Tech Meltdown: 2005 Summer Edition

This summer will go down as one of the worst for the Armstrong family in terms of technical problems. Not only has 3hive been plagued with technical difficulties, we lost the first iBook, our dryer has been threatening to boycott drying of clothes for a few months but finally succeeded in it’s goals on Thursday of this week, the Nikon D70′s weird shutter problem got to a point where half of the photos we wanted to take weren’t being taken, our front hose faucet decided to not turn off, one of the front sprinklers decided that it would be a good time to launch it’s popup piece into the driveway (where Leta discovered it and started making noises like she was asking it questions about why it was in the driveway) and the main computer in the house decided that the “Security” update I downloaded and installed should completely dork the computer into a funk so severe that several lawyers were called and consulted about punitive and/or emotional damages. The main computer of the house holds around 40 gigabytes of photos, going back several years.

Here is a rough timeline of the day.

6:45am: Leta makes her first of many awakening noises. We have learned to wait for her to be pleasant before going in to get her, otherwise her behavior is erratic and can lead to a Bad Day. She was fairly sweet this morning.

7:00am: Administer the morning bottle (yes she’s still on the bottle, she won’t take a sippy cup just yet, and we’re tired of the screaming about it).

8:00am: Sit down to watch kids shows and play with Leta. We decide that we’re going to Sears to look at dryers. With a kid, laundry becomes a way of life.

9:10am: Purchase dryer at Sears. It is a badass. 12 months, no interest. Only real way to afford the badass dryer. Plus, rebate and free delivery/install with fresh duct work. Mmmm fresh duct work. Linty fresh.

9:40am: Arrive home from Sears. Decide that it’s so pleasant out, we’ll do some gardening. Leta refuses to put feet on grass. Must tell her to quit being such a baby about it.

10:15am: Discover front faucet is not going to shut off after Heather asks why the hose is still running. Have to run downstairs and find shut off valve and grab wrenches to dismantle faucet.

10:38am: Faucet reassembled with washer from ancient toolbox. Probably purchased 10 years ago, but still rubbery fresh. Seems to be holding.

10:39am: Leta has first of four poopy diapers. On the evenings and weekends, I am on poopy diaper detail.

12:04pm: Leta is laid down for a nap. She isn’t pleased about this, but succumbs 18 seconds after crib dropoff.

12:10pm: Gathering all my crap for a stint on the main house computer to edit and print some photos for JB and McQueen of our recent road trip. Maybe do some more work on some shots and post them to flickr.

12:13pm: Realize that machine needs to be restarted due to a security update. Machine is super sluggish shutting down, forcing me to hard reset the machine.

12:18pm: Upon reboot, greeted with flashing question mark. Begin to chant mantra, “This is not good” over and over a la prayer in Frannie and Zoey. Will not stop this until 11:08pm.

12:19 – 1:30pm: Scurry about house trying to find recovery CDs and hard drives. None work. Both Leta and Heather awaken. Heather knows something is wrong and is terrified that our run of bad technical luck is going to destroy the family and take the farm. I console her mentioning a couple of options, one including firearms and perhaps a cricket bat, the other her new iBook and a FireWire cable.

Decide to try to install older version of operating system on main computer. Was at Mac OS 10.4.2. Will try to do a fresh install of 10.4 and rebuild the OS updates by hand. Can’t. Machine doesn’t even show it’s own hard drive as an install option. Start to claw eyes out and then stopping while remembering that eyes are useful and that would be misdirected rage.

1:30 – 2:08pm: Main computer is not seen on FireWire. Decide it’s Google time. Seems like the update has caused others a lot of grief. Determine that it’s time to call in the wolf.

2:45pm: Purchase the excellent Disk Warrior from Alsoft. They did not pay me to write this: IF YOU OWN A MAC, YOU NEED TO BUY THIS SOFTWARE TODAY AND INSTALL IT IMMEDIATELY. Download the software and install on iBook.

3:00pm – 5:00pm: Attach main computer to iBook via FireWire cable. Reboot main computer, holding down the “T” key, forcing it to boot into something called “Target Mode”. I believe this is to allay any urge to destroy the machine through physical means. Launch Disk Warrior on iBook and after a moment, it brings up the drive on the main computer, but says there are problems. I turn it loose, allowing it to do it’s thing.

Thirty minutes later, I decide to check on the iBook. It has fallen asleep and Disk Warrior is displaying a disconcerting message. I decide to fix the energy settings so that the machine will not go to sleep when plugged in. I force-quit Disk Warrior and start it back up, again seeing the drive and letting Disk Warrior do it’s thing.

I decide to walk away in the middle of this process and go to the hardware store to buy a replacement washer or sprinkler head, Heather and Leta joining me. Leta decides that it will be necessary to bring three toothbrushes with her to the hardware store.

We return home and I install the new sprinkler head.

5:04pm: I check on the iBook. Disk Warrior has mentioned some problems and that I’ll need to click some stuff to fix them. I do. In the middle of the fix, the main computer hard drive shows up and I browse it to see if the photos are still there. They are. I click the rest of the necessary buttons and decide to walk away.

6:02pm: iBook check reveals that there was a problem. I repeat the process in Disk Warrior.

7:20pm: Leta is in bed, and this time, there are fewer files with problems, but some of the files are ones that other people have mentioned the “Security Update” breaks. Hmmm. Ponder further legal action and click some more buttons.

8:30pm: Do a check. Looks like it worked! I can see the main computer hard drive in the Finder of the iBook! Breathing is much easier.

Eject main computer hard disk from iBook. Disconnect cables and reboot main computer. Wow, the fans on the main computer sure are getting louder by the second… The Apple logo is there though. And the little “shit is happening” widget is showing that the computer sees the hard drive. Decide to let the computer do it’s thing and walk away.

10:00pm: Machine has not restarted, appears stuck on logo screen. Decide to see if I can reinstall Mac OS 10.4 (machine was at 10.4.2. Remember all those paragraphs ago?).

10:40pm: Install complete! Machine boots up. Files still there. Will update to 10.4.2.

10:59pm: All updates (not including ones labelled “Security”) are installed and machine reboots. Heather asks for verification and I show her the 160 folders of our photos. She sighs and I shut down the machine, vowing that tomorrow, we back it all up. The pain.

I’ll write about the Nikon D70′s issues later, but I’m writing a lenghty letter to Nikon in my head. I don’t normally write manufacturers directly, but this time, it’s personal.