mysterious computer illness
Tuesday, May 16 2000
Since I managed to get a certain amount of personal work finished during the course of my workday, I was prepared to dive into my side projects the moment I came home in the evening. But I was distracted by the state of Kim's laptop computer. I can always tell when it's having trouble: the 800 by 600 LCD screen reverts to an ugly, rastery 640 by 480 at sixteen colors. But the situation was worse than that; the ethernet link light had gone dark and it appeared that a good fraction of the I/O configuration was hosed. I spent the next several hours trying to coax it back to life, utterly without success. The proprietary laptop video drivers refused to "catch," and every time the machine rebooted, the screen was in the same sorry default state that some computer neophytes, not knowing any better, leave their computers in all the time. Then when I went to reinstall the ethernet drivers, the computer naturally begged for the Windows 98 CD. But the copy I have appears to be incomplete and an essential .CAB file could not be found. As time wore on, things were looking increasingly bleak for Kim's computer. When I started getting blue screens during reboots, I had to give up. I figured I'd have to completely reinstall the operating system from scratch.
But then, late in the evening while Kim and I were drinking red wine and watching a show about Willie Nelson on VH1, I drunkenly tried deleting a few devices from the My Computer Properties window. Amazingly enough, that turned out to be the ticket to success. I knew I was onto something when the ethernet link like blinked to life during the next reboot. Within a half hour or so, I had healed Kim's computer completely.
After all is said and done, I have no idea what was wrong with the laptop; computers are so complex these days that it's sometimes impossible to know what causes their problems. They simply get sick. We can have theories about what troubles them, but we can never be sure. Sometimes we're tempted to resort to dramatic heroics in a desperate effort to restore their health. As I proved tonight, medieval-style amputations definitely have their place in the roster of healing methods.
Unfortunately, though, another day has passed me by and yet again I've made no progress on any of the extra-curricular tasks that people want me to complete for them. I had lunch with co-worker Evan (of Unveiled.net) today, and he's getting awfully anxious for me to finally get cracking on his members-only website. It's work I owe him in exchange for staying at his place during April, and I feel like shit for stringing him along.
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