Thursday, August 25, 2011

Computer problems ...

I've been away for a while.  Or more accurately, my computer has been away for a while and all these troubles have caused me to feel like this:

A little upside down with one eye bigger than the other against a psychedelic background.  Yup, that pretty much sums up how I felt last week when my computer crashed for the SECOND time.

After the first time, it worked briefly --about five days-- and I really thought that it was well on the path to recovery.  Sadly, it was just a brief hiccup before a complete flat-line and no matter how hard I tried, how much I swore, how much research I did on the resuscitation of hard drives, there was nothing I could do to bring the dead back to life.

Thankfully, I did a pretty good job at backing up all my important data but for several days, I really wondered how much I had lost.  And it really pissed me off that, in the year 2011, I couldn't perform a couple of keyboard strokes and bring everything magically back.  Heck, we're supposed to be living on the moon by now!  We can't even build computers that automatically fix themselves?

I'll tell ya, trying to get a hard drive back to working order is no easy task, and in my case, it was impossible.  And here are the things that drove me a little crazy ..
  • I bought a computer for a couple thousand dollars and they didn't bother to include a restore disk in case the hard drive did crash.  I had to download it from another site and they charged me $10. The money was not the issue.  
  • In order for the restore disk to work, you have to have a hard drive that is at least semi-functional.  If the hard drive is really messed up, forget using the restore disk. 
  • there is SO much misinformation out there about trying to restore a hard drive.  I don't know if the computer help forums are full of 16 year olds who have just taken their first computer course but it sure seemed like it based on the quality of the advice that was dished out.  
  • Computers don't care about tears and/or begging.  Even God was indifferent.  
  • The blue screen of death caused me so much anxiety that I hated to walk outdoors in the California summer and see the blue sky. 
  • After admitting defeat, I called up India (oh, I mean Dell) and they were more than happy to order me a new hard drive and Windows 7.  After a couple of days, I didn't get a confirmation email.  I called them up and they had no record of my order or the conversation that I had with the customer service rep.  They asked for the order numbers and of course, I didn't have them.  Who writes down those things anyway?   I hung up the phone and marched my ass down to Staples where I bought them over the counter.  I still haven't received anything from Dell.  
  • I asked the Staples dude how much it would cost for him to install Windows.  He told me $100.  $100 to install SOFTWARE!  I guess they expect you to bend over and take it too.  
  • Installing a hard drive isn't as easy as you might think.  For about an hour, I tried to get the damn thing to work until I realized that I hadn't taken the adaptor part on the old hard drive and placed it on the new one.  Jamming computer parts together is not a solution.  It makes you feel better but it isn't a solution.  
  • Windows 7 is fairly easy to install--but the instructions are COMPLETELY useless.  Basically, the booklet says, "Put the disk into the drive and you're there".  You might be somewhere but you're definitely not there.  32 bit?  64 bit?  Partitions?  What the hell?  How is a lay person supposed to know this crap.  $100 suddenly seemed reasonable.  I could almost hear the Staples clerk laughing to himself a couple of miles away.  
But AMAZINGLY enough, my hard drive works and Windows 7 works and so far, everything is good. And I did it myself.  So screw Dell and Windows and Staples and all those 16 year old computer geeks who think that just because they know how to play HALO, they know how to fix a hard drive.   

So, I'm back to spending hours in front of my computer again.  

Maybe I should have just thrown it all away and gone back to a more simple time.  Who needs facebook anyway?  

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Computer crashes and other adventures

I remember reading somewhere that there are three major stressors that one can go through in life ...

Death of a loved one
Loss of a job

I would like to add another to the list.

Death of a hard drive.

There is nothing worse that seeing the blue screen of death pop up unexpectedly after booting up.  Now I fully realize that this is a problem unique to first world countries because, for example, people in Somalia  don't have the same fear about electronic devices.  They don't have electronic devices.  And if they did, they would probably try to eat them.  

But it doesn't diminish the problem when it happens to ME.  And it DID.  And I FREAKED OUT and went into serious depression.   Yes, I did have a backup but I wasn't entirely sure that everything was saved and if you have ever had a hard drive go down, you know what kind of a headache it can be loading everything back into your exorcised computer.  It's just a royal pain in the ass.

It took me a couple of days to figure out what to do.  And if anyone is reading this with the same problem (and you're using vista), you have to download a "rescue disk" (because the idiots who sold you the computer are trying to save $.50 by not including it in your start-up kit) and use that as a boot disk.  Unless your hard drive is really toasted, then that should work.  And thankfully, it did with me.

So now I can post pictures of my recent trip to southwestern Ontario where I grew up.  That's Canada, eh and not Ontario, California.  We have a cottage on a lake which on a good day is post-card perfect.

Here it is, Lake Belwood.

This is what constitutes a tourist attraction in southwestern Ontario.  The "kissing bridge" in West Montrose.

The farmer's market where the Mennonites sell their produce.  Hmmm, corn and tomatoes that don't taste like cardboard!

The town of Elora with the Grand river running through it.  

I just happened to be there on a day when there were flower reflections in the water.  Doesn't happen very often but sometimes I get lucky.  

This animal was seen during our trip to Collingwood which is on the southern point of Georgian bay.  Not sure what he is.  An otter?  I'm a veterinarian.  Maybe I should know these things.  

My dad doing some water skiing.  Pretty amazing for a guy who is in his 70s.  

And the beautiful canoe trip down the Grand river.  It doesn't look as idyllic as it appears.  Most of the time you tip over or hit rocks or get attacked by other canoeists.  Only the brave survive.  

This part of Canada is a very beautiful place.  Sadly (for me anyway), it will all turn grey and cold in another two months.