Lessons From A Laptop’s Death

I am nothing if not prepared. I have back-up plans, and back-ups to my back-up plans. I have become the kind of student who schedules the entire semester to the day, working with the way my brain functions and trying to make things easier for future-me. When I write, I rewrite four or five times, which is time consuming but seems to work well for me. Thus, I cannot cram all my writing into a single weekend. My laptop troubles began about a month ago, when my beloved Macbook Pro began showing weird barcode-like glitches on its monitor for a split-second and then reverting to normal. Hmmm, the extreme planner part of my mind thought, I should back everything up right about now! But I was in the middle of writing a paper on sinigang and immigrant identity for my Intro to Diaspora and Transnational Studies course, and my mind was too caught up in lay-outs and analysis and research. Maybe the glitch was a one time thing. Maybe it’ll go away. 

And so I continued to slave away at my independent project, and setting up for a second paper, this time for my Literary Theory class. This ups the count to two massive papers for as many courses; my Macbook was chugging along fine, with the occasional glitches now stretching from a split second to fifteen seconds + a restart. But my brain, enmeshed as it was with my papers, kept convincing me it was perfectly fine to put off backing up.

Into the horizon came the deadline for a third paper, this one a discussion of the Collaborative Colonialism of Hong Kong for my Global Urbanization class. I was on top of things for all three classes: my sources were compiled, read and annotated; my drafts were on their second (or third) incarnations; my thesis was evolving into something coherent. Then, the day before my sinigang paper was due, a mere twenty minutes before I was supposed to walk into a class, my Macbook Pro died.

I was distraught to the point of calmness. This was the calm before the storm hit, and I needed all my wits. I called Apple’s Customer Service, and since the agent could do nothing for me without charging me $60 as I had neglected to get Applecare, she scheduled me for a meeting at the Genius Bar the next day. Knowing I had to get my bases covered before deadlines crashed into me like a tropical storm, I immediately emailed my Intro to DTS professor and attached a photo of my dead laptop (for those interested, my monitor only showed me a grey screen with a flashing question mark). I managed to get an extension for five days, two of which I was working eight-hour shifts at McDonalds, and all five of which I would have no laptop since I was getting it repaired.

Thankfully, my friends came to my rescue. Aldrin, who had himself just gotten his own Mac fixed, lent me his computer. I had to go through the hell of (re)digging up all my sources, laying my content pages out again, and working on analyses that I had lost with my Mac (I was on draft 3/4 at the time). I pushed to the breaking point, got my paper done, and had my Mac back three days after I sent it in for repairs. I gave Aldrin’s computer back to him after only 4/5 days.

However, the worst was still to come. Remember those two other papers that were due, as well? When I got my Pro back, I still had all the information on it. Trusting that my computer was good to go (I was told that it was only a connection wire issue), I wrote and rewrote drafts. The day after I got it back, my screen froze, the freakin’ barcodes showed up again, and my Macbook died once more. It was a fried motherboard (and from what, I have no idea, as I only used the computer for photos and word documents). This time, though, I was better prepared: I had saved some of my work on Google Drive, which saved my life, but the drafts I had been working on at my computer’s time of death I could not access. Another friend, Chris, lent me his computer this time.

I know, right? I struck gold. My friends are amazing.

This time, the situation was bad. It was really, really bad. I sent my Urban Globalization professor a photo of my Macbook, and again got a 5-day extension. Hurray for nice teachers, right? My problem this time was, since I had not counted on my computer collapsing again, I was booked to work for the weekend. And the following Monday/Tuesday/Wednesday, I had two final exams (Classical Mythology and Intro to DTS) and two final papers (Literary Theory and Global Urbanization). Four separate mammoths of requirements, that I had to prepare for in five days, where I was working for two, and using a borrowed laptop. Once again, my friends had saved my life – they cheered me on and supported me, and more importantly, let me borrowed what I needed to get through those harrowing five days. I got through it and by the time it was over, I was a dead woman walking. But I survived. And here’s me hoping I passed my exams and papers!

So now, I have learned my lesson. I am trying to be more conscious of backing up my data. I got a new laptop, which was necessary because of all the papers I needed to write (I will be paying it off this summer, thank god for my job). I got a Macbook Air, but this time, I got the three year warranty. The lovely girl who took care of me when I went to buy this baby left these words of wisdom resounding in my head, “I can’t afford a new laptop, but I can afford Applecare.” And I could, because she knocked off a couple hundred dollars from my bill. Perks of being a student.

Where I was and what song was playing: In the 9th floor of the Robarts Library, and John Legend’s All of Me.

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