by Ron Gilbert
Apr 11, 2016

A few days ago, I stumbled into my home office, a bowl of oatmeal in hand, getting ready for a quick check of the Twitters before my morning run, but oddly, my computer was off. I leave my Mac running all the time and it was strange that it didn't just wake up from sleep. I powered it on and everything seemed normal.

The machine will sometimes restart in the middle of the night, and when it reboots, there is a nice message box telling me that it crashed and kindly shows me the logs. This morning, no such message enthusiastically greeted me.


The next day I was editing a very large Photoshop files -- touching on 4GB -- when it kept popping up these errors when I tried to save saying I didn't have the correct permissions to save.


The next morning, I headed into the home office again, pre-run oatmeal in hand, and sat down to read the emails.  Most of the new email that arrived during the night had no sender or subject.


A few seconds later, a message box pops up, asking me to enter my iCloud password, I hit cancel and switched to my browser and pulled up Twitter and then Chrome asked me for my Twitter password and had me logged out. I went to another site, and I had also been logged out and it was asking for my password again, then my email program asked me for my password, I entered it and hit OK, then a new message box come on saying the login group of keychain was missing and did I want to reset it.


Something was going wrong and I decide to just reboot and see if things were magically fixed, because, you know, that might happen. Right?

As the machine was shutting down, it dawned on me that rebooting my machine when it was telling me the login keychain was missing might not have been the smartest idea, and I was right.

Half way through the boot process, the machine just shut down. Three more attempts with the same results. I booted in verbose mode and watched the boot process, everything was normal until it got to the disk check, then it displayed a slew of errors and shutdown.


I booted in recovery mode and ran Disk Utility and checked the disk, sure enough, there were a crap-ton™ of missing block error messages. No problem, I'll just hit "Repair Disk" and be up and running again.


Repair Disk informed me that it was unable to repair the disk. I was somewhat disappointed the Mac didn't emit a mechanical mocking laugh at this point.

I didn't have a Thunderbolt Cable, so I couldn't connect my iMac to my laptop and see if the drive was still readable.

I'm pretty religious about backing stuff up. Time Machine runs every hours and skips only my large video and audio files. It doesn't back up my projects and source code, but they are all in Git. I had made a few changes the previous day and I had not pushed, but it was just a few lines of code, easily retyped. The big thing I didn't have was backup of was my Windows VM.

Without it I can't do windows build for testing. Nothing of importance is on the VM except a install of Visual Studio. The VM could be rebuilt in an afternoon, so losing it wasn't climatic, just a pain. The one thing I was going to lose by doing a reformat was the podcast we did on Friday. I hadn't edit it yet, so it hadn't been archived for future generations to enjoy.

After a little more thinking about what might be on the machine and not backed up, I decided to reformat and reinstall from my Time Machine backup.

There was a very real possibility that this was a hardware problem and reformatting wasn't going to save the day. In that case, I was going to have to send the machine out to get the drive replaced and that would take several days, if not a week if I wanted Apple to do it under Apple Care. With PAX looming in a few weeks, that was not an event I welcomed.

I can do just about everything on my laptop, except make Windows builds, so it wasn't a catastrophe, just a big pain as half of our testing staff is Windows only.

I went into Disk Utility again and selected the volume, paused for a few seconds to contemplate the destructive nature of my next move, then hit Erase. A few moments later, I was informed that my drive could not be reformatted.

My iMac has what's called a fusion drive. There is a 128MB SSD drive and a 3TB spinning drive that are fused into one big drive. The OS is smart enough to move files you don't access very often to the slow spinning disk, keeping the files you need on the spiffy fast SSD drive. It's a great idea. The new macs have it, and it's been embedded in a lot of standalone drives, and there is a version for Windows machines.

The problem with fusion drives is you now have now have two points of failure. If either drive goes bad, you lose the data on both drives, which is what happened to me.

Apparently, while the iMac is happy to have a fusion drive, Disk Utility has not caught up yet, and there is no way to reformat it.


At this point, I'm kind of stuck. All I want to do is reformat the drive and start over. Visions of days waiting to speak to Apple and weeks of waiting to get my machine back are dancing through my head, all while PAX stalks closer and closer.

I call up the local Apple store and see when I can get an appointment to visit the Genius Bar. I don't have a lot of faith in the Genius Bar to help with this issue. Normally it is filled with people trying to figure out how to get email on their iPhones. I imagine I'll bring the computer in and the "genius" behind the "bar" will shrug and tell me they need to send it in and there will be a two week wait, but if I'm having trouble getting email on my iPhone, they'd be happy to help.

I place the call and much to my surprise, they have a free slot at 4:45 that afternoon. Great. I pack the computer up and haul it in.

As expected, there are about 30 people being helped at the Genius Bar and other than a few laptops, they are all iPhones. I plop my giant iMac on the counter and wait, feeling quite out of place.

At 4:50 a nice person comes over and asks what the problem is. I tell him the machine won't boot due to a disk error. He then proceeds to talk to me like I'm a 4 year old, explaining that a hard disk has this spinny thing in them and sometimes those can go bad.


I then tell him I'm a Mac developer (I probably rolled my eyes), at which point he actually seems relieved and switches to full on nerd mode. He plugs my machine into the store network and boots from there, then proceeds to run some fancy diagnostic stuff I don't have access to. The good news is he doesn't find anything physically wrong with the drive.

He connects the iMac to my laptop and we mount it as a external drive. Everything seems to still be there, so I spend the next half hour copying the Windows VM and the podcast to my laptop and we reformat the machine using a bunch of shell commands, while he's happy to explain what is happening.

I ask why Disk Utility can't just reformat the drive. He says the Apple Utilities haven't caught up to the fusion drives and (politely) expresses some amount of frustration at this fact. I get the impression he's done this a lot.

I pack up the newly reformatted machine and head home. Time Machine restored perfectly, I then pulled all the repos from git, and other than needing to reenter all my passwords, the machine is back like nothing happened.

I know you hear this a lot, but back up your shit. This story would not have had a happy ending if I didn't back up everything obsessively.  I run Time Machine for local backups and use Arq to keep offsite archives on amazon's S3 storage (Time Machine can't help you if your house burns down).

I did manage to restore Friday's podcast recording, so I'll try and have that edited and up tomorrow.

I lost a day, but I got a nice clean desk out of it, so I'll call that a win.

- Ron

Brian S - Apr 11, 2016 at 16:55
Oh, and you got a blog post out of it as well, and reminded us all of the importance of backups.  So - triple win!  Seriously, though - that's a major bummer.  Sorry to hear about that.  I'm going to go check the state of my backups as well, and maybe add an offsite.

Skylo - Apr 11, 2016 at 17:07
So the SSD that pooped itself?
What actually caused your headache?

Ron Gilbert - Apr 11, 2016 at 17:10
Bad blocks, but I don't know what drive they were on. It doesn't seem to be a hardware issue.

urielz - Apr 11, 2016 at 17:09
What?... What kind of genius doesn't recognize a Mr. Ron Gilbert?!

Miles - Apr 11, 2016 at 17:12
A post you definately read to the end where you expect to learn about some sad and time schedule changing  consequences. What a nice trick.

Stefan - Apr 11, 2016 at 17:20
Uh oh... I wouldn't trust that hardware anymore. Be it the disk(s), be it some kind of memory glitch that led to a silently corrupted file system - let's hope the latest TimeMachine backup didn't contain any grave bit rot.

Maybe run a long memory check and check the SMART values of both SSD and HD for suspicious errors.

Ron Gilbert - Apr 11, 2016 at 17:37
Agreed! I'm going to run some deep testing tonight.

longuist - Apr 11, 2016 at 19:20
You say that the machine used to crash occasionally in the night. Is that normal behavior?

Ron Gilbert - Apr 11, 2016 at 19:35
It's normal in the sense that it's usually Apple's software update that is crashing because some app is open it's trying to update. I blame that one on crappy programmers.  It's happened maybe 3 or 4 times in the last 6 months, so it's not a lot.

Patrik Spacek - Apr 11, 2016 at 17:25
I was reading through half of this "insane" geeky weird psycho story and then I realized that I cant read it anymore otherwise my second me would start pulling off...and I dont wanna be schizophrenic in such a young age...

Jonathan Fischer - Apr 11, 2016 at 17:29
For what it's worth, you _can_ format a Fusion drive using the command line diskutil tools.  I set up a Fusion drive in an iMac that doesn't explicitly support it that way (replaced the DVD drive w/ an SSD).  The graphic Disk Utility though has taken a huge step backwards in the most recent release. :(

This guide lays out the process fairly well:

Adam - Apr 11, 2016 at 17:31
Love that awkward moment where the "genius" talks to you like you are a 4 year old!!! Every nerd can relate :)

Brian Ruff - Apr 11, 2016 at 17:35
Thanks for sharing your funny experience. I like BackBlaze for backups. They do a good job.

Ron Gilbert - Apr 11, 2016 at 17:49
I like Arq because they send your data directly to your personal S3 account, it's not stored on the company's servers. I like that from a privacy standpoint, plus I don't have to worry about them going out of business. Not sure if BackBlaze works that way. One downside is you have to understand S3 and be able to set that up. The other downside is it's stored in amazon's glacial storage, so it can take 4 to 8 hours to get a backup. I use it for long term and catastrophic restoring, so that doesn't matter too much.

Brian S - Apr 11, 2016 at 18:06
Nice use of glacial.

Farooq - Apr 12, 2016 at 11:37
Heh heh!

Brian Ruff - Apr 11, 2016 at 20:28
Arq sounds better for dev types. BackBlaze uses encryption for privacy, but their downside is that they also charge a lot to retrieve your data.

Ingo - Apr 12, 2016 at 02:18
ARQ encrypts as well. It can use different type of servers. I use it via SSH (SFTP) to store files on my own server.

Mattias Cedervall - Apr 11, 2016 at 17:50
Close call. :-(

Big Red Button - Apr 11, 2016 at 18:04
Odd indeed. Hopefully, this was a single case! Maybe you better backup the Windows VM as well in future (and especially the podcasts, of course). You never know.

Ron Gilbert - Apr 11, 2016 at 18:08
Yeah, the VM is now backed up on a external HD. :-)

Ingo - Apr 12, 2016 at 02:16

I use Carbon Copy Cloner to copy my whole drive to an external one. You have a bootable copy than and if your internal drive fails you can just boot from the external one.


Zak Phoenix McKracken - Apr 11, 2016 at 18:09
Wow, my brother just bought a fusion drive a few days ago. Better remind him to back up often than before...
Anyway, if you weren't able to restore the latest Friday podcast, I believe it would have been published somehow by your 'fake' counterpart! :-) :-)
Glad everything ended well.

Derrick Reisdorf - Apr 11, 2016 at 18:15
Fusion drive?  Is that any different than a hybrid SSD, or just a different name for it?

longuist - Apr 11, 2016 at 19:05
Its a device which fuse 2 lighter parts into 1 heavy part. The emitted energy is used to boil water of a steam engine, which moves turbines to gain electric energy, which in turn powers pumps that move water to a high pond. This water is used to run old mills to... Hours later (rube golberg machine at its best) .. a single bit gets switched. Or was it a marketing name for 2 drives,  one ssd and 1 hdd, to virtually appear as 1 drive (like a hybrid ssd)?

Zak Phoenix McKracken - Apr 12, 2016 at 00:18
It's an hybrid Hard Disk + SSD.

Derrick Reisdorf - Apr 12, 2016 at 11:33
Yeah.  I've just called them hybrid or solid-state hybrid drives.  I guess it's what Apple calls their version of a SSHD.

Okona - Apr 14, 2016 at 06:43
It is a little bit different in that the OS (the core storage service of Mac OS X manages it) does not use the SSD as a cache, but indeed moves data to and from the SSD. Mac OS X does periodic statistics on the stored data and moves the frequently accessed data to the SSD and the seldomly accessed to the HD. So the storage capacity is indeed the one of the HD plus the one on the SSD. The OS does its own performance monitoring and thus figures out which is the SSD and which is the HD on its own.

Like Ron said:
Its major disadvantage is that the propability of failure of this fusion drive is the propability of failure of the HD added to the one of the SSD, like a RAID0 does. Its goal is high performance and not high availability.

So to paraphrase an old Sierra adventure game strategy: Backup early, backup often!

In a not too distant future, HDs will be completely replaced by SSDs in desktop computers (like it is now in notebooks). Thereby also rendering the fusion drive concept obsolete.

Zak Phoenix McKracken - Apr 14, 2016 at 08:05
But SSD are not as stable as mechanic HD, isn't it?

longuist - Apr 14, 2016 at 08:33
?? If you feel that way you should look out for a R-SSD (rock solid state drive)

Zak Phoenix McKracken - Apr 14, 2016 at 10:50
I have read that, with actual technology, that SSD drives have higher data-loss percentage compared to Hard Disks. BTW, in the near future this problem should be solved, by introducing carbon nanotubes, which can keep data for more time.

longuist - Apr 14, 2016 at 13:41
Its difficult to say, because there is no truly comparable and independent MTBF data out there. Furthermore failure varies greatly between manufacturers. There were big problems in reliability in the beginning, when size was about 32GiB. Fortunately i'm no early adopter (anymore). I think both technologies are on par right now, reliability wise. From a more personal perspective, all my HDDs (but one) which died under my regency did it suddenly without notice. That sucked. I hope that the SSDs i use will inform me timely of the impending doom. We'll see...

longuist - Apr 14, 2016 at 13:52
Btw, i expect them to die (and they will die eventually) without noticing and to the most disturbing time. Everything is backed up.

Zak Phoenix McKracken - Apr 14, 2016 at 15:33
Thanks for the explanation. Effectively, when a hard disk is going to fail, you can hear its -clinks-, -tiks- and -grarrrs-

vegetaman - Apr 11, 2016 at 20:17
Always back-up is often spoken but rarely heeded in our world, sadly. But glad it all turned out somewhat well for you, Ron!

Iron Curtain - Apr 11, 2016 at 20:27
THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THIS POST, RON! You gotta back up your files! I'm also a Mac user, and I swear by Time Machine. Unfortunately, Tim Cook doesn't inspire faith in approving well-thought-out design the same way Steve Jobs did. This is why my Macintosh is a Mac Pro from 2009 and it's still WAAAAAAYYYY better designed in so many ways than today's cylindrical-trash-can-designed Mac Pros.

hoerry - Apr 11, 2016 at 20:29
Fusion drives, crashes and Time Machines. Development of Thimbleweed Park is starting to sound like an exciting Sci-Fi movie.

Tyler - Apr 11, 2016 at 20:53
I'm a bit surprised you don't have dedicated Windows/Linux development machines to work on. Don't get me wrong, I -love- my Mac, I'm writing this on it right now even, but having native systems to test on is just so much nicer. With mini-ITX boards it really doesn't take up much space. Plus, extra computers end up as servers so you get nice linux/plex media/secondary time machine backup/music/local webdev/whatever servers when you are done testing. Not to mention your Mac won't be wasting cpu power doing server stuff unnecessarily. Just food for thought!   :)  I'm really looking forward to this game, and this blog+ the podcasts are just icing on the cake. Day 1 purchase for sure!

Ron Gilbert - Apr 11, 2016 at 21:01
We do. I have a Windows laptop, plus our testers have Windows machines. But for doing builds, it's easier for me to use a VM because I can just switch to a window and kick off a Windows build and it writes all the files directly to my Mac drive, not to mention the VM points to the source code on the Mac and I don't even have to sync to do a build. Super fast and it's easier than switching to another machine and then copying the files or waiting for dropbox to sync.

Paulup - Apr 11, 2016 at 22:23
"I call up the local Apple store and see when I can get an appointment to visit the Genius Bar"


And everyone looks around at each other with panicked faces and some of the women folk begin crying and then a big alarm siren goes off and there is the sound of helicopters as Apple special ops roll out to fix your computer.

Ron Gilbert - Apr 11, 2016 at 22:37
I want to live in your world.

Ema - Apr 12, 2016 at 17:37
Hmh... I imagine it different. "I AM RON GILBERT AND MY COMPUTER IS BROKEN..." Then suddenly everybody asks him for a TP T-shirt or a mouse pad, and nobody cares about his computer. ;-)

Enrico - Apr 14, 2016 at 10:53
...and the genius tears up and yells... GRANDPA!!!!!

Matt Rini III - Apr 12, 2016 at 18:36
Made me think of Ron entering the Apple Store with Gary Winnick announcing him (probably rolling his eyes through the whole thing and sighing loudly), Game of Thrones style:

"He is Ron Gilbert, first of his name, father of point-and-click adventures, scourge of text parsers, lord of monkey wrenches... and Protector of the Realms of Mac, PC and Linux."

Paulup - Apr 12, 2016 at 19:59
In that scenario I also picture Gary and David bringing in Ron in one of these -

Brian S - Apr 13, 2016 at 15:05
Matt, third of your name, that is hilarious! :)

longuist - Apr 12, 2016 at 04:41

Zak Phoenix McKracken - Apr 12, 2016 at 05:00
"Ortone e il mondo di Chi" ( Horton Hears a Who!) -- I remember it, one of the most beautiful movie that year!

Paulup - Apr 12, 2016 at 13:22
Amazing movie, very underrated... the anime/manga spoof part had me literally in tears of laughter in the cinema --

onkelosuppo - Apr 12, 2016 at 04:52
They used to have this "Ron-Gilbert-Priority" policy at the apple stores but gave it up recently. Too many false alarams if I remember it correctly. (Also it was hard to get a hold of bio fuel for the helicopters of the "Mac-Ops")

Zombocast - Apr 11, 2016 at 22:42
Thank You, Ron for a... "What You See Is What You Get" game!
Endless Replay-Ability.. True to the genre.. MOD if you want.. GAME

Fuck this season pass bullshit!
Planned Obsolescence with DLC and Future Unlocked Content.. I fear for this generation Ron, I really do!  
Terrible Toy box for life.

Peter Campbell - Apr 12, 2016 at 00:19
If you hadn't backed up your files, just how much would game progress be halted?  On a scale of 1 to monkey wrench puzzle =)

Simon Simon - Apr 12, 2016 at 02:56
Interesting, but what caused the bad blocks initially? Can the overnight crash that you mentioned cause something like this (maybe if it happens during internal fusion drive reorganistation writes)? What do the logfiles tell? Was there a short power blackout during that night?

SunDancer - Apr 12, 2016 at 03:47
Thank you for sharing this. Could I repost this on my work-blog as an example of how to do it?

Paul Jacobson - Apr 12, 2016 at 04:05
On the plus side broken hdd = coffee coasters and a really good fridge magnet or two.
Sadly when it's all ssd I'll have to buy real coffee coasters.

But yeah data you don't back up is data you don't care about.
I'll be doing another back up later today ;)

Mischa Magyar - Apr 12, 2016 at 06:11
What a lengthy excuse for a late podcast! ;)

I'm glad everything worked out better than you expected!

Carlo Valenti - Apr 12, 2016 at 07:36
I got a Mr.Fusion Drive also in 2015; nice piece of technology: makes your stuff fly.

Sushi - Apr 12, 2016 at 16:44

Carlo Valenti - Apr 12, 2016 at 16:59
Yes, exactly.

Andreas - Apr 12, 2016 at 08:11
Ron, are you running a daily cronjob to back up Gary?
I am now worried about what happens when his fusion drive crashes...

Zak Phoenix McKracken - Apr 12, 2016 at 08:14
Sorry for the Off Topic... can you tell me if Thimbleweed Park (and its Team, of course) will be present at the E3 2016 in Los Angeles?
Thank you

Krzysiek - Apr 12, 2016 at 09:06
Disk Utility sometimes could not repair disk problems for me in case of bad block, hardware failure, etc. I've invested in DiskWarrior which is good at repairing [provisionally] bad disks so that I can at least copy my files.

Arto - Apr 12, 2016 at 11:38
Now you should make sure you have two 154I-drives to make a backup of each floppy every hour. I know it's a daunting task, but you really should have a copy of your hard work. If you have the more common datassette, be sure to place to two boomboxes next to each other, one playing the source and the other recording.

Steffen - Apr 12, 2016 at 12:12
How emotional relationships would be possible if your computer would emit a mechanical mocking laugh with each error message? I guess that I would fall in love with my mac. It would be emotional like the good old times with my C64 or Amiga.

Okona - Apr 14, 2016 at 06:50
How about naming all error Messages "Guru Meditation"?

J. - Apr 12, 2016 at 12:13
Remember kids: harddrive failures are not bad luck, its an inevitability.

mr. T - Apr 12, 2016 at 12:43
This blog post beats most modern thrillers. I liked the nice ending as well. Now off to back my stuff up!

Peter Brodersen - Apr 12, 2016 at 12:49
I love how your fixed computer includes the blog post in the blog post. Maybe it got other magic powers.

Shawn Swift - Apr 12, 2016 at 13:23
I feel your pain.  I just had to rebuild my tower PC and install Windows 10 for the first time along with and all my applications just so I could use the latest version of Atmel Studio (a version of Visual Studio for Atmel microcontrollers) because some code I needed to edit required that version.  But when I say required, I don't mean it in the traditional sense.  My Macbook's 3D accelerator has been out of commission for a year and though I could live with the constant crashes whenever the 3D acceleration engaged, Atmel Studio, being a Windows 10 native app, wouldn't run at all without 3D acceleration.  So a whole weekend wasted, and I'm still finding stuff I need to reinstall.  But on the upside I now have a PC on which Thimbleweed Park will actually run once its finished!

Sam P. - Apr 12, 2016 at 14:14
I laughed, I cried, and I obsessively created several project and state back ups.

Truly these are the Aesop fables of this generation to live by.

Brian S - Apr 12, 2016 at 14:28
I love the artwork in this post, by the way.  I don't remember ever seeing any of these views before.  You very cleverly injected this in your article, and I'm actually quite surprised no one has commented on it yet - your prose is just too engaging on it's own, I suppose!

Big Red Button - Apr 12, 2016 at 15:49
They were recently revealed by Mark Ferrari during his extensive (and very recommendable) lecture at GDC - among some other pictures we hadn't seen before:

Big Red Button - Apr 12, 2016 at 15:59
None the less, I totally agree with you. They look impressive! I would almost say that Mark has exceled himself once again with the tube store screen!

EdoBvd - Apr 12, 2016 at 16:05
Thanks for that link.
Amazing stuff.

Big Red Button - Apr 12, 2016 at 17:41
I hand any gratitude for the link on to longuist, who had posted this link first in a comment to the previous blog entry. ;-)

longuist - Apr 12, 2016 at 18:09
And i hand the gratitude back to Ron, who posted it on twitter :)
(And to Mark of course who shared his pixelated insights)

Brian S - Apr 13, 2016 at 15:09
Finally finished that video last night.   It's really fun and interesting to hear Mark talk about light and color and how it impacts his work.   His anecdote about explaining how to think about light (no, not in the computer model - the *real world*) when mentoring another video game artist is really good stuff.  I found it also very interesting how dithering was replaced by "layers" in the TWP art style.

Big Red Button - Apr 17, 2016 at 19:34
I agree with you. Mark is an ingenious artist! It's so much more a matter of your creative ability than of the tool you use!

I've observed the abdication of dithering with mixed feelings. On the one hand, dithering is very cool, because it reminds you of the limited color palette you had to deal with back in the 8-bit era. On the other hand, I completely understand that it would be too time-consuming. Anyway, Mark's contribution to the game is unpayable, even if there was no dithering at all!
It would be nice if the upcoming graphics tool, which Mark mentioned at 8:00 and 1:20:00 in the video, was going to provide some reasonable functions that made dithering significantly easier.

Brian S - Apr 18, 2016 at 22:25
It's a good point you make about dithering - dithering really gives you the 8-bit graphics feel.  That said, I never really cared for it, and I don't think I'll miss it.  The new method is an homage to the limited pallet,. while being much nicer to look at.  I'm sure there are many 8-bit purists that would strongly disagree with me :)

"The Abdication of Dithering" would be a great book title- too bad that blog post is closed.

Big Red Button - Apr 20, 2016 at 17:40
I agree with you, Mark's new method allows to pay homage to 8-bit graphics, while being more eye-friendly.
Besides, there is still some dithering in particular areas in TP, such as the sky. I think it's a great middle course between nostalgia, aesthetics and economic pragmatism.
Though, whenever a surface needs to appear grained, a modest use of dithering is still a reasonable stylistic option.

Geoffrey Paulsen - Apr 12, 2016 at 16:24
Condolences, and Congratz.

Sushi - Apr 12, 2016 at 17:00
Glad to see it all worked out and no-one got hurt....and also Thimbleweed Park Podcast #46 has been rescued from oblivion thanks to Disk Utility refusing to reformat.

Wait a sec... is that a C64 in the background behind Delores? Does she back-up religiously?

I loved the part where the guy at the genius bar was giving you the kiddie treatment. I did not expect him to switch to real-useful-tech-mode, though. I would have thought you would walk away with a broken mac but now being able to send mail using your iPhone!

Mathew Wilber - Apr 12, 2016 at 18:08
Don't just back up once either. I always tell people, imagine everything you own just disappears, you should still have a backup somewhere else. I have 5 backups of my work 2 on-site and 3 off-site updated in 15 minute intervals.

Ema - Apr 14, 2016 at 17:19
5.... Wow.  

Sorry man, but I think uou put too much anxiety in it.  The odds that 6 HDs break simultaneously are soooo low.
I have two backups. The odds I lose 3 copies of my data at once are lower
Than the odds I will die tomorrow. So I don't matter to make more copies than this. But if 6 copies can make you feel better and more confortable... Good for you :-)

Nor Treblig - Apr 14, 2016 at 23:02
Breaking hardware is just one reason to do backups.
What if you discover you have accidentally deleted/modified important data ? That's why you need recent and preferably multiple generations backups or use a file systems storing multiple versions of files. (Btw. this can happen due to your fault or some other persons fault like kids, it could also happen due to computer crashes etc.)
What if some virus encrypts all your data? That's why you should have backups on mediums not always connected to your computer or at least a backup generation before such incident.
What if someone breaks into your house and steals your stuff or your house burns down? That's why you need off-site backups.

Some people prefer having more recent backups and more generations due to some of the reasons listed above. Also it's cheaper to lose just 15 minutes of work instead of e.g. 1 day of work or 1 week of work. And some data is completely irreplaceable, e.g. if you lose baby pictures from 5 years ago you can never bring them back.

So: Backup early, backup often. And also have off-site backups.

Nor Treblig - Apr 14, 2016 at 23:03
Btw. the odds you lose 3 copies are about the same as the odds that he loses 3 copies of his data.
With one big difference: he still got his data...

Ema - Apr 15, 2016 at 03:20

No, the only important thing is that when I'll lose all my three copies, I'll be probably dead (still a matter of odds), so I won't mind.
I have one on-site backup and one off-site backup which is closed inside a safe. This is what MY peace of mind needs, and I think that if somebody needs 6 copies, should do 6 copies. The only thing that matters is to feel good and safe.
I think I wouldn't feel good with 6 copies. Too much work, too many things to think of. Life is beautiful. :-)

Nor Treblig - Apr 15, 2016 at 18:24
I'm pretty sure most of his backups happen automatically. But it's always good having an offline backup (like your off-site one).

Roberto - Apr 12, 2016 at 18:19
Lucky for you Ron!!

Paulup - Apr 12, 2016 at 19:36
Interesting factoid: this post is about a computer crash and "Crash" is the name of the hit single by The Primitives which was released in 1988, which is very close to 1987 but not quite.

Orcan Ogetbil - Apr 13, 2016 at 01:25
You should sell that computer at some point. It will be worth like Jimmy Page's guitar.

Martin Wendt - Apr 13, 2016 at 01:29
Yeah. Yeah. Crash. Uhm. Bad.
But much more important:
Is that a Commodore 64 in the Top pic? Will it be in the game? Operational? Will it run a game?? *HINT,HINT*

Zak Phoenix McKracken - Apr 13, 2016 at 03:00
I wonder if it will run "Labyrinth" or "Rescue on Fractalus!"...

longuist - Apr 13, 2016 at 03:44
Oh no, cannot bear, if a huge, mighty pixelated monster (Hi-Res lifelike alien back then) suddenly appears on screen while trying to rescue everyone i will have to hide behind the sofa....again. Scared. ...I see dead pixels. (just my sixth pence)

Marco Lizza - Apr 14, 2016 at 16:14
That seems definitely a C=1541...

MMFan - Apr 17, 2016 at 02:52
Hi Martin,

I even think its a Commodore 64. And I hope it will run a litle Game like in Day of the Tentacle. :-)

Nor Treblig - Apr 17, 2016 at 04:28
We had Maniac Mansion in DOTT (even both v1 and v2), so what about the C64 version of Zak McKracken? This would be cool, especially since you cannot buy this version anymore (you can "only" get FM-Towns+EGA on GOG)... but sadly it will be quite impossible due to licensing issues.

Allowing to hook up external programs this way would be a nice alternative, e.g. setting a commandline to ScummVM in a configuration file.

Mario F - Apr 13, 2016 at 09:46
fusion drives? f**k that. i only use m.2 and u.2 drives in raid10(mirror) anymore.

Carlo Valenti - Apr 13, 2016 at 17:16
The Cave, second round complete: the Monk, the Time Traveller, the Knight.
I enjoyed most the trials of the Monk.

Sushi - Apr 14, 2016 at 02:11
The cave:
I played a few hours yesterday and the day before using the Monk, the spooky Twins and the Hillbillie. And now I'm stuck at this carnival... how appropriate!
I do miss a real save & load game feature... it seems I missed one blinking icon to reveal the first part of the back story, of the Twins and I cannot climb back up.And thanks to SteamPlay (TM), my progress gets synced over all devices (argh).
Anyone knows what the option "drop kid" does?

Zak Phoenix McKracken - Apr 14, 2016 at 11:54
Indeed, those were very clever!

Gv - Apr 13, 2016 at 18:27
My hdd crashed like a year ago. Since then I learned to live without a hdd. And I never looked back :)

Zak Phoenix McKracken - Apr 14, 2016 at 16:36

Here it is! The second part of the "Answers to Unanswered Questions of Friday Podcast" is online!
The 'fake' Ron Gilbert and the 'fake' David Fox will ansers another 26-pack Questions, in a ...plausible way :-)

Nor Treblig - Apr 17, 2016 at 04:36
Yes, there should be more singing! Maybe they could do a musical-podcast one friday :D

Zak Phoenix McKracken - Apr 17, 2016 at 18:18
Eheh thanks ... but I think that 10 seconds of singing per podcast is enough!
I'm sorry that I couldn't find your name in the Friday Questions post, otherwise I would have answered you in a musical way ;-)

Nor Treblig - Apr 17, 2016 at 20:37
That's OK, I didn't ask one on that Friday.

Btw. real Ron Gilbert tried to copy you, they wanted to sing Happy Birthday (but then they wandered from the subject...)

Lidia Martinez - Apr 14, 2016 at 21:21
I had a similar error eith the disk utility in mac. It couldnt repair an external drive that i repaired several times.

I tell you. If it fails in the first steps means that any app is blockibg it somehow. Close all. Reopen the apps you opened since last time you plugged it. And exit all of them. Sometimes they run backups.

And then you can repair it. Works for me all the times!

JackSpunk - Apr 15, 2016 at 01:20

Big Red Button - Apr 15, 2016 at 08:26

DZ-Jay - Apr 15, 2016 at 05:51
Mr. Gilbert,

I'm sorry to hear about your computer troubles, that's never a good thing to happen when you trust the electronic gods with your important work and archival materials.  I had the same thing happen to me various times throughout my life.  At one time I had to spend almost $3,000.00 to recover data from a dead HDD.

More recently, I encountered a severe disk problem, and like you, didn't notice it until it was too late.  In attempting to recover from TimeMachine, I ended up replacing some of the usable backup with the corrupted data from the disk, rendering the backup questionable.

There are a few things that saved my bacon that day:  A TimeMachine backup (like yours), a brand new HDD, and the DiskWarrior and TechTool Pro software.

I learned that day that DiskUtility is a bit lame in the recovery department:  the most it can do is repair permissions and recover the "Directory" file from an older copy.  This is similar in nature to what was called the "File Allocation Table" (FAT) in the DOS world.  However, DiskUtility cannot mark bad blocks, nor recover data in any other way.

Enter DiskWarrior and Tech Tool Pro, which do all the rest.  DiskWarrior can find and repair corrupted files (or attempt to), it can also do the same as DiskUtility, but rather than just replacing the "Directory," it can give you a comparison view (like "diff") so that you can see what is actually been recovered and maybe learn what may be lost or corrected.  It also provides log files of all this, so that you may do integrity checks later if you want to (which I did).

Tech Tool Pro is a general testing utility for Macs that provides not only some rather extensive tests for HDDs, but for all hardware, include memory, video hardware, etc.  It also does a surface scan and identifies back blocks, tries to recover data, and marks them for future avoidance.

I just thought to provide some additional information on disk recovery methods, since I went through similar pains as you, and had to stumble in the dark to figure out what to do and how to avoid it in the future.


MES - Apr 15, 2016 at 09:51
What a lovely and elaborated way to say "I didn't do my homework last week'. What happen with the classic 'The dog eat my homework'?.

(To err is human, but to really foul things up you need a computer.
        - Paul R. Ehrlich)

badde - Apr 15, 2016 at 16:52
Hope - hope - get one #!!!

Carlo Valenti - Apr 15, 2016 at 20:06
Just completed my final tour of The Cave with:
the Hillbilly
the Knight (again)
the Monk (again)

Then, finally, my favourite puzzles are with :
the Monk
the Scientist
the Hillbilly

My favourite scenarios are:
the Scientist (1st prize!)
the Twins
the island

Favourite extra characters:
Spanky & the Hermit
The Cave
The Hotdogs

Favourite playable characters:
the Twins

Yes, yes, I know: you've been all waiting this comment for years.

Nor Treblig - Apr 15, 2016 at 22:23
Did you already do both endings with all characters?

Btw., so much for playing one playthrough and letting the game rest for some time :-)

Carlo Valenti - Apr 16, 2016 at 08:22
Good games are like good wine: if you let it rest, it will become better; if you drink it, it will become better anyway :)

(DISCLAIMER: always drink with moderation; don't drink at all if you are going to drive; wine is just a drink, it will not solve your problems)

Zak Phoenix McKracken - Apr 16, 2016 at 03:07

Carlo Valenti - Apr 15, 2016 at 20:16

1) the Carnival, the Island with the Hermit: they are present both in Monkey1+2 and in TheCave: coincidence, quoting, or particularly evocative?

2) The Talking Cave: was it difficult to cast the voice actor? His work I appreciated a lot.

Thank you

Arto - Apr 16, 2016 at 12:03
Ron's life is like a carnival, when he would just wan't to be like a hermit on an island.

Zombocast - Apr 15, 2016 at 20:56
Ron please do an off topic podcast. Where you talk about the future of gaming.

Paul K - Apr 25, 2016 at 00:26
Just saw this post.

I had a similar problem about 9 months ago, except without Fusion Drive. I have an older Mac Pro and at one point I decided to add an SSD to it but the largest SSD sold at the time (500GB) couldn't fit all of the data on the standard HD that it was replacing. I thought about Fusion Drive, and eventually decided to just manage the space myself so it would be easier to maintain a Bootcamp partition. I installed the base OS to the SSD, as well as the Applications folder, but I symlinked the entire /Users/ folder onto the old drive since that was where the majority of my large files (and Windows VM, which I don't back up either) live.

Around the middle of 2015, I had a RAM issue that caused my machine to reboot randomly and deactivate the 'bad' memory. It actually took me a few months to realize what was happening, because the performance wasn't really impacted by a lack of RAM thanks to the SSD. When I finally figured out there was a problem, I cleaned all of the dust out of the machine and cleaned the RAM sticks with rubbing alcohol. The RAM has been perfectly fine since then. But I was still having stability issues, which turned out to be caused by file corruption due to the random reboots. Both drives had issues. Repairing the SSD with Disk Utility caused the machine to become unbootable. I had to reinstall the OS to fix that and everything was fine there again, but the regular HD could not be repaired by Disk Utility.

At that point, I decided since I had Time Machine backups I would just reformat both drives and start fresh, restoring my data from backups. Then I made the mistake of scanning the Time Machine drive with Disk Utility. It decided there was corruption there too, and it unmounted the drive to repair it. But there wasn't enough free space on the drive for Disk Utility to repair it. Which is how it's supposed to work, since Time Machine automatically makes additional backups until there isn't space anymore, and clears the older ones when it begins to need space for newer ones. So on most time machine drives that have been in use for a while, there's never going to be enough free space on them to repair them. OS X would only let me remount the Time Machine drive as read only, and with the unrepairable problems I wasn't even guaranteed that all of my backups were good.

Since both my HD and the backup drive had unrepairable corruption, I didn't want to risk a reformat at that point. I had a copy of TechTool Pro that I got with some kind of software bundle years ago, I tried that but even TechTool couldn't repair the drives. Some forum posts online suggested DataResuce, but that appeared to require restoring to another drive and I didn't really want to go through the hassle of restoring over 500GB of data to another drive. I saw a lot of positive comments about DiskWarrior, which wasn't cheap, but I bought that hoping it would work. Worst case scenario, I could've just returned it for a refund. Surprisingly, DiskWarrior was able to repair both my HD as well as the Time Machine drive that Disk Utility refused to repair because there wasn't enough space. For the Time Machine drive, it gave me a warning saying that there wasn't enough free space to write a backup file table to the disk somewhere else and it would need to overwrite the existing one and data could be lost forever if the power went out, but everything worked perfectly and the drive was 100% valid after that point even according to Disk Utility. (It actually generates a brand new filesystem table to overwrite the original one, instead of trying to figure out how to salvage the existing one. I thought that approach was kind of interesting, because I'm not aware of any Windows utility for repairing NTFS drives that takes the same approach. On the other hand, I've never ran into a windows drive that couldn't be repaired by the built in chkdsk command.)

Some lessons I learned:
- Pretty much any spontaneous reboot causes some kind of problem that needs to be repaired, at least on standard HD's. This doesn't seem to happen very often for the SSD's though.
- Time Machine backup drives basically can't ever be repaired by Disk Utility, because they'll always be too full to do so.
- Splitting data across two drives is complicated when something goes wrong. I ended up buying a 1TB SSD and moving all of my primary OS data to a single drive again.
- I was still having occasional stability issues on the new drive. Running beta builds of OS X had added some random stability issues to my machine that wouldn't go away from a fresh install if I restored from backups. The only way I found to fix my problems was to do a fresh install without letting OS X restore backups from Time Machine. Instead I just copied my files back manually after a fresh install to get rid of whatever lingering preferences or profile data was causing my problems.

I guess my point of my story is to make sure you're also checking your backup drives for errors too.