State of the world

Computer categorically does not work. To the best of my ability to determine, which is not great, the hardware functions, but the bump probably knocked a bad sector into the HDD right in the middle of something Windows needs. Windows Repair will run, try to fix something, reboot, then fail with a perfunctory apology. I do not have the Vista disc. Reinstalling an OS will involve formatting or at least partitioning the drive, and a new OS install will be hep to the idea of bad sectors and work around them, so assuming that's the only thing that went wrong the computer will continue limping along until I replace her. Which will need to be soon.

I need a working computer in order to do my main job, the one that actually pays my rent, and handle my bookings for the job that occasionally pays for food. I don't have much time to fuck around with this. I think all the online tools I need will work from Tisch, but I don't know how kindly they'd take to a non-student camping at one of their terminals for 20 hours a week.

I'm sitting at Tisch Library right now. I have a perfectly serviceable Ubuntu ISO and about four different programs which will theoretically make a bootable flash drive out of it. All demand Admin access, which for obvious reasons I do not have on the public computers. I may theoretically have the ability to burn CDs on these, but A. I don't have any blank CDs, and B. I've been following cords to no avail -- I don't even know where the boxes for these monitors are. I imagine they're in a nearby secure cabinet, which precludes me from getting to the DVD drives.

Someone on G+ is under the impression I'm whining about buying a new Windows license. Sod that. Technically a Windows 8 Pro upgrade license, which would be valid if I can find the Genuine Windows sticker on the bottom of the computer and still possibly make out what it once said, is $40, $70 if I want to be mailed a DVD. Unfortunately, the computer does not meet the minimum spec for Win8. (If you want to get technical about it, the minimum spec machine they list probably doesn't meet the minimum spec for Win8 in any practical sense. Microsoft is notorious for using "ability to eventually boot to a static desktop" as their standard, rather than "ability to do anything at all useful, such as for example drop down the goddamn menu or open Explorer, never mind running applications".) Microsoft is no longer selling Win7, which it might run in a slow and extremely grudging fashion.

Someone else suggested a Chromebook. They're cheap and they look nice, but they're useless without an internet connection. I need a connection in order to work anyway, but I am deeply suspicious of any machine that requires the ability to phone home constantly, and it would be useless if I decided to take it out somewhere that has no wifi, like Revere Beach, and write things. The other advantage, cloud storage, is something I have anyway; Google already has custody of everything on Gmail, Calendar and Gdrive, plus my Chrome browser login, and as far as I can tell Amazon is set to store everything on the Kindle in perpetuity.

Microcenter lists bare-bones laptops at their Cambridge store. They list a single Toshiba Satellite model at $350, one in stock, in-store only, which is really sincerely what I'd prefer and I might be able to swing it if I raided PayPal and so forth, and a couple of Dells and HPs for $250-300. (I'm not clear on exactly what sales tax is out here, especially since the town boundaries change every seventy-five feet. I tend to estimate it at 10%, because Flagstaff was at a whopping 9.7% or something like that, and be pleasantly surprised.) Technically, I have the money to replace the laptop now -- just -- and only because of an unexpected photo booking that I made on about two days' notice, and was paid for about eight hours before the computer took a tumble. It would wipe out what miniscule savings I have, and I'd be back to eating ramen and doing minimal laundry for a while.

On top of this, one of the rats has also decided to malfunction. He was cranky and lethargic for a few days, and at first I thought he was refusing all food -- a very bad sign for rats, for whom nomming is equivalent to life -- but upon further investigation he's just refusing to eat anything he has to gnaw at a lot, and won't compete with the other two for the food bowl. I suspect he's chomped something too hard, or gotten nailed in a squabble, and it hurt him to chew for a few days. Rats are excellent at both learning from experience and avoiding pain, so his teeth might be back to normal and he doesn't know it because he's too much of a chickenshit to test, but he does eat squashy oatmeal and rice and tuna, so he can't be that bad off. If he keeps it up I'll have to figure out how to file down his teeth for him, but that's not a terrible price for an otherwise-working rat.

And now I need to go down to CVS, because I'm out of Aleve and I have literally nothing to eat for dinner. I can get email via Kindle, and may post from Tisch, but other than that I'm going to be AWL until I get the computer thing sorted.


  1. Would an XP installation disk do you any good? I'd be glad to donate one to the cause.


    1. Possibly, but not likely. I've resuscitated XP machines before, and something in the OS is tied to a magic number it finds in the hardware or generates from the hardware or pulls out of its ass or something. I replaced a hard drive in an XP desktop once, and all hell broke loose. If it's an OEM desk -- that is, one that came bundled with a computer from a big retailer like Gateway, HP, or Dell -- it's likely keyed to that system and would just laugh chillingly at me before refusing to install.

      I've given up and am going to go buy a new one. I'm certainly going to try to fix this one, but until I've done all possible repairs she's going to remain rather unreliable, and that's no bueno for me. Microcenter has some $250 Dells that look like about what I need. I'm not a PC gamer, and mercifully I don't do my own photo retouching -- I need a thing that will concurrently run a word processor, an IM program of some sort, and a couple of multi-tab browser windows with Flash objects in them. Not exactly a demanding spec.


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