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Hello, my name is Judas Gutenberg and this is my blaag (pronounced as you would the vomit noise "hyroop-bleuach").


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   Ides of March
Monday, March 15 2004
I drove out to Palenville to do some work on a friend's iMac. The machine's hard drive wasn't working. I thought it was going to be a straightforward job, but it wasn't. The iMac wouldn't boot off any CD that could allow me to mount the hard drive, so the only thing I could think to do was open it up and see if there was something wrong with the hard drive. It was one of those late-model flat screen iMacs, and to open it required a range of phillips screwdrivers and torix drivers, some of which I had (and the rest of which I improvised).
Having been inside this iMac, I have to say something about Apple's design priorities. I know everybody thought this iMac model was beautiful when it came out, but its insides are an engineer's worst nightmare. It was obviously never intended to be upgraded or repaired, because to do anything beyond installing an Airport card requires a harrowing disassembly process, one in which cables were just a little too short or fastened just a little too flimsily. To get to the hard drive, a fairly common item to replace, requires digging into a third knuckle-skinning layer up from the bottom.
The hard drive seemed to be behaving normally, so I decided to reassemble it and just do a clean OS install. But when I fired it up the screen turned white and stayed that way. Now there was something wrong with its video system.
I won't bore you with all the things I tried in an effort to get the video working again. Suffice it to say that it never came back. Somehow the process of opening it up and closing it had introduced a new problem that couldn't be fixed. It was terribly embarrassing. Here I am, supposedly a person who knows what he's doing, yet the computer is worse off when I'm done with it than it was before I showed up. Occasions where my repair activities have actually broken something are so rare that I can count them on one hand. And most of those times happened when I was a kid (sorry, Dad, about that pocket watch I destroyed when I was four1).
This failure came as a shock to my system, challenging one of my basic philosophies about the world of material girls: it never hurts to explore.
I took the computer home with me when I left, but I had no more luck with it back at my place. It chimed and made other healthy noises, but the screen refused to display anything except a blank white sheet.
I naturally turned to Google to see if anyone else had experienced my problems, but here I was hampered yet again by Apple quirkiness. The flatpanel iMac doesn't have a model name or number, it's just called an "iMac," the same name used for several completely different computer designs. So you find yourself Googling for "flat-panel iMac" or "flatpanel iMac" or "flatscreen iMac."
In addition to devouring many hours of my day, this problem threw a wet blanket over my attitude. Gretchen, who herself had had a bad experience at the dentist's office, was very supportive and assured me that I was still a competent computer repair guy, that occasionally such disasters were bound to happen.
Later she came into my laboratory as I was secretly numbing my sorrows with rum and gave me even more moral support.
We'd both had a miserable day. If we'd been smarter we never would have gotten out of bed. We should have been more wary on this, the Ides of March.

1My first conscious memory of opening up a device to see how it worked involved a pocket watch I "borrowed" from my father. I popped off the back with a screwdriver and then carefully removed all the little gears, stopping now and then to see how they meshed and moved. It was far too complicated to put back together again, at least for a four year old kid. But I was savvy enough in those days to hide the evidence. My father had so little awareness of non-essential possessions that he never missed it.

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