Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Crash of 2008


Where to start, where to start...?

Okay, let's try this.

Prior to just recently, the horror of a computer crash had been no more than an urban legend to me. I'd known people who'd been whacked with that particularly ugly Ugly Stick, but it had never come close to smacking me. Since the early 90s, I've had three different personal computers, and I'd worked those beasts pretty hard, and not a single one of them had ever crashed.

But then, a couple of months ago, I tried to boot up my old computer, which has been sitting in the back of our apartment, in the bedroom I share with SuperWife, since we moved into this apartment. It's a very obsolete computer and back there it had no Internet connection, so nobody had much use for it (we're all Internet junkies in this house) but it had a lot of my files on it accumulated over the ten years or so I'd owned it -- a great deal of my writing, a lot of my art, a lot of Jeff's art I'd scanned, a lot of digital photos my family had sent me over the years, some other stuff -- and I used it sometimes to do some writing when the other computer was in heavy rotation (i.e., any time all the kids were in the house).

And it wouldn't boot. And it wouldn't boot. And it wouldn't boot.

So eventually I got Nate in, who is kind of our techno-wizard now, and he watched it not boot, and then said "Your hard drive's crashed".

And I lost my mind and gibbered and shrieked and leapt up and down and pulled the drapes off the windows and threw my shoes at Resident Bush. And then, when I'd calmed down, the hard drive was still crashed, which sucked.

But, you know, moving on. Maybe, someday, I can salvage the drive from that chassis and get someone knowledgeable to do some magic and see if any of the data can be pulled off. In the meantime... sigh... goodbye to a decade of my computing life, but... yes, resolutely, stiff upper lip, never show weakness, keep up the side, old bean, yes, yes, moving the fuck on, indeed.

To this last weekend. One of SuperWife's friends has a desk she wants to get rid of, and as we have kids of Moving Out Age, we try never to turn down free stuff that might be useful to them. So we go over and load up this desk and it's a nice desk, much nicer than the tiny tin thing I found on a street corner that is currently holding up the computer we all use in the living room.

So the plan is, we'll shift all the computer equipment off of the old desk onto a nearby card table, move the old desk out, put the new desk in its place, and shift all the computer equipment back.

Without powering down, unplugging, or any such goddam thing.

See, I hate unplugging and replugging. Hate it, hate it, hate it. I live for the day when everything goes wireless, when all you have to do is put various components of various systems -- stereo, TV, VCR, computer monitor, CPU, speakers, printer, external modem, whatever... within a few feet of each other, and they will automatically link themselves up, no fuss, no muss.

Until that glorious time, if I have to move an interlinked electronics array from one point to another, I try very hard to do it en masse. Sometimes it's not possible, like when you have wires running around shelves in an entertainment center; then you just gotta bite the bullet and power down and unplug and replug. But our computer array was all on one level, and in the past, with similar computer arrays, I have had great success just moving the whole thing in toto, without turning anything off or unplugging anything.

And, as it turns out, this is what SuperWife wanted us to do, too, so, clearly, it was The Way Things Ought To Be, as my wife is pretty much the Voice of Reason providing a vital and necesary anchor to the chaotic walking shambles of cluelessness that is Your Humble Narrator.

But, well, that wasn't what happened. Nate, our techno-wizard, wouldn't have it. It tasked him. The wires were all tangled up and it wasn't safe and I don't know what all, but he wouldn't have it, he wouldn't have it, he wouldn't HAVE it. So I said, okay, buddy, do it your way, but all unplugging and replugging is on you, and you ain't leaving tonight until everything is back up and working correctly. And he said, yeah, fine, whatever, dude, and he went to work.

So everything got powered down and unplugged and the wires all got untangled and we moved stuff off the old desk onto a card table and then moved the new desk in and moved the old desk out the front door and around the house and onto the back porch (if you could see the labyrinth of narrow hallways and narrower doorways replete with 90 degree hairpin turns between our front door and back door, you'd understand) and covered it with a tarp (someday soon, the story goes, Super Drama Teen will take it away to her new apartment), and then went back and moved the computer stuff back onto the new desk and then Nate got down and crawled around under the desk replugging everything and we powered up the computer and...

It wouldn't boot.

And it wouldn't boot.

And it wouldn't BOOT.

And Nate's putting it in Safe Mode to see what's up with it and it still won't BOOT and now I'm in a fine frothing panic because we can't LIVE without a computer we just CAN'T and SuperWife is going to kill me (I don't mean hurt me, I mean, she's going to murder me and hide the body somewhere, probably our storage room, under a blanket) and the SuperKids are going to weep and wail and guh nash their teeth and rend their garments and it's going to be very VERY ugly and goddamit if we'd just moved the whole fucking array without powering down we'd be FINE, we'd be FINE, and we can't AFFORD a new computer, and...

...and Nate points to the gigantic box he'd put under the Christmas tree a week or so ago and says, quietly, "Open it."

So I report to SuperWife and she sighs and says "Okay", and we open the gigantic box and, yes, it's a brand new computer, to replace the one that now will not boot, which Nate had often referred to, usually garnished liberally with obscenity, as "stone knives and bearskins".

So we get this one all hooked up and yes, it's a wonderful new Dell and very fast and has lots of cool features the other computer didn't have, and I'm trying very hard not to dwell on all the digital photographs we no longer have and all my writing I've done since moving into this apartment that may not have made its way onto the Internet yet and the card set I did with Magic Set editor and all the stuff the kids may have had on the previous computer and all SuperWife's spreadsheets (SuperWife wields a spreadsheet the way Cyrano deploys a rapier) and I don't know what the hell all else, but, anyway, we have a brand new computer and it's a wonderfully thoughtful gift and thank you Nate, very much.

I do not really blame Nate, or anyone else, for the previous computer's crash. If powering it down was enough to crash it, then it was no doubt going to crash sometime very soon anyway. The machine was at least ten years old and we had a LOT of shit on its hard drive and I feel pretty certain it was going kablooie some time in the near future regardless.

I just wish it hadn't.

And I wish the one in the back room hadn't.

Why? Because Nate also gave us a whole ethernet set up that he was going to install for us, and if the other two computers were still up and running, we'd have THREE computers in this house... four, counting Super Dependable Teen's laptop, which we gave her for her 18th birthday.

And my God, wouldn't THAT have been sweet.

Ah, well.

On an entirely different note, last week Nate, SuperWife and I were all talking about our respective blogs. Nate and SuperWife don't update theirs much any more, and I don't do it here anywhere near as much as I once did, and we wondered, why? Yeah, we've been busy lately, but, still, you find time for the stuff that's important to you, and we could do it more, we just don't.

And Nate shrugged and said "I never get any comments anyway, so what the fuck".

And, you know, there it is.

I have never had one of those big, much read blogs like Jim Henley or John Rogers or Mark Evanier has, or like Aaron Hawkins used to have. I don't know what you have to do to get that kind of readership (besides be a reasonably attractive female willing to post pictures of her naked boobs a lot, like the chick who used to run the Tampa Tantrum blog was, I mean, I understand how that would be effective, but it won't work for me) but it has always eluded me.

Yet, still, I used to have a few regular commenters, people who would show up reasonably often and post pretty thoughtful comments on most if not all of my nonsense. And lately, they have all vanished, into the very ether, as it were.

Page hits are down a little according to statcounter, but the usual suspects still seem to be coming around... they just no longer seem to have anything to say.

That's probably my fault... maybe I've just gotten more boring. Maybe, when you're reasonably happy in your personal life, and have a fabulous wife and wonderful kids and things are going for the most part well, you just don't post interesting material any more.

Whatever the case, though... what Nate said.

Big time.


  1. Anonymous2:32 PM

    "I'm trying very hard not to dwell on all the digital photographs we no longer have and all my writing I've done since moving into this apartment that may not have made its way onto the Internet yet"

    Have you tried to boot the old computer from a Linux live cd instead of from the hard disk? That would allow you to copy your files from the hard disk onto a floppy disk or a cd or a usb memory stick.


  2. Yay, Hartmut is back!

    Nate has actually managed to establish that both hard drives (the one from the old back room computer, and the one from the one we all used to use up here) are still intact. And in fact, Nate transferred all the stuff from the previous family computer onto this one, so we have all that. And someday, I may have a new computer of my own I can transfer all the old stuff from my previous computer on to.

    Nice to hear from you again. I hope all is well with you.

  3. Anonymous3:03 PM

    > Nate transferred all the stuff from the previous family computer onto this one, so we have all that.


    > I hope all is well with you.

    Yes. Ditto.


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