Monday, May 19, 2003
by Lenka Reznicek [permalink] 
The Ghost of the Machine

This Monday begins my first full week sans home computer in about five or six years.

Last week my trusty (albeit slightly rusty) IBM™ Aptiva booted up its last, leaving a mess of valuable data in the lurch that I'll have to have extracted post-mortem. Oh, we had tried backing up the data. Unfortunately, the CD-RW drive decided it didn't have time to waste on silly tasks like backing up files and stubbornly refused to recognize any disc inserted into its geared tan maw.

Our machine had been experiencing plenty of trouble lately; the cooling fans were making a dreadful whine, and somehow the RAM was being occupied with phantom duties that left precious little resource time for ordinary tasks like writing papers and checking e-mail. Then, somehow all the desktop icons and taskbar ceased to work. Windows™ continually returned error messages I'd never seen before. Finally when the computer was restarted (after a routine vacuuming of the dust-laden interior) the monitor went blank. No boot-up, not even with my rescue disks.

I fear I may have static-zapped the poor thing into oblivion...I'll never know. I feel like the Dr. Kevorkian of computers; I know just enough about them to get me in serious trouble.

Was it a virus? No such luck. Repeated scans with anti-virus software turned up nothing out of the ordinary, although it could be some exotic as-yet-uncharted virus. I'm left with the conclusion that that little 333 MHz machine simply died of old age - or was possessed (no, the numerical significance of the processor speed was not lost on me; thank you, St. Thomas Aquinas). Who knows.

So we're in the market for a new computer. I don't want to spend a ton of money, but I want a good solid machine that will be serviceable for at least the next few years. I'm checking my Dell™ catalog (my work machine is a Dell) and stopping by the campus computer store to see how much machine I can get for the least amount of money. Sure, the dream machine would have about one gig of ram, a monstrous striping hard drive, a giant flat-screen display and CD and DVD-burners up the wazoo. But alas, we can't have everything.

I'll settle for a machine that doesn't scream at me in the middle of the night like a banshee.