of the process except one: what to do with the sixteen hours it would take for it all to happen.

Sixteen hours? Seriously? Yes, yes indeed. I guess if you want it erased right, you have to do it the long way. Who knew I had that much information?

It was very hard to click on the “erase” button. I’m a historian by training and inclination, and preserving things is what I do. Even with backups, even knowing that – at least in theory – I can restore it all from the Time Machine drive, it was just unnatural to deliberately tell the computer to get rid of all that information.

I guess I’ll never be a spy.


Lori said...

Is your desk really a door laid over two metal file cabinets? Mine is!

David said...

Indeed it is! Deskmates!

Beatrice Desper said...

We kept the hard drive of our last computer rather than figure out how to delete it. I supposed we could through it out, but then we would have to figure out how,when, where, etc. So the brain is sitting on the bookshelf.