Death Of A Family Member

It’s a dark time in the Pullen household. We’ve lost a valued and loved family member. I usually don’t write doom and gloom kind of stuff here, but I’ll make an exception for this. We’ve had to put on a pretty face in public and make the the best of it. However, with our heavy hearts we had to bury one of our own. Some of you might be thinking who could have possibly passed away, well, I hate to say it, but it was our 10 year old MAC MINI! I hope I had you going for a minute! Never the less, it still sucked. I had known for many years that our beloved Mac Mini was getting tired and she was ready for retirement. However, as with most things, I like to squeeze as much value out of these things as possible before they get transferred to the bone yard. (Yes, we have a bone yard in our living room!) In the past couple of months as Apple has been preparing for the new iPhone OS and the new version of OSX (Apple’s operating system), things have been more stressed on the little machine. Every now and again, she would restart all by herself. I’m glad I ALWAYS have a backup running in the background just in case. Monday, September 15, 2014 I went to start her up and I was greeted with the desktop photo but all the icons were gone. How to fix such an issue?

I’m pretty good about having all my physical media and serial numbers in one place and organized so I can find them at a moments notice. I even keep my passwords and login info for all my stuff in a fire proof lock box. Not so much for security, but in case of a fire so I can easily get running again. Since I’m now looking at a beautiful desktop photo and no files or menus, I’ll just insert the system disc and restore it, no worries. Oh, wait…the optical drive (CD/DVD drive) has been broke for two years now. Well, maybe I can use my external drive from our new iMac. Oh, wait…this machine has USB 1.0, no go on that either. Keep calm….

Let’s try restarting from the emergency drive that’s inside the machine, humm, no go either. Everything at this point has been an epic fail. At this point, I put my hand towards the sky and and the other one on the machine trying to channel Steve Jobs mojo to fix this wonderful computer that I have been using for so long. I pressed the power button again and yelled, “You’re healed!” and was praying for the best. As luck would have it, Steve wasn’t available at that moment so the machine failed to start. At this point, my wife came over and put her hand on my shoulder and simply said, “It’s time.” I hated to admit it, but she was right. I had come to the fact that our little Mac had given us her last spin of the hard drive of her life.

Once I picked myself up off the floor, I realized that I now have a dead machine. I still have stuff to get done. What machine to get? Oh, yea how are we going to pay for this thing? Another problem, in a month, Apple is rumored to release new iMacs and best of all my school board badge is expired for another seven days so no educational discount!

Thinking about how I can keep running without a machine for a week until I get my school badge, I figured that I would use the wife’s laptop for now. However, what machine to get? I can’t wait 30+ days on Apple. I wasn’t about to spend $4,000 on an iMac (there’re not all this expensive) that is going to be updated in a month or two. After thinking about it for a minute, it hit me. Two weeks ago a friend of mine who defected from Windows just bought a new Macbook Pro. The MacBook Pros were just updated a few weeks ago. Could I use a laptop? Well, I teach all over so this would help. Also, I was looking to buy an iMac for the house and a laptop for the road. I guess we’ll just do things in reverse.

Going on Apple’s site I knew I wanted the biggest screen they had. This led me to the 15” Macbook Pro Retina. Since I’ll be doing video editing and pushing it with a new camera files some day (read Nikon D900???!!!) I wanted something with a Ferrari engine in it, granted I was coming from a Pinto. In good fashion, I went to the top of the line. In the past I have always maxed out the machine with options as I think this is one reason why they have lasted me so long. Their cream of the cream even had a dedicated graphics card and an Intel i7 processor installed. OK, I’ll take off my geek glasses now. Now came the fun part, would there be any in stock. I called my friends at Coconut Point in Estero, Florida, or so I had thought. When I called apparently they were closed and I was routed to a call center. I didn’t realize this at first. A very nice lady answered the phone and I simply asked, “Do you have the … stock at your Coconut Point store?”. The lovely lady replied, “Let me check…YES WE DO!” I thought, of course you do, Apple has everything everywhere, hence why they have so much cash on hand. I replied, “Perfect, thanks. I’ll call back in a few days when my school board badge is renewed so I can get the educational discount.” Lady, “You’re a teacher of an accredited school?” Me, “Yes”. Lady, “I can apply your discount now and if you want to place the order now, you can go to the store and pick up what you ordered. All you need is your driver’s license as proof”. Me…getting off the floor, “Ugh, OK I’ll take….” In a matter of a few minutes, the machine was waiting for me in Estero with the accessories that I had ordered. This was good, in a matter of eight hours I was going to have a new machine in my hands.

I decided to clean off my desk, and make way for the new addition. It’s pretty bad when you have to pull out the vacuum to “dust” behind the desk. Need to fire the cleaning person…oh, wait that’s me. It was a sight after I spent a few hours cleaning the space and getting rid of some old cables and such. Now I was presented with a blank table staring back at me. Time for bed. Set the alarm to get up to be at the Apple store when they opened. I have been through this before setting up a new machine, it takes time. Some might ask, why not restore from the back up? Well, along with all the good stuff, there is years of old stuff in there as well and I don’t want to clutter up the new machine with non-sense clutter. Fresh installs for everyone.

It’s now 2:30 a.m. and I woke up out of a dead sleep and thought, is Quickbooks 2011 (this is the financial software I use for the business) going to run on the new machine? For our personal finances I was using Quicken 2005 (I’ll let you do the math). Sure enough, no go. They had Quicken 2015 available, but it wasn’t clear if the 2005 file would import into the new software. Better yet, I ran into an article that said Quickbooks 2011 wouldn’t run on “Mavericks”. This is Apple’s operating system name. We’re weird like that. Sure enough, it wasn’t going to work either. Quickbooks for Mac is $250. I realized that this was just the beginning of surprises for software. I looked at Staples website and I couldn’t believe it. They were having a sale on this software for $149 and it expired in a few hours. I couldn’t get my debit card out fast enough and it was a one day ship from Orlando. The rest of the software was a go as far as I could tell.

When the sun breached the horizon, I was about ready to start to make the trip down to the “fruit store”. After what seemed like an eternity, driving through miles of construction, driving with the horn and finger I finally arrived. As the lovely Apple representative said on the phone, when I arrived, I showed the greeter the email I received. She took her fancy machine and scanned the bar code on my phone and within five minutes my order was in my hands. That is the fastest money I have ever spent. A little side note, when I was chatting with the girl who scanned my phone (this all sounds bad already) she asked what I was doing. I told her I was replacing a machine that finally went to be with Steve (not sure she got that one). I told her that my 10 year old Mac Mini served me well, but it was time. Then the blood ran out of her face. I thought, what did I say? Did I offend her some how? Was my fly down? Then she looked at me and said, “Wow, that’s like HALF MY AGE.” It was then I realized that 37 must be the new 50! I took my items and I left!

Jetsetted on the way home. My wife texted me and asked if I picked up “Eva”. My wife has always been jealous of the computer as I think I know the computer better than her! She named  it Eva. This was a little weird having my wife name my mistress, maybe that’s why I married her. Eva was Wall•E’s girlfriend, or it might have something with that comment I made about Eva LaRue that was on CSI: Miami, either way, she’s Eva now. I got home and took a minute to just hug and absorb the good vibes coming from what will be many, many years of happy computing. I cut the plastic and started to unpack. All I needed was the machine and the power cord and that was about all that was in the box, along with the famous white Apple stickers. We have one on our car at all times. I plugged the laptop in and it was already charged, how wonderful. I powered it up, since this has and SSD drive (think those USB flash drive things) it took only three seconds to boot! I answered some of the basic questions and since I already have an Apple ID, once I entered that, it grabbed all my contacts, calendar, etc, from iCloud that my iPhone uploaded and instantly synced to my new laptop! How cool is this?

To kind of wrap this up, all of the other software did work, including my Adobe CS5 that doesn’t require a subscription! The issue that really stumped me was trying to mate a firewire 400 six pin cable to a firewire 800 nine pin cable. I called Best Buy and they had one left of the part that I needed to use my existing external drives. Steve was looking down at me. Less than two days later I was up and running as if nothing happened and I’m writing this new post. Maybe I can sleep tonight.

In case you aren’t familiar with a Mac Mini, let me show you what we’re talking about:

Measurement of a Apple Mac Mini.10 Year Old Mac Mini – Spencer Pullen © 2014 All Rights Reserved

As you can see, this is about 6.5” square. Yes, I been running the business and my photos on this little machine, it even ran my 44” wide Epson printer. It’s 2” tall, small but mighty. The new ones are half the size.

The death of Spencer Pullen's Mac Mini. Goodbye My Friend – Spencer Pullen © 2014 All Rights Reserved

Here’s the fun part. I wanted to do this memorial shot for some fun. As I picked it up to move it to the shooting area, I heard a noise. Like a kid on Christmas morning, I shook it again. I looked at my wife and I said, “Did you hear that?” She gave me a wrinkle face. Again, I shook it and sure enough, something had come loose inside and was probably the reason why things came to a screaming halt. I just laughed.

In case you are wondering how I photographed this, I knew I wanted to constrict the light for a very dynamic shot. I put my flash on a light stand and fitted it with a homemade snoot. Those of you who have taken my lighting class have seen these “cereal box” shoots. I adjusted the light to come from camera right. I used a piece of copy paper to help throw some light on the left side. Five minutes, done. By the way, as you can see, there is a sporty piece of Scotch tape over the slot for the CD/DVD, this was to remind me not to stick one in there again as I hardly got the last one out. The line on the bottom is where the keyboard was rubbing against it since all Apple products are made out of aircraft aluminum. Under that is a beautiful piece of artwork, a coffee stain. On the left side, somehow I managed to hit it with a Sharpie. This poor thing looks like a bruised piece of fruit, but it really served me well.

I should put this in here, this isn’t aimed to start a Windows vs Mac debate. Use what you like and what works for you. I have been using Mac since 1984 and they have just worked for me. When I went to design college to get my degree, we never saw a Windows machine.

Enjoy what you have and be sure to BACK UP YOUR FILES! I can’t say this enough. All my client files and photos were safe due to this. If you need a dedicated drive, go to an office supply store or B&H and get one. I have a drive for the back up and another for client files, personal projects and what ever else that also gets backed up. I wish you happy computing….

Until next time…

Keep Your Glass Clean


  1. Ahh. We Mac folks are a loyal bunch. Enjoy!

  2. Wow! 10 years is definitely getting your money’s worth! That’s great! My MacBook Pro (13″) is 6 years old and catching up to your Mac Mini. I also just experienced the excitement of a getting a new Mac at my new job! The company president ordered a new iMac for me to work on and it’s awesome! My co-workers were drooling when they saw how beautiful it is. Enjoy your new MacBook Pro! Life is good!

  3. Yeah, For those of us who know you well, This was a serious moment; seeing the title of this blog. I was afraid to read the first line, then the second & the next, afraid to find out who passed on while at the same time wondering how it was you had not called, then you tell us it was; THE DEATH OF A FRUIT. Spencer,I am so happy that you got through this loss. Relieved that you found your way to the Coconut & have moved on to bigger fruit which we trust will serve you well for at least 10 more years! Happy Birthday to Eva!

  4. Observing a moment of silence for your faithful departed friend.

    I own both Wall-E and Eva. They sit side by side on top of the book shelves in my office. On Sunday, Wall-E suddenly and inexplicably burst into conversation after a year of silence, and with no one touching him or anything.

    Machines. They’re taking over, one day.


  5. Spencer

    I appreciate everyone’s concern. I got many emails that folks thought that an actual human had died. Well, currently I’m still here! I hope this machine lasts 10 yrs as the last few have. It’s almost like loosing a part of the family.


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