The Struggle with Apple


I spent nearly 8 hours spread over 3 days trying to fix my Apple iMAC G5 which died one fine day without notice.

My crime ? Nothing significant ! I used the famed Onyx software tool to clean up my disk. Initially I had misgivings about couple of other family members’ usage of the MAC, and was on the verge of accusing one of them for doing some funny downloads. But, I realized just at the right time (!) that it was not anyone else. It is me after all, given my natural and usual urge to keep things shining at the peak of their condition forever.

Onyx claims that its software cannot damage anything. While I am not that technical to figure out exactly which directory it chose to damage, if ever, the experience was reminiscent of Windows failures wherein I am known (in my family circles) for ruthlessly trying to use software tools such as System Mechanic and Ashampoo……

This time, I was in a big time soup – the saving grace was that my investment in a backup hard disk proved its value eventually (first I have to get the system to work, before I could realize any value whatsoever – not going to buy another MAC just to use the data on the backup !). I booted up using the Apple Leopard O.S. CD – must have done this atleast 5 times over 3 days ! Then I launched the disk utility and to my horror, discovered that my main hard disk inside the iMAC had an “invalid B-tree node” or something like that. I did not panic, but my stress and hardwork were evident to my wife and kids, as I laboured on fixing the problem. I started up a laptop, searched for the error details on Google (God save Google), and discovered a wide variety of inputs from Apple aficianados around the world. Somehow I fixed the problem (the resolution was too simple – just erase the disk and install the Mac OS again afresh). Then I restored the backup, but made a mistake – used the Software Update to install all the items which came up – the system asked for a restart, and there it failed. No restart – sometimes blue screen, sometimes spinning colour wheel !

It was not to be voila ! This morning the system again failed – the error now was “invalid sibling link” when I did the check on the hard disk. Somewhere behind my brain, there was a thought – too may errors on the hard disk are not good for its health. This time I did a secure delete – filled all of the hard drive with zeros – one of the options provided by Apple. Again, there was lot of info’ made available by Apple lovers on this kind of error. Took a while and again a bit of tension while trying to fix this error. This time around, I was a bit wiser. I did not use the Software Update. Went through the booting session very carefully with the CD, ensured that the disk was OK without errors, and then just slowly restored the latest Time Machine backup (after ensuring that the partially progressed backups were deleted – I guess this added to the problem in the first instance of restoration earlier).

It was important to take a break and a deep breath occasionally while doing all this – there was time ofcourse, it sometimes took more than an hour or two to accomplish anything. I even used the Unix Terminal session for the first time, trying to unmount my drive !

Finally I got the restored system back, and it seems to be OK after I chose to ignore the pressure from the Software Update tool from Apple – it asked me to update the MacOS to 10.5.4 which I have refused till now ! Let us see. I did update the Airport Utility, iTunes, and Quick Time.

Life without Apple is indeed tough. I was forced to use the home laptop for the past couple of days. Not the same quality and depth of experience that an Apple provides. No wonder the Apple stock is up more than 1,400% in the past 5 years, and they are sitting on USD 20B of cash, and continue to gain market share in the developed world – almost 8% I learnt recently. And, who has a stronger pipeline of aesthetically appealing products which are sensuous in the customer experience they provide – iMAC, iPod, and now the iPhone.

But, I learnt it could be tough. Need to be more watchful on what I do in the Apple. No external software !

Have a great week ahead,

Cheers,

Vijay Srinivasan
3rd August 2008
Mumbai

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