Monday, October 26, 2009

Q: Where Do All The Little Toasters Go?

A: To Silicon Heaven.

My computer died over the weekend.

The secondary hard drive experienced some kind of coronary during a bout of game playing (that’ll teach me!) and went into catastrophic mechanical failure. In the process it managed to blow the network card, take out my museum-piece floppy disc drive and mangle parts of Windows and Internet Explorer.

Quite how all these components were ever interconnected is beyond me but my computer’s internal biology is now completely irrelevant.

My desktop buddy has been rendered a virtual vegetable as a consequence.

Internet access is impossible. No network card means no modem. Although the router is still working and I can gain access via my wife’s laptop downstairs I, nevertheless, feel cut off and isolated from the virtual world of the World Wide Web.

I can no longer surf as and when I see fit but must (quite rightly) await permission and book a time slot on the laptop.

The loss of the hard drive also means I have lost an immense amount of data and media that I had amassed over the last 10 years. Although I have always been pretty good about backing things up you know what it’s like... You get complacent. You get lazy. You put off until tomorrow what really should have been done today. I’ve undoubtedly lost stuff. Thankfully nothing major or essential but the loss of it still hurts.

The loss of my little electric friend has left me more than a little bereft.

I’d had my computer for 10 years and had built it myself to my own spec. It went from a single hard drive beastie to a high-end multi hard drive, disk burning, internet munching monster in the space of 2 years under my careful nurturing and tutelage.

But then I got married, had kids and, I admit, the computer got neglected. The upgrades petered out. I made do with what I had rather than buying shiny new add-ons. As a consequence, it began to slow. It began to struggle with newer programs. The processor speed began to under clock. It couldn’t keep up with what I wanted it to do let alone what the software was asking of it.

I guess that was the beginning of the end really. The day of reckoning was bound to come. And now it has finally arrived and my finger is poised over the switch to the life support machine. I am merely waiting until I have finished harvested its software organs and its data banks for any retrievables.

Call me heartless but I am already in the market for a new computer. A replacement. My wife, God bless her, has not only given me permission but has insisted that I treat myself. An upgrade is long, long overdue. Possibly my wife merely wants her laptop back.

So I will be going to the local computer shop this week to spec myself up a new high end, quad core machine that should be able to levitate off my desk with the sheer speed of its fans.

I feel strangely ambivalent. It’s money I’d rather not be spending right now but I cannot deny that the acquisition of a new computer is very exciting.

The only thing that truly gets me down is the days of work involved getting it all running properly... connecting the modem and router and the other peripheries... getting email and internet access re-established.... getting the software and drivers installed... ‘cos none of this ever runs smoothly. Plus I will have a brand new operating system to contend with: the much vaunted Windows 7 which, yes, I have heard good things about but I would still welcome other people’s opinions on it.

In the meantime I am building a funeral pyre for my poor crippled friend. His mask has fallen off and I have at last seen the face of Darth Vader. The Force has left him. The electronic wheezing is just getting on my wick.

It’s time for him to burn.

P.S. Another milestone. This is my 500th post! Thank you all for reading!


39 comments:

Tenon_Saw said...

Steve, what a fantastic 500th post; superbly written and brilliantly descriptive. The content is sad though and yes, it takes time to install software and get back to 'computer comfort zone'.

You sound as if you know what you are doing but do avoid the large PC retailers; you know the ones, Silicon World, RAM city, Hard Drive Heaven.

Steve said...

Tenon_Saw: As always you are very kind. I've just been into a small local computer retailer whom I trust and commissioned them to build me a brand new monster. It should be ready in 5 days at the latest apparently. I feel both excited and nervous!

Gina said...

Congratulations. 500!!! Wow, that is very impressive. And you always write great pieces too!

Ten years though? I cannot imagine what a ten year old computer looks like. Let's think - 1999 - um, I have no idea what computer I was using back then but it disappeared off to silicon heaven a very long time ago!

Have fun choosing your new toy. I can imagine your wife would be pretty keen for you to get a new one - it is horrid to have someone (however much you love them) borrowing your laptop. I'd rather share my knickers than my computer!!!

Steve said...

Gina: funny you should say that as I'm planning on going out tomorrow night and need something red and lacey... are you able to oblige? ;-)

I don't think my computer looks that incongruous even now. At the time I bought a fancy tower case for it that had lift away sides. This meant that the innards were always easily accessible - a boon if you have a mind to tinker. I was hoping to be able to reuse the case but sadly it is not compatible with modern motherboards so will have to be scrapped. Plus modern cases are completely studded with USB and media card slots so the old case would let me down on that score too.

So I'm in for a completely new machine. New look. New innards. New start. And the new version of MS Office too so that I can continue my writing!

Mark said...

500 posts - pretty damn impressive.

New computer - painful but in a nice kind of way. I bought a 24inch high-end mac recently, that was doubly painful, but it is FANTASTIC.

And my view is that as I spend hours at the thing every day, it might as well be as good as I can get it to be.

And finally buy a huge back up hard drive, set the thing to back up daily and then forget it.

Tristan said...

Time to switch to Mac, my friend!

Happy 500th post from your Apple fanatic pal...

Steve said...

Tris: I'm afraid when push came to shove this boy was a PC! Lovely to see you on Saturday by the way!

Mark: already there! Bought a 500gb external HD to go with it. Apparently Windows 7 is pretty nifty at making back-ups and making a images of the entire system in case of catastrophic failure.

Inchy said...

Hmmm Quad Core.
Due to my life-long gaming habits I tend to keep my "rig" (as us gamers call it, don't you know anything?!) fairly up to date, hardware wise. The monster I'm sitting in front of just now was a Quad core, 8800GTX SLi, 4Gb Ram, Vista Ultimate, 22" widescreen, all singing, all dancing, flashy lit, £1300+ (amazingly) sanctioned purchase a couple of years ago, and it has been awesome, as it was meant to be.

The problem is that I can buy a better machine nowadays for about two thirds of that price.
Still, I'm happy with Deep Thought.

As for Quad Core? Not worth it IMO. If it were me I'd go for a better dual core processor.

Steve said...

Inchy: now you tell me! ;-) The frightening thing has been how fast technology has moved on since I was last immersed in tech-dom. I'm damned rusty now and still think in terms of RAM and gigabytes as opposed to er... whatever... and terabytes. Anything is going to be faster than my old machine though when it was built that was fairly high end itself. I'm looking forward to seeing what Windows 7 has to offer and I'm also getting the new MS Office... not having a hooky copy of that will be a first...!

Rol said...

RIPC, and happy 500th.

Steve said...

Rol: thank you!

Valerie said...

Wow 500 posts, that IS a lot of posts. I wonder how many words were used?
I have a little computer expert who does what I want him to, wouldn't trust the big fellows, or pay their prices. Have fun with the new machine.

Steve said...

Valerie: 500 posts is a lot of wordage (hot air?) but I have no idea whether any of it has been worth reading! However, I am very glad that people do. It's always good to have a pet IT expert on tap... or even better, learn to DIY! My boys are small and local and have been around for years so I trust 'em!

Annie said...

Hey Steve, sorry haven't peeped for ages. I got bogged down with stuff and out the habit of blogging.

Anyway, Happy D Day (I think D is the Roman numeral for 500) - great post! Dying to know how you get on with Windows 7. Daughter has a Mac laptop which she raves about so not sure what I'll do when my old PC finally bites the dust. Good luck with your new electric friend anyway!

The Sagittarian said...

Oh how fantastic have been those posts, looking forward to the next 500!
as for all that geek-speak, no idea what its about even tho' I should because our PC has been at the vets a lot lately...and we have to get a new one which the sprogs are very happy about cos it means a bigger video card and other stuff with letters and numbers!

Selina Kingston said...

You see, you did this when you wrote your Anti Anti Virus post at the end of Septemmber. I didn't understand that because it was all technical stuff. And all this today about hard discs and network cards is just too much. I understand buying shiny NEW computers though - what fun (but very understanding of your wife)!! And I also understand 500 posts!!! That is amazing. Congratulations to you - you clever, techie man x

Steve said...

Annie: good to hear from you! Welcome to the D Day celebrations! Lol. I've had Mac's recommended to me by lots of people but when it came to it... I have so much software for PC's and it's just easier to stick with what you know.

Amanda: thank you. Yes, a pulsing new video card will also be installed into my new machine. A GeForce something or other. Apparently it'll allow me to play all the newest games without my computer bursting into flames. Can only be a good thing.

Selina: sorry about the techie thing - will try and keep these posts to a minimum but hopefully everyone can appreciate consumerism! ;-)

Löst Jimmy said...

5-0-0 landmark! nice one, well done

All the best with the new machine

Inchy said...

Call me pedantic, but Silicon is the eighth most common element in the universe and is an essential ingredient in almost all electrical appliances, whereas Silicone is a largely inert man-made compound found in cookware, adhesives and Jordan's shirt potatoes.

Glad that's cleared up, toodle pip.

Steve said...

Löst Jimmy: thank you kindly, sir!

Inchy: good point well made and now duly corrected. But which heaven would you honestly prefer? Silicon or Silicone? Surely fake baps are better than no baps at all? ;-)

French Fancy said...

OMG, this is tragic news. But what a fabulous post to commemorate your 500th entry on this great blog of yours.

If you wanted a cheap and lovely little notepad I would not be without my ASUS EEE - but there is no disc drive, hence the way it boots up in about 45 sec. I've owned full size laptops, stand alones and other bits and bobs but this is the first machine I have ever really cared about.

Stephen Fry also has one and loves his as much as I love mine. This is what he says about it:

http://www.stephenfry.com/2008/02/01/deliver-us-from-microsoft/

French Fancy said...

p.s. I've just reread his article and I see his machine boots up in 12secs. When I say 45, that is from the time I press the on button to the time I am in my yahoo mailbox

Steve said...

FF: A recommendation from Stephen Fry is a recommendation indeed - a recommendation from you is even more interstellar... however, I have now committed myself to the new PC who even now is being assembled in a workshop not too far away from me. I can hardly wait to get my hands on it's gleaming keys and drives...!

Gypsy said...

What fun to get a new computer but sorry to hear about the old one that served you so well for 500 posts!!! Congratulations and I hope there will be many more.

Just make sure the next post is in English eh so I can understand what you're talking about. Tehe.

Steve said...

Gypsy: thank you - I shall do my utmost to make my next post as jargon free as possible!

EmmaK said...

Please buy a Mac. Also just think this time next year your novel will be in the shops and you will be mucho famoso!xx

Steve said...

Emma: that's a lovely thought - thank you! If only it would happen! As for the PC / Mac debate... I have pondered this quite a lot lately but in the end gravitated towards a PC. It's what I know and in terms of software my PC is pretty well catered for... not sure I could cope with starting all over again with a Mac. But when the royalties start rolling in who knows... I might decide to own a PC and a Mac!

Inchy said...

Actually Steve, you could sort of do both right now, and it won't cost you any more of your hard earned cash. I run a dual boot on my Vista PC with a free Linux based operating system called Ubuntu.
It's free, it mimics the look of windows so it doesn't leave you in at the deep end and, being Linux, all software is free and readily available to download. It can be tricky at times, but it's fun learning a new system purely for pleasure.

Be warned though, if you tell anyone that you're playing around with Linux, you'll be forever branded as a Uber Nerd.

Steve said...

Inchy: what do you mean I'll be branded...! I have long embraced my nerd-dom. I had a dual boot system on my old machine - Windows 98se and XP. Now that really is nerdy. And possibly pointless. I shall mull over your wise words...

Inchy said...

Wait a minute, I at no point said that they were wise!

Steve said...

Inchy: like that has ever stopped either you or me...!

The Crow said...

Enjoyed your post very much, but I am LMBO at the exchanges between you and Inchy!

Sorry you lost your PC buddy, especially since you put so much of yourself into building it.

:)

Steve said...

The Crow: thank you - hopefully my PC Buddy #2 will fill the gap...!

Old Cheeser said...

Happy 5ooth Steve! And for gawd's sakes, treat yourself to a brand new PC!!

Owen said...

Sounds like a Somalian pirate got into your hard drive... they don't like people taking the mickey out of them... and they're going ever farther afield, or a-sea as the case may be. Hope you didn't lose too much data, that's a bummer. Ever since we had a big lightning strike right in our back yard a couple of years ago, which thankfully only grilled the power supply of my PC but not the hard drive, although it gave me a bad scare at the time, watching the image on the screen become a tiny point of white light in the center, then disappear... yes, ever since that traumatic experience, I use three separate external hard drives, backed up fanatically, and am thinking about a fourth to put in a safe deposit box... I would hate to lose all those years of photos...

Have fun with your new machine... jeez, you sound like a kid in a candy shop ! Sounds like fun...

Steve said...

OC: thank you - new PC already on order - expecting it to be ready within a day or two!

Owen: it doesn't pay to mess with pirates or piracy of any kind. I'm getting a secondary external hard drive with my new machine - my wife also has one with her laptop so between us we should have enough back-ups floating around to see us through every disaster short of a nuclear holocaust! You can't be too careful!

Clippy Mat said...

congrats on the 500th. no wunner ye've worn out the computer with all that writing. i recently got a new laptop. i had just got my pc the way i wanted it and now i have to start again.
why do things have to change?
damn.
;-)

A Write Blog said...

500 wow! Here's to the 1000!

We've had problems with our computer recently. First the power switch and then we got a virus.

In and out of PC World I was; I'm not savvy with them myself.

It's like being without your car; makes you feel helpless and cut off.

We've now got a laptop as back up.

Steve said...

Clippy Matt: I've finally got my new PC but have only had a little play on it last night as I'm not feeling well today. It's very new and alien (Windows 7) but - in its favour - impressively easy to use. I'm sold already.

AWB: (see above) it's nice having a PC back and feel able to "connect". I guess I really am a nerd - not having my own internet access or access to my electronic files felt like I'd lost a limb! God knows how we all coped without computers (I suspect we were all less stressed)!