Lately my beloved 19″ white iMac is not doing so good. I know my computer is just an object, but it’s amazing how intimate some of us can become with our machines, how emotionally invested in them we can become. Frankly, it’s because of an emotional incident that led me to become a Mac owner to begin with (no, I was not swayed by charming commercials featuring Justin Long and John Hodgeman) but it was when I had a virus attack on my old Windows PC on Christmas Day. I was so frustrated and annoyed (beyond annoyed, downright panicked) by it that the idea of a computer/operating system without viruses was like a lifeboat to a drowning man. Now, almost six years later, I’ve been an Apple convert (some would say fanatic) since day one, but my first Mac is showing some signs of its age.
First there was the freezing
So, I’d be working on my computer (maybe I’m doing a few things at once, but that’s normal, right) and then suddenly I’d click on Firefox, or Quicklook, or any darned thing, and I’d get the spinning beachball of death, then eventually that would go back to the arrow pointer, but I couldn’t click on anything, and the clincher was that the clock in my menu bar stayed frozen as well. There was no response from anything. I might have preferred to believe that time had stopped in the universe at large, but I quickly admitted to myself that I needed to do a super-hard reboot by pressing the power button until it shut down my computer, then power on again. Sad.
Then there was the blackouts
Now, I’d already had black screen of death experiences a few years back when my Mac’s logic board died, but I got it replaced and had no problem since then. This problem was different. The screen would go dark all of a sudden, but I could still tell that the computer was on and running (I’m not sure how). It’s like I’m on the other side of a closed door, and even though I can’t hear any footsteps or sounds of movement, I know that there are people on the other side. Anyway, without the screen, I couldn’t do anything. Reboot. So sad.
Then there was the progress bar
At first the reboots just were like normal, but then one time I started to notice that the grey startup screen with the Apple logo had a new little grey progress bar (isn’t it cool that even when the computer’s breaking down, everything looks nice and matches? I’m clearly an unrepentant fan-boy). I didn’t know what the progress bar was for, but it made the startup a lot longer. Sometimes taking 5, 10 minutes. Googling the problem led me to learn that while people don’t really know what the problem is, there is general agreement that it’s a hardware problem. Booo! Super sad.
In the mean time, I ran Disk Utility and it told me that there were some misreported bytes or something. So, I had to even boot off my Snow Leopard DVD and run Disk Utility again and the problem was fixed (not my real problems — see above — but the misreported bytes were fixed). Disk Utility told me that my hard drive was just fine. Great.
Now my preferences panes don’t work
The latest thing to fail is that when I go into System Preferences, some of them don’t work. When I click on Security, I get the message that it needs to restart System Preferences to run. Then I restart and click again and it tells me that the preference pane failed to load. Sadder than sad.
Nevertheless, given how emotionally invested I am in my computers, I am surprisingly un-sad. It’s about time for me to get a new computer. When I bought my iMac, I told myself that 24″ was too big. 19 was enough. But now when I see the 27″ iMacs in the Apple Store I think, “Yes, I deserve one of those.” However, I’m still going to wait things out. Rumours abound of an imminent refresh of the iMacs (they finally announced the Macbook Pros being refreshed so the iMacs can’t be far behind), plus I want to have Mac OS X Lion pre-installed on my new computer (and that’s supposed to be coming in the summer), so I am going to bide my time, and sit next to the sickbed of my dying iMac. Maybe I’ll bring him some soup or a nice hot cup of tea now and then. I’ll pat his hand soothingly or sing soft lullabies when he’s sleepy. I just want my iMac to rest and enjoy his last days in relative peace.
Now cracks a noble heart. Good-night, sweet prince;
And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.