My iMac Bit the Dust Today But I Learned Something

I’m quite used to the glorious real estate of my 27-inch screen. I even have a second monitor in addition to it. I’m accustomed to the generous space. I like it for designing and I like it for the at-a-glance overview it gives me of all the things I’m managing.

However, with all of this space comes the tendency for distraction. Yes, 27 inches and two monitors can be used productively and for good, but they can also so easily be used to facilitate what is merely efficient distraction management.

I’m talking about the kind of busywork that feels like we’re being productive, but we’re really just repeatedly shifting our attention and watching our various feeds and notifications.

Early today, my iMac began freezing. At first for 1 minute, then 5, then for 20 minutes at a time. After a few hours and half a dozen hard power-offs, it then refused to boot up past the login screen.

I rushed to the Apple store this evening. Within minutes, before the normal deep tests even ran, the diagnostics immediately threw up a big red “FAILURE” message. It was the hard drive.

The good news: My time machine backup was current as of 11am today. I cannot begin to tell you the relief I feel. I’ve gone through my fair share of drive-failure nightmares in the past and this time, that ounce of prevention was oh-so-certainly the pound of cure I needed.

The bad news: Tomorrow morning is a live podcast recording day. The guy at Apple said if I left it with them to be repaired, “it would take 4 days.” Are you kidding me? That’s 4 YEARS in our language.

I decided to take it in to a third party specialist instead. While I’ve had to cancel tomorrow’s live show, I’ll hopefully be up and running quickly enough for me to record and edit a solo episode in the afternoon and release it on schedule the following day.

Update: After having to miss 2 podcast episodes this week, I finally got my iMac back. However I had yet another scare—this time with the backup! After I restored, the computer would not boot up, causing me to fear it might be a corrupt backup. I took it in a second time and thankfully after another couple days in the shop, they were able to recover everything and get me back up and running!

I’m finally back in business after 4 days of being out of commission. While I feel very fortunate to have had a local Time Machine backup, I’m now rethinking my entire system. I’ve taken the opportunity to add another layer of backup by getting Backblaze as an online/off-site backup solution. It has unlimited storage, so it’s a nice added peace of mind in case anything ever happened locally.

Focus

Currently, I sit at a different wing of my desk in front of my 11″ MacBook Air. I opened up a blank document in the middle of the screen on my solid black background. There was no room for a browser, a twitter feed, messages app, Skype, and my todo list. It would feel silly try to cram all those applications onto this one screen like I consistently do with the two on my desktop.

No, instead there was a blank page, cursor blinking. Waiting. Beckoning. There was nothing to do but write.

While I love having a vast sea of pixels at my disposal, that ocean can be one of deception. It feels productive to run a lot of programs and pretend to do many things at once, but I fool only myself. I am only ever doing one thing at a time and it is a matter of whether I am doing it well or poorly. Focus and attention are virtues I must seek with a greater zeal.

I think I will write on my MacBook more.

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By Sean McCabe

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