May 04, 2008

Product testing, the hard way

I hope never to verify the effectiveness of an airbag using my face, or the completeness of my life insurance at the cost of my life. I guess I won’t get a pass on testing the promise of my new Time Capsule, however.
Today the hard drive on my inordinately hard-working MacBook Pro bit the dust. I’d had no signs of trouble whatsoever, but I admit the machine did take a spill from several feet up a few months ago. (Let’s just say the Slingbox is working out better than the idea of perching a laptop on a music stand.) That jolt didn’t cause it to skip a beat, however–not even to disrupt the show that was streaming.
This morning, however, my apps started running really slowly, with the Mac beachballing so hard that I finally had to hold down the power button. After that, no más: just an endless gray startup screen. The guys at the local Mac “genius bar” (not geniuses, but not bad) confirmed that this critter is toast.
Thus far the Time Capsule (acquired in the nick of time, evidently) has been a bit of a mixed bag. For my tastes it’s a little off the mark from “As simple as possible, but no simpler”–omitting the second half of that phrase. I haven’t found a way to set backups to be nightly, not hourly, so I have to do them manually. (Otherwise the system would presumably be trying to copy my multi-gigabyte Entourage data file over wireless every hour–not a good use of CPU and bandwidth.) I also don’t see a way to store a superset of data on the Time Capsule (i.e. keeping a large image collection there but not on my local Mac). Overcoming the latter obstacle may not be that hard, as it seems possible to mount the disk as a normal server, but I haven’t had a chance to test it out. And finally, like just about every Apple networking system I’ve tried (AirTunes, Apple TV, iChat AV, etc.), the Time Capsule doesn’t get along with my Cisco VPN connection, meaning I have to shut it down before connecting.
All of these little beefs will melt away, of course, if the TC saves my bacon. I guess we’ll see once I get a new HD or a new machine. (This post comes to you from my wife’s MacBook.) I’m really curious to see whether it’ll be possible to restore things like the list of tabs and clippings I have in NetNewsWire, as that plus my Adobe Contribute drafts constitute all my pending blogfodder. (Without all that stuff, expect a dry period here for a while.)
Crossing fingers,
J.

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