I should have written parts 2 and 3 of my 'predictions' by now but a four hour delay on an inbound flight coupled with an Apple BSOD put paid to all that. The good news is that I recovered everything thanks to Time Machine and a reliance on a pot pourri of internet cloud services. This is what happened:
Last Thursday, I planned to finish up some work and in theory at least, the inbound flight delay made life slightly easier. However, a BSOD on my MacBook Pro put paid to that. Researching the problem via my iTouch provided me with some comprehensive suggestions for a fix but after three hours of attempting various reboot options I gave up.
I took the opportunity to re-tool, this time opting for an iMac and a MacBook. This goes against my convention of just having one machine I can unplug and pack up on trips but there is a logic to that decision and advantage. This way, I need never be 'down' for more than a few hours while my technophobe wife has access to a machine she can use while I'm traveling. It's more money than investing in a fresh MacBok Pro but I am paying for convenience and peace of mind.
Acquiring the kit was a challenge. Here in Spain your bank card is a limited resource as they only allow you to use it up to certain amounts per month. My planned spend was way beyond that. A quick call to my bank branch fixed that but required me going to another branch to withdraw cash. As an aside: in a down economy, this is a good way to ensure I don't get reckless with my spending and full marks to BancSabadell for having human beings on the other end of the line.
Then there was the problem of finding a store that sells the kit. Apple has no direct presence in Spain but has some premium resellers. Navigating around Granada is not my idea of fun but the combination of a Nokia N96, an unlimited Vodafone data plan and Google Maps acting as a GPRS navigator got me there.
Purchases secured I returned home and embarked on the process of recovering my dead machine's configuration. You might ask why do that when you'd experienced a BSOD? Would I be transferring one problem to another machine? I've no idea given the many alternative views out there about BSODs occurring on MacBook Pros. The chances seemed remote given that I was looking to install to a newer and different machine so I ran the install and restore from my LaCie based Time Machine option and voila! I was back to where I wanted to be with no discernible performance issues on the new machine. The whole process took little more than an hour.A couple of reboots confirmed that whatever the MacBook Pro problem, it hadn't migrated to the iMac.
Next up was the MacBook. Since Jude will be using it most of the time, I set up two users and provided myself with network access to the Time Machine. This way I can get to anything I might need that is stored locally without impacting disk storage on the MacBook. In other words, Time Machine is acting like a remote file server. I installed a couple of 'must use' programs including the Diigo toolbar which contains a set of my private login locations. My passwords are stored elsewhere.
The longest exercise was setting Jude up with GMail, Flickr, Skype and Twitter. I reckon that's all she'll need for the time being but required me to show Jude how each works. Mercifully, Apple makes it ridiculously easy to use its kit, Flickr is a no brainer, GMail and Skype are self evident and Twitter? We'll get to that. The next job requires me to set Jude up on the iMac. That's a snap once her cloud services were operational on the MacBook. Set her up as an iMac user, make GMail the default service that opens in Firefox, add in Flickr and a Twitter client like Twhirl and she's good to go.
I've forgotten how easy this might be using Windows but dim memories suggest it would not be a comparable experience. Stephen Fry has much to say on this.
All of which got me thinking that if Apple makes it this easy to restore and set up new machines, what are the implications going forward? System crashes are always a source of potential migraine to any sysadmin. My days of network admin ended 15 years ago and I have no desire to revisit them. Corporate imaging is fine but what about all that local data?
This is the first time I can honestly say that I recovered with no discernible data loss. Time Machine makes on-premise data and application recovery trivial. Cloud services remove my concerns about locating essential data. Establishing what I need to gain file access either from the MacBook or remotely was straightforward though I cannot comment on how easy it might be to establish a full blown Apple network. Assuming it is relatively easy, how long might it be before this configuration relegates OS wars to a footnote in computing history. By then it will be the most user friendly interface that will surely win out?