Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Back-Up Plan

Correct me if I'm wrong. Isn't technology supposed to make our life better? Faster, easier, more convenient. In my recent experience, this is not the case.

So not the case.

I'm no stranger to the digital world. I run a virtual ad agency. My husband is a high tech product marketing consultant. Most significantly ... we have a teenage daughter.

Between DSL, WiFi and Fios, we have taken our poor little antique house and rewired it within an inch of its life. Suffice it to say that the founding families of our colonial town didn't anticipate our need to get into walls and under floorboards.

Back to my earlier — apparently incorrect — assumption. I thought technology was supposed to enhance our lives. Not drive us crazy.

The past week was particularly hectic and stressful at out house because we were about to leave for a family vacation. You know the truth about vacations, don't you? You work twice as hard the week before and twice as hard the week after in exchange for a week off. Some quick math and you'll see that you're actually netting an extra week's worth of work. Hmmmm.

The first thing to go? Our WiFi. The east coast has been through some severe weather recently, so we figured service was down. But, nooooooooo, according to our good friends at Verizon, the issue was not theirs. It was ours. Our router was toast; they would send us a new one. No problem. It would take 3-5 business days to arrive. Problem.

I was anticipating a slippery drive (or a long walk) through blizzard conditions to the nearest Starbucks, when my handy husband pulled off one of his minor miracles. A touch test confirmed that the router was overheating. So, he pulled out and positioned a small but powerful fan. The WiFi still wasn't working, but we could connect our PCs via Ethernet (don't bother to look it up; just take my word for it) and ... ta da ... Internet access was restored. For a few hours, anyway, until the router overheated again. We gave it a rest, restarted and were in business again. Rinse and repeat.

Just when we thought it was safe to go back into cyberspace, it was our daughter's turn. Where to start? Her iPhone was bugging (texts wouldn't text, photos crashed, the vibrate mode had a mind of its own). Any Mac user knows that the answer is to sync. But, noooooooooo. She couldn't sync because her MacBook startup disc was full. We deleted some (a lot!) of files. Then, she was told that she couldn't sync because her iPhone was full. She couldn't delete anything from her iPhone without syncing. She couldn't sync without deleting. Which came first, the chicken or the egg? Total. System. Meltdown.

Total. Teenage. Meltdown.

I thought I had saved the day (yeah, right) when I discovered a rogue ghost iPhoto library on the admin drive of her laptop. A couple of years ago, her system was wiped clean by a lovely young "Genius" at the Apple Store. At the time, a new iPhoto library was established. Turns out, the original library was still on there. All 38,254 images. 

Thirty-eight thousand, two hundred fifty-four.

Startup disc full? Well, duh!

They say that the solution begins when you recognize you have a problem. Houston, we had a problem. But, not one that we could solve. The iPhoto library was locked. We could delete and delete and delete and delete until our fingers bled (not really, but doesn't it sound dramatic?). As soon as we restarted iPhoto ... hello again, there they were.

Our only option? The Apple Store. Stat.

Have I mentioned that we were having a white-out? Have I mentioned we were getting ready for a vacation? Regardless, there was simply no way my daughter could leave town without access to her electronica. OMG. WTF. So, the martyr mother swung into action. I spent the bulk of my Saturday backing up all of my daughter's files onto my system and onto a set of CDs for safekeeping. I made two back-to-back appointments at the nearest Apple "Genius Bar." (A word to the would-be wise: they will only address one device per appointment.) I picked my daughter up at the stable and we drove through a veritable winter wonderland to the mall several towns away. As usual, the "Geniuses" saved us. We had to delete photos (Genius Two somehow unlocked iPhoto), then (under the supervision of Genius One), we had to do a manual backup, then reload all the iPhone software. 

I was wary about doing all this at home (where, no offense to my family, "Geniuses" are few and far between), so we grabbed some counter space and went through it all onsite at the Apple Store. Guess how long it takes to reload iPhone software? 65 minutes.

But, it worked. Phew.

When we finally left the mall, the blizzard was upon us in earnest. It was a white-knuckled, rather squirrelly drive home. The ABS kicked in not once but five times. The icy snow under my wheels seemed to chant a mantra to my daughter "You owe me, you owe me, you owe me."

Thank you, Apple Store. We left for our vacation on time and with all our technology intact. (Hopefully, the new router will be waiting and WiFi will be restored when we get home.) My daughter is happy. There's only one thing ...

My startup disc is full.

If you enjoyed this post, I invite you to order a copy of my new book Lovin' the Alien at www.lovinthealien.com.   


  1. Hi there! My name is Cameron and I was wondering if you would be willing to answer a quick question I have about your blog! My email is cvonstjames@gmail.com :-)

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  3. Now that your daughter's phone is fixed, perhaps it's a good idea to get an external hard drive to transfer some files and free up some space. As for your router, did it overheat due to where it's located? A nifty trick is to lift the router off the shelf for better air flow, just in case you're still having problems with it. In addition, always make sure your router's admin access is secured, so that they can't be hacked by someone else. Take care!

    Cordia Remsen @ RB's Computer Service

  4. That’s true; computer technology is supposed to make people’s lives easier. But just like any other thing, it also has its pros and cons. And it was too bad that you had to experience most of its cons a few days before your planned vacation. That must’ve been stressful. Thankfully, you found an IT guy that managed to fix all of the problems just in time before you left. That must've been a huge relief. And with regard to your daughter’s phone, maybe she can use a digital storage system instead for all of her photos. It’s easy to access and has a strong security to boot.

    Lillian Walker @ TaylorWork