arrival of the dead of winter
Monday, January 17 2005
Being a technology guy, technologies themselves are to me as birds are to a bird watcher. I know about technologies in theory a long time before I see them in the wild. Or at least I should, or else I'd be very confused. Today I saw my first-ever Serial-ATA (SATA) hard drive in a brand new Dell Computer. SATA drives connect to the motherboard through a thin serial cable instead of a wide parallel ribbon cable. The motherboard still had connectors for the older parallel (EIDE) cables, which is essential in cases like the one today, where I had to transfer 13 Gigabytes of music from an old Dell to the new one. This was a task best achieved by temporarily attaching the old hard drive to the new motherboard.
It's important to note that this music transfer almost didn't happen at all. The client in this case only wanted me to transfer her Word documents, "shortcuts," emails, and financial records. Somehow she had it in her head that the reason her old computer was "so slow" was because she'd ripped so much music to its hard drive. People often think their computers are running slowly because they have "too much stuff" on them, but "stuff" can only make a computer slow if, like spyware, it's loaded into memory upon startup. In this particular case it seemed that the connection the client had drawn between the massive amount of ripped music and the slowness might have grown out of a misplaced sense of guilt. You know the guilt I'm referring to, where people don't know what their rights are and then see some RIAA propaganda about intellectual property (i.e. the kind created by Steven Tyler). In this case, of course, the propaganda didn't apply. Ripping music to your hard drive is well under the umbrella of fair use. The client's old computer was indeed running slowly, but that was because of a serious spyware infection. Whenever I hit ctrl-alt-delete and see a running process whose name includes the word "rebate" I know I'm looking at a seriously compromised machine.
In the end I was able to convince the client not to throw away her ripped music. The original ripping process had taken up hours of her life, and it really says something about her computer ignorance that she was so willing to throw that all away, without even bothering to first ask me for my opinion. (I had to be proactive to save it.)
During the course of that housecall, the weather quickly turned bitter cold, with temperatures falling down into the single digits. As I drove past the east end of the Ashokan Reservoir, I could see smashed shards of ice starting to pile up all along the shoreline, with more ice quickly forming to the west. The dead of winter had finally arrived.
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