Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Of Just Another Love/Hate Relationship With Computers

I am not a patient man. I have been told many times by people that I am VERY patient, but that is usually only with children and aspiring ceilidh dancers.  There are, though, some things with which I find it impossible to keep my cool.  Among those things are machines that don't do what they are supposed to do.  I have friends who seem to get very excited by the prospect of dealing with something that doesn't work - think cars and boats and computers, for example.  I appreciate that some people are wired very differently from me and and see it as a challenge to give the kiss of life to an inanimate gizmo.  I am not one of those people.  If I buy a thing I expect it to work.  And, if there are few if any moving parts to wear out, it should just keep on working ... shouldn't it?

My first very own computer!
I’m not new to computers and certainly not new to Macs.  My first Apple computer was one of those clunky, little postboxes with a built-in 9” monochrome screen in the 1980s.  In those days they were still horribly expensive and, when colour came along, I could only aspire to an SE, which these days would seem little more of an advance on a coloured crayon.  After all these decades I do not consider myself particularly techy, so I prefer technology that is built to behave.

Since November 2015 I have been experiencing a problem I have never before encountered with Apple computers.  My mid-2012 MacBook Pro went very, very slow and eventually refused to do anything, even to shut down.  I had to resort to extreme behaviour with the power button.  The computer didn’t learn its lesson and the problem persisted, but at least it started up again.  I took it to the Apple Store and a succession of tech support people spent hours with it over the course of a few appointments (often staying behind after hours - I can’t fault their enthusiasm), but to little avail.  Eventually the only solution they came up with was to wipe the drive and reinstall the operating system.  I was shocked.  I thought that was a thing one only did with Windows systems.  I had backed everything up, but it was still inconvenient and restoring my backup data restored the problem, so we wiped, created a new user account and reinstalled for the second time.  This time I only reinstalled my documents and applications.  Of course some of the non-Apple applications for which I had paid good money never came back, but the computer seemed okay for a few days.  Then I couldn’t shut it down again.  I haven't had the time or the heart to trek back to an Apple store, specially since the nearest is at least fifty miles away and since their brightest brains couldn’t find the fault before.
So, since the end of last year I have held down the power button to shut the computer down, but to reduce blood pressure and anger management issues I have left it on most of the time.  The Finder (the Apple filing system) does its own thing and works when it feels like it.  Applications mostly seem to work and sometimes nudge the Finder back into action … until I want to shut down - at which point the Finder quits and the shutdown process hangs. I wondered whether leaving the beast on all the time meant it had a lot of housekeeping to do, but leaving it “hanging” overnight hasn’t helped.  When the computer does restart it opens a bunch of applications that must have been open last time it shut down properly, even if I quit them before attempting to shut-down or restart. 

Today I wanted to use Air Drop to import a file from my iPad to write what was to have been this blog post (but which will now be the next one), but it is not playing ball; hence this rant.  I'll have to connect a wire and do it the old fashioned way.  For months I have trawled discussion groups and Apple support forums for clues as to what to try next and nothing I have seen till now has cured the problem.  The most likely-sounding piece of advice seems to be that Finder preferences have perhaps become corrupted, but since I can’t locate any Finder preferences where I expect to find them, not even when starting in safe mode, I’m without a clue. I shall resort to writing to a local group of enthusiasts, I think, and see what they have to offer. (The suggestions have already started rolling in as I write this.)
I wondered whether an OSX update might help and OSX 10.11.3 seems to be sitting in my iTunes updates tab and awaiting a restart.  Several attempts to complete the installation have failed. I assume the installation is not finishing because the computer is not shutting down properly.

I ran my G4 PowerBook for twelve years by keeping it away from the web and just using it for my music without any problems.  Unlike some people I do not get excited over computer challenges. On the contrary I am a bit jarred off and seriously considering going back to the dark side just to get some work finished and to be able to stop wasting time over this irritation!  

Much as I love computers I hate them.

On the other hand there are always these:

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