Have you ever had one of those days when you started out trying to do some simple little task? And then complications began arising, multiplying and compounding?
I use a Mac these days, but I still need my Widows PC from time to time for expensive programs like Photoshop. Adobe doesn’t even sell a CD installable version of it any longer, nor a downloadable one, either. Their website now says Photoshop and Illustrator are only available with a Creative Cloud account (which is where the apps do their processing) at a minimum cost of $52.99 per month. Good grief!
So you can see why I wanted my old hand-built Windows machine to continue running (liquid cooled i-7 970 processor overclocked to 4.2 GHz, blah, blah, techno babble). I hadn’t turned it on for about 6 weeks, but wanted to process some graphic art files, so thought I would just get that knocked out real quick. I should mention that these are not just any old image files, but original graphic art that I’m sending out for printing on expensive metal and canvas in preparation for a show, so it’s very important that they are carefully prepared. But of course now the machine was installing an OS upgrade from Microsoft that ate up a good hour, and when it completed, the PC failed to reboot.
This was aggravating, but not to worry, I keep my data backed up and always have a bootable rescue disk on hand that ensures I can access the machine and navigate to where the backups reside. First, though, I needed to access the BIOS settings just to be sure the three internal hard drives were all represented, and in the right order. Sure enough, my primary hard drive was among those in the Hard Drives list, but for some reason was not in the Boot Priority list, so the machine was incapable of accessing the Windows operating system it contained. I changed the setting, saved the BIOS, and yay, the PC started booting Windows. I logged in, was able to install a simple program, but noticed that there was a lot of visual artifacting going on (pixelation and jumpy video).
Then the machine crashed hard. I could not boot back to Windows. But again, lesson in planning and patience here, I always have a recovery plan. Booting up is very slow when using a rescue disk, but finally I was back in, and yes, there was a pristine backup of the operating system accessible on one of my drives. The artifacting was probably due to a corrupted video driver, I thought, and the restoral would take care of that as well as the startup and stability problems.
Except it didn’t. I was able to get back into Windows, and could see in Hardware Manager that it wasn’t detecting the graphics card, but maybe it was still somehow driver related, so I downloaded and attempted to install the latest Nvidia drivers for my card model. Another crash. End of Day 1.
Day 2. I decide I am abandoning Windows altogether after my restore file fails and my third reinstallation of Windows fails. I take the setup apart and store the computer and monitor in 2 different rooms. Really, I get the lesson. I just need to release certain things, and Windows is one of them.
Day 3. But damn, I want that Photoshop program. It has the option to resample color on image files before resizing them and increasing DPI for printing. It’s the only one I know of that does it right. Nonetheless, I’m not going to pay $53 a month just so I can use Photoshop on the Mac. Hmm, something about the fact that it never detected the video card at all, though . . . . Windows would always have a usable default driver for a popular Nvidia card like mine that had been in use for years.
Day 4. I take the Windows machine apart to get the video card out and take a look. It appeared to be seated properly in the PCI slot, but appearances can be deceiving sometimes. And it definitely needed the dust and dog hair blown out of it. In fact, the whole machine did. Outside with it, I was blowing dust out like crazy, and was almost finished. Then the compressor suddenly stopped. Not a fuse. I finally noticed that I had stepped on the power cord or somehow snagged it in just the wrong place and managed to pull it loose internally; a few colored wires were visible beneath the sheathing right at the base where it disappeared inside. There was no accessible means of repairing it. Sigh. Deep breath. The compressor was now toast, but I patiently finished up the computer with some small dusting tools, carefully reassembled everything, making sure the video card was firmly seated, and booted up to a black screen and blinking cursor.
I was beginning not to handle this well and did the grumpy funk for a few hours, then deduced that the video card must be bad, and finally ordered a new one that could be returned if it turned out that something else was the source of the issue.
Day 7. The video card arrived. I installed it. The machine booted up perfectly. Yes! Yeah, the other card was fried and was intermittently trying to assassinate the operating system, which it was getting quite good at, so it appears. But now my creation is reborn, working better than ever.
Day 8. My programs are reinstalled and I can do whatever it was I had originally intended. Oh, yeah, processing those image files for printing.
No, all was not calm as this series of unfortunate events played out, but compared to the twist I could get in my knickers during similar situations in the past, I was Buddha incarnate. Well, maybe I was more like Moses or Paul – both redeemed murderers. There were passing fantasies of working on the PC with a hammer. At long last, however, my ability to step away, calm down through meditation, think logically and develop another plan paid off. I think I might be starting to grow up.
But have you ever had one of those days when you started out trying to do some simple little task?