Jason Crabtree

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Recognising my knowledge limits: Computer Edition

I've had a small issue with the screen on my MacBook over the last six months — not a gamestopper, but getting worse and worth investigating. The screen has been showing horizontal coloured lines (pink and green), and distorting the open app indicators, and more recently the top menu bar.

I booked an appointment with a local Apple store to take it in to assess — no worries, no stress. In preparation, they asked me to backup all my data (I mostly use cloud services, so that's easy), and disable 'Find My' beforehand, which makes sense!

So preparing for my appointment on Monday, yesterday I checked the Apple instructions for disabling 'Find My' on a MacBook. In doing so, I found that the instructions didn't match the interface I was seeing on my version of Catalina. No worries I thought, docs are just out of date? So I checked some blogs, read some other instructions and preceded forward with what I thought I was supposed to do. Turns out, I made a big, rookie error.

Computers are humbling. There's always more to learn.

The crux of the issue is this:

  • The instructions say to open Find My on your MacBook, find the device in your list of devices, click the info icon (i in a circle), then click 'Remove Device'.
  • I couldn't see anything that said Remove device.
  • The only available action I could see was Erase device.
  • In my naivety, I figured the copy on the design had changed without changing the behaviour. So I assumed, without understanding (even after a quick glance at some further instruction articles), that Erase === Remove.

It's not. Turns out.

The Find My app Erase function is a remote erase tool, enabling you to remotely erase your device if it's stolen etc. It doesn't remove the device from Find My, either. If I had really done my research, I should have found that. But I didn't. Damn.

Oh, and remote Erasing a device doesn't disable Find My anyway! I was finally, after all this, able to disable it on my phone. Should have checked that first. Hindsight.

To cut a long and stressful day short, I thought I was removing the device from Find My, and instead remote wiped it. FUBAR. Hugely stressful, and fingers crossed recoverable. And, to make matters even worse I can't reinstall a fresh copy of macOS or seemingly access the device at all. An opaque error tells me the harddrive is locked. At this point, I've declared myself well out of my depth. Time to wait for the appointment with the experts in this area.

Thank fuck I had everything backed up first, eh! Now I have two reasons to keep the appointment — the screen, and the unlockable harddrive system reset. Whelp. Overall, a good reminder that even though I've learnt a lot about web development (and design, and copywriting) in the last few years, I'm still a rookie in so many areas of hardware and computers in general.

PS. One aside, I wrote this blog post on my iPad using the GitHub website. Super happy with my setup of using a Netlify + GitHub and Gridsome combination to publish my website!