The computer was on my lap, and I was halfway through reading a PDF document, when I noticed an odd beeping and ticking noise. At first I thought there must be a browser window open in the background, playing some irritating Flash content. But it was immediately apparent that the whole machine was locked up and the strange mechanical noises continued from within.
I knew right then that something serious had happened. I know my way around minor Mac problems because I’ve seen loads of them. But this is the first time I’ve experienced a serious hardware failure.
Which of course it turned out to be. After half an hour on the phone with the delightful guys at AppleCare, the MacBook (not yet a year old) was diagnosed dead and will be picked up tomorrow for repair.
And I’m not in any kind of panic, because I am confident that my Time Machine backups will save me.
I have discovered a problem with them, though. What I wanted to do was restore my MacBook backup to my ancient (and spare) PowerBook; but doing a straightforward restore-all was not possible because the PowerBook’s hard disk is that much smaller. It doesn’t have room for everything that was on the MacBook.
What’s doubly irritating is that there appears to be no way of restoring just a selection of the MacBook’s files. It has to be a complete full restore, or nothing.
The next step was obvious – plug the MacBook’s backup drive into the PowerBook and just drag over the files needed. But that fails too, because of a permissions problem. My user account on this spare machine does not have permissions to read and open the files on the backup.
I’m not going to panic, because I can cope. I’ve managed to rescue a handful of files that are most essential for day-to-day work, and with a text editor and a browser I can get along just fine for a few days, until the MacBook is mended and I can fully restore it.
Still: bloody computers.