‘WHY ME?’ Three Hard Drives Dead in 18 Months

On two previous occasions, I’ve shared with readers some of the struggles behind the scenes of Bob McCarty Writes. Today, I offer yet another — this one about my third hard drive failure in 18 months.

Rather than share the gory details in a made-for-blogging narrative, I’ll simply share the text of an e-mail exchange I had this morning with a brother-in-law who lives overseas:

I’m typing today on my son’s MacBook, one day after my second MacBook hard drive crash in a year.  The good news is that I received a new hard drive via FedEx this morning (less than 24 hours after my call to Apple).  The bad news is that I’m rapidly becoming less of a Mac fan.  In fact, I’m thinking of getting a WiFi-enabled cave wall through which I might communicate with the world.  Aaarrghh!!!

My brother-in-law replied as follows:

Bob,

I hate to say it, but I have serious concerns over the reliability of my Mac’s… GASP!  ME!

In the past year I have:

Replaced the hard drive in my laptop.
Replaced the hard drive in my Mac Mini.
Replaced the hard drive in my Time Capsule.
Replaced the battery on your sister’s laptop.

The only thing that hasn’t needed the incredibly good service that Apple offers, is our Apple TV…whooptydoo.

Given your drive problems and mine, I think it’s fair to say Apple needs to step it up in the reliability department.  I’m disgusted & I feel your pain, brother.

Faithful-but-stressed Mac Addict.

What’s a blogger to do?  Perhaps, I’ll start working from the public library or move my family to a large metro area or someplace else where internet cafes are widely available.  Perhaps India?

* * *

See also:

Ham & Eggs, Please, My MacBook Drive Is ‘Toast’ (Aug. 12, 2008)

My Western Digital Hard Drive Went Up in Smoke (Aug. 22, 2007)

Ham & Eggs, Please, My MacBook Drive Is ‘Toast’

After waking up and fixing coffee and cereal this morning, I fired up my MacBook to start my blogging day. Within minutes, I discovered that ham and eggs would have been a better breakfast choice. Why? Because my MacBook’s hard drive is now in an unforgiving configuration computer experts refer to as “toast.”

I found this out soon after going online. After opening separate tabs for my mail, this blog’s admin panel and Drudge Report, I clicked to open up a hot story about the conflict between Russia and Georgia. Unfortunately, I never saw the article. Instead, I encountered what I would describe as spinning cursor syndrome. I opted, after several minutes, to escape the madness by hard-closing my laptop and then restarting it. Upon restart, however, the dreaded “blinking question mark” appeared on my screen.

Not familiar with the implications of the blinking question mark, I grabbed my son’s laptop and visited several Mac troubleshooting sites. The brains behind those sites, almost to a number, reached an identical conclusion: the blinking question mark indicates my hard drive is no longer functioning as intended by Steve Jobs and his underlings at Apple.

I waited until 8 a.m. Central — when Apple’s support staff in California began their day — to place a call to the manufacturer of my MacBook. After explaining my dilemma to a friendly repair technician, attempting to fix my problems via her instructions and, in between attempts, listening to several hip hold music tunes, we reached the same conclusion reached by the aforementioned online experts: my MacBook is in bad shape and needs to travel. To Apple. For repairs.

After balking at being told that I should receive a shipping container within 3-5 days, the Apple tech told me to expect it in 1-2 days. Couple that with two weeks of repair time and return shipping, and I should see my laptop again within a month. I hope.

After two consecutive hard drive failures (see this post for an account of my experience one year ago with an external hard drive from Western Digital), I find myself longing for a return to the days when I used an IBM Selectric II typewriter to prepare my prose for publication. Those were the days, my friend. Those were the days indeed.

Note: Stay tuned for updates on how well the repair process works.

* * *

UPDATE:  Incredibly, I received the box in which I shipped my MacBook one day after publishing this post.  Next, I took my computer, all packaged and ready to go, to the DHL drop-off location in time for a 4 p.m. Central pickup deadline.  Less than 24 hours after I had dropped it off, I received it by return overnite delivery — and with a new hard drive.

iPhone 3G Hits Apple Stores Friday Morning

Apple retail stores will open early this Friday, according to an e-mail message I received from Apple today. Unfortunately, I’m locked into a contract with Sprint that will probably end at just about the time Apple begins selling iPhone 100Gs for $29.95 after having been replaced with better technology. Oh well.

Stripes: Report Faults Computer in B-2 crash

Air Force Photo

Stars & Stripes reported today that, according to the Air Force accident investigation report released yesterday, the Feb. 23 crash of a B-2 “Spirit” bomber on Guam was caused by bad computer data sent to flight control computers from three tiny sensors on the bomber’s wings.

Despite rumors to the contrary, I could find no mention in the article that Air Force officials had placed blame for the $1.4 billion loss directly on the Microsoft Windows™ Vista operating system.

Nothing like a little pro-Mac humor to start the weekend!

‘The Grid’ Destined to Change the Language

News broke over the weekend of a new entity in cyberspace — something called “The Grid” — that’s likely to render today’s internet obsolete. After reading articles like this one and this one.  I thought about how this superfast web replacement might change the world’s vocabulary. Below are the Top 10 words and phrases that came to mind related to The Grid:

1. Grid Reaper — The name one gives to any person or organization that causes you to lose access to The Grid ( i.e., “The Grid Reaper strikes again!);

2. Grid Strength — Describes the signal strength of a connection to The Grid;

3. Gridiron — Describes the hardware used to access The Grid;

4. Gridlock — Describes a supposedly-rare instance when The Grid becomes overloaded with traffic;

5. Grid Site — Replaces “web site” to describe an individual’s or group’s presence on The Grid;

6. Gram — The new name given to “spam” on The Grid;

7. GSP — Grid Service Provider;

8. Off The Grid — Describes an instance when someone is disconnected from The Grid;

9. The Griddle’s Hot – Describes a lightning-fast or white-hot connection to The Grid; and

10. Grid ‘n’ Bear It — What one will have to do if promises made by developers of The Grid fail to materialize.

If you have any contributions to make to this list, please do so in the comments section below.

April Fools Day Prank Picked Up by CNET

Today, I was pleasantly surprised to find my 2008 April Fools Day prank — concocted several weeks ago and posted early this morning at Bob McCarty Writes — mentioned in an article published at the CNET News Blog.

CNET News Blog April Fools Pranks 2008

Writer Jonathan Skilling began his piece, All the April Fools’ news that’s fit to print, with this declaration:

The word of the day is “prank.” Unless maybe you’re one of the ones who got taken in hook, line, and sinker, in which case it’s “doh!”

What followed was a glimpse into the best April Fools Day pranks of 2008. Among them, he included my post, Scientists Harness Kinetic Energy from Keyboards. My day was made! My prank had been mentioned in the same piece as one of history’s all-time great pranks — Orson Welles’ War of the Worlds stunt.

Things only got better when I realized my effort also appeared alongside several high-profile, modern-day pranks, including the following:

My thanks go out to my blogger friends — Monoblogue, Noisy Room and Right Truth — who helped spread the word about this effort. I look forward to pulling off an even bigger and better stunt next year.

Scientists Harness Kinetic Energy from Keyboards

Researchers at the American Petroleum Research Institute’s Laboratory for Fuels announced today they have developed an economical means via which they can use the kinetic energy generated by users of computer keyboards to make a dent in the nation’s energy bill.

Keyboard Nanogenerator“The fact that many Americans spend eight hours or more per day typing on computer keyboards caused us to explore the feasibility of harnessing the energy being expended by computer users as they type,” said Dr. Isaac M. Postor, CEO at the St. Louis-based institute which receives a majority of its funding from DARPA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

“What we found is that the typical American office worker executes an average of 20,000 keystrokes per day,” Postor continued. “When harnessed using the nanotechnology we’ve developed, that number of keystrokes can power a 60-watt light bulb for one hour.”

Not yet named, that nanotechnology device appears similar in size and dimensions to a typical USB flash drive and, in fact, plugs into a computer’s USB port, Postor explained. The difference, however, is that this flash drive features a thin cord protruding from one end which plugs into any standard 110-volt electrical outlet.

“In essence, small nanogenerators inside this device enable computer users to send electricity back to their utility provider and thereby reduce their power consumption by several dollars per month,” Postor added. “Since more than half of Americans use computer on a regular — if not daily — basis, this device promises to make a significant dent in the ever-increasing energy costs.”

Postor expects to be able to market the device at a suggested retail price under $30, meaning that most users will realize returns on investment within one to two years, depending upon the amount of time spent at the keyboard.

For more information, click here to visit the institute web site.