With Passover barely a week past, plagues are still on my mind. Blood, frogs, cattle disease, death of the first born….
And a modern one — death of the hard drive.
I didn’t manage to post this week since my hard drive bit the dust last Monday. It exhaled a desperate DOS error message, powered off, and when I turned it back on, was a ghost of its former self. It couldn’t access any documents. It could surf the Web and it could access my email files, but no photos, music, recipes, invoices, interview notes, query letters, journal entries, freelance assignments, or (oops) novel manuscripts.
Before you start hyperventilating in sympathy, let me say that I didn’t lose anything permanently. This was not Hemingway leaving his manuscript on a train. My wonderful in-house tech support guy (yay Sam!) had persuaded me about a month earlier to sign up for Carbonite, a “cloud computing” service that automatically backs up your computer. So there were copies of everything stored somewhere in the ether on Carbonite’s servers.
It wasn’t a disaster, just a pain.
On the plague scale: Closer to frogs than to death of the first born.
Caving into to my teen daughter (longtime Mac evangelist) and husband (recent Mac convert), I decided it was time to make the switch from PC to Mac. I ran off to the Apple store in Emeryville and bought a Mac Powerbook Pro. At the same time, I was using an old Windows laptop to try and download the backed-up files from Carbonite. And I was using my old limping desktop to view emails and print out the important ones just in case. At one point, I had all three computers running simultaneously in my study: It looked like some mad scientist trying to emulate the NASA command center.
So now I’m having to figure out how to use a Mac. For years I’ve listened to Apple users wax on about the ease and elegance and intuitiveness and overall complete and utter superiority of Macs to PCs. But I’m not exactly blown away.
Maybe it’s that over the years, Microsoft copied enough Mac features that Windows now does pretty much everything that Macs do, at least for basic word processing-type activities. But whatever the reason, I feel irritation rather than liberation.
I’m having to re-learn a bunch of minor computer habits — things like having to type “command c” and “command v” to copy info from an email into a Word document rather than click on the familiar Windows “copy” and “paste” icons. (Unless there’s some easier way to do it that I haven’t found?)
I miss having a right-click feature on my mouse. I miss having both a “backspace” key and a “delete” key.
I feel a little like a stroke victim having to relearn basic motions of daily life — holding a spoon, tying my shoes. Small abilities we take for granted until… one day they’re gone.
There are Hebrew blessings for many of the activities of daily life, expressing gratitude for waking up in the morning or eating a meal or washing your hands.
Is there a blessing for a properly functioning computer?