Week from hell: Season ticket to Apple Store and no broadband

Posted on by Mike Evans

This is no exaggeration. This week starts on a high note after a weekend of extreme vaccilation over whether to buy a MacBook Air or a MacBook Pro and ends with a duff computer and a proloned outage of broadband with no relief in sight.

On Monday I acted on my weekend’s ponderings and bought a new 11in MacBook Pro to replace my 2010 model. Then came minor problems. I tried migrating the information from the old machine but got stalled every time with 29 minutes to do. This figure turned out to be significant.

Migration Unassistant

At the fourth attempt, overnight, I was sick of the sight of “29 minutes to go” and aborted all attempts to migrate. I could have done a clean installation or, even, migrated from the iMac, but I had the bit between my teeth by this stage.

Annoyed, I started to wonder if I ought to have gone for the retina Pro, not that a botched migration was a serious problem. It was just a symptom of indecision. I looked at the two idential Airs sitting side by side and convinced myself I should buy and Pro instead and make do with the 2010 Air for some months. Even, I reasoned, I could keep it until the retina-display Air arrives.

By Tuesday I had acted on this and ordered a retina-display MacBook Pro. I returned the Air to the Apple Store. I had decided to use the MBP as a primary machine and pension off the 27in iMac I am currently using as a desktop computer.

29 Minutes to go

All well and good, but this problem with Migration Assistant was bugging me. Why did it stop at 29 minutes, exactly, every time it ran? I consulted Apple Discussions and even talked it over with a Genius in the store. Everyone agrees that Migration Assistant can stall, particularly if it is dealing with a large file, but the general view was that it usually gets there in the end, even after two attempts. No one had ever heard of it stopping exactly at the same point repeatedly.

I decided to do some testing. I hooked up the Air to a spare Mac and ran Migration Assistant again. Stupifyingly, it stopped again at 29 minutes. Bear in mind this was a completely different donee computer.

It was clear by this time that the fault lay with my 2010 Air. But what? I had repaired permissions but not verified the disk. Sure enough, there was a corrupted sector and I was advised by the system to boot into the recovery partition and repair the disk from there. I did this, with two specific errors corrected, and then tried Migration Assistant again. Still 29 minutes. Finish.

Culprit exposed

As you can imagine, by this time I was feeling pretty desperate and even more determined to get to the bottom of it. Then I noticed that the disk was again showing errors. I remembered that I had had a similar experience with an internal SSD on a 2010 13in MacBook Pro and, eventually, the disk was replaced under warranty.

Back to the drawing board. I go abroad on Tuesday and need a computer. What if the Air packs up and I am left without my tools? So this precipitated yet another visit to the Apple Store where bought second 2012 MacBook Air. I still have the MacBook Pro retina on order (delivery July 23–27) but I have already decided to use it as a desktop and for occasional longer trips when I need the bigger screen.

I had always intended to replace the 2010 Air eventually and it has come sooner rather than later. At least I no longer have the task of deciding which laptop to get. I will have both, which has the added attraction of allowing me to do a proper comparison review, David v Goliath, in the future.

The old 2010 Air, fortunately still under Apple Care, will have to go back to the Genius Bar for some TLC, then I will put it up for sale, along with my iMac.

Installation, no broadband

I carried the new Air back home and thought I would just give Migration Assistant a go. But no go, it again stalled at 29 minutes. Instead, I migrated from the iMac and all is well.

This, you would hope, would be the end of the saga. But no, I am still without broadband and if you have ever tried to install a new Mac using an iPhone Hotspot connected by USB cable, you will understand my continued frustration.

Clearly I had to turn off Dropbox sync because that would have blown a year’s 3G data in half a day. This explains why I am now standing up in the Apple Store writing this post while the free wifi gets on with finishing the installation of the Air, including software updates and updating Dropbox (where I keep all my current data).

The broadband outage is serious. Virgin’s helpful engineer called and discovered that the entire street has lost TV and broadband. Good that I don’t have a Virgin telephone as well. The signal to the nearest street junction box is abysmal and an emergency team is to be called out to see if they can detect the fault. Failing that, I’m told, I will have to wait until July 5. By that time I will be abroad, past caring about such domestic problems.

It’s now 2 pm on Friday. Can it get worse? At least I have a new MacBook Air to play with. And I get the Nobel Prize in vaccilation.

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