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Computer Gremlin

Why do computer problems always come in a rash?

The alternating hot and stormy weather since November has probably got something to do with it, especially in this non-air-conditioned and pretty much uninsulated house. I’ve got a heavy duty Zalman cooler attached to my CPU but that doesn’t help my GPU and disk drives much. According to Speedfan they’ve been running a bit hot for a while and sure enough both my graphics card and system drive have failed over the past two months as well as my power supply. Maybe the PSU packed it in because I was forced to buy a new generation GPU to replace the old one that went belly up and the extra power demand was the final straw.

The big problem was the hard drive of course. I back up my data pretty regularly but it had been almost a year since I did a full system backup and I’ve been learning the hard way how many programs and system files have been installed or updated since then. With my ultra-slow internet connection I might just be able to reinstall all my Windows updates before Microsoft stops supporting XP in April.

And wouldn’t you know it. Within days of my hard drive spitting the dummy my e-reader seized up as well. So much for using the computer down time to catch up on all those great books I downloaded. At least I backed them up too.

The last time I went for an extended period without a computer was about six years ago and I did it pretty tough. That was during the depths of my depression and I’d been relying on it heavily to keep my mind off myself. When browsing the most inane reaches of the internet or working myself into a rage over the inadequacies of the media didn’t do it I could always immerse myself completely in a role-playing computer game. By heroically rescuing villagers from rampaging trolls and decapitating orcs with my enchanted broadsword I was able to forget for hours at a time that I was really just a miserable middle-aged man waiting for the right time to hang himself. I spent most of the weeks it took me to save the money for components to reopen the escape hatch from myself just staring at my bedroom ceiling thinking about the rope I had secreted in bushland a short walk from home. If my bipolar grandmother hadn’t already been going through a particularly rough patch at about the same time I might have used it.

This time it was much easier. In fact my enforced absence from online life just made me more aware of how much my wetware life has improved lately. I don’t watch TV and have recently given up on the radio and newspapers too, so I was brought face to face with myself and my immediate surroundings. Scary, eh? But it was all good. The extra time for meditation was a lovely luxury and I was also able to spend more time trying to sort out some of my medical problems. No real progress on the latter, but at least I can dispense with the nagging feeling that I’m still neglecting my health.

But the real bonus was all the extra time I had to just appreciate my world. Even sixteen months after escaping from a decade of debilitating depression everything still has a magical freshness that is a wonder to behold. If you take the time to behold it that is. I still don’t have any friends to replace the ones I lost during my depression but it sure can be pleasant just hanging with my pet rabbits.

One cool bunny

Ananda beats the heat by snoozing on an ice bottle

I think the enforced break from blogging was good for me too. I hadn’t realised how much I’d been mediating my lived experience through my identity as a blogger. I don’t usually think in words very much but I’d got into the habit of mining my day to day life for anecdotes to post to the blog. Instead of living my life I was writing it up in my head, even though only a tiny fraction would ever find its way into a post. There’s a kind of irony in thinking about how you can express the importance of the here and now instead of being fully in the moment itself.

Maybe I should switch the computer off for a month or so every year. Or should I just chuck it out?

  1. Rexie permalink

    ” depths of my depression”. Haha. Like the classic, Bunyan’s “slough of despond”. 😀

    Talking about switching off the computer, do you think our selves now live in them and not in us? i have that feeling. Man – computer = zombie.


    • About a decade ago I read a book called Natural Born Cyborgs by Andy Clark in which he argues that human beings have already extended their faculties and identities so far into their technology they have become cybernetic organisms. So losing your computer can be like losing a limb (or part of your brain).

      He over-eggs the custard a bit on the cyborg stuff but I think he under-examined what it says about the nature of self that we can so readily extend ourselves to incorporate our computer, our car, our tribe, our ideology or collapse it down to a supposedly inviolable core that doesn’t even include our body.

      Regarding your equation, I’m more inclined to see it as “man + computer = zombie” but if we are both right we can solve it as simultaneous equations.

      man – computer = zombie
      man + computer = zombie
      2*man = 2*zombie
      man = zombie
      computer = nothing

      I’m not sure that’s right but if it is I now know eleven ways of turning humans into zombies. Give them a computer that does nothing.


      • Rexie permalink

        This equations are not making sense to me. The idea was that computer = everything which is why man = zombie. So the equations are wrong. We have to begin again 😀 Or it could be that we have already solved the unknown here. The computer as ‘everything’ in human existence is now a known. So we don’t have to solve anything.

        I read that post of yours ages ago! It was FANTASTIC. I will read it again. Btw, did you read my post Her Darkness, Her Awakening? I most certainly want you to review it, just to see if it makes any sense to a sensible brain.


        • Given the problems I’m still having getting my system stable the idea that computers are everything is about the most depressing thought possible right now ;).


        • Rexie permalink

          Haha. Stepping out. Will continue chat later.


        • From about 8pm I will be offline for a couple of days.

          I’ve got a few more integrity checks to run then – if things look OK – I’ll be doing a full image copy of my 1TB system disk, which takes about 40 hours.


        • I was wrong.
          The entire image copy took less than seven hours. It’s never taken less than 35 hours in the past.I’ve done some checks and it seems to have worked perfectly.

          The only thing I can think of is that the EASUS TODO copying utility I use must be smart enough to detect when two sectors are already identical and not bother copying them. The backup disk already held my system as it was last March and even though the files that had changed were many and vital they didn’t really occupy much disk space.


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