Mistakes were made

New York City meets Munich

September 9th, 2001 · No Comments · Uncategorized

Murphy’s Weekend

Friday was peaceful. But it was a trick. A trick to lull me into a false sense of productivity. I went to bed knowing I had a solid two days to focus on my upcoming talk at >T.E.S., which happens this Wednesday.

Woke up Saturday well rested, and before noon even. See how I can apply myself when I have to? I sat at my computer, ready to transfer inspiration and a reasonable facsimile of wisdom from my brain to the virtual page.

I am a professional bit-pusher. I tame and wrangle bits for the Man for my paycheck. Usually computers choose to behave and obey in my proximity, usually to the annoyance of the mundane users who call upon me for assistance.

“But it didn’t work a moment ago,” they will say.

“I know. I believe you. My job is to stand near computers when problems occur, and they simply stop happening,” I will tell them.

It all has to with bogons and quantum bogodynamics. Some people emit bogons, others absorb them.

Sometimes the bogonic flux changes, though. Like Saturday. Like a dog, computers can smell fear, and can sense weakness. The fragrance of performance anxiety must have been sweet perfume to my laptop.

“Something is wrong with the disk, you know. You better check it,” says the laptop, out of nowhere. I still can’t get over the spooky way a Mac will start to read a dialog on the screen after a few moments. It’s unnerving when you aren’t even in front of the computer to have it start talking to you.

Odd. Nothing unusual has happened recently. Nothing installed. No crashes.

Respectful of such unusual cries for attention, I dutifully run the requested checking program.

Oh dear, the software reports. Indeed, there is truly something wrong with your disk, on which you have much information, a great deal of it still not backed up after your last encounter with the demons of data corruption.

I swallow.

The prognosis: There is something wrong with this disk, and it is beyond the scope of this software to fix it. The button to dismiss this message should read “Oh fuck.”

I do own some tools and programs that will take a disk and turn shit into Shinola. The only peril of these programs, is sometimes they don’t succeed. When they fail, they usually turn shit into tiny shredded stands of utterly unrecoverable shit salad.

Being the responsible I.T. professional that I am, after sixteen years of experience, for once, I decide not to hot-shot it with my own data. I decide what works in the office, should go for home too. Time for a back up first, since the data seems to be mostly intact and accessible. Unfortunately, that means backing up to CD, a slow process. One I’ve managed to put off for years. Time to bite the bullet.

Much rummaging around and searching for adapters, cables and other computer whatnot ensues. A trip to the store for the necessary whatzit follows, with a supplementary consolation purchase of a wireless hub and cards for the laptops. Ooops. Now I remember why I avoid computer stores. Return home. Backup backup backup. Reformat. Reinstall. Upgrade. Upgrade again. Restore. Restore. Restore.

While watching data flow like virtual molasses to and from CDs, I went for the cheap and immediate gratification of setting up the wireless network. Since my laptop is in data intensive care, I set upon >Conny’s laptop. The PC card slides into the slot with a bit of resistance. Too much resistance actually. It won’t go in all the way.

I pull the card out and examine it. There’s gunk in it now. Looks like cream cheese.

I peek inside the no longer virgin PC card slot of her laptop to discover some of the conductive heat sink goo that usually is attached quite firmly to the hot bits of the innards of the laptop has migrated and taken up residence in the PC card bay. It would have remained there peacefully if I had not assaulted it with the blunt end of a wireless PC card. Now the gob is impaled within the connector pins of the PC card bay.

Oh excellent.

A good portion of the goo is still free range, and I manage to extract that. I break out my tools for advanced and complex computer repairs, and using my old stand-by, a straightened out paper-clip, I manage to clean out a fair bit more of the offending crud. But, without a full disassembly of the laptop, there is no way I can get the connecter free of the white demon shit to get the card to work.

Since my efforts to cleanse the laptop have created a rather fretful Conny View definition in a new window, I realize that escalation isn’t wise. I’ll have to defer this one to the pros. At least it’s not a critical matter, but now Conny will not be able to enjoy the wireless network until her laptop visits the folks at TekServe. But, she is no worse off than before, a minor victory.

I go back to being Dr. Frankenstein on my own laptop, and that’s proceeding nicely. In the end, almost no data was lost, only time. A lot of time. Like all of Saturday. Until 4AM. Very little presentation work was done, or at least a lot less than I would have liked.

Sunday, after having paid my technical time-tithe, the computers are content, and I can get to work. And work I did. And more work to be done. What on earth made me say “Yes” to doing a presentation? Right now I feel very much over my head. But, I’m throwing caution to the wind, and letting Conny lead me out onto the stage on a leash. If I’m going to crash and burn, I want to make sure it’s a big explosion.

Full steam ahead!

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