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After a brief blackout Tuesday night my computer suffered an IP address conflict on our network, so I restarted it to resolve the problem.  The famous Apple chime, followed by the black logo screen with a progress bar... which sat there doing nothing once the bar reached 100%.  Oh oh...

My first reaction was panic, the same panic we all feel when we realize how dependent on computers we have become, and what a disaster it would be to lose everything. Would there even be a Lansing Star this week?  What about the articles that were on that computer, but not yet on the Web site?  Yikes!

Then I reasoned with myself. I back up a lot, so nothing is actually lost. I can access a good deal of what I need on external USB drives, and the rest, I suppose, will have to go into next week's issue.  No big deal.  Then I went back to panic.  Because, NO COMPUTER!

I realized I was going to lose a crucial day to trying to get my computer to boot. And trying not to kick the computer with my boot.  All told I ended up talking to six support technicians over a 21 hour period, totaling an hour and 57 minutes of phone time, at least 3 1/2 hours of noodling with it myself, and the rest trying to get some work done on a borrowed computer while running to my desk every 20 minutes to see if there was any progress.

I am a backup star, but on deadline it has not been feasible to get some articles sent previous to my computer pooping out before this week's deadline. I could see the backup drive my email is on, but I couldn't readily access it until the computer is restored without going through a process about as lengthy as restoring the computer that I was going through anyway.

The good news -- much of what I need to put an issue together is on USB drives, so I was able to simply plug them into that borrowed computer to access a lot of what I needed. Not as easily, since all my shortcuts are on the other computer. But enough to get an issue done. But more bad news... this happened during most of a day usually dedicated to writing and editing.  The panic meter started beeping an alarm in my head.

I mostly use a Mac to put the Star together, and I have to say Apple support is wonderful. They have a great way of keeping things calm and casual, all the while moving the actual support activities forward. My computer was not cooperating, however. I reinstalled macOS twice, with the same black screen resulting. I feared the next support person will want to wipe the drive. Even though I can get most or all back via my backup drive (assuming it has been working all this time), doing it that way takes a lot longer.

Yup, that's what he wanted me to do.  The panic meter klaxon started wailing in my head.  Even so, that should have been a fairly innocuous experience, except for one thing... about ten minutes after the drive was wiped and the half-terabyte of data began to restore... the screen went black.  Totally black... no little glow of the LEDs on the side of the screen.  Nothing.  So black...

I could see the reflection of my panicked face on the oh so very black screen.  This did not help my state of mind.

I phoned support technician number four for the day.  He suggested hitting the space bar on the keyboard (some people say the space bar is where Captain Kirk goes to unwind after a tough day of battling Klingons) to see if it was just a sleeping screen -- but it didn't do anything.  We agreed it was best to assume the restoration was happening and shouldn't be disturbed for fear of really hosing the computer.  He scheduled a followup call for about four hours later, but told me to call the direct number if I didn't get a call. 

Some timeafter four hours later there was no call, so I called number five.  Amusingly, the Apple Support Robodialer tried to call me three times about ten minutes into it.  So I asked for support getting it to stop (Number Five told me it calls three times, then gives up.  It did).  He  also asked about the space bar.  Still nada.  But we were both hesitant to turn it off in case we messed up a restoration in progress.  He scheduled another follow-up call.

Less than an hour before that call was scheduled I was again at my desk in a panic, and my hand smacked into the mouse button by mistake.  The screen lit up!  Mouse button yes, space bar not so much... 57 minutes estimated time remaining.  Whoa!

It was only a little over 30 minutes when it completed, the black boot screen appeared, the progress bar reached 100%, there was a short, but dramatic pause, and... the login screen appeared!

This is where the iconic Peanuts Snoopy happy dance occurred (in my head, not in reality.  You never want to see me dance.  Never.  Or be near me doing it -- it's too dangerous.  But in my head I was ecstatic AND coordinated!

It is important to understand that you have to go through the steps when dealing with a computer problem, and each step is a bit more drastic than the last, but the world doesn't end during the process.  It only seems to.  If the first restoration had worked it would have been about two hours of restoring, not the seven-plus hours the three tries eventually stole from my day.  All six support technicians were wonderful, affirming, personable, and professional, which helped keep me down to a manageable 8.3 on the panic scale (instead of what would certainly have been 72 on a scale of 10).

So this week's issue could have been quite thin.  I am actually surprised it is about the same size as most weekly issues.  I really expected it to be thin, and as of Wednesday night it looked like it was going to be.

Hmm... I wish it could have made ME thin.  Isn't that level of aggravation worth at least three pounds?

The non-boot diet... or, as Apple would most certainly dub it, the iDiet.

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