Wednesday, July 15, 2009

I do not know why tech stuff all breaks at once.

Monday morning I booted up my computer to get a message that my startup disk was full, and "some data may be lost." I'd been away from the computer pretty much since Thursday afternoon, and much of the work I did on Thursday was lost, including all my temporary Internet files (meaning, mysteriously, sent emails as well).

I spent a good chunk of Monday scrambling to figure out why this had happened, and the extent of the damage. I still haven't figured out exactly what went missing -- Thursday's work and a bunch of recent photos, as best as I can tell -- but I did find a mysterious, massive (4GB) binary file called simply "Profile." No idea what it was; it had a Movie icon, but I could not open it, and deleting it from my hard drive cleared things up.

But these things always happen in batches, and that's the subject of today's post. Yesterday my modem signal started blanking out on me at about 20-minute intervals, and this morning I'd lost it altogether. Called the cable company, whose best advice was simply to turn it off and then turn it back on; I did that, and now it's working again.

While I'm dealing with the frustrations of underperforming technology, I'm also going to drive to Augusta this afternoon to -- FINALLY -- turn in a cable box that has never worked exactly right in the nearly five years I've owned it.

My computer and my modem were genuinely both broken within days of each other, but it reinforces my long-held observation that particular types of machines all break down at once. If the stove breaks, you can be almost certain that some other major kitchen appliance will fail within days; if the computer's squirrelly, the modem and/or printer and/or MP3 player will catch that disease and break down too, sooner rather than later. And if one thing's broken on my car, I can count on having to replace at least one other major item on the car as well.

Why is this? I try not to assign consciousness to inanimate objects, but can't help imagining a massive conspiracy of the machines against humankind -- and this is even before I've seen the latest Transformers movie.

Five Random Songs

"Chapel of Bones," Wonderlick. A beautiful and quirky love song by two of the guys who used to be Too Much Joy. I assume the song refers to Kutna Hora, the church of bones at the center of John Connolly's book The Black Angel.

"Motel Blues," Loudon Wainwright III. I'm all for confessional singer-songwriters, but this song goes to a place I'd rather not hear about; it's a plea to a very young waitress to come to the singer's hotel room.

"The Humor of the Situation," Barenaked Ladies. From Maroon, a relentlessly upbeat song that explores the territory between laughter and rage. (My spiritual home...)

"Twistin' the Night Away," Sam Cooke. I'm making a couple of music mixes for a friend's party this Saturday, and this song is going somewhere near the top of at least one playlist.

"All Fired Up," Interpol. Where science fiction meets folk music, with a driving techno beat. I really love this album (Our Love to Admire), and can't remember how I discovered it -- possibly through my friend Tom, possibly through my brother-in-law Scott.


Ed Lamb said...

I don't know why all machines fail in batches.

I can conjecture that the reason your modem started cutting out was because it got essentially shorted out by static. Over time, the elctrons zipping from diode to anode "clot" and impede flow. Turning off the modem and letting it sit for between 5 and 20 minutes lets the gumminess dissipate.

Anonymous said...

Lightening strike?

it fried a co-workers home modem


Claire said...

Mom and Dad's garbage disposal, dishwasher, and refrigerator all completely died last month. Also, all of the Metro is falling off in chunks (though that can be explained by the fact that the whole system was built at the same time and is now dying at the same time).

Anyway, I hope your problems are resolved soon. Any chance you'll make it down our way this summer?

AnswerGirl said...

Claire, my current schedule has me in DC from August 4 - 19. Always subject to change, of course ... I'll call you this weekend, when I should know more.

Peggy & Scott said...

hey clair, sorry you're having to deal w/ the techno glitches, I hate that.

go to and sign up now! $4.95 per mth, worth it!

interpol, can't get enough of and glad you're liking too. next time you're in nyc listen to turn on the bright lights while on the subway, walkin' round, etc.