Sunday, December 16, 2012

PC Down, Spirit Up

Very frustrating week.

Last Sunday (Dec. 9th), sometime around 1 PM, I had just finished cleaning my weekly task-slate, & took a short break before preparing to write another detailed response to Pithom's "Mailbag" post. I turned off my monitor like usual, & as I was walking out of my living room, I noticed an odd smell of something resembling burnt electronic components crossed with cigarette smoke. I couldn't locate it, so I assumed it came from someone walking past my house where my fresh-air vent is located (but I haven't actually smelled cigarette smoke inside since getting a purification system installed along with a new furnace a couple of years ago).

After about half an hour, I returned to my living room. The odor had diffused, but something else seemed odd. It was quieter & darker ... because my computer had turned off ... which was exceptionally odd because it's plugged into a UPS, which was still on, & I could tell my house had not lost electrical power. Note that unlike other PCs (at home & various places of employment), this one had never acted erratically.

I turned my monitor back on, but it wasn't receiving a signal. To cut to the chase, the fan on my graphics card had frozen, thereby causing other stuff to overheat, which triggered a quiet-but-catastrophic failure. It appears to have taken out the BIOS battery, & done something bad to the hard disk, rendering it unbootable.

After 2 decades of using personal computers at home, this was the best-performing, most-reliable one; but in the end, the shortest-lasting one. I've been able to make smooth transitions between all the others, which have lasted 5-7 years each before becoming so outdated that they were no longer useful.

On Monday I bought a new PC, feeling fortunate that I was able to get a 2012 Windows 7 version of the 2008 Vista one for about the same price ($400); but whereas the old one had 4Gb of RAM & a 640Mb hard drive, this one has 8Gb/1Tb. Best of all, I successfully avoided the dreadful Windows 8 interface, & have now prolonged that agony of converting for a few years (I hope).

I could probably adjust to W8 based on demos I played with in the store while shopping, but I was not in the mood to discover whether any of my old 32-bit applications would run correctly (or at all) on it. Altogether I rely upon 10 programs, several of which have been very helpful in developing & maintaining LMLK tools (for processing images, making drawings, managing LMLK Dotcom, & analyzing statistical data).

I went to bed Monday night thinking I was on the road to a smooth recovery after installing the first couple of applications, but upon waking Tuesday morning I discovered that the PC had frozen. My 2008 Vista had never done that! And it kept doing that each day last week when I arrived home from work, & awoke in the morning (i.e., each time I allowed it to run unattended for more than an hour). Again, to cut to the chase, after more trials & errors than with any other new PC/OS, yesterday I finally got it to run stable, & I'm optimistic that the problems have been resolved.

Also, after some trepidation due to some of my applications failing to install or crashing after "successful" installations, all of them appear to be running okay. Just a little while ago this evening I did the last one, which is my main camera that I can control remotely for efficient seal-impression photography using multiple lighting angles. I took a sample photo of my touchy-feely 1948 LMLK FDC envelope, & was thrilled to close the week out on this positive note.

Putting aside the birth pains, I'm very pleased by the performance of this PC, especially since it handles overly complicated web pages (such as eBay) really well. I was also able to recover all of my files from the non-bootable disk. Now I can continue living!

One bright spot in the midst of last week's perils, was getting to attend another local lecture by Ken Ham at Calvary Chapel, Costa Mesa, which is pastored by Chuck Smith (who led the communion service on this occasion). This was a special occasion for both of us, because it was one of the churches at which he lectured during his first visit to America 25 years ago; & it was the first place where I saw him in person almost 7 years ago.

Mr. Ham entitled his lecture, "How to Communicate the Gospel in an Increasingly Secularized America." Less than a week after returning from a refreshing vacation in his native Australia, he gave an exceptionally passionate, flawless delivery.

Afterwards I had the privilege of serving at one of the media-sales tables, this one being cash-only. Wow! What a blessing to see so many people lining up & holding out money to buy AiG resources! The last time I handled so much moola in such a short time was ... well, let's not go there! It was fun but frustrating having to do rapid-fire arithmetic on the fly (making change for various discounts). You can imagine what an additional privilege it was when Mr. Ham entrusted some of his personal belongings to my care while he mingled among the crowd!

G.M. Grena

No comments: