I'm going to tell the short version of this story so as not to reveal all the details of what a dope I am. The one-sentence abstract is "back up your stuff." I've been pretty lax about getting data from our laptop (a Powerbook) to our external hard drive, which I keep in the basement, and don't hook up very often, and blah, blah, blah. Computer crashes and lots of stuff from the last year is gone. Pictures and music, mostly. Including all 1100 or so pics of this project, which had been on my iphone until just days before the fateful moment. C'est la vie. Sarah doesn't want to even think about all the family pics that are gone. I feel terrible. So back up your stuff.
I will tell this part of the story in some detail: Apple sent me a brand new MacBookPro out of the kindness of their hearts, though I was one day past the expiration of the 3-yr extended apple car warranty. They probably could have just fixed the hardware problem on the old machine and been done with it (or worse, told me tough luck). So I've got a brand new fancy pants computer (albeit with no pictures or music on it). Now it's kind of their fault that all the data's gone from the old machine (they erased it in trying to fix some minor problems the machine was having), and it's kinda their fault that the computer crashed (it was fine when I sent it off to have the mouse pad - which was acting up - replaced just before my warranty expired). But they tell you over and over again to back up your stuff before you send it to them, and I didn't.
Anyway, they sent me a new $2k computer when they didn't really have to and when I fully expected I was SOL.
And back your stuff up.