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Appetite For Self Destruction

Appetite For Self Destruction is a recounting of the fall, rise and subsequent decimation of the US music industry. The books starts with the “Disco Sucks” backlash and the subsequent precipitous fall in LP sales. The CD comes along just in time to rescue the music industry from these doldrums with Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” being one of the first killer apps of this new technology. Guess what? The industry then sees an opportunity in the improved fidelity of CDs. It uses this to jack up prices and rides the subsequent boom hard to amazing profits and profligacy.

The book has a great time recounting some of these merry stories of excess and the unsavory characters that flocked into the businss. We all know the bottom finally started to fall out with the introduction of Napster but author Steve Knopper makes the point that this occurred more due to the insistence of the RIAA and the rest of the gang in clinging to what had hitherto worked. In doing so, however, they began alienating fans and musicians alike and never recovered. Suing grandmothers is hardly a particularly good business model.

A nice graphic from a related article in Business Insider (The Real Death of the Music Industry) says it all:


Apparently, Steve Jobs was essentially forced to step in and create a digital music distribution system as he badly needed content for the then recently introduced iPod. By that time, the music industry had realized they needed a legal online presence and Apple with a scant 4-5% of the PC market hardly seemed any kind of threat. Accordingly, head honchos of labels like Warner, Sony and others ended up signing agreemens largely biased in favor of Apple, realizing only belatedly they had given away the farm.

Interspersed through the book are chapters covering in painful detail every mistake made by the record companies on their way to their current depleted state. How music can survive, new business models, apps and services – all these topics are hot areas of discussion by pundits. The contribution of this book is illustrating how we got here in the first place.

Replacing my MacBook Pro Drive

Back in grad school, my thesis advisor Brian Smith, to his eternal credit, really put the systems into computer systems where our research was concerned. He also placed the same emphasis on our group and how we dealt with our own computers. We joked that much like Marine Boot Camp, our group members needed to know how to take apart and put together an entire computer in less than minute in order to be able to graduate!

I tried carrying on this entire DIY ethic in my post graduate career. There were stumbles though when I first started dealing with laptops. In 2000, I permanently crippled my Dell Inspiron while taking it apart in order to replace the internal hard drive. It never worked quite as well post operation. It literally was held together by liberal applications of masking tape and glue. I still take pride in being able to sell it to a fly by night computer repair operator in Kolkata sometime around 2005. It probably exists in some incarnation somewhere, fueling some kid’s IIT aspirations right about now.

Given my last experience, I was somewhat nervous about replacing my MacBook Pro’s hard drive. No question it was due – two years of hard labor had squeezed the existing Fujitsu down to cacophonous joint on joint grinding. Each day, I thought, would be its last. However, it wasn’t a straighforward processs. Apple provides a How-To on its site if you want upgrade your MacBook but for your Pro, no dice.

Luckily, help exists online, in particular, here, here, here and here. The basic procedure is the same: you first buy a 2.5″ SATA drive, ideally 7200 RPM for faster performance even though it’s a bigger drain on the battery. I’ve never gone wrong with Western Digital, so I bought a WD 320G Scorpio. Next, you’ll need a 2.5″ enclosure – make sure it can do SATA drives. I learned the hard way. Finally, you’ll need a Phillips and a T-6 Torx screwdriver. I bought all except the Phillips screwdriver (I already own a set) from Fry’s. Not the cheapest but at least they’ll take returns in the first 30 days.

After fitting the WD drive to the enclosure, I hooked it up to the Pro’s USB drive and used SuperDuper to completely clone my main HD into an externally bootable drive. I rebooted the Pro from the external drive to confirm (hold down the option key when rebooting your Pro and, if multiple bootable devices are available, it’ll ask you to choose).

For the actual physical work, I printed out ifixit’s guide and followed it step by step. You have to take out a lot of screws and some parts. To keep track, I placed all the pages in the guide side by side and placed each set of screws next to the pictures, once I completed the step. This was particularly useful when putting everything back together again. My Phillips screwdriver is magnetized, so it holds the screw to itself. This was invaluable as many of the screws in the Pro’s casing are tiny and placing them can be tricky.

It was quite a relief when I put everything back together again, powered up my laptop and, after a brief, yet agonizing period, the Apple logo came on. And soon after, the machine booted up quite happily and my desktop appeared. Now, I have a souped up box and quite possibly have saved my company, Delve, a fair chunk of change in terms of not having to replace my laptop. One of the keys in the keyboard is still loose but I am hoping the tape and chewing gum approach will work in holding it in place!