Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The Crash of '07

I was moved to using paper today. It was relaxing. A nice break. But there was a terror...

Automatic windows update was doing its thing when I shut down to go outside for the day’s business. When I came back, the machine was slumbering and when awoken, it was stuck on “Installing 2 of 9 updates. Do not shut off the computer. It will shut off by itself.” Ah! No budging. It just kept spinning at that message, forever. So I did what you do when your computer won’t budge. I pulled out the power cord and unclipped the battery. Off.

But then, when I rebooted, it wouldn’t. My computer had become a doorstop. This was a terrible thing. I had so much to do. But I did not panic. I bothered my friend, Jeff, quite a bit, (Sorry Jeff)—and I did take his advice at one point and I booted up using the original disk to no effect, I think. I restarted in safe mode, backed up all my files onto an external hard drive, chose to restore at certain restore points (for those who don’t know---your computer, if it is a PC, will save the exact configuration of Windows at various dates. You can then pick a former date to restore the machine to.) However, I was still stuck. Going nowehere. I could not restore. I was out of choices and readied myself for a trip to the computer fixers in the morning.

But what seemed to work was this: I went out to dinner. I ate enormous amounts of pasta and drank a few glasses of heavy red wine with my writing group, Moose Purse. I came home, started up the frozen beast again in safe mode, restored the machine to December 1, 2007. And it booted up. I have NO IDEA why. Except, I think the computer was happy to have a break. And I was happy to have eaten.

My gut feeling is that a corrupt Norton, mixed with a very large Windows Update and having not run any anti-spy for a while, this combination did it in. So, I fixed up Norton. I set the Windows update to Manual. I downloaded the simple Yahoo toolbar with anti-spy and killed the spies. And now, I’m humming along.

It was interesting to be without the computer. In fact, I felt freer than I have felt in years. I imagine one could live a life without the computer. I am sure. If it’s just you and a piece of paper, it’s so calm. When the computer is running, even if you are concentrating on your work, there is always that nagging sense that you are connected to the entire world. Blech!

Final note, though. Make sure you have an external hard drive. And back up once a month. You just have to.

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