John checking in. I like to look at these little tech emergencies from the outside. My Mac Mini's HD started the old "grind 'em til you find 'em" routine this morning, causing massive panic. I have some projects that I started last night on there and would like to get them back, so I'm trying a few little tricks and spending loads of dosh on Disk Warrior and a fresh copy of Tiger—I can't find my older copy—in leiu of being a bastard and BitTorrenting the whole lot.
That said, I'm looking at this hunk of aluminum and plastic and wondering why this has to be so hard. For 30 years PCs have been the bane of our existence. Trust me—the car, the ability to leave one community for another, has done more for us as a society than the computer ever will. Everything—government, utilities, manufacturing—ran just as smoothly sans Windows XP and regular BIOS updates as it does now, which isn't saying much. We've just made it much easier to destroy our lives with a single keystroke.
I would like to propose the following Gizmodo challenge to OEMs out there. [WARNING - RANT]
I am not a stupid man. I back up. I learn from my mistakes and come back stronger for them. I pride myself in maintaining my hardware the way a solider maintains his or her weapon—I know its power and its place in my life, and I know that failure is not an option. Sure, call me melodramatic, but everything on this stupid Mac Mini means something to me. It's hours spent installing and tweaking. It's a desktop that is as cosy to me as my own bed. It's the collection of my days, in electronic form, and I can tell you that it, like my body, will ultimately fail. But does it have to fail so fucking much?
This is my plea. OEMs, Apple, Dell, whoever is out there—give me the idiot's PC. Mirror my drives and allow for instant failover upon boot failure. Make that a standard. Make me completely unaware of its existence. Put two drives in there, don't tell me about one, and let me wend my merry way through the highways and byways of the Interweb. If a catastrophic disk failure occurs, and with larger disks and harder working apps, this is inevitable, I'll get a happy little paper clip that appears to tell me to buy a new "date module." Don't call it a drive. Don't tell me what it is. It holds my crap, that's it. Let me pull out the broken "data module," let me pull a string to initiate the physical destruction of my data using some sort of nails-on-the-chalkboard cheese grater thing, and let me throw it into the recycling bin.
This would prevent 99% of your service calls right there. RAID isn't rocket science, but it isn't standard equipment. Maybe there's some good reason this won't work, and I'm sure I'll get 500 emails from CS ninjas who will inform me that I'm full of it, but let that happen. But disks are now holding our lives. I can backup all I want, but if I never had to think about backing up, I will pay the extra $200 for mirrored drives.
Oh, you say, there's an error between the computer and the chair. Bullshit. That's laziness. I was in IT and I know that no sysadmin wants to shut down a game of FreeCiv so he/she can hear about "This new feature we want to add to the shopping cart. Can we figure out where the people who browse our site live? Just from the IP address?" I know we hate hearing about how people can't print. I know we hate BSoDs on some distant HR person's computer because his ficus grew into the power supply fan. IT folks, and by extension, the folks who make the PCs and warez that pleases us so, want to reduce the amount of heartache that goes into making something work right the first time. For the most part, we're very good at what we do. We make excellent software that does excellent things. We code and debug and release excellent product. OS X is a masterpiece on par with the cathedrals. Yeah, team. But once the stuff hits the fan, that's it. Joe User is left holding a hunk of plastic and metal in the line for the Genius Bar. We should be out body surfing and loving our loved ones, not doing the sysadmin tango.
RAID every single PC on every desk, and bugs and failures will look much less damaging. Give me a saftey net, and give me, as Joe User, the oppurtunity to do something for myself, namely get a new "disk module" for my PC and a security blanket for my porn stash.
Sorry about the rant. I'll go back into my cave now.