The Black Screen of Death

Trinity Bellwoods

When I was growing up, everyone knew about the “Blue Screen of Death”. The form that it took progressed over time, as the computer’s capacity of graphics grew. The shade of blue changed over time, as did the words that were used to tell you that you were about to lose everything that you had worked on since you last saved. (And of course, this began in a time before auto-save). Those of us with MacBooks have never experienced the blue screen of death. I’ve owned three MacBooks, while my husband has owned one, and we’ve never had to concern ourselves with the system crashing, with us receiving errors that obliterate our work. When I wrote my Master’s, I never once quivered in fear at the prospect of losing my work because of the blue screen of death. My first two MacBooks died from overuse and abuse, both at a young age. I upgraded before I started my Masters to a MacBook Pro, with its titanium shell and higher-speed processor. It was an absolute beauty. Little did I know that it was also a ticking time bomb.

Apparently, the generation of MacBook Pro that I own was installed with a faulty graphics card, which-beginning in 2011- would give users what became known as “the Black Screen of Death“. Essentially, the graphics card stops working, rendering a total absence of video output. Apple issued a notice saying that they would provide users a fix, if they experienced this in the first four years after the original purchase. Naturally, four years and three months after I bought my computer, I started to notice this problem (which at the time, I didn’t actually realize was a systemic issue). It was usually solvable by putting the computer to sleep by closing its lid and then opening it. Today, it was not. I tried resetting everything that I know how to reset on my computer, then Googling the things that I didn’t know how to reset, then Googling “Black Screen of Death” half-jokingly, only to realize that this was not a joke.

With luck, I will be able to use a FireWire cable to extract all the data that I’ve built up over the years on that machine (and, actually, on past machines). There are Honours Research Papers, a Masters Thesis, photos from weddings and vacations, resumes and cover letters. I live in a digital age, and therefore have carry a very digital past. Luckily, the nature of digital footprints is that you can duplicate, or in some cases triplicate, them. The important photos live on Flickr, on CDs, and in emails. My thesis sits on a shelf. There is a recent copy of my resume on my computer at work. But, the medium through which I created those things is gone, and that’s something worth mourning. When I told Andrew, he rightly pointed out that I could probably survive with my iPad, if I were to install a Word Processor and he’s probably right. It is, though, the end of an era for me. To say that I was privileged with access to technology is an understatement. I’ve had my own computer since I was seven and my own laptop since I was 18. There’s no logical reason, though, for me to own my own laptop (unless I were go back to school), so this is the stage that I begin to learn how to share technology. I’m sorry if this sounds self-involved–it probably is–but, because technology and the internet are such a huge part of our everyday life, having to share that medium (when you’ve never had to before) seems really, really strange.


Unrelatedly, I strongly recommend that you make these badass cinnamon buns. The black screen of death was far less worth after a second third one of these.


One thought on “The Black Screen of Death

  1. You have my complete sympathy! It totally sucks about your laptop and the timing of its demise! Ouch!

    I’ve had great success using my sweetie’s iPad with a wireless, bluetooth, battery-powered keyboard. All you need is an iPad sleeve that acts as a stand, the keyboard, and Gmail Drive and off you go! šŸ™‚

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s