Thursday, February 23, 2012

Fruits and Translucent Openings

After all, just one virus on a computer is one too many. - Glenn Turner
I've been on a multi-year kick to watch all of the old Doctor Who episodes that my Doctor Who friends have told us we need to watch.  I have a lot of friends and there is a lot of classic Doctor Who so the list is long and many of the episodes are not yet available on DVD.  Yet I have this one very special friend, "huh?  Oh, yeah, I can give you all of the 80's Doctor Who not available on DVD.  I have old CDRs of them from VHS transfers."
Modern Apple computers have very picky SuperDrives inside of them.  If you take a CDR that was burned over ten years ago and stick into a modern Apple there is about a 50/50 chance the computer will actually be able to read the disc.  Instead the computer will swallow it whole and hold onto it refusing to eject it.  Eject button?  No.  Disk Utility eject?  No.  Command line eject?  No.  In fact the only way to get a swallowed disc out was to reboot the computer and hold down the eject button.  Disc released!
I also have an external SuperDrive for the MacBook Air I no longer own and so I thought maybe I would have better luck with it.  After inserting the disc into it I had no better time reading it, but even the reboot while holding down eject trick didn't eject it.  To be fair, that SuperDrive is only supposed to work with a MacBook Air, but if that is the case, why did it agree to swallow a disc never to release it?
The only solution was to head down to the Apple Store at the mall and make use of one of their floor models.  This seems simple enough, but the moment you pull a DVD drive out of your pocket and plug it into one of their floors models things get a little dicey.  Immediately one of the floor people swooped in on me and asked what I was doing.  I explained, "I have a stuck disc and I don't own a MacBook Air, so I just need to use this to eject the disc."  They nodded and walked off.  The disc didn't mount and Disk Utility eject wasn't working so I was just going to reboot and be done when a different employee swooped in on me to ask what I was doing.  I explained, "I have a stuck disc and I don't own a MacBook Air, so I just need to reboot and eject the disc."  "Sorry, we don't want you to reboot the floor models out here.  You need to make a genius appointment. I can help you with that!"  I sighed heavily as she began to look up appointments for me on the calendar.  "Well, it looks like the soonest we can help you is tomorrow night."  "Really, I just need to reboot.  It will take 30 seconds."
A third Apple Store employee across the way overheard the discussion and decided he could help out.  "What seems to be the problem?"  At this point, I wasn't being my happy bubbly self and was starting to get terse. "The disc is stuck. I don't own a MacBook Air.  I need to reboot to eject it."  "Well, instead, why don't you open up Safari and the do a Google search for how to get out an unstuck di..." Cutting him off, "I just need to reboot.  I've already looked it up."  He got a little annoyed back at me.  "Look, I was just trying to help you think creatively so you didn't have to come back tomorrow."  It wasn't very Applely.
Quickly stopping the conversation before it came to fisticuffs employee #2 gingerly said, "Yeah, so the best I can do is same time tomorrow night.  Does that work for you?"  "No.  Really, it's 30 seconds.  I just need to reboot.  I'll find a friend or something who can actually be helpful."  She paused, clearly centering herself and evoking all of her Apple training.  Somewhere deep inside she must have remembered the "We're Awesome" policy and said, "come with me."  She took me back to the Genius Bar and interrupted one of the Genius, "hi.  This man has a stuck disc and says he just needs to have in a laptop when it reboots and that it will take thirty seconds, can you help?"
"Sure thing!" he pulls a MacBook Air out from under the counter, sticks in my drive, boots it holding down the trackpad and continues to consult with the customer he is helping.  Thirty seconds later my disc ejects, I bow to him and leave.  They're not kidding about the geniuses being at the bar. Apparently the staff walking around are not.
Not related to fruit, but related to windows, my dad gave me a call the next morning about a computer issue he was having.  If you are your parent's tech support, you will understand the gripping fear that overwhelms you as something like this is relayed to you.  "So I got a weird e-mail from your sister sent to a bunch of people and it had a link of something she wanted me to check out.  I opened up the link but then a window popped up saying my Content.exe was infected and it needed to download an update to fix it.  So I downloaded that update and I started to run Setup.exe and it said it was from an untrusted publisher and..." Children of the world are gripped in fear over what the next sentence will be "...I decided I should call you about it."  !!!  "Say no!  Close it all down!  Offer a sacrifice to the computer gods and then run your virus scanner."  While it amazes me how red flag after red flag was just bypassed during this process, it was heart warming to see that at least one of the last checks was enough to stop it.  (I love you dad!)
I know I know... I grew up in this world and I am a trained professional in this industry.  The other one that happens to me a lot from both parents and from friends is when my fancy mail program decides to put a fancy attachment onto the message (ATT00008.dat or smime.p7s) and I get the response, "How do I open your attachment?  I tried double clicking on it and opening it in Word but I can't seem to figure it out."  To which I say, "why are you trying to open a strange attachment you don't recognize that I have made no mention of in the message?  You should just assume it is junk or a virus and move on."  Though, to this date, I don't think I've ever sent either a virus.  As far as I know, I haven't been infected with a virus since the early 80's when everyone traded disks with each other without using any protection.