Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Computer Gods Hate Me

This Christmas, I did what most young adults are doing.

I fragged an iMac.

Okay, I was able to fix it, but it was a heart-pounding few hours making sure that I could. I was trying to install Windows XP via Boot Camp, and without going into too many details, I formatted the entire hard drive.

Thankfully I had the wherewithal to backup all of my files first. But it wasn't as simple as insert boot-disk-and-reload-operating-system. No, because when I booted up the computer, no matter what disk was in it, it informed me that there was nothing bootable anywhere to be found.

Well, with the Mac OS-X disk I was able to get to the install screen (but only after specifically telling the computer to boot from the disk), and then I thought I was home free, but the installer couldn't find the hard drive.

Problem.

So, I fired up the Disk Utility. It could see the disk, I just couldn't read it. Nor would it erase, repair, or partition said disk. So I spent two hours messing with it until I finally realized that it would work if I unmounted the disk first, then erased it.

And then it was a question of re-installing everything and getting my preferences back the way I like them. So I lugged it into the living room and managed to get it all more-or-less up to speed by the end of the third episode of Band of Brothers.

I attempted to install XP via Boot Camp once more, but this time I checked out the instructions. In my defense, if everything had worked properly the first time, I would have done it right and not lost the entire machine, but it turns out that the only thing the XP installer could see was the entire partition, rather than the 32G virtual partition Boot Camp had set up.

So I ran some updates and we'll see if that fixes it. Unfortunately, attempting to install (even if you Quit at the beginning of the process) makes the machine automatically try to boot from that program, whether it exists or not. Which brings back the "No bootable devices" screen. Nothing freaks you out like plain white type on a black screen. Thankfully, since the machine did have an operating system on it this time, the problem was fixed in about eighteen seconds using the Startup Utility.

So, I now know a great deal more about how iMacs work behind-the-scenes than I ever thought I would--which sort of defeats the purpose of getting an iMac, but whatever.

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Bonus - while writing this post, Abby came into the room to get something and instinctively flipped the light switch as she left. The light switch controls the outlet this computer is currently plugged into. Thank god for autosave.

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