Tuesday, February 22, 2011

I'm sorry, Jake. I'm afraid I can't do that...

Apple Time Machine saved my business last night. It also saved all of the digital photos my family has taken in the past decade, all of the music we've accumulated (including painstaking rips from vinyl to MP3s), our tax records since the early '90s, and a thousand other items I won't belabor.

Here's how it went down. 6:03 p.m., I'm about to wrap things up for the day. I quit Firefox, or rather *attempted* to quit Firefox. But instead of shutting down, I got the little Spinning Beach Ball of Death. Calmly, I tried to force quit the application, and in the back of my head I hear HAL from 2001 intoning, "I'm sorry, Jake. I'm afraid I can't do that." It doesn't work, which has never happened to me. So, I power down the computer.

But when I tried to reboot, I got the flashing question mark folder instead of the Apple. I tried the usual schtick: Reset the PRAM. Nothing. Safe reboot. Nada. I hop on the laptop, do a quick search describing the symptoms, and conclude the hard drive is kaput.

At some level, nagging people to "back up your computer" is a bit like anti-smoking or anti-obesity ranting. It's something that we all know. Either you heed the warnings or you don't, devil take the hindmost. The fact that I'd protected myself allowed me to sleep last night...knowing that a new $79 hard drive and a click of the "restore" button would bring me right back to where I left off, semi-panicked, last night.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Welcome to 1984, but lamer

My 8th grade daughter came home from school the other day and informed us that they're not allowed to use the word "dice" in school anymore. In a political-correctness-run-amok moment, they're now known as "number cubes."

I wish I were joking. I am not.

Heck, by the time I was in 7th grade, my dad and I had a weekly nickel-dime-quarter poker game with my best friend and his dad, and I have taught my kids everything I know about poker, blackjack and craps strategy. Indeed, I consider it one of my core parental responsibilities, based on the old gambling saying that "If you're at the table for 5 minutes and can't spot the sucker, it's you." As in cards, so in life.

And if the schools believe that they're somehow going to deter kids from gambling with a P.C. word construction as lame as "number cubes," they are simply delusional. Ignorance is not strength, no matter what the Ministry of Truth might want you to believe.