Robopsychosis

If you’re tired of hearing me bitch about Apple and technology, you might want to just skip past this one because it’s gonna be a long one.

“It Just Works!”

Except when it doesn’t.

As I wrote a few days ago, I’d decided to bite the bullet and take my six-month-old MacBook Pro into the Apple store so that the wonky keyboard could be replaced. I knew it was going to have to be sent out because the entire top case would have to be replaced. I went ahead and made the appointment.

I’d upgraded Ben’s old MacBook with a 512GB hard drive and bumped the RAM to 8 GB—the same configuration I had on my new machine which would allow me to effortlessly move all my data onto the old machine while the new one was getting fixed and not have to pick and choose like I did the last time I had to use the trusty old warhorse.

I’d initially wanted to get my data transferred before I took the machine in for service in case I ran into any glitches, so as I’d done dozens of times before when restoring my entire profile onto a different machine, Friday night I installed a fresh copy of the OS on the old machine, logged in with a Temp Admin account, and then ran Migration Assistant. It kept crapping out. Even though everything was properly checked off, the first attempt transferred everything except the Applications. What the hell? I attempted to go back and just select “Applications” at that point, and after churning away for another hour or so it informed me it was finished. I logged in and nothing had been transferred.

At this point I wiped and reinstalled again. This time I selected only Applications. Success! But when I went back and attempted to restore everything else, it crapped out each time it got around to discovering “Other Files and Folders.” After banging my head against the wall for the better part of the evening, I decided to attempt a peer-to-peer restore from my new machine to the old one. Once again I wiped and reinstalled the OS. Set up the peer-to-peer option for restore and waited. And waited. Because it was going over our wireless network, it was going to take hours, but it seemed to be working. That was fine. I was ready for bed anyway.

Saturday morning I woke to find it hung at “51 minutes remaining” on restoring just my profile (it hadn’t even gotten around to the Applications or “Other Files and Folders.” No problem; my appointment wasn’t until 11:45. It was only 7 am. I had plenty of time.

Except it never changed. Finally at 10:45, I pulled the plug and wiped and reinstalled the OS on the new machine before taking it in. Call me paranoid, but I don’t trust Apple that much with all my data. I figured I could sort out the Time Machine issue one way or another when I got back. Little did I realize it would literally take all day yesterday get up and running again. Flashback to 2009 and Windows HELL.

Upon arrival at Apple Biltmore, the concierge  gave me more than a little attitude when I approached her. I don’t know what the problem was, but she was anything other than smiles and welcoming vibes. In fact, the whole energy level of the place was vile. I remember when I used to enjoy going there, whether it was to buy something or get something fixed. Now I dread it.

I explained my problem to the “Genius” and he whisked the laptop to the back for several minutes, finally returning to say that yes, he was able to verify my issues. He said it would be 3-5 days for the repair

Upon returning home, no matter what I did to restore the data, it wasn’t working. I wasn’t too worried; I knew all my data was safe, and most importantly I had multiple manual backups of my photos and music in case something was really seriously out of whack. Everything could be restored. Finally, somewhere around 9 pm I did a deep dive on Google and the overwhelming recommendation was to run a repair on the Time Machine. I started that as I went to bed.

Yesterday morning, finished, it reported multiple errors, none of which could be repaired.

FUCK.

“The data is safe. The data is safe. Your important stuff is backed up multiple places.” Nonetheless, my anxiety level was rising.

So once again I wiped and reinstalled the OS. At this point I knew i was going to have to reinstall all my apps either by moving them manually from the Time Machine or worse—from scratch—and then manually pull the rest of my data from the Time Machine. While I didn’t look forward to it, it was probably well past time for such an endeavor. Multiple installs and uninstalls of apps and multiple OS upgrades over the years since I last did a clean install probably guaranteed there was a lot of sludge on the drive that needed to go away. It would also afford me a new, good backup to use with Migration Assitant when I got my machine back from repair. And if nothing else, philosophically it was a good way to start the new year. My two main concerns however were restoring my mail folders (I store pretty much everything locally, and based on past experience, moving Apple Mail from one machine to another is a pain in the ass, unlike Windows and Outlook where it’s generally just a matter of copying a .pst file.) and my Chrome Bookmarks. I hadn’t bothered to export them before all this started, foolishly thinking everything was safe and sound.

By late morning I’d located the mailboxes. Each one had to be individually imported back into the new instance of Mail I’d set up, but everything was there. I know it’s a silly, first-world problem, but I like to keep that stuff. My anxiety level dropped a bit.

When I fired up Chrome, I logged in and—braise the baby cheebus—all my bookmarks were there. The same went for my RSS Reader. Since I switched to Feedly some months ago it was simple to reattach it to the Reader. Anxiety level continued to drop.

The rest of the day was still spent in robopsychosis, but at least my anxiety had bottomed out; I copied all my apps over from the Time Machine backup, knowing full well that more than just a couple of them wouldn’t work properly at first. That proved to be the case, and a simple uninstall and reinstall from the Mac App store solved 95% of the problems. The remainder were licensing issues, solved by contacting the developers who—amazingly—were actually working yesterday and able to help me get everything sorted out.

Ben and I headed out yesterday afternoon to do our usual Sunday grocery run and prior to leaving I started manually copying the +150GB worth of music files back from the Time Machine. When we got home, everything was transferred, and firing up iTunes verified that everything was present and accounted for.

As if I hadn’t experienced enough Tech Hell this past weekend, Ben and I decided to switch cell providers. We’d been with Verizon for years and were very happy with the coverage and service, but in the interest of saving money, a few months ago we switched to T-Mobile. BIG mistake. The old adage of “you get what you pay for” could never be more true. Coverage was spotty (Ben had no service at his school), customer service was a joke, and while we still owed $1000 on the two new phones, we knew we had to get out of the contract.

So back to Verizon we went. Unfortunately, we had to buy two new phones because T-Mobile phones are locked to the carrier. Supposedly our numbers were ported over (we got these at Target), but as of this morning, all the phones are still active with duplicate phone numbers, and it’s causing nothing but grief for sending/receiving calls and SMS messages. We’ll get it sorted today, but damn…really?!?

Anyhow, before we went on our Verizon run, I set to copying the ±150GB worth of personal photos and um…”other” pictures from the Time Machine. It was still running by the time we got back, but eventually everything came through.

By the time 2018 arrived last night, the Mac was back in order except for the issues caused by two different phones with the same number trying to link to the Messages application.

Lesson learned? I really do have a lot of stuff on my laptop that I can’t afford to lose. Multiple Time Machine disks are necessary and I need to run disk repair on a regular basis on each of them to prevent this from ever happening again—because having to go through all this is exactly the kind of shit that sent me fleeing Microsoft, and as much as I bitch about Apple, I could never go back.