Sunday, June 11, 2006

It's seven o'clock, do you know where your pictures are?

An interesting anomaly has just put me off using the free Apple software that comes bundled with OSX in a big way (and I've been a Mac partisan for years and years) and I'm wondering if what I've just learned will affect users of Aperture?

While connecting an(other) external HD I inadvertently unplugged the power cord from my computer while it was on. With an old Macintosh running OS 9.x or earlier that would have caused an error message to appear on startup and Disk First Aid would have run a check and that would've been that. Maybe I'd have to rebuild my desktop.

When I restarted my current machine using OS X v10.4.5 I was shocked to find that my Desktop files weren't on my desktop, my music was gone from iTunes, there was nothing (no data) in my iCal files (my appointments!!!), my e-mails had all vanished, Address Book Contacts were in the ether, my Safari Bookmarks had fallen between the cracks, my widgets were MIA and my passwords in Keychain... ?????? Whoa!

I quickly found my music and reimported it to iTunes. The music files are in a folder called, appropriately, "Music." I was not so lucky with the rest. I called Apple for tech support.

I got some guy in India who knew absolutely *nothing* about OS X, nor could he understand the nature of my problem. After thirty minutes on the phone with him I insisted on being connected to someone in California. He was insulted but complied. The Californian was no help either.

My question to her was simple: where is the data being stored? If she could tell me, I could re-import it. I know the data has to be on my hard drive, all I did was cut the power. It's happened before and I never lost my data so why can't I find it now? BTW, the data IS there, we simply don't know where it is.

I finally solved most of this problem on my own. I found my iCal data and reimported it. I found most of my Mail data and reimported it (the mailboxes and the messages) but the InBox, Sent Box and Drafts Box is still MIA. I got my Address Book data from another computer where it was duplicated.

What's the problem? The data is stored somewhere and it's kept track of by a database that users have no access to. The database file was corrupted by the power outage and the applications don't know where to find the data. The problem is, neither does the tech support people at Apple Computer.

I have recovered some of the mail messages that were in my InBox and Sent Box simply by searching in Spotlight for the text. When I click on the message in the Spotlight results it displays it on my screen. I then "Redirect" the mail (yes, I have to send it to myself) to get it back into Mail.

IF THIS HAPPENS TO YOU: Open your Hard Drive and View as Columns...
Users > (Your Home Folder) > Library > then either Caches or Application support (depending) and hunt through the folders for your data. It's not fun.

One of the things I immediately didn't like about iPhoto, and why I won't use it even for my snapshots, was that I can't tell where the original files are stored. Now I know the practical manifestation of my fear. I could only imagine how I'd be freaking-out if I'd been using Aperture. It's seven o'clock, do you know where your pictures are?


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