Tag: Gray Screen of Death


When the Apple Turns: A Mac User’s Broken Heart

April 21st, 2011 — 1:00pm

After years of trusty service and almost no repair issues, my beloved ibook finally gave up the ghost – the hinge between keyboard and screen had actually self-destructed from overuse  – and so, with great excitement, I bought a sleek, sexy new 15-inch MacBook Pro.

I figured that the MacBook Pro, like the ibook, would be my trusted companion for years to come. We would troll the net, write fabulous books and articles, make new Facebook friends, and sing along to itunes together. And despite the threat from rogue viruses and unsecured networks, I was confident that my powerful new computer would stand guard over my vast kingdom of photos and songs, my stories and ideas, like a loyal and brave sentinel. I felt giddy at the thought of our beautiful future together, basking in the anticipation of unlimited possibility.

Basically, it was like falling in love with someone new after years spent in a boring — if stable — relationship.

Sadly, the honeymoon didn’t last. Exactly a year after it came into my life, my handsome new machine began sending me cryptic signs that all was not well. First there was the inexplicable gray screen that appeared when I booted up at my sister’s house in rural Vermont in early March. (I would later learn that Macbook Pro users refer to this as “The Gray Screen of Death,” but at the time, I was still operating on the assumption that, unlike users of PCs who always seemed to have viruses and system crashes, I was safe. I had a Mac! A new, super cool, powerful Mac!)

I chalked it up to being on a “foreign” network in a remote location and, indeed, the gray wall disappeared when I got home. All continued uneventfully for the next three weeks although, in retrospect, the telltale signs were there: the strangely long intervals to boot up, the spinning color wheel while waiting for a new page to upload, but still, nothing to unduly alarm me. And so I went about my business, which happened to include getting struck by one of those rare lightening flashes of inspiration which rapidly developed into an idea for a new novel. Excitedly, I tore through a rough draft of the first chapter and stayed up late outlining the rest of the book.

Three weeks later, my daughter Mira and I boarded a plane for the East Coast and I decided to take advantage of the onboard wifi. But as soon as I got myself signed in and began working, things got strange: the color wheel kept interrupting my writing, applications kept quitting, and the whole machine seemed to be sputtering and limping. Baffled, I turned it off, but once again assumed it was a network issue. Or, who knows – maybe it was sunspots. People weren’t meant to send emails from 30,000 feet in the air anyway, I thought, as I settled comfortably back to watch a movie.

At this point, you’d think my blind faith in my new computer would have wavered just a little. At least enough to start worrying about the fact that I hadn’t backed it up for the previous six weeks. But no, I had a BRAND NEW MACBOOK PRO. I was untouchable.

I didn’t give it another thought until I booted up at our hotel and there it was: The Gray Screen of Death!

Okay, everyone knows where this is going so I’ll cut to the chase. After countless hours on the phone with Applecare trying various key combos to somehow cajole my machine into fixing itself, and then more hours with the so-called geniuses at the Genius Bar back in California, the diagnosis was not good. The hard drive on my gorgeous one-year-old Mac was shot and – sorry — they could not recover any of my data.  The only thing they could offer me was a new hard drive. Fortunately, I had Mozy, which backs everything up wirelessly as you create it. Oh, except – oops, Mozy inexplicably stopped backing up my data on March 14th,, three weeks before my fateful plane ride.

Still, I consider myself lucky: all my operating systems and most of my data were on my external drive and I was able to recover at least a few additional weeks of work from Mozy.

But my faith in Mac?  Gone forever. Along with that fabulous first chapter…

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