Doornail (DOG EAR)

Doornail (DOG EAR)

o advice here, nothing about prose and pacing and prattle. Just a little slice-of-life (and why one should always back up their current masterwork).

Got home from the train club two weeks back. Had been thinking of an argument my character Mergenstein was having with High Padre Ricken (it’s a long story) (220+ pages so far). I wasn’t happy about how it was currently going – I’d written myself into a box canyon with dull sides. No good. Had to back up, toss out a couple of paragraphs, and accelerate a different way.

It took me something like 15 minutes to boot. Wondering if that was something special, I shut down the computer and rebooted. Yes, Mr. Programmer – another 15 minutes shot. By now it was 11:30 and all dreams of writing had vanished into weary worry as I wondered, quite frankly, what was going on (or not going on) in my magic box.

I’d been getting slower and slower boots over the last week. The things I ran didn’t seem to lag, but then again, Spelunky and Word and Excel (mostly Solar Trader) are hardly load tests. Carped about it a bit and train-buddy Jerry (who refurbishes computers for his church) had a look. We cleaned up the boot, found a wiggly little worm, and generally triggered my optimism that it was running faster. The test boot went pretty quick. I thanked him and rang off. The next boot was slower. Worse, the programs were now lagging, taking minutes to execute.

And, worser, there was a noticeable clicking noise coming from my laptop.

At this, I dropped it off with Refresh Computers (UCF division) to have them have a look. Their virus programs found a nasty nest of them (yeh!) but even that didn’t make the computer run any faster. And they noticed the clicking too (so it wasn’t just my tell-tale heart). So they kept it in the shop for a week to ponder its lethargic ways.

Why is this appearing in a writing column? Well, I have a tinytop (and HP 1010, or netbook, as they were once called) that I use for lunch writing. It’s handy, yes, but really, it’s a bit of a pain to use for more than an hour. The fonts need to be boosted up to see properly and the screen is a touch claustrophobic. I took a shot or two at Tubitz and Mergenstein and didn’t get anywhere. In part, it was because my little laptop is good for lunchtime recreational writing when I’m killing forty-five minutes, but it gets tight for three hour lose-your-mind-in-your-story sessions. And really, I was worried about my computer. Would they fix it? Would it be DOA? I ended up losing myself in Space:1999 on the Roku box. Some Hemingway.

Refresh eventually called, right before went to the beach for the weekend. The message they left was that the hard drive was rubbish and I’d need a new one. Sadly, none of my programs could be saved. I’d have to dig out MS Office again, install my printer, reconnect to Steam, all that stuff. Imagine if every program you had vanished. How long would it take you to get back to what you once had?

Called them to give them the ”put my computer down” message. Talked to a different tech – “Oh no, Mr. Raymond, we think we can save all your programs. We’ll give it a shot this weekend and let you know. Now, about that hard drive…”

So the beach was interesting. It was rainy so I got a lot read (look for two new reviews to come up shortly). Tried to Dog Ear it but just didn’t feel like messing with the tinytop. In a way, my computer was now Schrödinger’s cat, a box with and without programs running. It existed in both states. Oddly (for me) I just let it go. Either I’d have all my wonderful programs or I would not. We’d see.

Monday it was ready. Bugged out of work early and fought my way through the horrendous east-side traffic (can the Department of Road Jams make this any worse?). Anyway, yes, I booted in under 30 seconds. And yes (with sparkling tears flashing in my grateful eyes) Refresh managed to ghost my machine fully over. Everything was there. Word. Excel. Firefox. Thunderbird. Spelunky. Thank goodness. Last night I just sat there, not writing, just firing things up. I’d run the startup sequence for this game and that, just playing and giggling and falling in love all over again with my plastic friend who’s fun to be with.

Okay, that adventure is done. The ring is in the Crack of Doom. The kingdoms of the west are safe. Time to get back to writing.