Monday, June 11, 2012

Head in the Cloud

Despite rumors to the contrary, I am only human. I can only handle so much drama at a time. 

So when my daughter's laptop started warning her that the "start-up disk was full," I crossed my fingers and hoped for the best. All I asked was that I could wait three weeks before dealing with it. Just three weeks. 

You see, the next three weeks are going to be a very rocky ride.

First, we have to get through the last ten days of eighth grade, which include a walking tour of our historic town, a semi-formal dinner/dance/harbor cruise, a graduation ceremony and a field day. Then, I have promised to chauffeur and chaperone a visit to a local amusement park with three besties. This on the day before we fly off on our weeklong trip to London and Paris for a friend's bat mitzvah. (What was I thinking?) We then have two whole days free (during which, yours truly will try to get three weeks of work done) before our family sailing trip in Maine. We're sort of using up all our summer vacation plans right at the start of the season. But, that's just the way it worked out.

So, the reader can probably understand my hesitation to schedule a trip to the Apple Store. It was just three weeks, right? Surely, the computer could hang on another three weeks.

No way, Jose.

On Saturday night, the computer decided that we had ignored one too many warnings. It wouldn't turn on.


How can any about-to-graduate-from-middle-schooler possibly survive without her Facebook? Without her Tumblr? Without her YouTube?

Of more concern to me, of course, were the half-finished papers and projects for English, Social Studies and Science. Plus, I was worried that the computer (a 2007 Mac PowerBook that had been my work machine before I upgraded in 2010) might actually be d-e-a-d. Five years is really, really, really old for a Mac. I jumped online and scheduled an appointment at the Apple Store Genius Bar for the following afternoon.

When we got to the mall, it was surprisingly quiet. The weather was glorious, so I'm guessing that any would-be shoppers had bagged in favor of gardening or the beach. We parked, grabbed a quick lunch at the food court, and were about five minutes early for our appointment.

"What seems to be the trouble?" asked our specialist, a young woman with cropped hair, funky jewelry and an air of otherworldly smartness — dare I say, "genius?"

I explained the situation and pulled out my daughter's laptop. Our specialist made a funny sound that I thought meant, "OMG! What a frrrkin' antique! You've gotta be kidding!"

"What?" I said, ready to make a joke about the age of the system if necessary.

"What?" she said back.

It turns out, she had only been clearing her throat. My daughter looked at me with that pained expression I know so well. We were only thirty seconds into our appointment and I had already humiliated her.

The specialist did some diagnostic voo doo and there was my daughter's desktop back again. She asked us to delete as much data as we could. With her guidance, we realized that every photo my daughter had ever taken was sitting on the system twice: in iPhoto and in the Nikon software that had come with her camera. Bingo! We freed up a gig or so and thought we were home free.

Alas, no.

With all the additional capacity, the system still wouldn't start up. The specialist tried a few more things and offered us two solutions. We could purchase a new hard drive for about $200, but she didn't recommend that because of the advanced age and warranty-less state of the system. Or, she could wipe the entire system clean. I looked at my daughter with alarm. She just shrugged.

"Go ahead," she said.

"Waitaminute!" I practically shrieked. "She's going to delete everything you have on there!"

"That's okay," my daughter shrugged again.

"Your pictures?"

"The best are on Facebook. And, most of them are backed up on your system anyway."

"Your videos?"

"On YouTube."

"Your music?"

"In iTunes."

"Your schoolwork?"

"I emailed everything to you to print already. And, I have my rough drafts."

It was official then. She was fine with starting over. 

I thought about a few years ago when I had a terrible accident; an iced coffee with skim milk and Sweet'N Low fell over on my desk and drained itself into my keyboard. I lost everything, everything, everything and I was completely, utterly, inconsolably devastated.

The truth is, I'm still mired in the analog world. I may have thousands of digital documents, but I think of them as "things." I can print them or move them, store them, upload and download them. But, for me they are still part and parcel of the real world. I back-up through an online service, but I also burn discs. I take my laptop with me, but I also bring along paper files. 

My daughter, on the other hand, is a pureblood digital baby. She is completely content to live with her data — and her head — in the clouds.

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