lingering Osama damage
Wednesday, February 25 2004
setting: rural Hurley, Ulster County, New York
One of my housecalls involved checking in on a G4 Macintosh that was experiencing the "click of death," the metallic "tink-tink-tink" that a sick hard drive makes as its failing machinery futilely searches for sectors. This Mac was only four years old, which isn't far into the possible lifespan of most hard drives. But it had experienced a trauma in its life that was, I thought, a risk factor for premature mechanical failure. The computer had been in an apartment building near the World Trade Center on the day it collapsed back in 2001. The apartment had been so close to ground zero that its windows were imploded by either a compressive wave or flying debris (the client's wife showed me a photograph). Reportedly, a fine grey dust had settled over everything in the apartment to a depth of a foot or so. Normally I don't think of hard drives being susceptible to dust, but this dust was a special kind full of micro-pulverized concrete, asbestos, glass, engagement rings, and other abrasives.
I opened the Mac up and found that there was still a heavy accumulation of World Trade Center dust on various components, including the hard drive. "That's another thing Osama owes me for," said the attorney.
I decided to take the computer back to my place and install a new drive. The client, an attorney, said he didn't have an urgent need for data recovery. He was also nervous about letting me take the old hard drive off the premises. Evidently it had documents on it concerning a sensitive legal case whose "files" had been ordered "sealed" by a judge. So I took the old drive out and left it with him. It seemed a very tiny bit odd to me that the client would trust me to tell him what part of his computer contained sensitive information but not trust me with that information. Had I been nosey and unscrupulous, I could have told him that some other component was the hard drive and left that with him instead.
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