Jealous computer?

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20060417singer7462.jpg Yesterday morning, I surfed over to the Jo-Ann Fabrics website to look at sewing machines. The $199.99 on-sale Singer 7462 Electronic Sewing Machine (also on special now with free shipping) caught my eye. It has good reviews so I tried to view the online demo but the Quicktime icon was "broken". I downloaded and installed the latest free Quicktime player (which is combined with iTunes). The installation required a reboot which I did then walked away for one reason or another. When I came back a while later, the Windows 2000 startup screen was still displayed. Uh-oh.

Tried CTRL-ALT-DEL - nothing. Tried to power off - nothing. Hit the "emergency" reboot button under the power switch. Watched the boot sequence. Stuck again at 13 blocks on the progress bar of the Windows 2000 startup screen. Hit the reboot button. Hit F8 during the boot sequence and try Safe Mode. Stuck at startup screen. Hit reboot button, hit F8, tried "Last Good Configuration" (but don't read the instructions completely). Stuck at startup screen.

Took a deep breath. And another. Hit reboot button quickly followed by power off button. Let the computer sit while I measured, cut, and sewed...

I tried to ignore the problem but became more and more sick to my stomach about it. A few hours later, I tried "Last Good Configuration" again (reading the instructions this time: who knew you had to hit "L"!?) - and it worked!

The computer (hard drive?) has been making noise for many weeks (months?). But, it's not a clicking or a grinding sound so I wasn't too worried about it (obviously since it's been months!). Recently, however, the sound is more like a switching gears in a small manual-shift sports car.

The computer is still making noise, but the programs and data files (and photos and all my other "stuff") are there. It reboots cleanly now, without getting stuck at the startup screen.

And, Quicktime worked so I could view the Singer 7462 sewing machine demo!

I think my computer is jealous. Jealous that I'm thinking about buying an electronic sewing machine. Jealous that I won't have as much time to spend with it if I get a new sewing machine. However, it has more than just that to be jealous about...

My computer was brand new with lots of good stuff in October of 2000 for $5,000 - yes, that much. I ordered it with what I wanted: large 21-inch monitor, 500mb RAM, DVD, CD-RW, ZIP, Windows 2000, Microsoft Office Pro, more. It's now 5 1/2 years later and similar PCs cost about $800-900. The computer is still what I want and need, except for 2 things: I'm nearly out of disk space on the 40gb hard drive and...and I need a backup solution.

A backup solution that is automatic and reliable. Something that doesn't involve copying many gigabytes of files to 650mb CD-RW disks or dealing with tapes. Something easy.

20060417dellxps400.gif So, I spent some time yesterday evening hunting for a new computer on Dell's website. One with a built-in backup solution (Dell's "DataSafe" which uses Ghost to copy designated files to a backup hard drive) and a larger hard drive.

The new computer I'm looking at has a 19/20-inch widescreen flat screen monitor (which I don't really care about since I'm very happy with my current 21-inch CRT monitor), 250gb hard drive with DataSafe (which I need), Windows XP (which would be nice to have), 1gb RAM (but the 500mb I have now has been plenty), and more (most of which I don't need). But it doesn't have a ZIP drive - and I have a lot of ZIP disks I use to bring files to and from work. I know I could use a USB jump drive, but I already have 30 or so ZIP disks that have been working just fine.

For ergonomic reasons, I am not considering a laptop / notebook PC. The keyboards are too narrow, the screens aren't large enough and are difficult to see in some lighting, and I can't sit just anywhere to be on a computer (gotta take care of my back).

What's a worried, backup-less computer user to do? Especially when her computer is making odd sounds...

Just thinking "out loud" now...and trying to talk myself into buying a new computer...

I was very very relieved when the computer successfully booted and I could see that all programs and files were still accessible. I teared up a little with relief. The possibility of losing 5+ years of photographs and other files is not a pleasant thought.

Is not feeling the fear of losing all my files worth buying a new computer? Even if the cost is just over $2,200 (including tax, free shipping)? For a computer with more power and more features than my current computer, more than I even realistically would use? (Of course, the starting price is $999, but that doesn't include DataSafe or Microsoft Office.)

Granted, I could take $290 off the total if I didn't get the 20-inch widescreen flat screen monitor. I could reduce it further by not ordering the wireless keyboard and mouse ($40) and a few other things to bring the total to about $1,750 (including tax, free shipping).

Hubby says "Go for it. You use it. You want it. Buy what you want. You can afford it. You'll be miserable if you lose all your files." (We keep our finances separate except for "joint" expenses, so it's easy to encourage each other to spend money on "toys"!)

Last night, sometime after the computer was again working, it occurred to me that if I hadn't e-filed our tax returns Friday evening and had waited until Sunday as Bill suggested, we would have been late late late if my computer still had not started correctly. He understood the full magnitude of the situation at that point. No computer = Loss of something we (mostly I) rely on pretty regularly.

[7:10pm] Oh, and, I'm concerned that some of my software won't run on Windows XP, such as Photoshop/ImageReady 7, Illustrator 9, Dreamweaver MX, and more!

[7:34pm] By the way, I finished our tax returns in late February using TaxCut, but had not yet e-filed because we owed just over $2,000 combined in State and Federal taxes.

2 Comments

Lessons Learned:

(1) Don't wait until the last day to do your taxes! Alternatively, don't have earned income.

(2) Punish Cleo for creating all the cat hair that probably got into your computer and made it make weird noises.

[sarcasm] You are a nasty and evil son for thinking it could possibly be Cleo's fault! [/sarcasm]

I even opened up the computer to see how much dust and, um, cat hair was there - and was surprised and pleased to find about 1/3 as much as I would've thought.

-Mom

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Sketch of Cheryl

About Cheryl

Enjoys crocheting, gardening, cats, NASCAR (especially Tony Stewart and Kyle Busch!), reading, photography, snorkeling in Kailua-Kona with sea turtles, Sizzler's Mega Bacon Cheeseburgers, hot and iced decaf coffee, dark chocolate, color (yarn, fabric), playing around with web technologies - not necessarily in that order! Still very much a beginner with quilting, knitting, and sewing. Donates crocheted lap blankets.

List maker, detail-oriented, organized, leans heavily toward perfectionism. ISTJ. Libra.

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Cheryl published on April 17, 2006 6:33 PM.

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