Monday, October 18, 2010

More Evidence for SILVER LININGS


Last week was a killer one for me. But, dear friends, if you hang with me for a few minutes, you’ll see how I have found it possible to find -- through all the gray days-- that it is getting easier to find “silver linings” if I keep an eye out for them. You can too—and really, you MUST! Your worst enemy during these down periods is despair!

I’ve known for a while now that my personal world view has gradually come to be almost wholly and directly related to how well my computer is performing. Sounds crazy, doesn’t it? Well, it is…but just knowing that it’s crazy, unfortunately, doesn’t change the effect a computer crash has on me. I could be otherwise soaring on Cloud Nine, all systems go, optimism ruling the day. And then my computer starts limping as though it has some broken bones, and I know that imminently, something really bad is going to happen!

Omen of Despair

For a while I tried to tell myself that the seemingly interminable white screen on boot-up was not really a symptom, though secretly I knew I was living at the edge of disaster, and it was just going to be a matter of time before my World crashed down around me. In my mind’s eye, it looks like a building implosion!

(Google Image)

But now I’m out of work, no severance pay this time, and I’m trying to slow the “bleeding” by attempting to be somewhat frugal with my spending. And yet, I know that my computer is the lifeline to my most fervent passion – Photography. To merely imagine that lifeline being severed, even for a few days, fills me with horror and revulsion, the likes of which can suddenly transform me, Florence Nightingale, to Medusa, the mythological monster with snakes for hair!
(Google Image)

To that point, I have learned to warn my husband to keep a few dozen arm’s lengths between us while I’m trying to solve an electronics problem. If he forgets, invariably he is exposed to a couple of bared fangs, which I can assure you, is not a pleasant experience!  So, duly warned, husband brought me beverages and the occasional morsel of food, and otherwise kept his distance through the three-day ordeal.

So, it happened. And it happened right after a major Windows Update in the middle of the night. As I tried to rub the early morning blur from my eyes, it was clear that my screen was frozen. And after trying everything I could think of to unfreeze it (mainly cntl-alt-delete), my only option was to turn the thing off and turn it back on again (as in, when all else fails, REBOOT!). But I had a sickening feeling in the pit of my stomach, and my heart was racing madly. This was not going to be good.

"A Sick Feeling"   (Shot at Magic Gardens, South Street, Philadelphia)

Well, I’m not saying that Microsoft was to blame for this impending disaster, but ever since this high-end laptop was delivered to my door, with the (unnamed here) operating system that has since been discontinued, it has been nothing but problems.

If this was to be an unrepairable crash, then it will have been the fourth one in three years and the fourth one that would require a complete Operating System re-installation. And that means having to reload every piece of software that came pre-installed on the computer, and every program that I had added since, including every photo editing program and plug-in.  And then I'll have to locate every serial number and license key. Each such incident took more than 24 hours of work to get up and running again. And a lot of hyper-ventilating along with a fair amount of shed tears (well, who needs tears anyway?). And if they have not been recently backed up to a portable storage device, it could also mean the loss of all stored documents and precious photos.

Silver Trinket #1  (Google Image)

So here’s the first bit of silver ore I found: All that stuff had been backed up to storage media the day before! And when I checked my backup drive, all the documents and photos were present and accounted for.  Great!  (Smiling)

So--back to the incident: When I turned the computer back on, it kept cycling through the black and white screen that says, “Windows was unable to start.” If you don’t press an option within a minute, it then tries to boot again…and again…and again! Not looking good at all.

Summing up the next three days in a few sentences:

• My computer’s hardware was still under warranty, but…

• The operating system was not. And since the problem appeared to be with the O.S.--

• I would have to pay more than $200 to get assistance with troubleshooting this issue.

• Over a period of three days I spoke at length with two novice technicians-- both of whose heavy dialects I could not parse, and one of which was also rude -- for a total of about 10 hours, until the case was finally escalated to a special group that handles “near hopeless” cases.

• On one technician's strong recommendation, ordered an installation disc for Windows 7, which didn’t resolve the problem because it would not install on my computer.

• Several telephone lines dropped, causing me to have to repeat my story multiple times at great length.  Finally I was connected to the technician for "lost cause" software issues.

• Good news! He spoke very plain English and was full of apparent sympathy for my dilemma. And after a few hours of going through all the same steps as the day before and the day before that, he, with all the patience of a saint, walked me through the start of the very long, unabridged hard drive diagnostics routine. “Let it run to the end, however many hours it takes, and if any errors occur, just write down the message. I will call you at 12:30 pm EDT tomorrow to find out what happened.” And the fatal error happened about two minutes after we hung up. The hard drive was compromised and had to be replaced.!!!

• So it had taken more than 15 hours of telephone time to be able to justify the replacement of a $200 part. Penny wise and pound foolish? I was totally drained.

I don’t remember anything after climbing into bed that night, but woke up the next morning refreshed and thankful for all the pieces of shiny silver ore that I had mined over the last few days:

Glory Be!

Silver Pieces:

#2 Silver Piece: I started off with one lovely but lame computer. At the end of the ordeal, I’ll have two beautiful, fast, and sleek high-end laptops with a total of 1300 gigabytes of storage space.

#3 Silver Piece: With 8 gigabytes of RAM, Photoshop will NEVER crash again because of too little memory to finish a task! And with a new, super-duper graphics card, I’ll have a gorgeous display and no more graphics crashes!

#4 Silver Piece: As wonderful as the other two bits of silver linings are, this one is, for a middle-aged female, Far-and-Away, the very biggest and best silver nugget:

In three days, I have lost, hopefully forever, FIVE POUNDS of ugly, depressing FAT!

Could I ask for More?  Could anyone?

Of course. What we all need is a great job, and if we keep our spirits up and do what we need to do, it's going to happen!  I believe it!


Do you have a "Silver Lining" story to tell? 
Email it to me ( ).
I'll publish it here* --with photos-- if it fits the theme. Could be fun!


   Please visit my photo gallery at Your Best Shot Photography

* with minor discretionary edits

(Unless otherwise indicated, all photography by Michelle Alton)