March 27

W Is for Western Digital
A real-life tale of passion, intrigue and murder most foul

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by David Nagel
Senior Producer

I relay this story to you in the hope that you will learn and benefit from it. It's too late for me, for you see, I am a dead man. This is my tale.

It all started when I was working late in the office. I was wrapping up the case of the proxy server gone bad, when all of a sudden she walked in. I looked her up and down, manhandling her with my eyes. She was stacked—trouble in a tight dress—with pouty red lips and gams up to here. She took a seat, and the chair squeaked in appreciation.

"You got a light?" she said.

"Sure, but the Occupational Safety and Hazard Administration doesn't allow the smoking of tobacco products in the workplace," I said.

"That's just a law created by cynical, opportunistic politicians pandering to a misguided public too busy telling other people what to do to pay attention to the rights that are being systematically stripped away from them."

"You mean like liquor, drug and gambling laws?"

"Exactly."

She had me there. I took out my Zippo® and lit her Camel™ cigarette. She drew in the smooth, mellow blend of Turkish and domestic tobaccos and crossed her legs.

"You're a handsome man," she said. How many times had I heard that before?

"You didn't come here to point out the obvious," I said.

"Smart too, I see."

"That's better," I said. "Many of my clients tend to focus on my good looks and fail to pay due homage to my intellectual qualities."

"You're the total package," she said. "Smart, strong, handsome, spiritually powerful." I could tell she was holding something back: She'd failed to mention my talent. But there was something else too. I couldn't quite put my finger on it. Then she reached into her purse and pulled it out—a 10 gig Western Digital Caviar hard drive. I was familiar with them from back in my Umax days. The aristocrat of low-end drives. I suppose that's why they named it Caviar. Still, something smelled fishy about this. I got bit bad by a 2 gig Caviar once—totally unrecoverable, not a single sector salvageable. My instincts told me to walk away, pick up a Quantum Fireball or Seagate Barracuda and forget about it. But I needed work right then. The case of the proxy server had wasted two weeks of my life, and I needed to get back into the groove right away before I lost my touch.

"Will you take my case?" she said. And for my sins, I did take it. She walked over to me and planted a tonguey one right on my puss. Things went downhill from there.

I found out her name was Strawberry. Religious girl, I think. Liked to pray a lot. We spent a few weeks touring the cathedrals of Europe, learning all about immaculate conceptions, passions and the like. I hadn't been back there since the war, where I got my bum leg when a Messerschmitt crashed into the latrine I was cleaning. It brought back bad memories. In the end, she was knocked up and skipped town. I headed back stateside and tried to drown my sorrows in the leftover syringes she'd left in my suitcase, but it didn't take my mind off her. If heroin couldn't help me forget, maybe work could.

I started installing applications onto this Western Digital hard drive. I downloaded my whole FTP site—all 175 megs coming down a slow pipe from one of the worst Web hosts in history. Things were going as well as could be expected. I started updating the Creative Mac site. I'd been doing it remotely owing to the proxy server issue, but now that that was out of the way, I was happy to be back in the office churning out the kind of top-notch editorial that's made us the No. 1 stop for creative professionals.

And then there was the crash. The system had frozen, and there was only one way out: a restart. I sensed a chill as I waited for the drive to click into gear and start booting. I waited. Then, when the question mark appeared on the screen, I realized I was being played for a fool. Doesn't see a system folder? Well, that's easy enough to fix. Force restart. Again, a question mark. Restart. Question mark. It was a pretty match for the question mark now flashing in my head. I put in the G4 Software Restore CD. It loaded, but the hard drive didn't mount. I fiddled around with the Drive Setup software, but it was no good. My bum leg started acting up. I opened up the case and played around with the ribbon. Maybe the drive was just loose. A little jimmying here and there, and I got it running again, but the whole thing had to be initialized all over.

I pulled some bourbon from my drawer. It'd have to do until something better came along. I downed it, along with some little pink pills I found lying around, and drove home. I hadn't slept in four weeks, and the shadow people were starting to get distracting. I cleaned up the apartment and went to sleep.

I awoke four days later with a bad headache and bad memories of the last few weeks. I went downstairs for some beer and found a note attached to the ice box. "Meet me at the office. Urgent." The note smelled like Strawberry. She didn't wear perfume.

I raced out of the house and headed for the office. The other guys were there, hammering away on their computers as if to mock my misfortunes. A plate of caviar was waiting for me on the desk. I fired up the G4 and got to work, installing applications, downloading my site to the local drive: You know the routine. I opened up my Stickies file, and there was another note: "Enjoy the Caviar," it said. Well, that was nice, I thought. I must have been dumb as paint not to see the irony. And then the crash happened, and I understood. Western Digital. Death on a platter. There was no going back this time. No initialization. No Disk First Aid. No drive. Not a single good sector. It was just like Umax all over again, only this time it was happening to a computer I cared about—my precious G4! Undone by an assassin. Caviar. The mechanism of my destruction.

The I.S. guy says there's no cure. I don't know how much time I have left. The G4's already toast, and I can't be far behind. I guess that's my story. As for Strawberry, who knows? She gave me the drive, and then she gave me the shaft. If you ever see her, tell her I said she's one hell of a classy dish, but her Caviar's poison.

READ THE EPILOGUE.

Post a message in the Creative Mac World Wide User Group.

Dave Nagel is the still somewhat new Senior Producer of Creative Mac. An eight-year veteran of the print publishing world, Nagel covered a broad range of topics in the areas of technology and marketing. As a Mac psychofanatic since 1987, he's finally landed his dream job: earning a living writing about his favorite topic. If you have something to say, please send a polite e-mail to [email protected]. (Let's not try to bring him down from his euphoria too soon.)

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