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Saturday, August 12, 2006

A pythonesque day...

Disaster on the home office front earlier today. My relatively new HP Media Center computer which operates at the center of my mobile life -- purchased only last December -- suddenly fell into a comatose state, making all plans for the day (and perhaps the week) irrelevant....

The analogy of the HP's condition as comatose is not that far fetched. I was in the midst of a Skype call from a colleague when suddenly the system went down. Seemingly no power, and the power on switch was not responsive to much poking by my index finger. Oddly, the cooling fan (one of two in this particular system) was still going, and as I flipped the master on/off switch on the power strip that links computer, monitor and other key parts of the system, the only activity is some blinking green in the top (but not the bottom) CD/DVD drive. In fact, I am able to open and shut that drive, but nothing else responds -- all the while the fan continues to work.... Hmmmm

Luckily, my internet wireless connections are untouched by this problem and I am able to place a chat room call to HP support -- which leads to extended effort to figure out how to get the thing started. Unplug unit, hold on button for 15 seconds, plug in again -- no change. Hook up monitor to laptop to see if it is functioning -- positive result so that isn't the problem.Get inside the unit and check to see if there are any loose connections -- same result: whirring fan, blinking DVD drive, all else silent....

Conclusion -- unit needs to be serviced. With power going into the computer (afterall, the fan and DVD drive are working fine) but nothing else happening, the problem is a puzzle.

It looks like it will cost nothing except time and aggravation. They will ship me packaging material (in two to three "business days") and then I will ship it to them, and then they will ship it back..... Oy!

But then comes word that the repair process might lead to wipe out of my primary hard drive. Will have to back up the primary drive (it is actually a partitioned drive, C dive for programs and E drive for data).... Now this is a problem.

Solution -- copy the hard drive.... But that means taking it out to copy on or through another desktop computer since it gets no power from within. Not easy given the construction of the HP Media Center box (why do they make it so difficult after all these years?). And then I have to find a place to store the data -- a place that I can access over the coming week. And what about the programs that will be lost?

It turns out that to have the hard drive copied at local CompUsa store will cost $70, so I look for alternative. There are some possible fixes, but they are either limited or really inconvenient. Finally take the plunge, however, and buy a 300 GB drive ($129) that will be the clone and hand it over to folks at Compusa who now inform me that the charge is actually $100 since cloning involves using their "ghost" software.

The only bright side is that today is a Massachusetts sales tax holiday, so at least I won't have to pay to the 5% sales tax... (Which explains why I am humming that Monty Python/Eric Idle tune again about the "bright side of life..."; listen here).

Of course I treated the folks at Compusa with all the courtesy I could muster -- even though inside I was hardly in the mood to contend with their general indifference. Luckily I hit a really nice computer tech, and he promised to try to get this done a bit sooner than their normal two day waiting period.... It pays to be nice (or at least I hope so...).

By the way, thank goodness for wireless routers and laptops -- otherwise I would be talking to the wall rather than writing this blog....

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Comments on "A pythonesque day..."


Blogger McGrathy said ... (6:21 AM) : 

No one expects the CompUsa inquisition. 'IT's one of their chief weapons! (see what i done there? 'IT' - clever non?).

Good to see your keeping in good calm form Mel and many belated congratulations on your birthday!

Keep up the good posting


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