Wednesday, February 08, 2012

My Disappearance Explained, Kind of

I have over a thousand times in this space without exaggeration, but yet as I approached today it was timidly. There was the shy embarrassment of a long lost lover returning from a sudden departure. Feelings similar to the protagonist in Stranger in from a Strange Land swirl in my thoughts. Similar to a Catholic entering the confessional, I need to expose the reasons for my loss of time, even if only for my own memories in the future.

When we returned from our sun filled holiday, there was still much work to be organized and completed before the new semester was upon us. Fortunately, I learned decades ago that procrastination was not my best friend, so we parted ways. This semester, I am teaching ten classes, all different, so I cannot rely on any duplicate of material to cut my preparation time into fractions. Bundles of potential papers were already set aside for distribution via Dropbox, but there were still four classes that needed tenderizing and then full cooking had to follow.
Feverishly, I worked on these once we returned home, but they were interrupted by getting my trip photos collated and uploaded. This was my priority knowing that once school commenced, my attention would be short-lived for anything but. As I labored on my projects, the computer started getting slower and slower without any apparent reason. One day after being home less than a week, it would not start at all.

Since living here, computer repair people have trained me to be self-flagellating. It all starts with phrases of dubious praise: "you are an adventurer with downloading programs"; "certainly someone that is a risk-taker such as you are..."; "you are such an experimenter with the computer that...". As the timeline continues, these turn derogatory. "If you hadn't screwed around so much..."'; "if you would only load the programs I tell you about..."; "you take stupid unnecessary risks...". Unlike most abusive relationships, I know when it is time to hit the road and move on. 
The expression "What does not kill us, makes us stronger." has been reframed for me. "What does not kill me, makes me smarter." I may have made dozens of errors in judgement with computing; however, I have gained another tool for my toolbox. 

When my newest computer repair person came to fix what I couldn't, the remedy was as short-lived as the life cycle of a butterfly. A beautiful thing to behold, but not for long. When he returned, he decided he needed to take my computer to his shop to test it; something he claimed was impossible here. Since I first brought it home, it had not been out of the house. A cat without claws has too many dangers to face out of doors, such too, my computer was stuffed with things that should not be exposed to an outsider's potential mishaps. Of primary concern was over 7,000 photos and ten years of financial data. Of course, they are backed up elsewhere, but paranoia dictates or rather whispers in my ear "What if the backup is corrupted when you need it?" Experience has taught that lesson. 
Before the computer passed the threshold, I had the three hard drives removed. He could leave with the C drive, but the other three were here to stay. They sat in my drawer safe and sound from prying eyes. I told the tech that I had backed up everything I needed off of the C drive. There was nothing that I needed as I had tried to reformat the drive myself, but it refused to format. I had promises of getting it back by Tuesday or Wednesday of the following week; he took it on a Friday. 

Tuesday evening, I had not heard a word. My computer child was in intensive care, but there were no visiting rights and no progress reports. I sent an SMS, but it went unanswered. Wednesday night, I received a response. "There is over 800 GB of data that needed to be backed up and it is taking time." What? How could there be anything to back up? I had attempted to reformat the drive; I had backed up all that I wanted. There should not have been a back-up at all. Good grief. I know from experience, it is not a language issue. It is an educational issue. It doesn't matter what logic or common sense may tell you, these are the steps you were taught to take and by gosh, you will follow them regardless of what reality dictates. I have experienced this dozens of times, many of which cost me money.

One full week without a real computer, though I had the netbook to fall back on, ten inches is not enough. Size does matter, though some can be satisfied with ten inches, I want and need more for the long term. My regular screen is so much larger. 

When the computer finally returned home the following Friday, I wanted to sponsor a parade or at least a "Welcome Home" party, but it did seem excessive in retrospect. All was well, except the drives that were put back. They used to be called Drive D, E and M. Now they were E, G, and N. Regardless a rose by any other name still has all of my data on it. But it didn't. The N drive had all sorts of strange things, none of which were recognizable. All of the data I had was now in Que pasa?

The computer worked fine for two days, when Windows had a major updating session. There were 24 critical updates. BAM, BAM, BAM, three gunshots to the hard drive. The computer stopped working once again. So it was not my 'adventurist attitude" into the world of software, it was Microsoft that ravaged my computer this time. Still, within the last three weeks, I have heard from 3 people that they need repairs to their Apple computers. There must be an epidemic in our midst.

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