Friday, August 11, 2006

Crash Course

Through no fault of my own, I may have narrowly averted a catastrophic crash of my ten month old laptop Thursday. While I was preparing the previous post in the wee hours of Thursday morning, I was experiencing more of the same irritating slowness of response from pages loading, windows switching etc that I’ve learned to blame on one or both of two issues: two many windows or applications open at once and/or overdue for a restart. But recently there had been a variety of new glitches and restarting or limiting windows had seemed to give little or only very temporary relief. Then several times over the past month my Works word processor froze on me, causing me to loose five to fifty minutes worth of typing. Yeah, I’m bad about remembering to save sometimes when I am in the zone. Well, after loosing an hour’s worth of input into my journal last weekend, I had been more diligent about saving every five minutes or less. Then yesterday morning as I was saving the draft I was preparing to post--in the word processor which where I usually prepare them so that I can use spell check and zoom and keep track of word-count--Works refused to save my work, claiming that either the file was in use by another application or it was corrupted. Luckily it allowed me to copy/paste it into another file and did not just close itself on me. So I was able to salvage what I had written and pasted it into the blogger platform. I had intended to write a paragraph or two more but was getting frustrated by the accumulation of glitches and the slowness of every response so I went ahead an clicked publish. And I’m so glad I did because I no sooner got the Blogger success screen and I got unwillingly kicked offline. The AOL message claimed it was for inactivity. But that hardly applied.

It wasn’t yet three-thirty and I hadn’t yet chased down my news and fav blogs for reading offline later and so I was tempted to go straight back online to do that. But then I thought that maybe I could be do a restart first and still have time to do that before my mother-in-law got up at five. So I commenced the restart and was immediately reminded why I had grown to hate them so much and thus why I avoided them. There seemed to be a plethora of ghost programs that resisted being closed and their numbers had been increasing over the past month or so. They have strange file names that are a mile long. So it took me nearly an hour to get through the restart and back on the desktop. That didn’t leave enough time to go back online and get anything accomplished before five. I decided to wait and do it after my mother-in-law left for work which would also give me a chance to talk to my husband about the issue.

When I described the various glitches I’d been experiencing his first question was, When was the last time you did disk maintenance? I just started at him. I had been accustomed with our past computers for him to take control of system administration. I had made murmurs when I first got this laptop about wanting to learn how to do those things but since we had never gotten together for a tutorial…. Excuses. It just slipped my radar and he, to my surprise has shown little interest in the laptop from the beginning. He performed the first disk maintenance on it the week I got back from Longview last November when it was still less than two months old. I vaguely remember him telling me it needed to be done every four to six weeks. That was the last time I thought about it.

Apparently it is a big deal. And apparently that in combination with my propensity to save my Internet history and temporary files for a month was asking for trouble. Because of my limited time frame for being online I use various methods from synchronizing, to saving to file, to hanging onto temp files so that I can do most of the reading of pages while offline. When I discovered that just opening a page was enough in many cases to make it available while I was offline, I thought that was like a magic trick. I thought it was enough to just adjust the amount of memory set aside and to adjust the settings to give me more time to get to the extra pages. My husband is wordless. I don’t understand the problem but I guess I need to trust him that I just came within a whisker of needing to have my hard drive taken back to factory spec--every application form DOS to Works reinstated from the CD-ROMs that came with the laptop. Which would mean five to ten hours of work for him which he couldn’t do during the work week nor on race day Saturday…. He let me contemplate the implications for a bit. Then he said that if I was unwilling to attempt the maintenance myself, I would have to wait until he got home from work. I asked him to run down the step for me.

First do a full virus scan, then delete Internet history and temporary files, then do a disc cleanup, then a disc scan, then a disc defrag. I proceeded to follow the steps. Only disc scan was not done because I could not find it on the menu. The Virus and Spyware scan took two hours. The deletion of Temporary files took ten minutes. The disc cleanup took fifteen minutes and the defrag took two and a half hours. It finished at fifteen after noon and thus too late for me to go online again before my mother-in-law got off work. Plus I was still awake when my alarm clock went off at eleven after twelve. And thus I was set up to loose my Thursday night online session as well. The three hour nap I got before dinner yesterday was not enough and I thought another two or three hour nap after dinner would help compensate but when I woke up at midnight I could not face staying awake. I tried. I came out and sat on the couch in front of the fan trying to want to be awake but it was no go.

My husband called me when he got up at six and I was still reluctant but I had to get online to renew library books and movies at the very least as Friday was library day. And that is the next step for me this morning which is almost afternoon already. I need to post this and start getting ready for my walk to the library.

Oh, yeah. The laptop seems to be performing much like it did in the first weeks. Fast and smooth and glitchless. Have I learned my lesson? My track record is not good.

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