Thursday, April 27, 2006

Computer Woes

For the past week, my computer and I have been at war with each other. And the computer is winning.

It started with the latest Microsoft update a couple of weeks ago, when I suddenly lost the ability to edit my weblog page. What enabled the program we had been happily using for two years to work was suddenly perceived to be a security threat to Microsoft. While our webmaster and the programmer worked to come up with alternatives, I decided to install a new webcam in order to facilitate better communication with our staff and colleagues who use Skype on a regular basis in various parts of the world.

It was this last seemingly harmless act that my computer decided was the straw that broke its proverbial back. It whined, it complained, it kicked up a fuss and refused to allow the webcam to work properly. Finally, it decided to go on strike altogether and refused to start.

After I considered raining curses down on it and realized that God was not going to intervene and miraculously cure the mechanical monster, I called our technician and asked (no, pleaded) for his help. Obviously hearing the desperation in my voice, he agreed to come to the office and for seven hours we reinstalled and repaired operating systems. Finally, when it was after midnight, it seemed that we had beaten it into submission. The techie recommended that I leave the computer on, just in case some additional uploads were needed overnight.

I complied and I was overjoyed to witness my computer continuing to work the next morning and throughout the next day. Life was good again. The birds were singing. The sun was shining. All was well in the world. That evening, I shut it off, as normal, fully expecting it to start up on Monday morning with a submissive smile on its face.

P. Barnum said that there is a sucker born every minute. Robert Southey, a British poet, wrote that man is a dupable animal and that quacks in medicine, religion, and politics know this and act upon this knowledge. I think I would add that quacks in technology also know this and act accordingly. I should know better than to believe software that says that it is operating properly. It is obviously programmed to lie.

Monday morning. I arrive in my office. I turn on my computer. The BIOS begins to load. Windows starts up and... STOPS. Nothing. Nada. Nichevo. Nichts. I go to work trying to save my poor machine that is obviously in dire distress. I uninstall and reinstall drivers that seem to be misbehaving, I wander into Safe Mode and uninstall that cursed webcam and all of its programming. I have cast the demons out, I think. But no, new problems arise. Hardware conflicts continue to scream at me. Software continues to misbehave. And I have no idea whenever I have to reboot my system whether I will ever see my beloved files again. Reminds me of someone I dated when I was a teenager; she was so capricious that I never knew who was going to show up for a date; the good Karen or the evil one. But I felt that I could not live without her. I eventually learned that I could, but the pain, oh the pain.

Just like the past week with this computer. I love computers and I hate them. But, unlike my old girlfriend, I haven't come to the point where I think I could live without them.

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