"Awesome!" A Blog.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Computer crisis SOLVED!

For the last little while, my computer has been shutting itself down for no reason, often in the middle of booting up. This had me a bit concerned, but I could usually manage to get the machine up and running after a few restarts, so I figured that was an acceptable level of service. I'd built the thing myself, after all. Then finally today the machine wouldn't beep and whir for more than a few seconds after I hit the "on" button. It'd just go "HRRRrrrrrr" and die. It's hard to pop a CD into the drive and back everything up when the computer is acting this way.

Thoroughly agitated, I sat and considered the thing from the business end of a Campari and soda. It seemed to me that the variable nature of the timing of the crashes meant it wasn't one of those nasty spy-ware programs that you get when you go to the bikini websites. No, this was further down in the guts of the thing. I unplugged 568 USB devices from the CPU, plopped it on the desk, and took a good, long look inside. Easy to do, since I never bother putting the sidewalls on my machines.

No microchips were dangling loose, so I wiggled the "RAM" card. Hard to wiggle. Definitely "seated" correctly. Hm. Maybe step back and try to get a vibe from the whole.

The insides were coated in a fine dust, sort of like a small computery moon, so I went to get one of those cans of compressed air that people are always using to blow hand-dander out of their keyboards. I gave the motherboard what-for and it spruced up nicely.

Then, between the blades of the fan that sits over the processor, I saw something amiss. It looked as though James Bond Rat had been tricked by his nemesis into falling on the thing, and the subsequent carnage had covered the processor's heat sink with a thick, felty layer of gray must. About enough to make a new Homburg, if I remember correctly.

"That's not right," I reasoned. "That thing should be a gleaming set of aluminum spikes."

"Also," I continued, "if it is covered in a thick, insulating layer of gray botrytis, the thermal dissipation task of the heat sink may be significantly hampered."

I thought back to a time in my life—a simpler time—when, in a hot room, a computer had repeatedly shut itself down. I knew what I had to do.

I steadied my grip on the compressed air and took aim at the heat sink. The next five seconds seemed to last an eternity.

Later that afternoon, after we had opened all the windows and doors, wiped our faces of dust, and sedated the dog, I plugged the computer back in and booted it up. It zipped through its little startup routine in record time. Adobe Illustrator, which had been taking upwards of six and a half hours to launch, popped open in seconds. I even ventured to burn a CD. Flawless.

I sit here now with that incredible feeling of having overcome a computer problem. It's invigorating, and empowering. Maybe I'll hook the digital video camera up and try to see if Microsoft has any native video editing software. Maybe I'll type up some of my favorite recipes. Maybe I'll use a WYSIWYG editor to make a web page, only to delete it because I don't need it.

Computers, you once had me scared. You had me angry. You knew you could hurt me. But now, I have a new thing. A message I can relate to the world. A message of cleaning you off. A message that there probably isn't spy-ware on your funny-acting machine. Spy-ware is probably just a fake idea created by software companies, to keep the canned air companies down. I can live in that world, now that I know the truth. I can find my way in this war zone that man has created.