Computers and a competition

Hah! (I’ve been waiting for such a long time to open a blog post like so :)) What a couple of days I’ve just been through…

Firstly my sound card has given up the ghost. This happened some time last week, though I thought if I restored to the last pre-update status and restarted two or three times that the problem would miraculously repair itself. Not so. That brought me to Monday afternoon hanging on the line for customer service. The helpful gentleman on the other end of the line didn’t really want to speak English with me, which left me struggling for such technical terms as speakers (kaiuttimet) and headsets (kuulokkeet) etc. These are not words that fill my daily vocabulary anyway!

Luckily we crossed that barrier and traversed the sticky ground of serial numbers. Thank goodness for the universally recognised Alpha, Romeo, Sierra etc. There are Finnish equivalents (Aarne, Risto, Sakari) although they don’t spring to mind readily. This is definitely one list that I need to learn. Back to the service call and after a few seconds I’m instructed to write down a warranty return code and head to an special site dedicated for returns… Too easy.

Yes, too easy. It took me a long half an hour to work out that I should have used “http” instead of “www”. Then once that hurdle had been overcome I was faced with a page of text. Including a statement in bold red saying “read first”. It was far too much for my frazzled brain to deal with at the time, so this morning I picked up where I left off.

It turns out that the original packing that I tossed about a month ago is required for return. Humph. Oh well, I’m sure I can find some bubble wrap and cardboard. Reading further the power source has to go back as well. Hmm, odd shaped package then! Reading to the bottom of the page it appeared that every second statement seemed to absolve everybody of responsibility if something went wrong…

Eventually all fields are filled and appropriate boxes checked. An email has arrived with information about scheduling a pickup. I’m tempted to arrange pickup for after Easter. There’s some things I want to work on that don’t need sound… Wordt case scenario I could use the ‘house’computer. Upside it has sound, downside I’m last in line for access after The Engineer and Mr. 13. Very thankful for the “cloud” though. No last minute panic to back everything up 🙂

Now for the competition part! I’m contemplating holding a contest over on Heather’s Helsinki. I have some prizes. I have the “subject”. What do you think faithful follower? Do blog competitions work? Have you ever taken part in a competition that had prizes – real things that is? Was it properly run? Would it better on Facebook or Twitter? Serious questions that need answers! 😉

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Protection of the digital variety

Famous last words: no rush, I’ll do it tomorrow or even worse, it’s a new computer, I don’t need to worry about backing up the OS. I’m a smart, sensible person, so why are these jobs so difficult to get started.

This morning I awoke to the ‘ASUS black screen of death’. I didn’t realise such a term existed until I scrolled through message board after message board looking for a solution. Turns out that my problem could be hardware based or it could be some dodgy software. I usually wait before downloading the upgrades that come through; after all it’s not that unusual to hear about patches being published for long-awaited upgrades.

I’m quite certain there was nothing of that sort last night. I published a post over at one of my other blogs (Heather’s Helsinki) and then spent some time checking out themes. I want to update the theme over there, I’m just not sure what I want. As inspiration didn’t strike, I logged off, shut down and every so gently closed the lid (I specifically remember this because I didn’t want the dog to hear the ‘click’ and think that some treat was on its way).

This morning I open up the lid fully expecting that the sign-on screen will appear. Instead I was faced with a black screen and the mouse pointer hovering in the centre. I move  the mouse in slow circles to start with, in the vain hope that this motion will somehow, miraculously kick-start my computer. No such luck. My tea suddenly tastes bad and I remember the message that has hovered in the bottom right hand corner for the last couple of months. The one that baldly reminds me that I haven’t backed up my OS and it would be a very good idea to do it now. I didn’t even check the box that said ‘don’t show this message again’. Good thing, I’m quite sure I would never have found the back-up without it.

However there will be nothing to back-up if I can’t get the computer working again. Files and pictures are all in the cloud, and I’ve done practice recoveries to get them back, so those things I wasn’t so concerned about. Having a pretty silver box with a black screen that does absolutely nothing was something that was concerning me BIG TIME.

I commandeer the tablet and type in what I think is an appropriate search time. The search engine disagrees and gives me results that are close in a vague sort of ‘dogs are close to cats because they’re both pets’ way. I change the order of the words and the results start making more sense and also scare me much more. A third try hits the target and after reading those message board posts I’m feeling decidedly queasy. An appointment allows me to put off making any sudden moves and I head off into the morning determined not to let my ailing computer disturb me any more than it already has.

I return home and find a couple of small jobs to do before opening the computer again. No change. Absolutely no change. Black screen and the mouse pointer hovering ever so calmly. I track down the mornings search results and start reading them word for word. One instruction is repeated a few times. Hold the power button down for 20 seconds, release and restart. It was as good a fix as any. Nothing to lose and everything to gain. I did as instructed and tried not to hold my breath as I heard the start-up sounds.

Success was close at hand THIS TIME. it would seem. Alas there were no DVD’s handy to run the back-up there and then. My food shopping trip on the way home from school turned into a hunt for DVDs. Twice the computer went to sleep over the course of the afternoon and both times I was afraid the black screen would reappear. Thankfully, what ever issue there was, it seems to have passed. There have now been three restarts without issue. Maybe this was an isolated incident. Either way, I’ve no interest in a repeat occurrence and can report that the back-up has been run and I’m now 100% protected.