My new virus protection software cleaned all the viruses off my computer, but either the viruses were just too much for it, or the muscular efficiency of the software overpowered it, because Putey's hard drive died at about 4:40 p.m. yesterday. I was sitting beside it, holding its mouse when it passed. It was a peaceful death, at least for the computer. I, however, was inconsolable and did the first thing I always do whenever the computer doesn't seem to be living up to its end of the bargain we have together (which is that I turn it on and occasionally dust the screen on its monitor, and it works without troubling me): I swore fluently under my breath.
Then I did the second thing I always do when I have computer trouble: I called Pat.
Pat was still at work, but he patiently listened to the scary problems I was having with Putey. "It was doing some very strange stuff, like not allowing me to load the anti-virus software, and then it wouldn't let me stay logged onto the internet, so I shut it down so that I could reboot it and now it won't come back on. It just keeps saying 'Welcome to Windows," but then it shuts itself right back off again. Welcome to Windows....Welcome to Windows....Welcome to Windows...that's all I get from it. I even pressed F12 to start it that way and for a moment, it looked like it would come back up because it actually went to my desktop page, but then it went back to the black screen again."
"It sounds like your hard drive crashed," he said carefully, possibly aware of the fact that I might start screaming.
"I was afraid of that," I said.
However, Putey's death isn't as much of a disaster as it could have been, because when I mentioned to Pat about seven months ago that my computer was seven years old, he let out his breath in a slow whistle and looked at me with one eyebrow raised. "Do you have all your files backed up?"
"Okay. Here's what you need to do: Tomorrow, if not sooner, go to whatever computer supply store is nearest to you and buy a flash drive so that you can back up all your stuff. Because a seven year old computer is pretty old and it is really risky to have un-backed up files on a computer that could bite the dust any day now."
That scared me half to death. I went the next day and bought that little gizmo and somehow figured out how to make it work -- I'm still not sure how I did this -- and backed up all my Shakespeare and HISTO files, plus all my soap recipes and other assorted things I wanted to keep. It was great fun and I proudly called Pat to tell him of my success. "I have a lot of files, though, and this flash drive has two gigabytes of memory on it. Will that be enough?"
Pat started laughing. "Okay, you know that flash drive you have? Well, it has about ten times the memory capacity that your entire old grandpa of a computer has. You have no worries."
That was nice to know. So thank heaven I listened to him. You should listen to him too, if you don't have your files backed up. My flash drive (or smart stick, whatever you want to call it) was about $52 for the two gigabytes of memory, although I got mine on sale for $29. I was mondo pleased about that.
The only files that weren't backed up were my new HISTO Indiana History files and a few documents in my Hamlet file. I really want to kick myself about this, mostly because the reason I didn't back them up is because it was a pain in the tushie to plug the flash drive into the USB port on Putey. Putey was so old that all his USB ports were on the back side of the CPU and it was a real test of my patience and flexibility to haul that monster out of the cabinet on the desk where it lives and tip it forward enough to plug in the flash drive. (This is also why I haven't yet installed Nicki's software onto Putey, and now it turned out that it's a good thing I didn't.)
Katie pointed out to me that there are cables one can buy that allow you to plug the cable into the USB port on the back of the CPU and then plug your peripheral appliance -- digital camera, flash drive, etc. -- into the cord. I actually think that Nicki might have come with one of those cables, darnit. But as usual, I kept thinking, "Oh, I'll check that out tomorrow," just like Scarlett O'Hara, but without the slender figure and the dress made out of Miz Ellen's po'teers.
So here I am at the public library, tapping away so that I can catch up on some email. I'm trying not to get all freaked out because of the many, many links in my favorites file that are now gone along with Putey -- all those links to Shakespeare sites where I did research, all those history sites....ugh. It just doesn't bear thinking about. So I won't. I'll think about it tomorrow, like my friend, Scarlett.
Pat is coming over today during his lunch hour to bring me one of his old computers. As it turns out, there are some people who don't wait until their old computers' hard drives crash until they buy new computers, so he has several older ones at his house, all of which are nicer and newer than Putey. That computer will be on loan until my husband and I buy our new one, which should be happening in a few weeks.
Pat is sacrificing his lunch -- something I would never dream of doing -- to set up his computer on my desk so that I can conduct my life as normal. It's so strange, how dependent we become on these silly boxes for our daily activities and business to carry on. He really is the very best of brothers, and now I feel very bad that I used to steal his G.I. Joes so that they could go out on dates with my Barbies. That used to really tick him off, but anyone should have been able to see that a woman would much prefer a date with the tough and rugged Joe than with the mild, foppish Ken. So I would probably still take his G.I. Joe, but I would at least ask him this time.
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