Monday, December 10, 2012

The death and resurection of my iMac...

Good morning!  I would like to introduce you to my iMac. 17" of beautiful screen. No fancy wireless keyboard but it does use a purple wireless mouse! And to the left is a lovely, large external monitor. I like to see things up close and 17" isn't all that big. Why you might ask am I introducing you to my computer, well, because not so long ago, just over 2 week to be exact, my iMac died. There had been some signs. The first was a weird R2-D2 noise. If you own a Mac you know there are no R2-D2 noises. Rarely are there noises at all. Unless your Mac is really old (which according to SOME people, mine is). Then there was the flashing file folder with a question mark. These two signs lit a fire under me to acquire a large external HD and back up everything on the computer. The Monday after Thanksgiving I took my iMac to the Apple store where I learned the HD was dying. Throwing up errors was the terminology the genius used. (No, I'm not being funny, the Apple people call themselves Geniuses.) And unfortunately he could not replace the HD for me because they only replace them with what was originally in the machine and that was no longer available. (Because they don't make them that small anymore!) So I took my beloved iMac home to see what I could do about the situation. I cleaned it up with some software that does that and got some space back but that did not seem to help with the errors that kept happening, which presented themselves by locking the computer up and thus requiring it to be turned off with the button. A week after the appointment at the Apple store it officially died. I tried reinstalling the OS but that did not work. I was basically resigned to buying a new one (I know, the horror!) but the thought of spending that kind of money this time of year makes me (and Morgan especially) a little ill. After some contemplation, calling a repair place, and some googling I got a wild hair to put in a new HD myself. I had located a video showing how to do this on YouTube and it took the guy 5 minutes. As long as I had the special screw drivers I should be able to do it. So I got online and ordered a new HD which arrived in 4 days and got the special screw drivers from our friend who is an IT guy. Which might lead you to ask, "Why didn't you ask the IT guy to do it Heather?" Because when I get a wild hair to do something myself everyone better get the hell out of the way. 

Now, because this was going to be a 5 minute task I started it before we were going to have dinner. I took out the screws just like the guy in the video and attempted to lift the back of the computer off just like the guy in the video. And that's where the video and I parted ways. You see the model the guy in the video was working on wasn't EXACTLY like mine, but it LOOKED just like mine so I presumed (or assumed) it would work the same way. I was wrong. WAY WRONG! Morgan thought, as he usually does, that I needed to pull harder on the back of the machine. He always thinks applying more muscle gets the job done faster. Which I suppose is correct except that things often get broken in the process. Morgan thinks strength can compensate for patience. We think differently. So after some sighing and googling and looking through some more videos I found yet another one with the correct model with step by step instructions for installing the HD. A much more complicated step-by-step process than the first video. By the way, the process in the first video was, remove screws, take off cover, disconnect & remove bad HD, install new HD, put cover back on, put in screws. Bada-bing! The second video did not have a Bada-bing. Although it did provide me with some opportunities for cussing (in my head because O was home). 

So here is the first step of removing the FRONT cover (opposite of first video). The LCD sits on top of all the other "stuff" and that needed to be removed. Which would seem simple except that it is held in place by a lot of sticky metal tape stuff. Again, not an opportunity for the muscles. After meticulously unsticking the sticky metal tape stuff I was able to lift up the LCD screen but didn't want to remove it because there was even more sticky metal tape stuff with holes in it (like mesh) at the top, so I just leaned it against something. And the whole time I'm trying, as I was instructed, to not pull the two black wires past the top of the frame!
 Finally it became apparent that I was not going to be able to remove the bad HD without removing the LCD screen so I very gently unstuck the metal mesh tape stuff. (Yes, I know, all very technical stuff.)
 Above is the inside of the computer. That thing in the top middle with the green circuit board on it is the HD. Once I got to all of this it was relatively easy to work. I have little fingers and I can use little tools and follow directions. I can also put things back in the same way I took them out so it wasn't too complicated. Owen kept coming in and asking, "What is that Mama?" and pointing to various things inside the machine. To which I would respond, "heck if I know!" Although I could identify the speakers! 

Once I got the new HD put in and attached it was fairly easy to reassemble and close up. Then came the reconfiguring and installing of the OS. I tried using the original OS but that wouldn't go and since I had a newer version (Snow Leopard) I tried that instead and that's when I got my BADABING! moment! At one point I had a sinking feeling that after my 2 plus hours of work I was going to have to take the whole thing apart again so I could return the new HD and buy a new computer.

Once the OS was installed I was able to reinstall the other software we had been using and do all the updates and makes some other tweaks to things and then transfer all of our music back into iTunes which was safely on the external HD. 

People, I cannot emphasize how important it is to back-up your information. If I hadn't we would have lost all of the music we have purchased over the last (almost) 7 years. I don't want to add up how much that would cost to replace. I have another external HD where I keep photos and portrait files but I really was most concerned about our music and things that I had amassed over the last year. I'm pretty good about keeping important stuff in a safe place and fortunately the Time Machine feature on the Mac is super easy to use. But if I hadn't done it when I did, I would have missed the opportunity because once the HD started going it went pretty quickly. 

Although I cannot upgrade to the newest versions of PSE or get the latest version of Aperture, I saved us well over a thousand dollars by replacing the HD myself. And who knows how long it will last before something else goes on it and we will have to get a new one but so far it's working just like new. And with a 500 GB hard drive vs. the 160 GB it came with originally! And every time I walk past it I have the satisfaction of knowing I fixed it! I love that. 

Now, if I could just figure out what is wrong with the treadmill...