Computer Angst…Solved!

I’ve been going through a fair amount of angst as of late…

Back in October, the week prior to my London Camera Club presentation, my MacBook Pro (2011) began to crap out on me. It was not starting up properly – on the start-up screen, everything that was supposed to be shades of grey became shades of red. At first, I thought, “Right – Product RED; or is this for Breast Cancer Awareness Month” as the shades of red were really shades of pink. Ha, ha – No!

THANK GOODNESS I REGULARLY BACK UP MY HARD DRIVE!!! Did I yell this loudly enough for you?!? I was able to use my school MacBook Air to access the back-up copy of my presentation on my Time Machine hard drive. Time Machine is Apple’s proprietary and wonderfully easy and useful back-up app built into the operating system. I copied the presentation to the MacBook Air and could then add the tweaks I wanted – and voilà, I could present. Whew! Dodged that bullet. Little did I know bullet #2 was headed my way.

In the meantime, I had a presentation at the Halton Camera Club. The MacBook Air performed flawlessly again and the presentation went off without a hitch.

So I took my MacBook Pro into Datamatrix here in Guelph who attempted to fix it. They are a great group of guys who have saved hard drives and other computer woes in the past In fact, I thought they had fixed it until I sat down this morning to do some overdue printing. Same problem! Yikes!

So, I grab the MacBook Air again – which, at 5 years old, is no a spring chicken. It has only a 128GB SSD with only 8GB of RAM. Yet… it is blazingly faster than my MacBook Pro (w/ 16GB of RAM), primarily due to the SSD. I have 5 Chrome windows open with at least a dozen tabs in each, yet hiding it allows me to work with Lightroom as if nothing else is open. I plug in my external monitor – and it works flawlessly. I plug in my external hard drive with my Time Machine backup. It, too, works flawlessly. At this point, I’m thinking I have horseshoes up my a**!

But… what do I do about Lightroom? I have LR on the MacBook Air, but it’s set-up for the school yearbook photos I work on. Will the copy on my Time Machine back-up work? I try double-clicking on the LR catalogue icon – nope. I’m not permitted to write to the back-up. Frustrating, but a very thoughtful precaution! Well done, Apple.

But, what if I copy my catalogue file to the MacBookAir? Wow – the folder is huge at around 20GB with Previews and Smart Previews. Hmmm, all I really need is the catalogue, though, as LR will generate new previews for the few files I use. So, I copy the LR catalogue to the MacBook Air. I then open Lightroom, but not from the Dock as that would open my School LR catalogue. Instead, I double-click on the LR catalogue I’ve just copied to the Desktop and – voilà – it opens… but it can’t find my photos. There are question marks beside each and every folder of photos. Okay, that makes sense, actually. I did move the catalogue, so it broke the file connections, the “breadcrumbs” leading from LR to the photos. I need to “tell”  it where my photo library is. So, I select the top-most question-marked folder (named LRPhotoLibrary) and choose “Find Missing Folder”, then navigate to my LR Library on my backup HD and voilà, my photos blink on, one by one, in the Library view. Whew!

So I begin working on a print job – some “Fiery Sumac” ArtCards for a friend, plus a bunch of other ArtCards. Hmmm… no User Templates. I need to create a new “User Template” for the ArtCards using a copy of a previous one. Finally, all is ready.

When I go to print… Right – I need to install my printer on the MacBook Air. No go… it doesn’t have the drivers installed. So off to the Epson site I go to download the latest drivers for this version of Mac OS (El Capitan) and install them. Done.

But I still can’t print, as this laptop doesn’t have the paper profile needed for the ArtCards. I use MOAB Entrada Rag Natural “Entradalopes”, so I go to the MOAB site, download and install the needed drivers. Still no go. Lightroom doesn’t “see” the profiles. Ugh! I then try the old stand-by and restart Lightroom. Yes! The drivers are there.

Then, it’s just ensuring the printer is set up properly for Matte paper and Matte Black Ink with the Colour Management turned off at the printer. Three minutes later I have a near-perfect ArtCard printed, complete with the titling text I always use for the back of the cards (compliments of going back into the Time Machine hard drive and copying the Pages file I use to generate the text).

Woo-hoo! Success! OMG! This all started around 10am. It took about 90 minutes to set all this up (between answering a few emails and grabbing another coffee), but I’m in business.

It worked because I back-up, regularly. It also worked because I have a system for doing things. It may seem pedantic at times to someone watching me work, but it sure makes a difference when things don’t go as planned. So, to all my photographer friends… BACK-UP! BACK-UP! BACK-UP!!! Do it NOW!!! And, if you are not already doing so, use a repeatable system so that you can troubleshoot and repeat it when things go wrong. If you are not sure you can fix computer on your own, get some help from PC Revive.

Also, a quick shout-out to Apple. First of all, my MacBook Pro gets a lot of use. It has travelled with me everywhere and is on or asleep constantly and here it is 6 years later and only now in trouble. Same with the MacBook Air – still working brilliantly and fast after 5 years, with only 8GB of RAM. And, I have a the Benq HD monitor plugged in as well as my Time Machine back up HD and the printer and I can still flip back and forth between Chrome, Preview, Pages and LR without a hitch or delay.

Lastly – thanks Apple for making Time Machine. Back-ups are flawless and integrated into the OS. Lately, it seems, every time I turn on a computing device I have some kind of error, but it’s not with Apple. Usually its with some stupid website that is trying to do something it thinks I want it to do. So, fingers crossed, I haven’t jinxed anything!

Now – back to printing!

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