diamond geezer

 Tuesday, November 25, 2003

A hard lesson

You've hopefully not noticed, but my home computer died on Sunday evening. Completely. One minute I was out of the room cleaning my teeth ready for bed while my PC rebooted, and the next I returned to discover the blue screen of death. Quite literally in this case. I tried turning the computer back on, only to hear the distinct sound of my hard drive clicking away feebly to itself, a final death rattle, terminal self-harm. There was no mistaking the symptoms, I was suffering from broken Windows. No entry, full stop.

I felt almost bereaved. Losing a computer is in many ways like losing a much-loved dog. A faithful pet, sitting there in the corner of the room, good company, playful, reliable, sometimes begging to be taken for some exercise, but always there and ready to fill your time when necessary. You know that one day they'll pass on, but you hope you'll be able to transfer your affection to a new model when the time comes. Course, a computer doesn't need to be taken to the vet to be put down, but equally a dog tends not to destroy all your memories when it dies.

I'm not sure how long I could have survived in PC-less World without suffering traumatic withdrawal symptoms. Thankfully I remembered that I had another computer, an old 20th century model, gathering dust in my spare room. An old slowcoach that I should have chucked away when I upgraded 18 months ago but thankfully, being a bit of a hoarder, I hadn't. It took me a few hours to make sure the old computer was broadband-enabled, and to remember what on earth my ADSL password was, but eventually I scraped back on line. It's like surfing in treacle on my old system, but at least I'm back in the water.

After spending the whole of last week writing about time travel, now I know what it's like to travel back in time. To June last year to be precise, because I've lost access to everything I've saved since. All my photos of San Francisco, my updated Christmas card address list, all my favourite web addresses, a library of mp3s, 500 days-worth of emails, even the picture quiz I was going to use on here tomorrow, the lot. Yup, I'm one of those sad individuals who was always meaning to back up everything on their system but never quite got round to it. I know it would have been easy, I know it wouldn't have used up that many CD-ROMS, but alas I'm an optimist. And optimists are sometimes caught out.

This morning my hard drive is sitting in a spare room somewhere in deepest Essex, awaiting either resuscitation or a death certificate. I hand-delivered it (in the world's oldest suitcase) to a far-flung disc-hospital last night, a sort of mercy dash, ready for urgent transplant surgery. Fingers crossed the prognosis is favourable, because I'd like to regenerate in a 21st century body as soon as possible. In the meantime I've learnt a valuable lesson about planning for the worst, because the worst sometimes happens. So, especially for all those of you who are planning to leap into my comments box and start preaching, here's a big button you can press instead. I hear you, I hear you.

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