Miracle Max: “Somebody call the Brute Squad!”
Fezzik the Giant: “I’m on the Brute Squad.”
Miracle Max (scanning Fezzik up and down): “You are the Brute Squad.”
—The Princess Bride
So I got some memory for my laptop.
Now, I’ve had some years’ experience with taking the desktop PC apart, and disconnecting and reconnecting various paraphernalia in that respect. But as my notebook (or “Baby,” as I call it) is only a bit over a year old, I haven’t had a reason to take it apart yet. It’s one of those things that you really hate to get the first ding on—it’s so nice and new.
Well, the biggest “ding” was that Baby was taking her own sweet time to do normal tasks. So, I took the finest option available to me, and bought her the biggest memory card she could handle. Mind you, this is my first laptop, and it’s an entirely different sort of animal from the PC. In my career of computer troubleshooting, I’ve come to rely heavily on intuition…which sometimes doesn’t seem to translate from one piece of technology to the other.
Well, I got the card all right, and this morning I went to install it. The included instructions tell you how to ground yourself against static electricity. They also quite clearly illustrate how to put the card into the slot—but they don’t show exactly where the slot itself is. The backside of Baby tells me nothing whatsoever. The instructions that came with Baby are so high-tech that they’re installed on the notebook itself. Which means I have to power up the notebook, when I wanted to keep it off and static-free. Bummer. I told you, Baby takes her sweet time. It takes her for-ev-er to wake up. It’s gotten to the point where I usually just put her on “hibernate,” rather than power her down each day. It’s easier that way.
So I awoke the sleeping babe and found the Help information. It wasn’t that helpful. As a matter of fact, it told me absolutely nothing I needed to hear. Oh, except for the Gateway website address. Not to be disrespectful to Gateway—it’s just that oftentimes, with instructions, I get the feeling that somebody presumes you should know what it is you’re looking at. Or for.
So I went to the website. A little niggling around there, and THANK THE LORD! PICTURES!! They had a step-by-step example with PICTURES. Ah, so THAT’S the memory slot. This is going to take a screwdriver.
E-mail the info to myself. Power Baby down. It takes her just as long to get ready for bed as it does to wake her up, so I just hit “Hibernate” out of habit. Blink, she’s off. Flip her over, suddenly realize that my own “random access memory” didn’t remember which panel I was supposed to take off.
“Not my fault!” as Han Solo would say—the carbon monoxide poisoning left me with a Swiss cheese memory. So I do the usual steps: Get mad at myself, then start over.
Head to the PC. Get the help site off my e-mail, commit the panel to memory, then go back to the kitchen right quick.
My Dad is on hand to help. I asked him for a really small Phillips screwdriver. So he brings out a crowbar. I’m laughing out loud.
Having been duly impressed with the awesome fearfulness of static electricity, I ground myself on anything that sits still. Remove the battery. Eschew the crowbar, use a screwdriver, remove the panel, look eagerly within.
There’s already a card in the slot.
Have to think about that for a second.
Reading the information on that card, I realize, well, of course the computer has to have some memory installed—it was only that I was expecting to ADD a card, not have to REPLACE one. WHY DOESN’T ANYONE TELL ME THESE THINGS? I do some mental shenanigans here for a second. 250 MB of memory vs. 1 GB+. More is definitely better. So yes, the old card comes out. Where’s my tea??? Oh, wait, no liquids by the computer.
So I get the old card out all right. Reverently remove the new one from its static-free bag—which by the way had a hole in it from shipping and handling—and go to install it. It doesn’t…quite…fit. Not that it isn’t supposed to—it’s just that it needs to be pushed, and all I can see is the price of this little wafer floating before my eyes. “Just jiggle it,” my Dad advises. Age-old remedy, I think to myself, for the computer age—but there’s a reason why the age-old methods have stuck around for so long. They work.
So the new card is in. Put the plate back on, plug the battery back in, flip Baby over, and fire ‘er up.
Ah, no Blue Screen of Death, thank Heaven. But…what’s…
Black screen. With words on it. And a menu of choices. Oh, dang.
“Delete restoration data and proceed to system boot menu” or “Try restart again.” Holy cow, yes, try again, please.
Chews on that for a minute, then back to the same screen. I read the message again. My eyes are glazing over at this point. I’m presuming—no, I’m intuiting—that I’m getting this trouble because I had Baby on Hibernate, rather than shutting her down from the Start menu. So she needs to be restarted, and I have a feeling that that’s what the “delete restoration data” menu choice does.
But would you want to take a guess with anything that has the words “delete” and “data” in it?
So I call the Geek Squad.
The guy on the other end of the line doesn’t even let me finish talking before he takes a breath to answer. “Yes, just click that option, you’ll be fine.”
As he spoke, I clicked on the ominous “Delete data” option, and my Baby gave a deep sigh and showed me the Windows screen. All was right with her world.
And dang, did she wake up fast this time.
Well, I wished a very happy day to the guy from the Geek Squad, and in the meanwhile felt my intuition redeemed.
I ARE the Geek Squad.
I never thought I would ever find myself on my hands and knees, poking my head into a dusty, claustrophobic location, while I sorted through an incomprehensive tangle of wires. Wires that had power running through them, no less.
If I could have imagined that, I wouldn’t have ever dreamed that I would know what I was doing as I rooted through those wires.
The climax of the fantasy would have been if I pictured myself crawling into a cramped area on my hands and knees, rooting through a tangled mess of live wires, knowing what I was doing…and actually FIXING a problem.
Well, self, welcome to Fantasy Island.
One of my all-time favorite aspects of the Star Wars Trilogy was Han Solo’s ship, the Millennium Falcon. To me, few things about the series were cooler than that massive structure, with all its mysterious hideaways and corridors—with its fame for speed and maneuverability—and almost best of all, it’s cobbled-together repair work, like layers and layers of paint, built up over many years of seat-of-the-pants emergency fixes. I love that scene in The Empire Strikes Back when Han has his head poked into the side of the Falcon, trying to get the behemoth to work even as the Imperial army closes in on them, necessitating a fast escape.
I had a Millenium Falcon toy as a child, but it didn’t have nearly enough nooks and crannies, and no wires at all. However, as I grew to adulthood, I would think of the Falcon anytime I discovered the need to do anything even remotely technical. As a writer and an artist, those experiences were seldom.
Then my three techno-savvy brothers went away to college, leaving me with the responsibility of caring for our home-built computer.
Welcome to the Falcon.
It’s been a while since I first poked my head into the inner workings of that mini-behemoth. I find myself creating many seat-of-the-pants fixes nowadays…and the thought of the Millenium Falcon was never closer than it was the other day. The left speaker went out on our sound system. It had been blinking in and out for a while, which was frustrating; but usually a little jiggle would get it working again. That day, however, no manner of jiggling would get that speaker to work. Ooh, wire problems, I thought to myself with a wince. That was annoying, because I wanted to listen to some inspiring music while I drew my artwork—and having one speaker just wasn’t cutting it. So, I pulled my chair away from the computer table, got down on my hands and knees, and took a journey to a long time ago and a galaxy far, far away.
I was busy tracing those speaker wires through the impossible tangle of dusty cords under the desk—dusty no matter how frequently I vacuum them, and tangled despite my efforts to organize them—and had just slipped my fingers behind the subwoofer to check the speaker cord, when it came to me that it was just like working on the Falcon! And then, wonder of wonders, I felt the cord I was looking for, gave it a push, and heard the beautiful sound of a speaker coming to life. Rudimentary, to say the least, but it fixed the problem!
And Chewie didn’t even need to hand me the hydrospanners.