Did you hear a loud bang? That was my computer’s hard drive crashing. Often, when speaking colloquially of a disaster, people will use phrases such as “crash and burn” or “spin, crash, and burn.” My hard drive spun, crashed, burned, left a gaping charred hole in the ground, and fried itself so thoroughly there was a four foot radius of scorched earth. It was a very comprehensive crash.
Recently, my email started acting goofy. “Acting goofy” is about as technically accurate as I am able to get. Every other thing on the computer worked but it became nearly impossible to type an email. So, boys and girls, what do we do when our computer acts goofy? We take it to the computer gurus, of course. In 2016, computer gurus have joined physicians, auto mechanics, and plumbers as the repositories of arcane knowledge and vocabulary. Plus, all these professionals react exactly alike when presented with a problem. They will hold their chin in their hand, cock their head a little to the side, and say, “Hmmm.”
“Hmmm” is never good. “Hmmm” could mean anything from “You have a stricture in your medial-lateral pericardial cranium” to “You could measure your life expectancy with a stopwatch.” This is assuming it is a physician talking. Neither an auto mechanic nor a plumber would use so mundane a tool as a stopwatch. No, they would use a catalytic turbocharged extrication valve drive-chain sprocket or a toilet plunger. But usually not at the same time.
So when my teen-age computer guru put his chin in his hand and cocked his head to the side and said “Hmmm,” you can bet I was braced for the worst. Good thing, too. “Your hard drive is getting ready to go out” was the diagnosis.
Well, this was bad because the presumption was I had to buy a new computer. I do not want a new computer. I have had this one for over seven years and am just figuring out how to use it. I would rather, to quote Dave Barry, have hot tar poured into my nostrils than learn a new computer system. This particular dilemma called for the same approach I use for the number on the scale — ignore it and hope things improve.
Inevitably, I was 1,200 miles away from my usual computer guy when the end came. Normally when my computer fails to cooperate, my first response is to sic Steve on it. There are three notable reasons for this. He is very good with computers. He is usually not 1,200 miles away. And he works cheap. He looked at it and to his credit did not hold his chin in his hand or cock his head. He didn’t even say “Hmmm.” Instead he said, “This thing is dead.”
Right down the street lived a man who worked on computers in his spare time. I had never met him but when the going gets tough, the tough do not call tech support. They call the man down the street who tends to answer his phone hours or even days sooner. He took a look at it and concurred with the initial opinion. It was dead. He had a spare hard drive at his house and was willing to install it and perform some other miscellaneous voodoo for a very reasonable price.
The work was completed in less time than customer service keeps you on hold before they answer your call which is very important to them. My computer had been rearranged just enough that Mr. Fixit thought he should walk me through the differences. Oh, this man was a True Believer. He loved computers. He understood computers. He could explain, at great length and in excruciating detail, every little nuance of my computer. All of this was entirely lost on me, naturally. He talked about Bios and I thought he said bayous and could not for the life of me imagine what swampy land in Louisiana had to do with resurrecting my laptop.
From all this drama, two important lessons emerged. The first is back up everything you do, every hour of every day, every word you type and every change to every database. I had most of it backed up but most is not, alas, all. The second thing I learned was that when a nineteen year old computer genius tells you your hard drive is getting ready to go out, believe him. You will be able to time its demise with a stopwatch.
Marla Boone resides in Covington and writes for the Troy Daily News and Piqua Daily Call.