An Unfortunate Incident
I had to replace my
PC's hard drive the other day, and as a consequence my mind has been filled
with thoughts bordering on the suicidal while trying to reconstitute my
once-pleasant computing environment.
Not only did the not-quite-a-year-old hard drive go bad, but in its final
death throes it managed to take some deeply hidden system software with it. My
local PC fix-it store managed to save my 40 gigs' worth of personal data off
to a new drive -- at some considerable expense -- but failed at fixing the
glitches in the operating software. Unfortunately, this corrupted dross was
transferred indelibly onto my new data medium. So it was with some
considerable trepidation (based on prior experience) that I elected to wipe
the disk clean and start all over.
Twenty-some-odd years ago, I considered myself truly "computer literate". Back
in the days when computers started up with a green screen and a flashing
cursor in the top left corner, I could describe to you, in technical terms,
exactly how a keypress ended up as a character displayed on that screen. I
could talk about CPU accumulators, memory registers, logic gates and the like.
I could POKE and PEEK with the best of them. I could POP, SHIFT, JUMP and RUN
as well as any linebacker on the Appletm Company's touch football team. But
nowadays, even had I retained it, that lore does me little good competing in
the MS intramural software league.
It took me a long time even to figure out how to actually reformat a C:\ drive
that is governed by Microsoft Windowstm. You have to do it from
DOS, in a "startup disk" mode. Nobody told me that, nor is it explained
anywhere in the thousands bytes of documentation I had on hand. Maddeningly,
they didn't include the FORMAT executable on my MEtm startup disk.
Working through this was downright nostalgic; it took me back to those halcyon
days of early PC computing. Trouble is, I forgot most of what I knew about
DOS, some 20+ years ago. But, like bicycling, a little bit of kinesthetic
knowledge remains -- enough to either get you in deep trouble, or -- if you
are living right -- pull you out of a jam.
The format function took a good while to get the drive wiped clean, and it
took me a while longer to find my tongue, which by then had obediently
followed my deep gulps, somewhere down low into my gullet. This was by far
much worse than the flashback of one's life at the moment of his demise: no
human torture devised by man should last that long. I vowed more than once
during that interminable period to be a better husband, to be more generous to
the needy, to be a better friend to my fellow men.
To be fair, the re-installation of my original MS Operating System (MEtm)
was flawless. Trouble is, having bought this PC and its OS some years prior, I
was many dozens of patches and security upgrades behind the current version.
As I viewed the size of the downloads required to get up to date, I thought of
the hours of time that could be better spent in making MY world a better place
for ME (the non-trademarked one) to live in - rather than attending at the
Altar of Microsofttm.
I hardly know how to begin to describe the problems with the reinstallation of
my various devices. To do so would be as distasteful as doing a play-by-play
of the Rape of Nanking. Days later, I have finally managed to re-establish
communications with the outside world - although I had to learn that my modem
is not truly considered a "modem" by Microsofttm, but rather a "PCI
Communications Device". After dozens of error messages asking me to check my
"Interrupt" settings, one thought kept coming to mind: How about you
interrupt THIS, Bill Gates!
Things are getting more and more stable as I work them out. Although I have
not yet fathomed why my entire computer will lock up when my PC monitor -- a
"slave" device if ever there was one -- goes into its "sleep" energy-saving
mode, I am still hopeful of seeing the day when all will be as it once was.
If, God and Microsofttm willing, I live that long.