Monday, September 25, 2006

Our Digital Poltergeist

My misery knows no bounds. I'm stuck using my ancient laptop, the one that takes twenty minutes just to boot up. I've lost years worth of emails, photos, files, research, writing, and school work. The digital poltergeist ate my desktop computer. Not once, but three times in the last month... and counting.

It started a month ago on a Sunday. My computer shut off abruptly in the middle of a game. The power button no longer worked. The poltergeist had moved in.

Three weeks, two motherboards, two CPUs, two memory sticks, two computer repair centers, a power supply, a video card, a hard drive, a new case, a backup power source, and over $1500 later, I finally had a brand spanking new machine, custom built by my loving husband and given the thumbs-up by a repair center. It ran beautifully, and it was fast!

One week later on Sunday - yesterday - in the middle of a game, the computer shut off. I smelled burning. It refused to turn on again. My husband replaced the power supply. The machine came on - and something popped so loudly I yelped and ducked. The machine turned off. I started to cry.

At the repair center they replaced the motherboard, the CPU, and the memory stick (for the third time). The machine booted straight into Windows. They sent it home with a very smiling, relieved me.

This afternoon, in the middle of a game, the computer gave me the Blue Screen of Death and a bewildering error message... then rebooted so fast I didn't have time to write the error down. When Windows reappeared, it informed me that it had just recovered from a fatal error. I clung to the word "recovered" and took a deep breath. It had recovered.

Five minutes later the machine displayed the Blue Screen, gave a totally different error, rebooted, and informed me that it had "recovered" yet again. I left the computer on and went to my temp job feeling extremely ill at ease. I would troubleshoot the software after work.

When I returned home, the machine was still running... but there was nothing on the monitor. I shoved the mouse, clicked keys on the keyboard... nothing. I hit the reset button. The computer died. I pushed the power button. By itself, the machine started up, died, started up, died, started up, and idled. Nothing came up on the screen. Nothing beeped. The lights glowed, the fans hummed busily, but nothing really happened.

I turned the power off, paused, cursed, prayed, then tried to boot one last time. Well, it might not have been the last time, except that this time the machine didn't power up at all. It was dead. Again.

I took my possessed computer, the parts boxes, and all the receipts and warranty info back to the repair center. It will be another week and another $75 before I even find out what's (theoretically) wrong (this time).

My friend plays a priest on World of Warcraft... Maybe I'll get him to come over to my house and sprinkle some holy water around my office. A nerdy problem deserves a nerdy solution, after all.

P.S. In the meantime, don't expect me to update my websites. It ain't happening on my decrepit laptop, that's for sure.

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