Slave to the Machine

Dead Electronics
Dead Electronics

When Ross started his most recent stint of post secondary education about five years ago, his mom had a custom computer built for him as a gift. This computer has become our family computer and the one I use to complete my at-home contract work as well as my for-fun online writing both here and on my personal blog.  

About three or four months ago, my hard drive appeared to pack it in, and I relied on the kindness of some friends to retrieve my valuable documents from it and save them to a thumb drive. I then went in search of a replacement hard drive, and being that I’m a pedestrian most of the time, I checked out the local computer offerings within walking distance to my house.  Sadly, New Westminster really doesn’t have a lot to offer.

London Drugs has a decent computer section and the staff are friendly and fairly knowledgable. I purchased my Stupid Big™ external hard drive for pictures and music from them a while ago on an amazing sale, and was happy with the customer service and price of the unit. But internal components are another story… and London Drugs had only a single option for me  and it was ridiculously overpriced. Props to the clerk for being honest and telling me that right away. Best Buy in Queensborough seemed the next logical place, but it’s not super easy to access without a car. A walk to the train, then a train to 22nd, then a bus to Queensborough? Bah. Too long. I wanted more instant gratification.

I did some quick Blackberry googling and found All Price (or All Budget, depending upon if you are looking at the sign or on the receipt) Computers on 6th Street just south of 3rd Avenue. Their website is terrible for a computer store, but they had what I needed, the price was reasonable, and the service was decent enough. I got the hard drive and headed home to install it. Apparently, the hard drive wasn’t actually the root of them problem, and after some serious wild goose chasing and the kindness of two of my geek friends, I am back up and running and our five year old tower is faster than ever. It should be, it has more or less brand new components. In addition to the hard drive, the CPU, the power supply and the RAM have all been replaced.  This is one of those Chicken-Or-Egg conundrums – did the RAM going pfft mess up the power supply which in turn created a domino effect and ruined other components, or vice versa?

In any event, I’m disappointed to learn the extent to which I am enslaved to the computer.

This past two weeks I have burned through a battery on my Blackberry writing emails and answering queries about the upcoming Winter Market. Twice I had to dig up and look up a phone number in a Yellow Pages, and once I had to throw caution to the wind and just stand around at a bus stop hoping a bus would come sooner rather than later. I also sat on hold for almost an hour trying to pay my MSP bill by credit card (Dear Premier Gordon Campbell, I have a economic stimulus plan for you: hire some more dang people to answer the phones at MSP so I can pay you money). I haven’t read any of my favourite blogs or news websites, and I have about 200 pictures on my camera I need to download and post online. Am I whiny enough yet?

I feel so overtly attached to this piece of electronics, I’m a little disgusted with myself. I can still remember when our computer room at school was filled with Ataris. And when it took eleventy billion lines of code to get the silly little turtle to draw a spiral. I remember when that was cutting edge. I should simply be able to exist without computers, because I did before. But they wrap themselves around our lives and we rely on them almost too much.

This few weeks of intense computer problems has taught me two things. One: I need to make time to sit down and read a book once in a while. I managed to read 300 pages in a book that’s been asking for my attention for ages while Kale napped – time that normally would have had me on my computer cramming in work and surfing. I remember how much I enjoyed books pre-children and so I need to make some time to enjoy them.

And the other thing computer problems have taught me is that you can never back up your work too much. In fact, stop reading and go do it right now. I highly recommend also using an off board USB thumb drive like this or this, or even this little and cheap one. You could make this classy wooden one, and if you do, make me one too.

One Reply to “Slave to the Machine”

  1. Sorry to hear that your dead hard drive didn;t actually die.

    You probably spent more fixing a old computer then you could have purchased something newer off craigslist.

    With old computers the problems tend to be with dust and connectors. Things heat up and expand, then cool off and contract, do this a few hundred times and things get loose.

    It also doesn't make sense if your hard drive failed, how they could get stuff onto a thumb drive or whatever.

    I'm also sorry to hear of your dependence on your gadgets. I would seek professional help to rid yourself of those addiction before you turn borg.


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