Zen and The Art of Computer Maintenance

So my computer shit the bed last night. We've had a contentious relationship over the years but after I upgraded every single piece of hardware save the motherboard and processor things were going great.

And then is shut off. And now it won't stay on for more than a few seconds. It took all morning but I found a leak in the water cooling system which is consistent with the behavior of shutting off randomly. Convenient tip sheet to computer problems (80% accurate):

  • Freezes/BSOD = Memory unless specific to software
  • Shuts Down=Cooling or Power
  • Won't turn on = Power
  • Windows won't start = Hard Drive
  • Everything Else = Software

One thing I am grateful for is technical expertise.

Many years ago I went to a scammy night school for MCSE certification because that was considered a thing anyone in their right mind would want to do for a living. I imagine in some alternate universe I'm wearing a baggy blue polo I got from Intel and grumbling about having to clean spyware off some executive's decrepit Dell Latitude.

Anyway the school was such a ripoff, there was a class action which I was not a part of, sadly. It cost twelve thousand dollars which I had to pay back to Sallie Mae. (This was before adult education programs realized they could squeeze people for a lot more money with bullshit online degrees... at least I didn't get suckered into an associates in "information Systems")

I never took the MCSE test because the courses were shitty, the tests were expensive, and certifications are for people who already do the thing they're certifying. But it was the early aughts and businesses were desperately hiring people without experience because they didn't understand the tech anymore than the people in my night school class.

Part of it may have been my fault. I was jacked up on Adderal and I would doodle in MS paint as we worked our way through our exercises and lecture. I remember one classmate asked me, "Why are you learning all this boring network stuff? You seem like you're really creative. If I had that ability I wouldn't be doing this."

As an aside-- It's a little heartbreaking to learn that people don't have the same rich imagination as I do. I couldn't live without it. It was my only refuge through a shitty adolescence. So... if you're ever jealous of creative types, remember it's usually as much a defense mechanism as it is a gift.

But at the time I pretty much hated the arts for ruining my life. I had squandered my time on writing short stories (a form of fiction that it turns out I hate) and lacked the raw talent to have any hope of being an illustrator. I just wanted to learn something useful, something practical.... something people wanted.

It's fifteen years later and I think that my night school has finally paid for itself. I've been building and fixing my own PCs for years. I've saved a shitload of money by building my computers with wholesale parts and I've never called Geek Squad.

So my sick PC has one hope before it goes out to pasture. I ordered a $50 part that will be an absolute bitch to install but it should be here in a few days. Literally, not figuratively, I will have replaced everything in this computer except the CD ROM drive (.... which could also be broken but when would I ever notice?)

In the mean time, with grave reservations, I went to Best Buy. I think of that place as a cross between Office Max and Purgatory. But...It was not a terrible shopping experience. The salesperson pointed me to exactly what I needed (some of that busted shit was running Celeron.... GROSS!). I paid $100 less than what it sells for on Amazon which blows my mind. Although to be honest...  I'm not sure Amazon is always the cheapest.

I even got a $10 gift card by telling a market researcher in the store what he wanted to hear.

I picked up a cute little Lenovo Yoga 2 with my non existent budget and marked it as a business expense. Thus far my primary source of income as an independent author is my 2015 tax return. But now I have a laptop I can write books on anywhere. (It's actually better than the first laptop I got from my last job). I think of it like camping... just me, 4 GB of memory and the wide open sky of cyberspace.

The real hero of the day however is Google... I downloaded Chrome and in seconds I was back online. All my links, my saved passwords... all there, just as if I was on my main PC. If my old PC is forever dead, its spirit lives forever in the cloud. Along with the Book 3 manuscript. This is one of thousands of reasons I think people who use typewriters are insane.

Life handed me a big lemon and I made some very expensive lemonade. I remember a time when a day like this would have been a catastrophe. When I didn't have the war chest or wherewithal to pick up a cheap laptop; where I didn't know how to fix my machine; where I would have lost years of data.... Growing old sucks but on days like today it's great because whatever bullshit life throws at me-- I'm ready* for it.

*except cancer. I'd be kind of fucked with that one.

Mike bode is the author of The Queen of Lies Opens in a new window, the first installment in the ongoing series, Architects of the Grand Design. His next book comes out October. Sign up for the mailing list for more info.

You can find him on Facebook Opens in a new window, Twitter Opens in a new windowand Pinterest Opens in a new window. (You can also follow him on Goodreads Opens in a new windowand even Amazon Opens in a new window)



Mike bode is the author of The Queen of Lies, the first installment in the ongoing series, Architects of the Grand Design. His next book comes out October. Sign up for the mailing list for more info. You can find him on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest . (You can also follow him on Goodreads and even Amazon)

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