It didn’t look good, to say the least. My ancient, steam-driven iMac stubbornly refused to boot up. Its inner workings making a sort of grinding, creaking sound, like the cars of an antique and soon-to-be condemned rollercoaster labouriously inching their way to the top of the ride’s first hill. Perhaps it was my imagination, but I thought I could detect a faint smell of burning insulation emanating from the CPU. Every sign seemed to indicate that my trusty cyber-relic was heading towards the light, well on down the information highway to a hard-drive heaven.
Of course it was my fault. I had waited far too long to replace the infernal contraption. Highly sophisticated carbon dating techniques had determined that the approximate age of the whirring, whining machine is somewhere in the neighbourhood of eight years old, which in normal time makes it essentially an artifact from the late Mesozoic era. Obviously, it had been living on borrowed time for far too long, and I knew it. With a sort of Thelma-and-Louise-like recklessness, though, I had continued to use it, only very spasmodically backing up my important files — a clear case of Luddite technological death wish.
The repair clerk at the computer store seemed likely to verify my lay diagnosis. As I placed the machine on the counter top in front of him, and blew the dust from the top of it, he asked me how old it was. When I told him, it seemed to ignite his scientific curiosity. I imagine he would have had the same expression on his face if I had presented him with a fragment of papyrus or a lump of fossilized pteranodon guano. “Leave it with us for a few days,” he said, “we’ll see what we can do.” I knew in my heart he was just breaking it to me gently.
That night I went back home and began planning a little memorial service for my old electronic friend, the glittering rectangular muse who had been there for me through so many sleepless nights, and had wordlessly suffered through so much purple prose and questionable grammar. I thought something tasteful and appropriately archaic would be in order. Perhaps, a candlelit ceremony involving lute, zither and harpsichord is appropriate. A simple eulogy composed in Early Modern English.
When the repair shop phoned me a few days later, I was fully prepared for the solemn voice on the other end of the line to begin with “We did everything we could…” To my surprise, though, she told me that they had actually been able to bring the thing back to life. I gather, from the repair bill, that the procedure was a long and painfully complicated one, involving several transplants and teams of specialists flown in from Geneva to work around the clock. It didn’t matter. To have my old friend back was worth any price. “Don’t get too excited, though,” she cautioned, “we think the hard drive is about to pack it in on you at any time.”
The important thing, though, is that my coal-fired techno-sidekick had been saved, at least temporarily; long enough for me to create some back-up CDs. And, even more importantly, I’ve learned an important lesson about leaving things too long. Time to start saving my pennies and doing some research into acquiring a replacement.
Come to think of it, though, it does seem to be working even better now than it did when I first bought it. Perhaps I’ll be able to squeeze another decade or so out of it…