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Friday, April 11, 2008

The Wages of Sin

The laws of karma are screwing with me. For years I've sat back smugly and chortled at the woes of other computer owners... Always complaining about their hard drives crashing or their precious Macs going belly-up. Meanwhile, I've never lost a single byte of data... never had virus issues... never had to sweat the whopping repair bill of the PC doctor. Until this week. My trusty rig suddenly stopped booting. Lights came on and the fans were spinning, but no startup. No amount of powering down, cleaning up the dust and reconnecting everything helped. Pride goeth before the fall. Deadly Sin #1 for today.

A very cool PC repairman offered me all sorts of troubleshooting advice for free over the phone. I tried powering up after first removing one of my sticks of ram, then again after swapping out the other, in case I was being done in by a fried ram module. No luck. Then tried pulling out each PCI card (first the Soundblaster, then the video card) one at a time... still no change. Disconnected the PC from everything but the monitor... same result. Then swapped out a jumper from some arcane part of the motherboard that apparently resets the BIOS, just in case I had somehow corrupted my startup configurations. Still nothing. Sigh. No easy solution for this hubris-monkey.

At this point PC Man suspects a motherboard issue, although he was amazed to hear that an ASUS motherboard had failed... apparently it's almost always something else. Sunday I take my baby over to his shop and hope for the best. If it is just the motherboard, at least that's a fairly cheap fix and all my data should be fine.


I'm feeling jealous. Deadly sin #2 for the day. CC Rider has been accepted into the MSW program at UW. Come autumn, she'll leave JFS and head off on a new adventure. Two other coworkers are leaving this week... off to other jobs. My boss Steve is gone for three weeks to Spain and Portugal. A fellow counselor Carol is spending a week in Ireland. Meanwhile, my job has been haywire the last week... I've dealt with about double the number of cases of a typical week.

While toiling away, I've been indulging every escape fantasy I can think of. I'm jealous of people on vacation, people leaving for new pastures... I'm even jealous of the admin assistant that got laid off last week. Each morning I consider the repercussions of calling in sick for the next week. I hit snooze as many times as possible and only with great begrudgement do I force myself to shower and dress for work. Often I boycott applying deodorant, shaving or brushing my teeth in a plaintive protest against the world. By midday, I shake off my torpor and remember that I actually like what I do and even get to feel proud of the work I've done. But this feeling never lasts.


One solution to these doldrums is to lust after consumer goods. (Deadly Sin #3)

This week, I've pondered throwing down $600-$700 on a laptop. It occurs to me that having a laptop would sure be handy for times when my desktop goes all Mac on me. Plus, the greatest thing about having a laptop is that you can set it up in the bathroom and watch movies while taking a luxurious bath. (No dummy, I put the laptop on a shelf across the room. I don't hold it over the bathwater!) If you haven't tried this... I recommend it highly. It's far better than the pleasure of eating crackers in bed.

I've also been thinking about one of these: A 42" hi-def plasma television. Why? Because they're under a thousand dollars now. Because I like watching movies and sporting events at home. Because I have an odd need to spend a lot of money on something so that I'll feel better about my dead PC and my dissatisfaction at work. Hmm... I guess those aren't really great reasons.

Lastly, and I'm loath to admit this, I've been looking at shoes. I know, I know. This makes me doubt my own y chromosome as well. But it's true. I spent an extra thirty minutes at work yesterday browsing the shoe selection on Amazon.com. I'm thinking about a pair of black or brown slip-ons suitable for work. Something like these:

The weekend can't come soon enough: dinner parties, softball practices, and a volunteer day for Habitat for Humanity with Andres.



At 4/11/2008 03:30:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well so much for getting rid of your tv and dvd collection and just watching them on the the computer huh? :)

At 4/11/2008 04:52:00 PM, Blogger Courtney said...

ouch...seriously...i'm so envious of me and leaving that I actually did call in sick this week

At 4/11/2008 07:11:00 PM, Blogger lowcoolant said...

Just wait until your computer can't recognize the dvd drive, and tech support tells you to reboot from the manual reboot dvd to figure out why. THAT'S how we Mac it up in Macland.

Walter once called me a "shoe hound" and I'll tell you, fellow y-chrome, there ain't no shame in footwear. I'm a Skechers man myself, but Eccos are probably more environmentally sound.

Regarding the plasma television, you forgot to list "Because my current television is as unwieldy as a goddamn Geo Metro."

At 4/12/2008 02:47:00 PM, Blogger molly said...

Woah, "gone all mac on you"? Jaysus, I can't talk to you anymore.

The only reasons PC's are so cheap is they're so prone to problems and you have to replace parts all the time. (See, as that statement is probably totally incorrect, that's an indication of how much we respectively know about the other's preferred platforms)

Anyway, you should come back to Ireland. Spring is springing and it's lovely! Lots of little lambs gambolling in the fields.

At 4/12/2008 07:57:00 PM, Blogger Scotty Walsh said...

I love the way you framed this entry. Can we be expecting the other 4 deadly sins anytime soon?

At 4/14/2008 11:55:00 AM, Blogger Ned said...

Bummer, dude...

At 4/14/2008 12:15:00 PM, Blogger John said...

Scotty... the only way I could remember all the deadly sins would be to recall the movie Se7en, which would then cause me to feel all creeped out. So probably no more sin posts.

Molly... glad to hear about all the gambolling. Sounds delightful. I actually got a mild sunburn playing softball on Saturday. It was gorgeous (at least for a day.)

And to all... Turns out I just fried both my RAM sticks at the same time (apparently this is very rare.) And here I thought I had contracted a deadly virus. So good news... a few hundred bucks and I should be back online.

At 4/16/2008 06:02:00 PM, Blogger Calvin said...

You sure about the fried RAM? I've never seen two DIMMs go bad at the same time myself, though I'm sure it happens...

If it's just the memory, you should still be able to boot to the CMOS with the two RAM sticks removed.

At 4/16/2008 06:37:00 PM, Blogger John said...

I'm not sure at all... but the guy who looked at it for me found that the computer booted okay once both the RAM modules were swapped out. The guy who sold me the computer is going to check out my old DIMMs. If they aren't fried, then maybe the problem is some sort of hijack/virus that messed with my configuration settings to make them incompatible with my RAM... ? But I'm just guessing there.

At 4/20/2008 08:26:00 AM, Blogger molly said...

If it's a virus I am sooo gonna laugh at you.

At 4/20/2008 08:39:00 PM, Blogger calvinpriest said...

If you want to test another DIMM, I have one you're welcome to. It's only 256MB, but it should settle the fried RAM question.

At 4/21/2008 01:32:00 PM, Blogger John said...

Thanks Calvin, but I'm already borrowing some RAM from another guy. And the computer seems to be working fine. The guy who sold me the computer is supposed to be checking the old RAM today, and getting replacements from HDNW if it's bad.

I did a Symantec virus sweep and found nothing. So I dunno. Kind of mysterious. Could be a problem with the motherboard's voltage regulator?


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