Just curious if there is a different solution other than power off/on should a similar situation arise in the future. I have my mini set to sleep after 45min of inactivity. Last night it went to sleep, and later on, before going to bed, I went over to turn off my external hdd. Wasn't really thinking about the eject thing, I just flipped the on/off switch, which in turn brought the mini out of sleep. I was promtped with the "disc wasn't ejected properly" box, and the beachball was spinning. The drive still showed on the desktop but I couldn't eject at that point. I tried to restart from the apple menu but it wouldn't. I thought I could stop it from the activity monitor, via stop process or whatver its called, but couldn't access the hdd. I could use spotlight, but when I clicked on the utilities folder it wouldn't open. All the while the beachball was going. Finally I just held the power button down, turned off, back on, and everything was fine. So any work around for future reference?