Mac tattoo roundup

Leander Kahney's posted a great story on Mac fanatics with Apple tattoos on Wired News. He includes the story of my one-and-only tat, a 27-pixel-square Sad Mac on my right bicep. The only detail he gets wrong is that it wasn't an SE/30, it was an SE with an 030 accelerator card.

Doctorow's 27-pixel-square tattoo is based on the Sad Mac screen icon that is displayed when old all-in-one Macs have catastrophic hardware problems. The Sad Mac is a perversion of the happy, smiling Mac shown when a Mac boots up. Instead of a smiley face, the Sad Mac has a pout and crosses for eyes.

It's the same icon Doctorow confronted one day 12 years ago when he tried to boot up his Mac SE/30.

The dead Mac stored all his e-mail from several years, all the fiction and nonfiction he'd ever written, a lot of painstakingly collected software, a bunch of BBS numbers and all the HyperCard stacks he'd authored. In other words, "a lot of important stuff was on that box … and not backed up, natch."

Doctorow embarked on a painful, painstaking endeavor to recover the data.

"This was about seven days' worth of miserable, round-the-clock trog-labor, locked up in my room with parts scattered all around me and notes with hex offsets scrawled on hundreds of scraps of paper piled … in the Sisyphean stable," Doctorow wrote. "I hardly bathed or ate, and smoked hundreds, if not thousands, of cigarettes. When I emerged, triumphant and exhausted, I felt reborn…. I was a new man, and needed to commemorate the event."

Doctorow proceeded to collect a printout of the Sad Mac, which he took to his local tattoo parlor.

"Took about 3 minutes, stung only a little, and has been with me ever since," he wrote.