Saturday, 20 March 2010

Happy Birthday, Your Computer's Dead

March 13th: Today is my birthday. This morning, when I tried to boot the computer, nothing. Windows wouldn’t load. Of course I had plans for the morning, but that rather stuffed them up. I spent about three hours troubleshooting the problem, then went into town, to the Public Library, and spent an hour on one of their computers – responding to some (not all) of the greetings on Facebook, looking at my e-mail, the rest of the time Googling my problem. And it looks like a hardware, rather than a software problem. A catastrophic hard disc failure. So, until I can afford a new computer – or, more likely, a second hand (or “pre-owned”) one, I’m having to write this on my old Windows 98 laptop … which doesn’t have a working modem.

What a fuck**g pest! We truly don’t realise how dependent we have become on our computers until we lose them, as Joni Mitchell almost sang, once.

I mean, I do everything online: listen to the radio, check the news and weather, pay my bills, find out what day it is, even….

Anyway, after the library I went to Kelsey’s (my favourite pub) for lunch: a plate of their “suicide” nachos and a couple of pints of the foaming ale. I don’t call them “suicide” nachos because they’re particularly hot, but because the serving is so huge … but I made it through and didn’t turn into Monty Python’s Mr Creosote LOL

Right, well, guess I’ll play some Free Cell on the laptop.

Later: this is very sad. I’m trying to remember how I amused myself before I became seriously addicted to computers, back in the days of Windows 95. Well, I played the guitar and the mandolin a lot – but my guitar and mandolin now have many broken strings, I haven’t picked them up in a long time. I used to read about a book a week (I now read maybe one a month). My apartment was a lot tidier then, too. Maybe I’ll go and clean the toilet bowl or somefing….

Later still: I just discovered, or remembered, that I have Pac-Man installed on the laptop. Played Pac-Man for the first time in probably ten years. Man, I suck at it! (I used to be pretty good….)

March 14th: No Internet, Day Two

Ladies and gentlemen, we have our first casualty: radio.

Normally, I listen, online, to 94.9 The Rock out of Oshawa, Ontario, a fabulous radio station ( Where I live, in a bit of a hollow, I can only receive one terrestrial radio station, Kool-FM out of Kitchener-Waterloo. It’s … ok in small doses but I listened for three hours this morning and they played the same song by Bryan Adams twice, and Bon Jovi three times (each time a different song, admittedly). I can handle Bon Jovi, but I don’t like Mr Adams’ music particularly (I did like “Summer Of ’69,” but that’s not what they played), so it’s radio off.

Later: I thought I had my computer working again. A while back I sent off for a (free) Ubuntu Linux installation CD, intending to install Linux on this laptop, but I discovered that it (the laptop) didn’t have enough hard drive space (I told you it was an old one!), and I didn’t do anything with the disc. Until just now. I thought I might be able to boot into Windows using it or, failing that, install it and have an operating system again. But the first idea failed miserably, so I tried to install it and … it seemed to be working but the install failed at 51%. I was online, a GUI appeared, but my cursor was dead. I was able to use one or two keyboard shortcuts, and managed to search Google for Facebook, but then couldn’t navigate to any links…. I thought maybe a soft re-boot, but then got this message: “Boot Failure: System Halted.” I’ll try a hard boot next but I’m not optimistic. I’ll do last night’s supper dishes first.

Later still: nope. A hard boot resulted in the same error message and I have to face it – my $1000 PC is now a paperweight. Fortunately – as I’m more than just another pretty face – I had almost all of the important stuff backed up.

March 15th: No Internet, Day Three

I’m not feeling quite as disconnected from the world – or from cyberspace would perhaps be better – as I have been. For one thing I spent a lot of the day in “meatspace” – i.e. at work, it kept my mind off it, and then went into town after that gruelling experience and (a) went to Blackcreek Technologies to look at their selection of second-hand computers and (b) went to the Library and spent maybe three-quarters of an hour on one of their PCs, checking e-mail and discovering what the “Fn” key on a laptop does ROFL.

And the good news is … I found a very nice (and affordable) PC, and hope to have it by Friday. Yay! I need to be back online.

I am a man of action. Well, OK, you might be surprised to learn that, as most of my spare time is spent in a lethargic state with my butt parked in front of the computer – or at the bar at Kelsey’s. But when there’s any kind of problem with anything that’s really important to me (cat, computer, music, Jen from Kelsey’s) (well, I had to add Jen, she reads this blog) (yes, amazingly, someone other than me reads it!), then I jump in head first and solve the problem. Damn the torpedoes!

March 16th: Day Four

For better or worse, I am a man of routines, and many of those routines involve online activities. Now I’m all at sea, and that sense of confusion – what do I do now? – is probably the most difficult part of this. Well, that, and some of the music that Kool-FM plays. I mean, Avril Lavigne? Oh, save me! (I do like some of what they play, of course.)

Anyway, I went to Kelsey’s after the day’s slog at the beanery, had a couple of pints and told them that, if they don’t see me again for a couple of weeks, they’re not to worry. I may have spent all of my money on a new PC, and even if I haven’t spent all of it, I’m expecting it will take a while to configure the thing.

So what do I do now? Play Solitaire on the laptop? Read a book? Play with Cate? Make dinner? Play a CD-R? Oh, well, there’s another problem … I have well over 800 CD-Rs full of music, all numbered and catalogued, but guess where the catalogue is – well, it was on my hard drive, fortunately it was also something I backed up assiduously to a thumb drive. What a shame that my laptop is so old that it can’t read from my thumb drives. I don’t know where anything is!

St Patrick’s Day, Day Five

Well, St Patrick’s Day doesn’t mean anything to me, not even sure why I mention it. To anyone who is not Oirish and uses it as an excuse to drink green beer (vomit) good luck.

One of the things about Kool-FM I heartily approve of, is that they play Chantal Kreviazuk (which 94.9 The Rock doesn’t), and our regular reader will know that I’m a big fan of Ms K. Sure it’s AOR. Call it a guilty pleasure. I like ABBA too. But, really, I can’t wait to get back to 94.9

“I can’t wait” is really a pretty stupid expression though, isn’t it. I can’t? But I am going to have to. Until Friday. And then such an expense at such short notice will require some of what, in the accountancy trade, is called “juggling.” But on Friday I shall be back online.

March 18th, Day Six

One more day to go, and I have booked the afternoon off tomorrow, to make the trek into town….

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